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Buck Island Reef National Monument is a must for every visitor, whether you snorkel the underwater trail or just enjoy the cruise. Proclaimed a National Monument by President John F. Kennedy in June 1962, uninhabited Buck Island sits off St. Croix’s North East coast and consists of approximately 18,000 acres of sea and land. It’s main beauty lies in the fantastic reefs and a unique underwater trail which have been referred to as “one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea.”
Buck Island itself is 167-acres and as a National Park site is uninhabited except for the daily visitors. There are no facilities or restaurants on the island, so when making plans to visit Buck Island its a great idea to pack a lunch and snacks or opt for one of the full day excursions that include a lunch stop back on St Croix.
At the reef on the East end of the park, you’ll moor in about 12-15 feet of water and will first be guided by one of the crew members through the marked underwater trail. This is a requirement of the park service, along with wearing brightly colored flotation vests for safety. The guided tour through the trail lasts only about 10 minutes and then you’ll have up to an hour and a half to snorkel and explore the reef. Here you’ll find some of the most diverse marine life on St Croix. Expect to see schools of brilliant blue tang (remember Dory from ‘Finding Nemo’?), surgeonfish, doctor fish, parrot fish, yellow striped french grunts, angelfish, squirrel fish and many, many more brightly colored tropical fishes. Often, you’ll also run into playful juvenile hawksbill turtles meandering through the reef. With close observation, you may also spy Caribbean lobsters and an octopus or two.
For more information on Buck Island Reef National Monument and why we are trying to protect our rights to enjoy all of her waters in a sustainable way (The National Park Service is proposing restrictions) – read my Blog Post