The US Virgin Islands Best Guide

St. John: Scuba Diving

The underwater world in the Virgin Islands is stunning and truly amazing! Explore corals and a gorgonian forest of sea fans and sea whips. Dive around caves, explore sunken boat wrecks, or take a night dive and explore the fantastic world of nocturnal marine life! Swim among turtles, bright parrotfish, blue tangs, schools of fry and so much more.

The marine environment around St. John is world-class, and there are world-class dive operators here that can take you out for the first time, teach you to dive, get you certified, and instruct you for higher levels of dive certification.

The best conditions for diving in the islands are found during the summer and fall months, with visibility generally between 60 and 100 feet. Some sites, particularly in Pillsbury Sound, can be explored all year round as they are protected from the wind and rough seas that can affect other more open sites during the winter months. St. John and St. Thomas are close enough to each other that they share many of the same dive sites in the Pillsbury Sound area, including Carval Rock, Congo Cay, Grass Cay, Mounds at Mingo, Arches and Tunnels of Thatch and Lovango Cay.

There are over a dozen dive sites around St. John. Most are shallow dives, and many are only 15 to 20 minutes away from the shore or dock. In addition to those located in the Pillsbury Sound, other popular dive sites include Eagle Shoal, Flanagan Reef, Maple Leaf, Cocoloba and Witch’s Hat.

Dive operators are familiar with the various dive locations and can safely guide you to and around them. An introductory course will run around $60 to $110. For the certified diver, two morning dives are around $95, and it is around $85 to $100 for a night dive. Certification course, $260–$400. Multi-day dive packages are also available. Whether you are a novice or a dive enthusiast, there is no better place to dive than in the warm, inviting waters around the Virgin Islands.

Scuba Diving Tips

  • There is an excellent recompression chamber in the Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas. It is on 24 hours a day.
  • Always check your equipment before each dive.
  • Never dive alone.
  • Enjoy the sites, but don’t touch.
  • The survival of the underwater world depends largely on us; do not overturn rocks, kick up sand, pick up animals, or touch coral. Be content with watching.
  • Leave the underwater world as you found it; future divers and marine life will be happy you did!
  • Do not scuba dive if you are pregnant; too little is known about the effects of pressure on fetal development. Ask your doctor and/or dive professional for more information.

St. John offers rest, relaxation, and an adequate amount of sporting activities. Plan the activities you would like to do most and have a great vacation!

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