Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Buck Island, St. Croix US Virgin Islands

We planned our day trip out to Buck Island on the day there would be no cruise ships on the island. On cruise ship day, there were over 150 people booked with Big Beards Tours. On our day, there were only nine including us. Over 50,000 visitors go to Buck Island Reef National Monument, so picking a quiet day can be tricky. We were lucky.

Big Beards departs out of Christiansted on the north side of the island. I always enjoy seeing a town from the water and Christiansted doesn't disappoint.

Within 30 minutes, we were approaching the island. The brilliant, royal blue water clarified and brightened the closer we made it to shore. Here is the water out in the deep:

Here is the water just off the beach:

The approach to the island is just as breath-taking.

Views from the Turtle Beach. This is exactly what it looked like. No Photoshopping here!

After an hour or so of swimming and exploring by ourselves, we headed off to the reef on the north side of the island. The geology and flora are clearly different than what occurs on St Croix. It reminded me more of Culebra than St Croix.

Unfortunately, the reef itself has suffered a series of setbacks due to Hurricane Hugo, coral bleaching, and yes, 50,000 visitors a year. You can notice the extent of the damage in this video of blue tangs on the reef. Still, we had a fantastic time and I recommend it highly. I also recommend Big Beard. They were efficient and non-intrusive tour operators. They stuck to the rules when it came to safety and the laws protecting the area, but otherwise were wanted us to explore and enjoy the way we felt best.

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