ST CROIX, LIVING THE ISLAND LIFE
St Croix is one of the 3 Virgin Islands currently owned by the U.S. and being as I have a green card, I worked as a dive instructor, tank filler, shop monkey and boat divemaster for the most part of 2006. Thanks to my fellow instructor, Szilvia in helping me sort out the job and talk me into taking it!
I have to say that the best diving of the 3 islands, being St John, St Thomas and Stx is the one I lived on. How cool is that! The drive around to cane bay, as the pre-dawn light heralded another beautiful sunrise, would find myself and co-workers and friends out for a (very) early dive, if you count 4.30 am as early!
Cane bay wall is an easy shore dive, you walk in, swim out for about 10 - 15 minutes and down and down you go. If you're lucky you make it a long way down the drop off, through the coral, swim with hawksbill and green turtles, and one time, wild dolphins stayed with us for the last 1/2 of the dive.
The drive back as the sun shone down, is along the edge of the island weaving pat salt river canyon, and then through the gut a bit to get you to Christiansted. Only 28 miles long and 8 miles wide, the tip is the furthest you can go on land and still be in America! The view from there is ocean as far as you can see. St Thomas has the cruise ships and shopping, St John is the pretty one (it's protected) with white sand, sail boats and turquoise water.
There are so many boats, you can go anywhere. I spent so much time on and under the water. One time, the reef guys came out with us on a 3-tank day to salt river and we didn't go there that much. We had so many tanks on the boat (no compressor) I had to store them in the v-berth!! Great day.
Food, sun, diving and lot's of surveying. They were a good crowd. Living there and diving a lot; it was concern for the bleaching that made me sad. I watched the reef change as the summer heat made the water temp higher. Sad to see and it took so long for the temp to come down. By the time I was leaving the reef hadn't recovered.
I do remember Maggie at the little deck bar on the dock in Christainsted. She'd make the best sushi for me (no fish!) and the swings were fab! You could sit there supping a beer as the sun went down, and the tarpin would come in to feed due to the lights. The green moray came out when Maggie threw in the leftovers when she closed.
I lived in Christiansted but I night dove the old pier in Frederiksted a lot. Fun indeed if you like seahorses, big and small eels, huge (the biggest I've ever seen) banded coral shrimp, lobster, crabs and more crabs, pipefish. Always a good dive. I did it with friends, as I had the truck, and then we'd go and eat in the local pizza place, though I can't recall the name of it now, I could drive there if you put me on the island again!
It was a beautiful place to live, having been European owned, Denmark before being sold to America, and it's not like Hawaii as it's not a state. Old building and sugar mills mixed together and crumbling due to hurricane damage and lack of money.
Stx is rough round the edges, not pretty Caribbean, it's got petty crime to rival a big city and a crack problem that the locals deal with daily. The reason I moved on was that I got a new (dive) job somewhere else. Would I go back, why not but maybe to another island. Maybe Virgin Gorda as I didn't make it there... who knows. All you need is your dive gear, and happy heart, a back pack, ipod and reef flip flops and your set to go. Happy travels to all. 'It's a tough life, but some-one has to dive it.'
Written by Dawn Pearce, U.K.