Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Spotlight St. Thomas - Diving and Snorkeling

Popular dive sites include such wrecks as the Cartanser Sr., a beautifully encrusted World War II cargo ship sitting in 35 feet of water, and the General Rogers, a Coast Guard cutter resting at 65 feet. Here you can find a gigantic resident barracuda. Reef dives offer hidden caves and archways at Cow and Calf Rocks, coral-covered pinnacles at Frenchcap, and tunnels where you can explore undersea from the Caribbean to the Atlantic at Thatch Cay, Grass Cay, and Congo Cay. Many resorts and charter yachts offer dive packages. A one-tank dive starts at $90; two-tank dives are $110 and up. Call the USVI Department of Tourism to obtain a free eight-page guide to Virgin Islands dive sites. There are plenty of snorkeling possibilities, too.
Admiralty Dive Center. Boat dives, rental equipment, and a retail store are available from this dive center. You can also get multiple-tank packages if you want to dive over several days. Windward Passage Hotel, Waterfront Hwy., Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, 00802. 340/777-9802 or 888/900-3483.
Blue Island Divers. This full-service dive shop offers both day and night dives to wrecks and reefs and specializes in custom dive charters. Crown Bay Marina, Rte. 304, Estate Contant, St. Thomas, 00802. 340/774-2001.
B.O.S.S. Underwater Adventure. As an alternative to traditional diving, try an underwater motor scooter called BOSS, or Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter. A 3½-hour tour, including snorkel equipment, rum punch, and towels, is $120 per person. Crown Bay Marina, Rte. 304, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, 00802. 340/777-3549.
Coki Dive Center. Snorkeling and dive tours in the fish-filled reefs off Coki Beach are available from this PADI Five Star outfit, as are classes, including one on underwater photography. It's run by the avid diver Peter Jackson. Rte. 388, at Coki Point, Estate Frydendal, St. Thomas, 00802. 340/775-4220.
Snuba of St. Thomas. In snuba, a snorkeling and scuba-diving hybrid, a 20-foot air hose connects you to the surface. The cost is $74. Children must be eight or older to participate. Rte. 388, at Coki Point, Estate Smith Bay, St. Thomas, 00802. 340/693-8063.

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