CaribbeanUS Virgin Islands

Buck Island off of St Thomas

By January 29, 2012 No Comments

On Sunday I met a couple renting a condo on St Thomas for two weeks and wanted to have a day snorkeling sites they could not reach from the shore.  So I took them out and the
first place we visited was Buck Island, which is about four miles south of the main harbor in Charlotte Amalie.  It is a great sail down and it seems that other cruisers don’t go there…only dive boats.  There are mooring balls set up on the north coast and in the bay on the west side, so not only is it easy to get there, but once there you don’t even have to anchor.

The west cove is fully protected and there is no reason a boat could not stay overnight in flat calm water.  The center of the bay is deep (60-80 feet) and the sides seem to drop quickly.  I found the snorkeling gets better and better as you head to the point of the cove, but be careful since the surge will increase.  Out at the point you have huge rocks that are
5-10 feet deep at the top and plunge down to 25-30 feet and are covered with coral (mostly yellow).  There is one spot about halfway along the south side of the cove that I love.  From the surface it looks like nothing, but when you dive down 10 feet and look between two rocks you are rewarded with the most amazing colors in a small cave like structure.  There is a gap at the top side letting in sunlight.  Unfortunately I have had trouble getting a good focused picture here to share with everyone (I take about 10 to get one keeper), but I will visit the spot every time I am here.  I love the colors that much…and I will get that photo eventually!

If you look at the head of the cove you will see a completely ruined dock in the water and stone stairs leading to the interior of the island.  I found it fascinating to take a quick hike to the lighthouse.  As you hike along you will be blown away with the grass, which is golden brown and thick.  In some spots you can sink up to your knees in the stuff.  At the top of the first hill you get a great view of the south coast and the shallow cut between Buck and Cappella Islands.  It is gorgeous.  Now the fun news, the trail you started on will tapper out and there seems to be no way to get to the lighthouse.  Fun, fun I know. 🙂

Before you leave this island make sure you pick up a mooring ball on the north shore (I got one in a circle on the east side of the mooring field).  Here the shore has an even better reef, with more colors and variety.  But the highlight is in the middle of the circle of mooring balls.  I found no less than 10 turtles and they had no problem with you swimming with them and taking their photo (see me swimming with one in the last photo – as always click on the photo to make it bigger).  This just might be the highlight of your time in the USVI and at the very least your day!

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