Have you ever wanted to try scuba diving so you could see the underwater world up close? It is a whole different world below the surface, and it is truly amazing! If you want to try scuba diving, but you aren’t quite ready to take the plunge into full certification, then Discover Scuba is a great option for you. Discover Scuba Diving will allow you to swim with the throngs of tropical fish along St. Croix’s colorful reefs under the supervision of a instructor after just an hour or so of training.
There are several dive shops here on St. Croix that offer the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Discover Scuba Diving program, or the equivalent NAUI Passport and SSI Try Scuba programs. The instructors and dive shop staff here on St. Croix are very friendly and professional, and they are experienced and calm which will make your introduction to scuba relaxed and incredibly fun. Not only will you have an opportunity to feel the thrill that comes with descending down to the reefs and exploring their abundant marine life, but you experience the excitement that comes with breathing underwater.
What can you expect from a Discover Scuba Diving type experience? To start, you will spend 1-2 hours learning basic scuba diving skills in a swimming pool, or in calm, shallow water. Once you are comfortable with the necessary skills, you get to go out and dive one of St. Croix’s stunning reefs with your instructor by your side. While you will not obtain a scuba certification, the Discover Scuba Diving experience is a quick and easy introduction to the knowledge, basic skills, and equipment needed to explore the underwater world. No prior scuba diving experience is necessary to sign up for a Discover Scuba Diving program, but you must be at least 10 years old and you need to be in reasonable physical health.
St. Croix is one of the best places I can imagine for doing a Discover Scuba. Why? For starters, the water temperature in this part of the Caribbean stays between 80°F and 82°F year round, which is warm and pleasant for divers. Visibility is also very good around St. Croix most of the year, generally ranging from 60-100 feet. What does that mean to you as a Discover Scuba diver? While you are exploring the underwater world, you will be able to look up and see the surface of the water as well as the sunlight streaming down and reflecting off the white sandy bottom. The clear visibility and good light generally found on St. Croix make it easier to spot some of the hundreds of species of fish that camouflage themselves on or around the reefs and sand, or hide under the coral heads. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, seahorses, flounder, frog fish, lizard fish, eels, reef sharks, shrimp, octopus, reef squid, and innumerable tropical fish, all of which are relatively common on St. Croix.
In my opinion, one of the most relaxing things about scuba diving is that you will hear very little besides the rhythmic sound of your own breathing – but don’t worry, you will be able to communicate with your instructor using basic hand signals, or a slate. You will hover over the bottom, seemingly weightless, and feel like you are part of the marine environment. As you make your way along the reef, make sure to look around you and take everything in. While the reef will be teeming with life, sea turtles, sharks, barracuda, and more can be seen in the open ocean as well. Also, make sure to keep an eye on your instructor because they will know how and where to find an array of sea creatures to show you during your dive.
If you love the experience like I think you will, then consider becoming a certified diver. There is literally a whole world to explore underwater, and scuba diving can be incorporated into hundreds of vacation destinations. Just remember, some of the best dive shops in the U.S. and Caribbean can be found right here on St. Croix; so, when you are ready to Discover Scuba, or get certified, make sure you check out our Scuba Diving page for a list of local dive shops!– Jennie Ogden, Editor