Cane Bay is one of the highlights of St. Croix. Its beautiful stretch of beach is popular for limin’, and its turquoise waters and close proximity to the Puerto Rico Trench make it a perfect spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. The Wall is a world famous dive site that is easily accessible from the shore at Cane Bay beach, so it only makes sense that the newest full service dive center right across the street. If you haven’t been there yet, we want to introduce you to Sweet Bottom Dive Center.
You may be familiar with Sweet Bottom from their first location at the Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort (which recently reopened after being closed for several years due to damage from Hurricane Maria). When the storm displaced them, owners Mark and Laura Linse took advantage of the opportunity to open a new Sweet Bottom location at Cane Bay. Originally from Chicago, where Mark was a Fire Paramedic Field Chief and Laura was a Cardiac Nurse, they moved to St. Croix after retirement to make their dream of opening a dive shop a reality. Avid divers for 35 years, Mark is now an active PADI Course Director and Laura is a Master Instructor.
Sweet Bottom Dive Center is a 5 Star Instructor Development Center (IDC), with Mark being the resident Course Director. What does that mean? A PADI 5 Star IDC not only meets all 5 Star Dive Center standards, but also offers PADI Instructor-level training. To earn this ranking Sweet Bottom Dive Center must display a strong commitment to developing dive professionals by providing educational programs from entry-level through instructor training. Talking to Mark you can see that he is passionate about diving and about teaching others, so it’s no surprise to hear him say: “I love to teach people how to teach.”
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be ready to become an instructor to benefit from this dive center. You can try a Discover Scuba to see if you like diving, get your Open Water certification, or work towards one of 55 different specialties offered at Sweet Bottom! In addition to the educational component, Sweet Bottom offers guided dives, a full retail shop, scuba and snorkel gear rentals, tank fills (including Nitrox), and scuba gear servicing.
I got a full tour of the newly built facility, and was not only impressed with the layout of the shop, but all the attention to detail that went into the space. We are lucky here on St. Croix to have many great dive shops, but here are a few things worth noting about Sweet Bottom Dive Center’s newly built shop:
- They have an air-conditioned classroom for their IDC and dive certification students
- They keep their certification class sizes and Discover Scuba experiences small (much smaller than PADI requirements) in order to allow for one-on-one attention from the instructors, and to ensure quality and safety
- The storage room for their scuba rental gear is dehumidified, and the rental gear is replaced every three years
- They have a dehumidified storage room for their visiting dive guests to store their gear overnight (no packing wet gear for the trip home!)
- There is an outdoor shower to rinse off after dives, and a built-in rinse station for dive gear
If you haven’t been to Sweet Bottom Dive Center, I highly recommend that you check it out. If you have your own gear, it’s easy to rent tanks (or fill your own) and then just walk across the street into the water and dive The Wall. Or, take one of their guided shore or boat dives to get the most out of your diving experience. For anyone interested in the taking an IDC course, talk to Mark or Laura to get the details. Enjoy your time at Cane Bay, and happy diving!
-Jennie Ogden, Editor