Come join us for an adventure you will never forget. Stunning beauty, peace and relaxation describe the atmosphere and character of the Arawak Bay Inn at Salt River, a charming B&B on St. Croix’s north shore. Breathtaking views of Salt River Bay and the Caribbean Sea from each room, glimpses of St. Thomas and Tortola, island breakfasts with house specialties and relaxation by the pool and bar, affirm that you are in America’s paradise even as you stay connected via free, in-room, wireless access and satellite TV. The welcoming and gracious hospitality of hosts, Jennifer and Lionel, often earn the guests’ characterization as their “home away from home”.
The best scuba diving in the U.S. Virgin Islands is along “The Wall” that runs about 7 miles parallel to the North Shore of St. Croix. Cane Bay Dive Shop has a prime location on this northern shore. They offer divers more than twenty different dive sites to explore within one mile in either direction as well as the “must-do” Frederiksted Pier the Wrecks at Butler bay and other west end dives.
Want to know what the diving is like? Check out the video. Spectacular runs through my mind as I watched! NOTE: don’t get concerned about details such as the dive boats seen in the video, we will be working off a much larger boat that fits the size of our group. Focus on the quality and diversity of the diving. I will make sure the other details match what you have come to expect from a Northwest Divers Adventure!
|Show me St. Croix!|
Prices are per person and based on double occupancy.
The package includes:
Space is limited so get us a $300 deposit and make your reservation for fun.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR…FOR REAL FUN COME DOWN TO OUR LEVEL!!!
|September 15, 2015||$1,000|
|October 15, 2015||$1,385||(or balance)|
|3490||1/27/2017||Fargo FAR||Chicago ORD||5:40A||7:43A|
|334||1/27/2017||Chicago ORD||Miami MIA||11:50A||3:51P|
|2317||1/27/2017||Miami MIA||St. Croix STX||6:00P||9:40P|
|2227||2/4/2017||St. Croix STX||Miami MIA||8:35A||10:45A|
|2596||2/4/2017||Miami MIA||Dallas DFW||12:15P||2:34P|
|5759||2/4/2017||Dallas DFW||Fargo FAR||4:50P||7:25P|
After almost being blown off of Blue Corner in Palau and a slight DCS problem in Cocos we decided to take an easier dive trip. My buddy likes wall dives, so after some Internet research and talking with fellow divers, we booked a 14-dive package with Cane Bay Dive Shop with a stay in one of their superior cottages. (Any package with 10 dives or more includes unlimited shore diving from their shop on Cane Bay Beach.)
In St. Croix we picked up our rental car at the airport and set out. Remember DRIVE ON THE LEFT. After only one wrong turn we made it. You can’t get real lost. The island is only 5 miles across at the widest point.
On arrival at the dive shop, we were directed up the hill to our recently remodeled cottage. It was quite comfortable, though there was only A.C. in the bedroom. The kitchen had all the necessary modern conveniences. There’s wifi and satellite TV for those who don’t want to be out of touch. Drinking water came in a 5-gallon bottle with a pump. The next morning we took our gear down to the shop and it was placed in numbered mesh bags. Then, along with us, the gear was put in a van for a drive to the dive boat.
In a fortuitous bit of luck, we’d arrived on the island when the winds on the north side had been blowing from the east at 20-30 mph. Since it was too rough to dive the north shore, the Newton 36’ had been moved to the sheltered west side of the island. For our first 3 dive days we rode over to the Frederiksted pier to meet the boat.
The first dive was the Shallow Wrecks at Butler Bay, consisting of a sunken island freighter, a barge, an access pipe from an underwater habitat, and finally the tugboat Northwind, slightly famous for its appearance in “Dreams of Gold”, the Mel Fisher bio pic. It was a good first dive though a bit ambitious considering the amount of area covered. We saw a hawksbill turtle and an assortment of tropicals.
The second dive was the deservedly famous Frederiksted Pier. We were dropped at the seaward end of the pier and worked our way to the docked Ibis, our dive boat. We were also informed that if we somehow got lost on this dive they would gladly cut up our c-cards. During the hour long dive there was so much to see–seahorses, a school of triggerfish, what appeared to be a black nudibranch, octopi, ball anemone, arrow crabs, and a large yellow frogfish. This is a great place to putter around and look at the small stuff.
They drove us back to Cane Bay, where they rinsed and stored our gear. We could check it out and pick up a tank and weights anytime we felt like shore diving.
We had lunch at Eat@Cane Bay, the restaurant attached to the dive shop. It overlooks the beach, has daily specials, and the option to build your own burger or, for the health conscious, your own salad. The view and a couple of seasonal craft beers from the brewery on St. John’s made for a pleasant meal.
We drove ourselves to the dive boat the next morning. The first site was Armageddon, an enormous jumbled pile of construction materials, including concrete slabs and beams, iron girders, sewer pipes, massive tires, and even a window-washing platform. Where that came from, on an island where the building height doesn’t exceed four stories, is hard to figure. Depths ranged from over 90’ to around 50’. This would have been a great place to shoot underwater scenes for the movie “Water World”. Many fish, including different types of angels, were wending their way through the encrusted materials. Interestingly different from standard wreck dives.
The second site, Aquarium, was just that, a shallow patch reef with healthy sponges and corals. Highlights included several large green free- swimming morays and a school of over a dozen cuttlefish.
The last day of dives on the west side included a return to the shallow wrecks at the request of a California couple who were only able to dive for one day. Most dives are led, but since we’d dived the site recently, we were able to separate from the group and dive our own profile. We chose to take our time on the Northwind. Just before we made our giant stride off the platform, Captain Fuzzy reached into his B.C. and handed me his dive light.
This wreck sits upright in the sand. We started at about 70’ at the keel and did slowly ascending circles around the tug. We were able to take our time and see both coral shrimp and Pederson cleaning shrimp. The hull is nicely encrusted with colorful corals and anemones. The main deck has been opened and you can drop down into the hold and see the remnants of the mechanical heart of the ship. At the wheelhouse, the flashlight really paid off. There was a school of black bar soldier fish inside, the ceiling was covered with orange cup corals, and a group of yellow damselfish was swimming upside-down beneath them.
“Cables”, named for the remnants of an undersea listening network from the cold war era, was the other dive. The most memorable portion of this dive was that the dive leader, Rick, managed to spear a good number of lionfish. Like many places in the Caribbean, there is a lionfish problem that has reduced the number of indigenous fish on the reef. The dive guides will even lend a pole spear if any of the guests are interested in helping reduce the number of invasives.
Finally the winds calmed a bit and the dive boat was moved east to the Salt River Marina. Next day, after a 15-minute trip from the dive shop to the boat, at last we were on our way to some wall diving.
The first dive, Salt River West Wall, was an inauspicious beginning. The boat was moored on a southwest corner and we went west, along the wall. Visibility came and went. I saw one small Nassau grouper and not much else to put in my log.
But then we crossed the channel to the East Wall. Lots going on at this corner. We swam north and then turned east. We immediately ran into a large green turtle. There were schools of goatfish, grunts, black-bar soldierfish, black durgeons, jacks, and reef runners. Out in the blue there were a couple of small reef sharks shadowing our group. The return leg to the boat was across a sandy patch at the top of the wall. Here we found multiple holes with yellow-headed jawfish, some of the males holding eggs in their mouths. I also found a flamingo tongue cowry on a sea fan.
The dive was so good we happily repeated it later in the week. We also tried the west wall again, but this time headed south at the corner. My buddy said this was one of her favorite dives. The visibility was much better. We ran into a 4-foot barracuda early in the dive. Then we followed Nick, the dive guide, up, down, and through a series of chutes and swim-throughs. There were also a couple of stands of healthy black coral. At the end of the dive there was a large 2 1/2 –foot long pufferfish under the boat.
Other dive sites we visited on the island’s North Wall were Pavilion and Two Palms. Highlights included several peacock flounder, a leatherback turtle, and a reef shark swooping in to eat a lionfish pushed off a spear.
For the “not to be missed” night dive on Frederiksted Pier, Rick has a nice routine. Before the dive, they passed around a menu from the Lost Dog Pub. Everyone puts in their pizza or calzone order, so the food will be ready and waiting when the dive is over.
This dive had everything. Over 10 blue-green octopi observed, a turtle parked head-in asleep in a sponge, a 2-inch filefish head down trying to blend in behind a tube sponge, an even smaller green frogfish, a large moray, shrimp, many different brittle stars, arrow crabs, and a large scorpionfish not so well hidden by the piece of concrete he was trying to blend with. Rick even freed a trumpetfish caught up with a piece of leader wire and fishing line hanging out of its mouth.
Our last two dives coincided with one of the twice-yearly lionfish hunts. They were drift dives at Refrigerator and La Valle. We spotted a couple of the invaders that were subsequently speared. Also saw some juvenile spotted drums and healthy stands of staghorn coral, as well as a 5-foot shark.
The lionfish were cleaned, grilled, and served to hunt participants at the dive shop. A tasty, mild white fish. Dive shop owners, Hal and Suzanne, did an excellent job organizing these events.
For the shore diving, you don your gear at the dive shop, trundle down to the beach, wade out, flip over on your back, and fin out to where the water gets deeper. Finally you flip over, drop down, and head for the wall. It’s a bit of a swim, and my buddy chose to pass. There was no problem with my going solo, and to me it was well worth it. The nice thing about solo diving is that you can stop and observe what you want as long as your air supply and computer allows. On the first of my two shore dives I watched two boxfish head to tail pivoting around each other, their pectoral fins appearing to touch. I couldn’t figure out if it was courtship behavior or a territorial dispute, but I watched for more than 5 minutes. On the second dive I found a closed basket starfish attached to a soft coral near the area where they are growing staghorn samples for reef restoration.
Cane Bay shore diving seems to be quite popular since you could see divers heading in or out almost any time of day. On our last morning we met 2 guys with rebreathers heading out to place a sign, “Sea Dog Cavern,” in an underwater cave they’d found at 230 feet. The dive shop will fill rebreathers.
The Cane Bay staff has a laid back but still professional attitude. They seem genuinely interested in helping divers have a good enjoyable experience. For those who need it, the dive shop has a large selection of well-maintained rental gear. Nitrox is available for an extra $100 for the dive package, including shore diving.
It’s a good place for beginners. We had at least 3 different sets of parents who’d brought their newly certified offspring to dive with them. The best indicator of all is that a lot of the local islanders come to dive on the boats and the beach.
We went out with as few as 7 divers and as many as 15, which started to feel a bit crowded. For the photogs they do have a dedicated camera tank on the boat, but the table in the middle of the dive deck would only have room for 2, maybe 3, big strobe arm camera rigs. The yellow inflatable pictured on the website is no longer in service.
To sum it up, the corals and sponges were remarkably healthy, creating a beautiful backdrop for most of the diving. Other than sharks, there weren’t that many large fish, but considering the general Caribbean lionfish problem, the number of smaller tropicals wasn’t bad. The dive staff and operation were great. We had wreck and rubble diving, reef diving, wall diving, day and night diving, drift diving, and shore diving. In short we had a tremendous variety of ways to get wet. Cayman Brac Adventure Package Details