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Buck Island

One of the nicest beaches in the Virgin Islands; underwater trail for snorkeling; hiking path up to the observation point at the top of the island.

Buck Island

Charlie

When I first arrived on St. Croix in the late ‘60s, I took a day job running tourists out to Buck Island in a little 32-foot, engineless Long Island sloop named VOL AU VENT. The routine was simple. Before leaving Christiansted at 10am, I’d pack up the “crew”, their lunches and booze and tack up to Buck Island, then flip-flop up the channel inside the reef and pick up a mooring ball over the trail.

Charlie

By 1pm we’d fall off down to the beach, have lunch and be back over the bar at Christiansted by 4pm. Often, the tourists couldn’t swim well, so I towed them with a rectangular float about three feet by four feet with a yellow polypropylene line attached. After I checked them out on the masks and snorkels, they jumped in the water and held onto the float. Wearing fins, a mask and snorkel, I pulled them through the trail, listening to their muffled ooh’s and aaah’s in response to the color and diversity of the lovely reef.

At this time, the most famous denizen of the underwater trail was Charlie. Charlie was a territorial, six-foot-long barracuda with mean eyes, the signature under-slung jaw replete with rows and rows of needle sharp teeth, and an abiding curiosity that was more than annoying. He was impressively large and scary as hell...>>Full Story

Overnighting at the reef trail is prohibited. The only overnight anchorage at Buck Island is at Turtle Beach. There are mooring buoys near the beach for smaller boats drawing less than five feet. There are garbage cans and picnic tables on the beach but, because of restricted garbage capacity, it is recommended that only beach picnic refuse be deposited.

The anchorage at the beach is protected from the prevailing easterly and northeast winds. Anchorage here is not recommended when winds are blowing from the south, west or slightly north of west. These unusual winds generally portend a more ominous weather pattern and in such cases a more secure, long-term anchorage should be sought.

See Joe Russell’s article, Buck Island, to see why this is “one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea” with a good piece of advice if you venture up the trail from Turtle Beach to the lookout!

Apply for permit in Advance

The Buck Island Reef National Monument requires an Anchoring Permit when visiting the park. The permit can be easily obtained by calling the park office in Christiansted (340.773.1460). They can send you a permit application by fax or mail. At some point in the future, the application might be available on the National Park Service’s web site. At this time, there is no charge for the processing fee for the permit noted on the application. It takes up to four business days to process a permit and it can be faxed back to you. The Anchoring Permit is then good for one year. The primary purpose of the permit is to make sure all boats entering the Park are aware of the rules and areas permitted for anchoring.

If you are planning to visit St. Croix it might be best to apply for your permit well in advance of your cruise so that it is already in place.


Buck Island National Park

Service Ranger Station

340.773.1460

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