Salt River Canyon splits the north shore wall with a deep “V”
caused by an ancient river going out into the deeper Virgin
Islands Basin at ~5,000 feet with the deepest point being
~13,500 feet. The east and west walls of this canyon both offer
very different diving experiences. There are sections with near
vertical drops to more gentle sloping reef to delight your
The Wall brings a rich diversity of life, mixing the richness
and nutrients where the deep meets the shallows. Truly a unique
biodiversity that is found in only a few locations throughout
the Caribbean. Also among the crags and corals are the great
old anchors of the 1700-1800’s. Quite a sight to behold and to
imagine the stories that were aboard the boats these anchors
once held in place centuries ago.
Dive in what has been rated on the
top 5 places to dive
for best dive destination, best shore diving, best wall diving,
best macro diving, best underwater photography, and many other
Officially titled in 1992 as "Salt
River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve,"
the area is perfect for scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and
hiking. It is an important archaeological site with the physical
remains of three pre-Columbian cultures, as well as an important
environmental site with large mangrove forests. It also has a
bioluminescent bay, where micro-organisms glow in the dark.
Only ~5 minutes boat ride to the
dive sites because our 2nd location is in the calm waters of the
Salt River Marina. Most other dive companies are a 30
minute ride on typically rough seas.
There are several dive sites on The Canyon and turning the corner to
The Wall. Depending on the dive site, the reef is about
20-40' to start the dive. Peeking over underwater
Canyon/Wall is steep and ruggedly textured, with plenty of
geological formations of interest to divers – the sand channels
and maze-like crags, cuts, swim-throughs, ledges, overhangs, and coral-heads
dropping to 200' then 500' then 4,000' depths. We will
definitely be staying within recreational diving limits.
Because of the way the boat drifts in the current, the west end
has a shallower entry, east end is a deeper entry. 60-90' is
the normal dive profile before returning to shallower waters.
Common creatures are: creole wrasse, squirrelfish, nurse sharks,
reef sharks, green morays, chromies, turtles, eagle rays,
occasional hammerhead, dolphins, whale song (February-March).
Definitely bring or rent a GroPro.
by Ty Sawyer
"It's almost hidden in plain sight. Despite having some
of the best wall and wreck diving in the Caribbean St.
Croix, the largest of the three main U. S. Virgin
Islands, gets overlooked in most USVI diving
itineraries. It's also, topside, perhaps the most
authentic of the three virgins with a National Heritage
Trail that takes you right into the pulse of the island,
its people and its amalgam of cultural influences. But
the best part for divers drops straight down from the
north coast of the island.
Near the only place that Columbus is said to have set
foot in America (in 1493), called Salt River (it's also
an ecological preserve), are the dive sites of Salt
River Canyon East and West. Here, the lush walls drop
off several thousand feet. On either side the walls are
thickly decorated with sponges, gorgonians and sea fans.
Loads of marine life call this place home, too.
West Wall (one of the named sites) is riddled with swim-throughs,
canyons and cuts in the reef. You'll encounter large
stoplight parrotfish, angels, several species of
grouper, blackbar soldierfish in the shadows and
horse-eye jacks off the edges. Always keep an eye to the
blue on these dives. Sea Turtles like to come in and
nosh on the sponges. Dolphins frequent the area, and
when they're close you'll hear their clicks, chirps and
squeals reverberating in the water column.
At other places off the north coast of St. Croix, walls
start in as little as 20 feet of water and drop off to
almost 13,000 feet. They're absolutely vertical. Like
peering down the edge of a skyscraper.
Besides the wall diving, there's plenty of dives for all
skill levels. And the best part is it really is a
secret. Who knows why, but one things for sure. You'll
have more of the reef all to yourself, you'll be able to
brag that you dived some of the best walls in the world
and no one will suspect you've just come back from the
US Virgin Island of St. Croix."