Buck Island National Monument (St. Croix)
- Type: Beaches, Natural Wonders
- Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
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Located about two miles off the coast of Christiansted, Buck Island is St. Croix's go-to spot for scuba diving or snorkeling. The 176-acre island is fringed with a barrier reef chock full of tropical fish and elkhorn coral. On land you just might spot a hawksbill turtle or brown pelican. There are picnic spots and restrooms on one side of the island, but you'll need to pack your own refreshments.
Those who've made a recent excursion to Buck Island reiterate that this is the spot to snorkel, but note that the underwater coral isn't worth the hype. One traveler writes in to TripAdvisor: "I know what live coral should look like. Most of the coral in and around the island (including the trail) is bleached and has no color. So, not very exciting." The bleaching is due to the area's warm water.
The Buck Island Reef Monument is open every day, but closes from sunset to sunrise. There's no entry fee to enjoy the island, but you will have to charter a boat or visit with a tour company. Visit the Virgin Islands official tourism site for suggested companies and to learn more about fees, or the reef's official site to learn more about the park's rules and regulations.