Sunset on St John

Why St. John is Great for Scuba Diving

March 6, 2021

From sunset cruises and sailing, there's no shortage of things to do when visiting St. John, USVI. Given the breathtaking beauty of the natural terrain, most people spend the majority of their visits lounging on the beach and hiking the lush, local trails. However, each trip to this veritable paradise is an opportunity to explore the land and sea in ways that you've never experienced before. 

With its abundance of eye-catching underwater features, St. John is the perfect place for scuba diving. You'll see everything from colorful coral reefs and storied shipwrecks to gorgeous tropical fish and show-stopping, nocturnal marine life. For both first-time and seasoned scuba divers, each underwater excursion is guaranteed to be an unforgettable adventure.

Where to Go Scuba Diving in St. John

On its own, St. John has nearly a dozen top-rated scuba diving sites that are popular among both locals and tourists. There are also several places for scuba diving that are shared with nearby islands. To get the most from these experiences, target locations that offer the specific types of scenery and marine species you want to experience.

Carvel Rock

Consisting of several adjacent rocks, Carvel Rock is home to a variety of exotic birds. On its Southside, the underwater area is covered in gorgonians, sponges, and many other marine species. Dropping below 80 feet, the north side of Carvel Rock is its biggest draw. Here, you can see tarpon and stingrays feeding.

Eagle Shoals

Eagle Shoals is a quiet spot located just off the east end of the island. Filled with deep channels and coral caves, this location is rich with baitfish, jacks, and copper sweepers. It is an excellent spot to visit if you're hoping to see manta rays or sharks given that it's exposed to the open ocean at every side. 

Best-known for "The Cathedral", Eagle Shoals boasts a massive open chamber with multiple points of entry. By turning your head upwards while submerged, you'll get the impression of being sheltered by a gorgeous skylight. The Cathedral is a popular spot among St. John visitors who are here to host underwater weddings.


For history buffs and those who love exploring the mysterious, Tektite is a St. John diving spot that shouldn't be missed. Home of an abandoned underwater laboratory, Tektite was once the site of a joint project between NASA, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Department of Interior. Anchored at approximately 50 feet above the seafloor, this empty facility is a spectacle worth viewing all on its own. With tunnels that are encrusted in colorful coral, ledges, and numerous caves, Tektite is also home to triggerfish, tarpon, mackerel, and squid.

Congo Cay

Congo Cay is the ideal site to visit when gearing up for your very first post-certification dive. With ample shallow areas, those who are still adapting to their scuba equipment can enjoy a visual feast of soft coral and teeming reef fish. There are also numerous grottoes to explore, and plenty of opportunities to catch sight of sharks and sea turtles.

Scuba Diving Outfits in St. John

Gearing up for scuba diving is a cinch. Despite the constantly warm waters of St. John, you may want to bring a wetsuit. Everything else can be easily rented from local diving companies that provide both outfits and all required instruction.

Scuba Diving Tips

Prior to heading out to St John, USVI for your first scuba dive, there are a few things you'll need to do, such as:

  • Get your scuba diving certification
  • Gear-up at a local rental facility
  • Choose a daytime or night-time excursion and add it to your trip itinerary

After you do that, take advantage of the tips that follow for a seamless, stress-free experience all-around.

1. Choose a PADI-Approved Diving Instructor

Before scuba diving in St. John, you'll have to get certified. Certification comes from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Fortunately, this is always a quick, hassle-free experience. More importantly, it will get you comfortable with using scuba equipment and help you get optimum enjoyment from all of your solo underwater excursions. Students should be at least 10 years of age, and be prepared for both contained water diving and open water diving experiences.

Low Key Watersports is a great place to get your scuba certification on St. John. As a 5-Star PADI instructor development dive facility, Low Key Water Sports makes learning the ropes easy. They offer daily scuba diving trips, nighttime excursions, and certification classes for both new divers and those who are looking to advance their certification.

2. Bring Your Own Wetsuit

Another great place to get your scuba certification in St. John is Cruz Bay Watersports. Both Low Key Watersport and Cruz Bay Watersports will provide all of the needed scuba gear when you choose these companies to escort you on your day or nighttime scuba excursions. 

However, you must bring your own wetsuit. In tropical locations like St. John, the water is generally warm enough to do all of your diving in a typical swimsuit. 

The benefit of having wetsuit, though, is being able to keep your skin protected from accidental brushes against rough corals and from painful encounters with marine creatures that sting. The best wetsuits for this environment are 1 to 3mm thick. If you want to bare more skin, consider purchasing a "shorty" wetsuit that stretches all the way to the knees and elbows and keeps your core or abdomen protected.

One place to stay if you are scuba diving during a vacation in Cruz Bay is at The Hills St John. Their luxury villas sit high on a hill which provides breathtaking views of Cruz Bay and across to St. Thomas. The Hills are a must visit, and the resort is centrally located to beaches, restaurants, grocery stores and gift shops.

3. Breathe Easy

Your scuba diving certification course will cover all of the basics of diving safely. However, the most important thing for every new and experienced diver to remember is to breathe easy and non-stop. Never hold your breath when you dive. Relax, enjoy your surroundings, and breathe continuously from the start of each dive to its finish. 

Unlike when you snorkel or free dive, you'll be breathing air when scuba diving that's compressed to the same pressure as the underwater environment around you. Continuous breathing is essential for protecting your lungs and preventing problems when rising to the surface. Once you've got this essential skill mastered, you can safely explore the waters and marine life of St. John to your heart's content.

As the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John has an unspoiled landscape, a captivating history and a wealth of things to see and do. Certified scuba divers can move beyond appreciating the shoreline to experience the diverse range of species that teem in the local waters. With scuba diving, you can take your exotic getaway to entirely new levels of discovery and intrigue.

Book Your Condo or Luxury Villa in St. John

The helpful staff at The Hills St. John can help you with your scuba diving itinerary and all the wonderful things the U.S. Virgin Islands have to offer. If you would like to find out more about Luxury USVI Condo and Villa Rentals at The Hills St. John, please contact us at 800-727-6610. 

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