The anchorages on St. Croix:
Buck Island is located 1.5 miles (2.4km) north of the eastern end of St Croix Island in the USVI’s. It is protected by the Buck Island Reef National Monument and is uninhabited. Most of the island is surrounded by reef, with daytime moorings being available in the lagoon and anchoring off West Beach.
Buck Island is known for its natural beauty and vibrant ecosystem and has been a Marine Protected Area since 2001. The waters were first offered national protection back in 1941. Yellow buoys mark the limits of the park and within these waters fishing is prohibited and pets must stay aboard the vessel.
The island is located south of St Thomas and north of Saint Croix and has a light that is useful when navigating at night. Be aware that there is no light marking the eastern tip of the island.
The coordinates for Buck Island are: 18° 24′ 59.99″ N, -64° 32′ 59.99″ W
Before visiting Buck Island, a permit must be obtained from the National Park Service Headquarters in Christiansted. This can be done in person or via email. It can take up to five days to be approved, and a permit must be granted before visiting the park.
The overnight anchorage is on the west end of the island, at West Beach. Approach from the south to avoid the reef and rocks. While the island offers some protection, this anchorage is generally quite exposed. To enter the lagoon where daytime mooring can be permitted, approach from the south and come in through the channel just east of Diedrichs Point.
Where to Anchor
During the day, vessels with a permit can anchor in the West Beach anchoring area. There are no facilities available but the beach is sandy so a tender can be driven to the shore.
The island is closed overnight, but vessels can stay in the anchorage if they have been granted a special permit to do so.
On the eastern end of the island is a lagoon where vessels with a permit can attach to a mooring. The channel to enter the lagoon is at the southern tip of the island, east of Diedrichs Point.
Vessels over 42 feet are not allowed in the lagoon and no vessels are allowed to stay in the lagoon at night. There are also no facilities
While Buck Island is only small, it is teeming with life on land and below the sea. Due to the fact it is a national park, there are some well looked after, clean beaches:
West Beach is a white sandy beach that is next to the permitted anchorage area. It has picnic tables and charcoal grills. There are signed hiking trails from West Beach; one ends at Diedrichs Point and the other, which is easier, ends at the beach where visitors can walk back to the picnic area.
Diedricks Point has a short jetty from which smaller boats can access the shore. On land, there are picnic tables, charcoal grills, and a 20-foot square shelter. A signed hiking trail winds its way through the island, all the way to West Beach. The walk takes approximately 45 minutes.
Turtle Beach is on the northwest side of the island. The beach is sandy and the water is typically calm with no surf breaks. It is a nesting ground for a range of endangered species including green sea turtles, leatherback turtles and the brown pelican.
Places of Interest
Buck Island is secluded with no facilities, making it a space for sailors wanting to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. There is a heavy focus on preserving the natural environment.
Things to do
Buck Island is all about snorkeling and scuba diving.
Typically, the waters within the protected lagoon are calm, meaning there is high visibility. There are shallow grottos that can easily be explored by competent snorkelers, as the maximum water depth is approximately 12 feet. At the north end of the lagoon, there is also a signed underwater trail, that has markers that describe the different fish and coral species in the area.
Scuba diving is allowed in the lagoon at two designated places, which are approximately 30-40 feet deep. The highlight of these dive spots in the elkhorn coral formations.
Snorkelling at Turtle Beach can also be a great experience for those who enjoy spotting marine wildlife. As well as turtles, the beach is home to a few friendly stingrays.