My husband and I and another couple just completed a trip to St. John, US Virgin Islands. We rented a villa through Catered To Vacation Homes and did several days of diving while there. The villa was everything the advertising promised and more – we were very satisfied with our accommodations and arrangements – luxurious yet affordable for two couples. It was up in Gifft Hill neighborhood, with beautiful view of St. Thomas. We pre-arranged our diving with 6-Paq Divers, a one-woman operation run by Collette Diede. It was an unmitigated disaster, and we ended up aborting our 4th day of diving and dived with Low Key Divers the remainder of our stay. We experienced equipment breakage, unsafe boat handling, unsafe dive practices, and inexperienced crew. Her boat is a small runabout with dual outboards; it is a self-bailing design but she did not have the one-way flaps in the scuppers so when at the dock or dive site the boat had 6 inches of water in it. So, we lost a great deal of money but felt we could not continue to dive with her, for safety reasons. We went to Low Key Divers. They were highly professional, friendly, had three DMs and a captain for a boat with 12-14 divers, and very organized. While we typically like small, personal operations over the larger ones, it was heaven compared to our experience with 6-Paq. Anyone who dives with her is diving with an unsafe and incompetent operation.
As for the diving itself – reefs are OK, but silted in pretty significantly (possible runoff from storms). Not the best of the Caribbean, but always nice to see what is underwater. We had done the Rhone on a previous trip to BVI, so focused on reefs within USVI - Stephens Cay, Mingo Cay, Calf and Cow, Grass Cay. Shallow dives (ave depth 35 ft) and VERY short intervals on two tank dives (they do a 45 minute interval starting with first returned diver; hardly time to get warmed up). Saw lots of turtles, and typical array of reef fishes including plentiful trumpetfish, butterfly fish, grouper, spotted drum, parrot fish, porcupine fish, damselfish, wrasses, chromis, jacks, etc. Very few angelfish, and not as many eels as the habitat would suggest.
Great places to eat – from super expensive if you want fancy (but not necessarily best food!) to the local barbeque stands (Tonys up on Gifft Hill, or Joes in town, in Cruz Bay) and West Indian local places (SoJos is outstanding). Our favorite places were Rhumb Line and La Tapas. Lime Inn was very good. The Fish Trap was not nearly as good as advertised.
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