Buck Island St Croix: Ultimate Guide for the Perfect Day Trip
If you google top things to do, Buck Island St Croix will always be on everyone’s list and rightfully so. Located about 1.5 miles off the northeastern end of the island of St Croix, this gorgeous island offers plenty of outdoor activities including hiking, snorkeling, and relaxing on the beautiful Turtle Beach. The park was designated as a Marine Protected Area in 2001, so the reef and the endangered turtles that call Buck Island home are protected.
Excited to check it out? First, you need a boat.
Our Video Tour of Buck Island St Croix
How to Get to Buck Island St Croix
You can’t swim there, so you must have access to a boat. It cannot just be any boat, but one that is specifically allowed by the National Park Service to take tourists to Buck Island. There are 5 approved companies, which operate out of Christiansted, Green Cay Marina, or the St Croix Yacht Club.
Where to snorkel at Buck Island St Croix USVI
Which Tour Company to Pick
5 APPROVED TOUR OPERATORS
WHICH ONE DID WE CHOOSE?
Llewellyn’s Charter! Why? 3 reasons
#1 Low number of passengers
Llewellyn only takes 6 passengers at a time. If you ever been on a snorkeling tour, you know how important it is to pick a company that takes small groups. The last thing you want is a bunch of people kicking you in the face with their fins as you all try to check out the same marine life at one time.
#2 Excellent reputation
Llewellyn has been doing this for a while … since 1960 to be exact. Needless to say, he has many, many, many amazing reviews! Although Llewellyn was not able to personally accompany us on our tour, I was informed by a kind reader he is back in action and sailing with fellow guests once again!
#3 No motors, only sails
On our tour to Buck Island, we sailed on a 37-foot trimaran sailboat. Without an engine, we enjoyed breathing in the fresh air without any gas smells as our expert crew operated the sails to safely navigate us over to the island.
Llewellyn’s Charter Sailboat at Turtle Beach at Buck Island St Croix
PRO TIP: One thing to be aware of is Llewellyn’s Charter does not offer any food or alcoholic drinks. If you are looking for that experience (with many more people), then book with one of the bigger tour operators. However, if you are looking for a small-group tour that offers a better snorkeling experience, then this is it!
How to get to Llewellyn’s Charter
If you follow Google Maps to get to St Croix Yacht Club, it will tell you to turn on Mooring Road. Do not follow those instructions. Instead, pass the two road signs for Mooring Road and shortly after you will see a sign for St Croix Yacht Club on your left. See the map below.
Type in the code at the gated entrance provided by Llewellyn’s Charter, and you are there!
Directions to St Croix Yacht Club
Outside of St Croix Yacht Club
Stop #1: Underwater Snorkeling Trail
We love snorkeling, so my husband and I purchased our own snorkeling gear for our travels a while back. I highly advise getting your own properly-fitted gear. This is essential for having the best underwater experience. Having a mask that keeps fogging or fins that want to fall off will ruin your experience.
After putting our gear on and throwing a life jacket over our chest (they are required), we hopped off the boat and entered the clear waters.
We followed our guide along the underwater trail. The Christmas winds were starting to pick up on the day we went, so the snorkeling was difficult due to the choppy water. However, we were still able to see some amazing marine life including a barracuda, parrotfish, and blue tangs. The true highlight of this excursion though was seeing a massive school of Jacks.
Be prepared that most of the coral is dead, but there are some beautiful sections of elkhorn and brain coral. Buck Island is just one of the many snorkeling locations you can enjoy around St Croix. If you love snorkeling, check out my article on the Top 5 St Croix Snorkeling Locations. If you are also heading over to St John, also see my complete guide on the Top St John Snorkeling Sites.
Close up of School of Jack Fish at Buck Island St Croix
PRO TIP: If snorkeling is the reason you are coming to St Croix, avoid coming during the Christmas winds. I did not realize this was a thing before we arrived. The wind makes the water choppy and the visibility will not be as good. If it is windy, usually the western side of the island will be calmer for snorkeling (such as Frederiksted Pier or Sand Castle).
Stop #2: Turtle Beach
After our snorkeling excursion, we sailed over to the stunning Turtle Beach. This is the quintessential Caribbean beach with soft white sand and beautiful turquoise waters. You can also hike the main trail on the island that takes you to the top. It takes about 45 minutes roundtrip. We were too tired after snorkeling so opted to just relax. There is no snorkeling around Turtle Beach.
Turtle Beach at Buck Island St Croix USVI
Buck Island St Croix sign
How Long is the Buck Island Tour
We arrived at St Croix Yacht Club at 9 am and were back around 1 pm, so plan for 4 hours. Because we were already on the eastern end of the island, we then swung by to check out Point Udall and then had a wonderful lunch at a gas station called Ziggy’s Island Market. Yes, a gas station, and it was delicious! It is kind of a thing here in St Croix. Don’t miss it.
Ziggy’s Famous Cubano
What to Bring for the Buck Island St Croix Tour
REEF SAFE SUNSCREEN
I love Coloscience Sunforgettable Total Protection Sport Stick SPF 50. It is easy to apply before and after snorkeling and is super portable.
You are going to be in the sun all day between snorkeling and spending time at the beach. Wear a sun shirt! I love Coolibar shirts!
Bring your own towel to dry off.
The sun is intense, and it’s a long day! Wear a hat.
They do provide snorkeling gear, but I always like to bring my own. Having the right gear will make a world of difference in your underwater experience.
WATER BOTTLE + SNACKS
Llewellyn’s Charter provides water, but I still brought my own water bottle too. Stay hydrated! Remember no food is provided and you expend a lot of energy snorkeling around in the sun. We brought some Kind bars and snacks to hold us over.
Where to Stay Near Buck Island St Croix
We rented a villa in Cane Bay and loved the location! The only downside is it is a little far from getting over to Buck Island (40 minutes) but is also close to a lot of great attractions like Annaly Bay, Mt Eagle hike, Frederiksted Pier, etc. I have detailed all these amazing attractions in my article on the Top 13 Things to Do in St Croix.
Villa rental at Cane Bay overlooking the ocean
If you are in St Croix, visiting Buck Island is a must but try to avoid a windy day because snorkeling becomes extremely difficult. Also, be aware of the Christmas winds. We made the best of the situation, but I would love to come back and try snorkeling again on a calm day. Also, book your excursion with Llewellyn’s Charter and enjoy the small group tour!
Trying to figure out how to piece together an incredible itinerary while in St Croix? Check out my daily itinerary below.
St Croix Yacht Club Lizard. They are huge! I didn’t get too close.
Have you been to Buck Island? What was your snorkeling experience like?
Let me know in the comments below!