Just about a mile and a half
off the north coast of St. Croix you will find an idyllic little island
called Buck Island. Buck Island Reef National Monument was first protected
by the US Government in 1948 to "preserve one of the finest marine gardens
in the Caribbean Sea". Then in 1961, it was established as a National
Monument by President Kennedy.
The park was expanded by President Clinton
to include much of the water surrounding the island, an act which was not
well liked by the local fisherman. The park is one of a few fully marine
protected areas in the National Park System. The 176-acre island and
surrounding coral reef ecosystem support a large variety of native flora
and fauna, including over 250 fish species and a variety of other marine
life including spotted eagle rays, Barracuda, and schools of squid.
nesting season which runs from April through December, endangered
Leatherback turtles struggle their way up onto the beach to nest while
Green turtles and Hawksbill turtles nest during March thru August. Turtle
Beach on the western edge of Buck Island has a spectacular and pristine
white sand beach. The powder white sands of this beach has been voted one
of the world's most beautiful beaches by National Geographic and the
snorkeling is some of the best in the
Buck Island St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
The large majority of the Monument area,
which is administered by the
National Park Service, is found underwater and attracts around
50,000 visitors a year. This is a wonderful place to take a
snorkeling tour or sailing tour.
The island features a 4,554-acre long reef with lots to
explore and experience in the water so if you take a snorkeling tour to
the island, you will enjoy following an underwater trail on the eastern
tip of the reef. The Buck Island trail is one of only three underwater
trails in the United States. As you snorkel above the trail, you will
see plaques on the sea bottom with information about marine flora and
fauna found in and around the reef.
Two-thirds of the island is
surrounded by an Elkhorn coral barrier reef, much of which was heavily
damaged during hurricane Hugo in 1989. Since then, the reef and beach
turtle nesting areas have made a remarkable recovery and are very active
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