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Dive Review of SCUBA/Villa Margarita in
Virgin Islands/St. Croix

SCUBA/Villa Margarita, Jan, 2006,

by JoAn Ferguson, VA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 2269.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Caribbean (several locations), Hawaii, Florida Keys
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, cloudy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 79 to 79 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 0 to 0 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions no time limits, but long bottom times led to short surface intervals
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Dive Op was good about handing camera down and up; seperate rinse bucket for cameras

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments
Jim, my husband, and I took our first empty nester vacation to St. Croix. We picked the destination because of their wall dives, easy travel, and curiosity. We wanted to check out this US Virgin Island destination.

The diving was good and would have been better if we had more cooperative weather. Diving was cancelled one day due to high winds and surf, the next day was rough, and a few other days were cloudy and rainy. Despite that, the wall dives were awesome. Lots of small to medium size tropical fish lots of butterflyfish, tangs, surgeonfish, grunts, etc. We saw small-to-medium sized turtles which were surprisingly comfortable around the divers. Saw one large stingray, but no eagle rays, sharks, or other big guys. The coral was in good shape lots of barrel sponges, but also some areas of bleaching.

We selected S.C.U.B.A. (St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventures) as a dive op because they seem to have one of the larger operations on the island with good safety equipment and a real boat. (Several ops use various kinds of inflatable boats and we wanted something more substantial.) They boast of having the The Friendliest Dive Shop on Earth and everyone in the shop and on the boat was very friendly. However, I did have some concerns with the dive op

On one dive I was missing 4 pounds of weight so I struggled with my buoyancy through most of my dive; I should have checked my set up after the divemaster put everything together. The trouble began when we started slowly ascending on the second half of the dive. I had been fighting to stay down, so my breathing was increased making the problem worse. I tried to get some extra weight, but wasnt successful. I ended up doing a rapid ascent from about 45 feet with no safety stop. I surfaced a good 100 yards from the boat, so had a lengthy surface swim. I used my Air Alert to notify the captain. I was pretty pooped when I got to the boat. I asked for oxygen, but unfortunately their oxygen tank was emptied. They kept me on the 33% Nitrox that I had used during the dive as an interim step then took me to a nearby Dive Op that they had called that had oxygen. Just to be safe, S.C.U.B.A suggested that I go to the St. Croix hospital to be checked out. The hospital did a good job at handling this dive incident a quick triage, a comprehensive neurological exam, and some chest X-rays. No diving for a few days, but many lessons learned.

We stayed at Villa Margarita, located near Salt River and a 20 minute drive from Christiansted. Villa Margarita has a beautiful setting - views from suites look onto gorgeous Caribbean waters, a steady breeze onto the pool area and into the suites, and a quick walk down to the beach. Our suite was immaculate and well equipped. The kitchen had a medium sized refrigerator, small microwave, coffee maker, toaster, 2 burner hot plate, and electric skillet. Dishes, utensils, glasses, etc. were provided - along with soap for hand washing. Very friendly environment. John and Adelle (owners) make everyone feel like they are at home. The evening happy hours give everyone a chance to share their day's experiences and relax with new friends. We shared meals with the other couples several times.

Because of the weather and my diving incident, we spent less time diving than expected on St. Croix. I was pleasantly surprised at the quantity and quality of surface interval activities that we found. The island has a rich history that is presented effectively at several museums and less developed sites, such as the sugar plantation ruins scattered across the island. We drove to Point Udall, the most eastern part of the United States, visited the islands smallish casino, drove through the rain forest, and toured the Cruzan Rum Factory.

Overall, Id like to give this island a second chance. Id pick a different time of the year (better weather) and a different dive op. But Id stay at Villa Margarita for sure!
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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