Villa Margarita St Croix USVI

Turtle Beach on Buck Island

About Turtle Beach St. Croix

Turtle Beach is voted one of the top 10 prettiest beaches in the world.  Located on Buck Island 1.5 miles off the coast of St Croix.   It is simply stunning….no other word can describe it better!  It is a long stretch of sugary white sand and crystal clear waters. Lay on the powdery sand and soak up the sun’s rays. It’s a great spot for swimming and snorkeling because the currents here are not strong. It’s also great for walks on the beach, hiking around, and a nice lunch (if you bring it…there are no restaurants or bars here). There is not much shade here so be sure to pack your sunscreen and a wear a hat.

Turtle Beach Buck Island St Croix Us Virgin Islands

Turtle Beach on Buck Island St Croix Us Virgin Islands

Turtle Beach’s main attractions are its incredible beach, a 4000-acre barrier reef housing over 250 species of fish, and an underwater snorkeling trail. Buck Island is a protected Landmark of the National Parks and is uninhabited by people. On the East Side of the island you’ll find some of the best snorkeling in the US Virgin Islands, and certainly the best snorkeling in St Croix. Beginners can snorkel Buck Island’s coral grottoes with advice and a short lesson from the boat crew. You’ll find here the famous Buck Island underwater trail sure to delight people of all ages. Up to six people at a time can go on the trail along with a guide.

Swim with turtles

Living up to its name, Turtle Beach is one of the best spots to spot sea turtles and even swim with turtles.  The protected habitat of the island provides a natural place for turtles to occupy, similar to what you find when you swim with turtles in St. Thomas.

Regarding other marine life, Turtle Beach St Croix is known for its schools of blue tang, angelfish, parrotfish and many other beautiful and exotic fish. There are also usually a number of sea turtles hanging out here as well. And lots of beautiful corals of all shapes, colors and sizes!

Turtle Beach on Buck Island St Croix Us Virgin Islands usvi caribbean beaches

Turtle Beach on Buck Island St Croix Us Virgin Islands

When you’re done with swimming or snorkeling, you can have lunch on the island before you hop back on your boat for a relaxing sail back to the mainland of St. Croix.

turtle beach photo

Turtle Beach Map

map turtle beach buck island st. croix virgin islands

Map of Turtle Beach on Buck Island

History

People have been coming to Buck Island for over 2000 years to enjoy its amazing beaches and marine life.  More recently, when the Kennedys visited St. Croix in the ’50s they stopped over at Buck Island and were so impressed with the island that they wanted to preserve it for future generations .

Returning home, they put in motion the steps which would eventually result in Buck Island becoming a protected National Park as well as Buck Island Reef National Monument is now one of only two Underwater National Monuments in the United States.  History buffs can read the actual Buck Island legislation here which President Jon F. Kennedy introduced in 1961. 

Being a National Monument protects a complete coral reef ecosystem and many endangered species.  Size-wise, the island is a mile long and and a quarter-mile mile wide.  It hosts the breeding grounds of a number of protected animals as well as a protected marine area of 19,000 acres. The beach is a nesting ground for Hawksbill sea turtles and the island a nesting ground for endangered brown pelicans and other wildlife.

Fun fact: although Buck Island’s size is over 19,000 acres, only two hundred acres are above the water!

Facilities

Turtle Beach St Croix has restrooms, grills and a picnic area provided and maintained by the National Park Service. There are also a fair amount of shade trees to take a break from the sun.

Getting there

Buck Island St Croix is accessible only by boat or kayak.  There is no fee to access the island on a private boat, but a permit is required

Buck Island tours

Most visitors to St. Croix usually use a Buck Island tour operator.  Since it is a National Monument, you can select from 6 official tour operators that can transport you to and from the island.  Most leave from the boardwalk in Christiansted, for either a half-day tour or a full-day tour. Tour prices can vary based on the season. Unless you charter a private tour, all operator will take you to the same places. 

Half-Day Tours:  Prices range from $60-85/person depending on season.   Both morning or afternoon trips are offered, and the tour length is around 3 1/2 hours. Tour timings are usually 9am-12:30pm and 1pm-4:30pm.

Full-Day Tours:  Full-day Buck Island tours are usually around 6 hours long and can cost $105-$120 per person.  Check around with different tour companies to see who has the best deal. 

What’s the difference between the half-day and full-day tours?  On the full-day tours is that you get more time on Turtle Beach and in the water, especially for snorkeling.  Full-day also includes lunch lunch on the beach before returning to Christiansted.  So choose which option fits your budget and time schedule, but for sure, if you have the time and budget then the full-day Buck Island tour will provide more memories! 

Here is a list of companies providing Buck Island tours who can take you to Turtle Beach; their fees are usually based on either full or half-day excursions:

Big Beard’s Adventure Tours

1247 Queen Cross St at The Caravelle Hotel, leaves from the Christiansted Harbor
Christiansted, St. Croix   Tel:  340-773-4482

Caribbean Sea Adventures

59 King’s Wharf, Christiansted.  Leaves from the Christiansted Harbor  Tel: 340-773 2628

Teroro 2:  phone 340-718-3161, email teroro@msn.com   Leaves from Green Cay Marina

Jolly Rogers Charter   Tel:  340-513-2508   Leaves from the Christiansted Harbor

Llewellyen Charters   Leaves from the St. Croix Yacht Club

Dragonfly  Leaves from Green Cay Marina

What to take on Buck Island tours

Sunscreen & Sunglasses & hat
Beach Towel and bag
Camera/Phone

If you have GoPro, this is a great place to get some underwater photos and videos!

Most operators provide snorkeling equipment on the tour, so you don’t have to worry about bringing goggles, a snorkel or fins. But always check first!

Buck Island Videos

Here’s a nice video about Buck island on Youtube:

buck island st croix videos

Restrictions

No camping:  you are not allowed to camp overnight on Turtle Beach or anywhere else on Buck Island St. Croix.

Open Only daylight hours:  The park is closed from sunset to sunrise to protect nesting sea turtles which come ashore at night. You can anchor your boat within a designated area by permit only.

No pets or vehicles:   Pets, vehicles, artificial light, glass containers and loud music are not allowed on Buck Island St Croix. And you can build fires only in the grills which are provided by the National Park Service. As with other St Croix beaches, you are not allowed to dig for tent poles or beach umbrellas on Turtle Beach, sorry.

Other Buck Island resources

Here is an interesting old map from 1799, one of the first to detail the Buck Island and its reef structure:

old Buck Isalnd map

1799 Map of Buck Island

Turtle Beach Photos

A collection of photos, all taken on Buck Island:

buck island day trip

Catamaran on Buck Island

 

buck island st croix clear water

Incredible clear water on Buck Island

 

walking buck island st croix

Walking on Turtle Beach on Buck Island

 

turtle beach buck island st croix

Turtle Beach on Buck Island

blue tang fish

School of blue tang off Turtle Beach

boat tours buck island st-croix

Adventure boat parked on the beach

aerial view buck island

Aerial view of Buck island and its large reef

dolphin buck island st croix

A dolphin seen undewater

dolphins swimming buck island st croix

Two dolphins as seen from Turtle Beach

snorkeling on Buck Island in St Croix

Wonderful snorkeling in clear waters!

Spotted Eagle Rays Buck Island St Croix

Spotted Eagle Rays

Turtle on Buck Island

Turtle on Buck Island

snorkeling on Buck Island in St Croix

Great snorkeling on the reef!

Plaque on the underwater trail on Buck Island

Gorgonian coral on the Buck reef

So now you know all about Turtle Beach St Croix!

Back to St Croix beaches main page

photo credits: Vinow.com

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