Life Under Foot
Soft corals grow to within inches of the planks.
Frederiksted Pier, St. Croix
St. Croix’s Frederiksted Pier is a tale of two dives. The original pier was virtually destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Most of the parts left standing were towed to another dive site, and a new Frederiksted Pier was built in its place. In just a few years, marine life has already taken hold, and together, the two piers have become one of the Caribbean’s hottest dive sites.
As you head out to the new pier, you’ll pass some pilings and “dolphins” from the old pier, as well as some scattered debris courtesy of Hugo. Don’t rush through the old section, though, as it’s a perfect hiding spot for seahorses, trunkfish, batfish and lots of moray eels.
It takes many divers many dives to get past the section that’s left from the original pier. But ignore the new pier at your peril — it ripples with the syncopated streams of baitfish that wind and spin around the pilings in the shallow water. Sponges are becoming increasingly prominent, and frogfish, batfish and seahorses have taken up residence along the new pier’s pylons.
If you have the time, make both a day dive and a night dive. Like all great pier dives, the Frederiksted Pier erupts at night. Several species of shrimp reveal themselves with shining eyes, and octopuses come out to patrol through the remains. The new pier also plays host to a number of topside activities, so check with the shops to see what might be going on during your night dive. For example, bands often play on the pier at night, so your dive might be accompanied by the not-so-distant sounds of steel drums. — Ty Sawyer
Make It Happen
The Frederiksted Pier is as famous as the beer-swilling pig at the Montpellier Domino Club. Every dive shop on the island will visit the site at least once during a typical week of diving; if you want to dive it more than once, arrange to do a shore dive.