Operating since 1985, Underwater Safaris is a PADI Gold Palm Instructor development Center Resort Facility with a record for safety unequaled by any other organization. The dive boats are U.S. Coast Guard inspected driven by a licensed captain, and all instructors are PADI-trained with years of experience leading both certified and non-certified divers.
For Divers with less experience we have sites ranging from depths of 35′ to 55′ that offer very relaxed diving with little or no surge or current and outstanding visibility. More advanced divers would enjoy the challenge of the Kennedy and the Miss Opportunity. Certified PADI Divemasters and Instructors accompany all divers throughout the dive tour giving informative pre-dive briefings. They also point out unique marine life and any hazards along the way, greatly enhancing the overall educational value, safety and enjoyment of the dives.
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Boats and Equipment Rental
Underwater Safaris operates U.S. Coast Guard certified dive boats. The two Corinthian 45′ power catamarans are certified for forty-nine divers/passengers each. However, our boats are rarely filled to their limit giving the diver room to spread out.
All dive boats utilized by Underwater Safaris are inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard and certified for specific use and number of passengers and comply with all U.S. Coast Guard and local marine authorities’ rules, regulations and laws.
Each of the dive boats utilized by Underwater Safaris are equipped with the best available oxygen kits provided by D.A.N. (Divers Alert Network).
All members of the dive crew including captains as well as instructors are trained and competent to provide CPR, First Aid and Oxygen in an emergency. In addition, all safety equipment required by U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities such as life preservers, life rings, fire extinguishers, flares, life rafts as well as a VHF marine radio and cellular phone is on board for handling traffic and emergency communications. Additionally, the St. Thomas hospital has an operable recompression chamber and fully trained staff.
UWS offers a full complement of PADI scuba classes from Open Water to Assistant Instructor including Advanced Open Water, Advanced Plus, Rescue Diver, Diver Master, and Medic First Aid. As one of the largest dive operators in the U.S. Virgin Islands with multiple dive trips daily, we can accommodate your training needs during your island visit. All of our instructional dives are boat dives which means equipment is already loaded by our staff and the boat takes you right to pristine dive sites eliminating multiple transfers of gear, long surface swims to mediocre dive sites, and long walks from parking lots and beaches. Contact UWS today to discuss your training needs and schedule.
Our diving equipment consists of industry state-of-the-art Sherwood regulators, Sea Quest BC’s and the latest technology in soft weight belts. All of our gear is regularly inspected, making immediate repairs at our internal repair facility when necessary. Outdated and sun faded BC’s are disposed of and replaced on a regular basis.
UNDERWATER SAFARIS IS A PADI GOLD PALM INSTRUCTOR 5 STAR DIVING CENTER
The Gold Palm designation recognizes dive centers that have demonstrated a commitment to providing complete and exceptional services to the traveling diver.
In addition, the Gold Palm Instructor Development Center rating indicates that the facility not only meets all Gold Palm Resort standards, but also offers PADI Instructor-level training. Gold Palm Resort recipients are recognized for presenting a professional image and considering customer satisfaction, dive experiences, education, safety and environmental awareness as important aspects of their business.
The main retail shop and administrative headquarters is located at the Yacht Haven Marina, formerly Ramada Yacht Haven Hotel and Marina that is immediately adjacent to the St. Thomas cruise ship dock. A second location serves Marriott’s Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Beach Resorts located at the entrance of the harbor and close to the cruise ship dock. Underwater Safaris has been described by Skin Diver Magazine as “the best stocked dive shop in the Caribbean,” and is clearly the premiere dive shop on St. Thomas and St. John.
DISCOVER SCUBA DIVING IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
The introductory scuba couse allows those who have never tried it to safely experience the thrill of scuba diving in just a half day! Participants of the introductory scuba divng course learn about diving in three simple steps.
First, a brief orientation is given by a certified scuba instructor, followed by the first experience of scuba in a pool-like body of water. Finally, under the careful supervision of your certified instructor, first timers go on an actual scuba dive in shallow calm water.
UNDERWATER SAFARIS PADI SCUBA CLASSES
UWS offers a full complement of PADI scuba classes from Open Water to Assistant Instructor including Advanced Open Water, Advanced Plus, Rescue Diver, Diver Master, and Medic First Aid.
As one of the largest dive operators in the U.S. Virgin Islands with multiple dive trips daily, we can accommodate your training needs during your island visit.
All of our instructional dives are boat dives which means equipment is already loaded by our staff and the boat takes you right to pristine dive sites eliminating multiple transfers of gear, long surface swims to mediocre dive sites, and long walks from parking lots and beaches.
ADVANCED OPEN WATER CERTIFICATION
Did you know that an Open Water certified diver can become an Advanced certified diver in one weekend? PADI now allows three certification dives in one day so that advanced certification which requires five dives can now be completed in just two days.
- Underwater Navigation Dive
- Deep Dive
- Night Dive
- Wreck Dive
- Underwater Naturalist or other specialty dive
PADI SPECIALTY DIVER COURSES
Do you want to know what it is you are swimming next to while diving? This course is designed to be an introduction to the underwater world. It teaches divers how to develop safe and responsible interactions with the aquatic life while improving personal awareness of this natural environment. Our marine biologist on staff will help you identify the local tropical fish, plants, and other wildlife. Course fee includes all required equipment, instruction, two boat dives, and the PIC card for the certification. Two dives in one day.
Would you like to create physical memories of your dives? Entice friends and family by showing them pictures illustrating the wonderful creatures you are privileged to dive with! Learn how to setup, maintain, and take pictures with an underwater camera. The cost of the course covers the instruction, gear, boat dives, one roll of film, and the PIC card for certification. Cameras are not included, therefore, each diver needs to provide their own camera either personal or rent one from the dive shop. Two boat dives on one day.
ENRICHED AIR SPECIALTY
Every diver’s dream is to spend more time underwater. Imagine being able to increase your bottom time by 50% or more depending on your depth and the mixture of air in your tank! This course consists of an 8-hour instructor presentation, 2 dives conducted from a dive boat, and PIC card for certification. Two dives in one day.
Swim into a wreck and imagine what it was like when it floated. Feel the excitement when you explore the insides of a shipwreck and all the mysteries it left behind! Develop the skills, knowledge and techniques used while exploring a piece of history. You will practice navigating, mapping, and penetrating a wreck. Course fee includes all required equipment, instruction, four boat dives, and the PIC card for the certification. Four dives on two days.
When the sun sets, a whole different world wakes up underwater! Diving at night can introduce you to marine life that you do not normally see during the daylight hours! This course is designed to be an introduction by developing the skills, knowledge and techniques necessary for night diving. You will learn how to properly mark your dive site, use and maintain dive lights, and navigate underwater. Course fee includes all required equipment, instruction, three boat dives, and the PIC card for the certification. Three dives on two days.
Experience Nitrogen Narcosis under supervision of a PADI Instructor. Dive down from 60 to130 feet (18 to 39.5 meters)! Familiarize yourself with the skills, knowledge, and techniques necessary in planning and conducting deep dives. You will learn the importance of proper safety equipment placement and dive table review. Course fee includes all required equipment, instruction, four boat dives, and the PIC card for the certification. Four dives on Two days.
PEAK PERFORMANCE BUOYANCY
Are you tired of constantly playing with your inflator hose, poor visibility caused by divers, or scraping your knees on the coral? Improve your buoyancy with practical exercises and skill development. You will learn how to stay off the bottom avoiding damage to the delicate reef, your equipment, and your knees! This will not only enhance your diving ability, but it will also prevent you from stirring up bottom sediment, which decreases visibility. Course fee includes all required equipment, instruction, two boat dives, and the PIC card for the certification. Two dives on one day.
Have you ever found yourself disoriented underwater despite your best efforts to pay attention to where you are? Avoid long surface swims and surfacing to see where you are by learning how to navigate yourself back to the boat or entry point every time! You will be introduced to a variety of techniques and patterns used to help you find your way around while diving. You will also review the use of a compass as well as natural navigation. Course fee includes all required equipment, instruction, three boat dives, and the PIC card for the certification. Three dives on two days.
SEARCH AND RECOVERY DIVER
Have you or anyone you know ever lost something in the water never to be found again? Be the hero/heroin when you develop the skills, knowledge and techniques necessary for search and recovery diving. You will become familiar with different search patterns used to locate missing objects, the rigging of recovery equipment, and the surfacing of the recovered objects. Course fee includes all required equipment, instruction, four boat dives, and the PIC card for the certification. Four dives on two days.
Increase your bottom! Multilevel dives account for your ascent to shallower depths, therefore increasing your bottom time! This course includes instruction on the use of the wheel as well as computer diving. Course fee includes all required equipment (which does not include a dive computer), instruction, two boat dives, and the PIC card for the certification. Three dives on two days.
Are you tired of getting sand in all your gear, or climbing a rock garden just to get wet? Relax on the deck, take in some sun, keep an eye out for whales, or just enjoy the ride! Learn the proper procedures for diving from a boat. Course fee includes all required equipment, instruction, two boat dives, and the PIC card for the certification. Two dives on one day.
Originally, the Miss Opportunity was a World War II Navy Hospital barge. It was later used as office space in down town Charlotte Amalie’s helping the local population with job placement. This wreck rests in 90 feet of water, and the barge itself is 390 feet long. The Miss Opportunity lies fully intact, however, it is ¾ upside down. There is very rarely any current making this a low impact environment. We start with a tour of the outside of the wreck as we proceed into the stern section.
Because the ship is inverted, we pay close attention to the deck below us where we find light fixtures with the light bulbs still intact. As we look above us we discover tables, chairs, and other interesting objects that seem quite out of place. After a complete exploration through the belly of the wreck, we exit the bow section and proceed along the port side deck. This makes our tour a multilevel dive, maximizing bottom time. The Miss Opportunity is a very safe wreck due to its basic swim through, providing exits from almost every room. However, the layout of the wreck with its many passageways also offers the hardy wreck divers a chance to do their thing.
This wreck is one of the favorites on the island! The Wit Shoal is a 360-foot, old freighter ship that was on its way to Puerto Rico to be scrapped for parts. At the beginning of this journey, the seas picked up and snapped the towing cable loose allowing the great ship to sink right off of St. Thomas.
This wreck lays to rest in 90 feet of water. It is a more advanced dive due to its location, which frequently provides strong currents. The wreck provides many hallways, passages, and marine life to explore. The engine room is known to house a 600- pound jewfish! One of the favorite features to this dive is the head first swim down the smoke stacks which are encrusted with brightly colored corals.
The Kennedy is not it real name, it’s a navy transport barge. The aircraft carrier, John F. Kennedy offloading machinery to the barge during this procedure, the crane on the JFK dropped some equipment, crashing through the deck of the barge, sinking it just outside of the Charlotte Amalie’s harbor.
This is an excellent spot for the wreck as it is very close to the dive shop. The sand flats surrounding the wreck make for St. Thomas’ own stingray city. There are always too many stingrays hiding amongst the wreck to even count! It is also the home of a great barracuda that stops by to greet the divers as they enter the wreck which is also hevely crusted with soft corals. The Kennedy is safe and provides a leisurely tour with never any current to speak of.
Just a short ride away from the hustle and bustle of Charlotte Amalie’s shopping district, the wreck of the Navy Barges is a wonderful treat for any diver, beginner or advanced. The wreck consists of two sunken Navy barges which came to rest on this spot thanks to the post World War II U.D.T. (underwater demolition team) training efforts. The two barges are situated parallel to each other just out of sight of each other so the journey from barge #1 to barge #2 affords divers the chance to spot large Southern Stingrays and turtles on the eel grass and sand flats between.
The walls are encrusted with a myriad of intricate corals and marine creatures and the corridors provide shelter for numerous fish and eels. At certain times, large nurse sharks can be observed in one of the holds. Because of its shallow depth, maximum of 45 feet, divers can explore this wreck site at a leisurely pace. It is also one of our favorite night dive spots.
Originally sunk by divers and brought to the cove at Buck Island, the Cartanser Senior has weathered several hurricanes and now sits in three sections. The wreck is covered with corals and sponges, but perhaps the most unique function that it serves as is an egg hatchery for Sergeant Major Fish.
These striped fish lay their eggs on the sides of the wreck and defend them mercilessly never straying far from their purple egg patch. Lucky for us they only get about 4 inches long and have no teeth.
If you get close enough, they will actually swim at you with all intentions of shooing you away from their precious brood. Another unique experience is spotting the rare Yellow Headed Jawfish which burrow into the sand and live tail first in their holes. Once you spot one, you will soon see lots more, hovering just over their holes, reversing in at the slightest sign of danger.
Wye Reef is often the companion dive to the wreck of the Senior Cartanza. Starting in shallow water, divers slowly descend along the fingers of reef which extend out towards the South. Lobsters, eels, grouper, turtles, rays and countless tropical fish inhabit this area. A popular site for divers, the Yellowfin Snappers have come to recognize divers as a possible source of food. They usually accompany us throughout the dive following along as if they were part of our “school”.
Another unique creature visible to the observant diver is the garden eel. These graceful creatures appear to be sea grass at first glance, are about as thin as a pencil and back down into their burrows in the sand the closer you get. There can be hundreds of these eels in the sand flats giving the illusion of a vast grass patch.
Coral mounds decorate the seascape at Snapper Valley. This dive site is located on the north side of Buck Island. Gorgonians and fan leaf algae cover the sea floor leading you over the edge of the reef where plate corals form dramatic overhangs. These overhangs house a wide variety of marine life passing the day in shade. If you peer underneath, you are likely to spot glass eye snappers, spotted drums, and occasionally nurse sharks! Enjoy the landscapes as schools of Creole wrasse pass by with blue tangs tagging along.
Since Buck Island is a turtle preserve, there is always the possibility of spotting a Hawksbill munching away on the algae. Another point of interest at this site is an anchor dating back to the 1700′s! This artifact is coral encrusted, but is an excellent find.
Deceptively extraordinary despite its close location to Charlotte Amalie Harbor, Spratt Point on calm days, offers divers a wonderland of swim-throughs and overhangs. Being a shallow dive, maximum of 45 feet but often less, the colors are spectacular. The coral formations are large and many have created sunlit swim-throughs where crustaceans and small fish hide from predators. This dramatic seascape of miniature valleys and ridges is often a favorite of our dive guests.
Andre’s Reef, located on the North shore of Buck Island, is a sloping ledge tapering down from a 35 foot plateau to a 70′ sandy bottom. Although not a true wall, Andre’s Reef has many of the same types of marine creatures one would encounter on a wall dive. Large schools of fish patrol the reef and the occasional barracuda or large grouper patrol the schools of fish.
Large sea fans and soft corals sway gently in rhythm with the water and countless grottos and rock formations harbor a variety of fish. While the best part of this dive is midway down the slope on a parallel course with the reef, large Southern Stingrays are often spotted on the sandy bottom.