Offshore, divers can explore a number of wrecks along the island’s southern coast. Miss Opportunity, an old Navy hospital barge, lies in about 55 feet of water south of the airport. One of the most popular wreck dives is the Witshoal II, an old tank landing ship that spent 32 post–World War II years hauling wood pulp on the Great Lakes but sank during Tropical Storm Klaus in 1984. Today, it lies in water between 90 and 30 feet deep west of Saba Island off St. Thomas and is home to a thriving artificial reef. Three other wrecks, the Witconcrete II, Grainton, and Witservice IV, lie around Saba Island.
There is another cluster of snorkel and dive sites around Buck and Capella Islands, off the southeast coast of St. Thomas. Not to be confused with St. Croix’s Buck Island, St. Thomas’s Buck is small, rocky, and home to a lighthouse. The west end of the island offers year-round protected reef diving and snorkeling. The Cartanza Senora (sometimes called the Cartenser Senior) was sunk here as an artificial reef in 1979. Submarine sightseeing tours bring visitors to this area, especially the north shore of Buck Island.
The Cow and Calf, another popular dive site, is named for its resemblance to an adult and baby whale. Below water, this dive site is a maze of arches, ledges, and tunnels.
Chris Sawyer Diving Center (Compass Point Marina, 340/775-7320, and Red Hook, 340/777-7804, www.sawyerdive.vi ) is one of the largest St. Thomas dive operators, offering a whole range of dive packages, instruction, and night snorkels and dives. The company also has an office at the Wyndham Sugar Bay resort.
Another favorite St. Thomas dive shop is Coki Beach Dive Club (340/775-4220, www.cokidive.com ). These folks offer some of the best and friendliest dive instruction and you can dive right off the beach—no need to get in a boat. Other dive shops include Underwater Safaris (Havensight Mall, 340/774-3737), located inside Water World Outfitters, and Blue Island Divers (Crown Bay Marina, 340/774-2001, www.blueislanddivers.com ).