Snuba Diving in St. John
The word "snuba" hasn't yet entered mainstream English, but it soon might. A cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, snuba is one step closer to the fascinating undersea world scuba divers have always raved aboutthe view, the nearness, the complete entry into that foreign space. And there's no need to surface continually for air. Instead of donning tanks, divers strap on masks, fins, and small weights, and are connected by a 20-foot breathing hose and harness to an air tank floating on a raft above (each raft has hook-ups for two divers). As you snuba, the lightweight raft moves with you. You can stay down and explore the shallower depths of the ocean floor and reef until your skin wrinkles, without lugging around all that diving equipment. It's designed as a preliminary experience, to ease the fearful into the underwater environment, and is safe for everyone who's ever wanted to dive but never had the time or means to take a course. A guide accompanies all divers, and kids eight and older are welcome.
And St. John is the place to do it. This quiet, lush island, with no airport but some pretty fabulous accommodations, also features one of the U.S. Virgin Islands' most photographed spots, the talcum-white Trunk Bay. Here is where snuba is gaining fame, on a reef that is also one of the islands' most photographed spotsthe shallow shelf is rich with coral, sponges, and the brightly colored, darting tropical fish so prized in the Caribbean.
You'll pay just around $50 for a two-hour "dive," which includes some training time. Call Snuba of St. John, tel. (340) 693-8063, for information.
Accommodation on St. John takes all comers; stay in luxury resorts starting at $140 and more (in some cases much more), or in small B&Bs in the island's town, Cruz Bay, for as little as $50. The island also hosts two camping sites, one at the National Park Service's Cinnamon Bay, and the private Maho Bay Camps. Both are just down the road from Trunk Bay and both have accommodations in semi-permanent, platform tents with cooking facilities and, in cases, electricitynot the sort of camping you did in Boy Scouts. Cost starts at about $90 a night.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in St. John