Trunk Bay, rightly called one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world, lay below us in a picture postcard setting. Our perch at a North Shore Road overlook above the world famous beach was just one of the highlights of our island tour. It beckoned our small group of water lovers. The following morning, we were on the white powder sand awaiting Frank Cummings, owner/operator of VI Snuba Excursions.
And while I have been certified in SCUBA for over 30 years and frequently dive with tanks on my back, I was looking forward to trying snuba with the long hose connection to the surface tank. We started out on the west end of the beach and then moved along the coral reef between Trunk Bay and Jumby. The spot is right in the middle of the Virgin Islands National Park.
Frank’s Snuba operation utilizes a small inflated raft that contains a standard air cylinder and two 20-foot long hoses that are attached to the swimmers. As divers breathe through the regulator, they swim along pulling the raft. Frank provides an excellent orientation with information about the dive and then a short practice session in waist-deep water. He then dons a SCUBA tank and guides a group of 2 to 6 along the beautiful coral reef.
Our dive through colorful corals jutting through the white sand exposed the underworld of myriads of beautiful fish. Parrotfish, triggerfish, angelfish and other small reef specimens darted in and out of the crevices and under the ledges. From time to time, snuba groups see morays, stingrays and larger fish such as grouper.
I was moving along looking for lobster and other hidden treasures, nose into the darkness beneath some of the ledges, when I looked up and noticed Frank motioned me and my two snuba mates over towards him. I quickly noticed the giant lobster he was focused on in the sand five feet away from the nearest ledge.
I moved down to look it in the eye and gently touch its antennae, as Frank snapped a couple of pictures of me with the 10 pounder. It was indeed a monster, the largest I had ever seen in the wild. And, I had been lobster hunting perhaps a 100 times in my first 10 years of SCUBA diving. I swam off leaving the “bug”, as they are called by lobster hunters, on the ocean floor. My craving for a lobster dinner was peaked however.
“Snuba was designed in 1988 to bridge the gap between SCUBA and snorkeling,” Frank says. “It was designed to introduce the non-diving sector to the beauty and wonder of the undersea world. We have over 95 percent beginners and Snuba is very safe. We never go deeper than 20 feet. Over the past 16 years, we have enjoyed the best safety record in the dive industry. Worldwide, 4 million people have tried snuba without an accident. ”
“It’s a great family-oriented activity, for both children over 8 years of age and the older set looking for new adventures,” he explains. “Snuba is a way for certified divers to break-in a mate to experience the joys of diving. They can go beyond snorkeling with the guided underwater tour. We provide all the equipment, instruction and fun!”
To learn more about the VI Snuba Excursions, contact Frank and Tammy Cummings at 1-340-693-8063, write them at PO Box 831, St. John, VI 00831, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at www.visnuba.com. For more general information on vacation planning on the island of St. John, visit their website at www.usvitourism.vi or call the U.S.V.I. Tourist Board at 1-800-372-USVI (8784).