Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge is located about 2 miles (4 km) south of the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands of the United States. There are actually two "Buck Islands." The National Wildlife Refuge occupies the one near St. Thomas. The one just north of St. Croix is the centerpiece of Buck Island Reef National Monument. Adjacent to the refuge is Capella Island, about half the size of Buck, owned by the territorial government.
The refuge is characterized by a thorn scrub habitat with rocky coastline surrounded by spectacular reefs. A lighthouse (still maintained by the United States Coast Guard) stands over 45 acres (180,000 m2) of cactus and grassland. The island was transferred to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service due to "its value for migratory birds." The U.S. Navy transferred some lands in 1969 and the remainder was received from the Coast Guard in 1981. The surrounding waters contain reefs and a shipwreck that attract large numbers of snorkelers, divers, and boaters.
Buck Island NWR is administered as part of the Caribbean Islands National Wildlife complex.
Lighthouse on Buck Island
On Buck Island there is a historic lighthouse. Though it is no longer operational and it is closed to the public, it is noteworthy as one of only three Danish-built lighthouses in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is currently maintained by the Coast Guard.
The shipwreck ruins of the Cartanza Señora are another major attraction to Buck Island. The sunken ship was a 190 foot cargo vessel built around the time of WWII, used for many decades until it was abandoned in the 1970′s. Rumor has that it was hauling some not-so-legal substances and the crew “jumped ship” before being busted by the Coast Guard. It originally sank in the St. Thomas Harbor, but was relocated near Buck Island for recreational diving purposes. Later, Hurricane Hugo decided the Cartanza Señora should actually rest much closer to Buck Island and finished the relocation, moving her to where she rests today.
Coral Reef in Shipwreck Cove
Apart from shipwreck ruins, there is also a coral reef in Shipwreck Cove where we see many tropical fish, barracudas, sea turtles and other marine life.
Water Island (Danish: Vand ø) was acquired by the USA in 1917 from Denmark but
continued to be owned by a corporation until several decades later. Since 1996, it has formed part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a United States territory located in the Caribbean Sea. The island is of volcanic origin and lies to the south of Saint Thomas in the Charlotte Amalie harbor. Ferry service runs regularly from Crown Bay, Saint Thomas to Phillips Landing, Water Island; the ferry ride is about 10 minutes.
At 491.5 acres (1.989 km2) in size, Water Island is the smallest of the main U.S. Virgin Islands. It is administratively a part (subdistrict) of the St. Thomas District. Water Island is a residential island, with a population of 182 (2010 census) and no significant commercial establishments. A number of homes on Water Island are available to accommodate visitors. The main attractions are beaches, including Honeymoon Beach, plantation ruins, Fort Segarra, an underground fort partially constructed by the U.S. during World War II, and scuba diving site Supermarket Reef, in Limestone Bay.
The eastmost third of the island is a gated community, Sprat Bay Estates. This includes Sprat Point, a 30 acre peninsula and nature preserve owned by the United States Department of the Interior, and private Sprat Bay Beach, located between Sprat Point and Carol Point. All beaches in the USVI are public when approached from the water.