When one of the Caribbean’s finest dive sites is right out your front door, you’re surely in one of the best locations to show off St. Croix’s incredible underwater treasures. Owners Mark and Laura Linse took over Sweet Bottom Dive Center in 2015. Divers for over 35 years, Mark and Laura owned a dive shop in their hometown of Chicago before moving to St. Croix. While Lake Michigan is famous for its incredible freshwater wreck diving, the dive season is short – only five months. As they contemplated their next move they focused on destinations that would allow them to dive year-round. They looked all over the world and ultimately made the decision to make St. Croix their home.
Sweet Bottom Dive Center is proud to be the on-site dive partner at the Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort, due to reopen in 2020. While awaiting repairs at Carambola after Hurricane Maria, they opened a new 2,200 square foot full-service dive center in Cane Bay that offers divers a VIP experience. Mark and Laura have added freshwater showers, beautiful wash tanks for those who prefer to wash their gear themselves (Sweet Bottom Dive Center will gladly do it for you), and dehumidifiers in the guest storage areas so that equipment is dry before guests head home.
Sweet Bottom Dive Center’s preferred shore dives include Davis Bay (Carambola) and Cane Bay, both of which have three distinct dives; North Star, and Twin Palms, both of which have two distinct dives; and Frederiksted Pier, which Mark appreciates for being able to get up close with small sea life such as seahorses and frogfish. Frederiksted Pier is also an ideal beginner-level dive site because it’s relatively shallow and therefore less intimidating. No matter which sites Sweet Bottom Dive Center’s guests explore, Mark guarantees every level of diver an excellent experience, thanks to his quality staff. “I can’t speak highly enough about our staff,” says Mark. “They’re mature, they’re passionate about what they do, and most importantly they’re very patient.” With Mark and Laura’s professional background in public safety and healthcare – Mark was a paramedic field chief; Laura was a cardiac nurse – it’s natural that their priority is safety. Mark understands that divers, especially new divers, may feel anxious at the start, but, he says, “Every one of our staff can help them overcome any anxiety they may be having. We’re very good at hand holding. Laura and I are very, very fortunate to have the staff we do. Their maturity and patience really set them apart.” Sweet Bottom Dive Center is a PADI Five Star Instructional Development Center. What’s more, Mark is the resident PADI Course Director. For divers interested in becoming instructors, having Mark on-site to instruct 50+ specialties is a tremendous resource. While many divers complete the educational component of their training through e-learning before they arrive, those who prefer to do their classroom learning on St. Croix can do so in Sweet Bottom Dive Center’s air-conditioned classroom. “It makes for a comfortable learning environment,” adds Mark. Sweet Bottom Dive Center’s Cane Bay shop includes a retail center that sells and services Aqua Lung, Apeks, and Dive Rite gear. Repairs can be done in-house. They also do fills, including trimix.