The Fantastic Staff & Crew of Blue Island Divers
Annabel and DJ Hiltz
Annabel & DJ purchased Blue Island Divers in April of 2009. Having many years experience between them in small business, they decided to combine what they had learned with their passion for diving. After several trips to the Carolina coast, the Graveyard of the Atlantic, and trips to the Florida Keys, they were determined to find quality wreck diving in the Caribbean. They stumbled upon St Thomas on a weekend trip in 2005. They fell in love with the island itself and the many fabulous wreck dives so close to Blue Island Divers. This was the major factor in the decision to purchase Blue Island Divers.
Annabel & DJ are now striving to have the best little dive shop on St Thomas, while learning all the ins and outs of owning a dive business. They are determined to maintain Blue Island's reputation for being the "fun" dive shop on the island, the store the locals dive with.
Favorite dive site: SS Grainton
IDC Staff Instructor
A native of Northern California, Brian left his job in construction, where he built houses, to come to St Thomas to help us build memories. Brian is hardworking, patient, kind and gentle. He has a lust for life and diving which you will experience as you join us, diving some of the best wreck and reef dives the planet has to offer.
Geoffrey Smith is originally from Syracuse, NY and moved to St Thomas in 2004. He fell in love with the undersea world as a child watching Jacques Cousteau and old reruns of SeaQuest with his father. Learning to swim in his grandparents pool very young, he was always the first in and the last to get out of the water.
As a teenager he was first exposed to Scuba diving at the US Space Academy, where submerged in a 40 ft tank inside of a space suit, was asked to asked to put together a mock satellite made up of PVC piping. While dreaming of becoming an astronaut he actually became an Aquanaut. The following summer a family friend, a NAUI instructor and former NAVY SEAL, set up a hookah rig at a lake at a near by golf course. So, donning a mask and a pair of worn out Nike sneakers he carried a bag of rocks around a lake picking up golf balls.
The next year he got his open water certification, on a very cold snowy November day in Lake Erie. That was 1989, since then he has accumulated thousands of hours underwater. Starting in the Great Lakes and 1000 Islands and working across the US, he has explored both the East and West coasts. Diving as far north as North Vancouver Island and as far south as Aruba and every where in between. During the late 90's he served in the US Marine Corps, though not diving as his MOS or job, it still offered the chance to dive in some locations others will never get to experience.
Moving to St Thomas in 2004 after 15 years of diving he decided to become an instructor so he could share his passion for diving with others. For the past 5 years he has been living the dream. If you don't find him underwater you will surely find him strumming his guitar either onstage or just at the beach, it's the only thing he's been doing longer than diving.
Web is our newest member of the team, although he has been on the island for several years he decided to give our side of the island a try. Web is one of our favorite dive masters, when he is not on the air with our favorite rock station (FM 104.3, The Buzz), he is surfing, sailing, diving or just playing on the water.
Favorite Dive Site: Miss Opportunity
Bethaney has lived in the US Virgin Islands for nearly 20 years. she is a Lawyer, a PADI Instructor and is the owner and operator of the boutique at the Emerald Beach Best Western hotel nearby.
She hailed from Boston, went to college in North Carolina, and law school at Emory University. While at Emory, Bethaney achieved not only academic excellence, but also the coveted SCUBA certification.
She was able to take several vacations, to places such as Fiji, the Great Barrier Reef, and Belize, where the underwater world captivated her soul. SCUBA, not law, was on her mind.
After 2 years practicing law in DC, she decided to move to America's Paradise where she could pursue her passion yet still remain in the field of law .
After completing the move to the Virgin Islands, and the Virgin Islands Bar Exam, Bethaney practiced law on St. Croix and St. Thomas, finally settling on St Thomas and marrying the love of her life, Paul.
Bethaney worked as a Divemaster on weekends, practicing law during the week, until one day, the paperwork Nazi went too far! So, she came to Blue Island Divers to obtain her PADI Instructor rating, and the rest is history.
Captain Kevin Maddox
Born and raised in Missouri, sailing and power boating on the Lake of the Ozarks, Kevin ventured to the Bahamas in 1967 and was captivated by island life and the crystal clear water there. The following year, he spent time on Grand Cayman and returned there several times through the mid-seventies. After sailing in the U.S., and British, Virgin Islands in the late seventies and early eighties, Kevin and his wife, Cindy, moved to the U. S. Virgin Islands in early 1986. They have lived on Water Island ever since.
Kevin re-certified with PADI several years ago and has very much enjoyed being re-submerged. He has been driving boats as a Coast Guard-certified Master for the last six years after realizing that he hadn't come to the islands to make sawdust and cabinets. He hopes to be driving and diving with Blue Island until he is the oldest wreck in the Virgin Islands.
Jim is one of the "Old Guard" of the store, having been part of Blue Island Divers for over 10 years. He was a one time investor and partner with a previous owner and ran the business for a while.
He has been around diving all his life. Both his parents started diving in the late 1960's and some of his favorite early memories are of playing on the beach while waiting for them to come back from their dive. He got his first dive certificate in 1978 and has been diving ever since. He is currently a PADI instructor.
Jim works as an engineering consultant and splits his time between St Thomas (his permanent residence) and New York, California, or where ever his clients are at the time.
Favorite Dive Sites: Grainton and Flat Cay East
Deidre is our PADI Course Director, which means that she is able to train divers all the way to Instructor level.
She grew up in New York, and fell in love with everything soft and fuzzy. After seeing a stuffed hammerhead shark (in a pancake house of all places), she knew she wanted to become a marine biologist. She earned her Bachelors degree in Marine Science, Biology from Long Island University, where she could be found in one of two places; giving recycling speeches to those in line for the keg, or in the marine lab mastering the, Marine Animal Hug Technique (MAHT)! . If the MAHT was to be fully effective she was going to have to learn to SCUBA dive.
After learning to dive and graduating, she was involved in research, rehabilitation, and release projects in Maine, Florida and Bimini, finally landing in sunny St. Thomas in 1997. Here she became a PADI Instructor and earned her Captain's license. Spending several years with Blue Island Divers, Deidre was ready for a move, Deidre is now managing Cruz Bay Watersports on St John and is still available to Blue Island for any instructor training.
We pride ourselves on our outstanding customer service, our motto is:
"Arrive as a customer
leave as a friend"
Here is an an opportunity to meet the staff & crew who will be making sure that your experience with us is safe, enjoyable and memorable.