Buck Island Reef National Monument was established by Presidential proclamation in 1961, and expanded in 2001, in order to preserve "one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea." The 176-acre island and surrounding coral reef ecosystem support a large variety of native flora and fauna, including several endangered and threatened species such as hawksbill turtles and brown pelicans. The elkhorn coral barrier reef that surrounds two-thirds of the island has extraordinary coral formations, deep grottoes, abundant reef fishes, sea fans, and gorgonians.
The island has an overland nature trail and white coral sand beaches. Visitors can take daily trips to the park for a half or full day. Once there they can enjoy a leisurely swim in the crystal clear waters, or snorkeling. Visitors can also SCUBA dive through the fantastic reef to witness tropical marine life, or hike over the island enjoying native flora and fauna while getting a birds-eye view of the reef and sea below.