Best Island for Intermediate/Advanced Snorkeling

Old Nov 22nd, 2008, 05:30 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Best Island for Intermediate/Advanced Snorkeling

As my screen name implies, I love snorkeling. I have snorkeled all over the Caribbean and am planning my next summer trip. I went to Roatan last summer and liked the snorkeling there, but was wanting to try something new.

I am an intermediate to advanced snorkeler. Some people are excited if they see a few fish, but what I am looking for is a total marine environment - lots of fish life and a variety of healthy coral. For example, St. John has nice snorkeling, but it is not what I would consider to be great snorkeling - I have snorkeled all around the island, including Watermelon Cay.

What islands would have the best combination of great reef and beach?

I thought about Bonaire, but it would be too expensive and too far to get there. I am considering the following islands:

Bahama out islands - Exuma, Andros, or Eluthera

Turks and Caicos

I have snorkeled in Belize at Hol Chan - was unimpressed.

Any advice?


snorkelcat is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2008, 07:06 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
consider grand cayman. no big bleaching issues yet. lots of beach snorkeling.
t&c is good but not great. diving is excellent. only 2 really good beach snorkels.
for something more exotic consider tobago cays in the grenadines. supposed to be amazing. you stay on palm island, petit st. vincent, union, mayreau or canouan and tour out. no facilities on tobago cays.

type StanKase into the search box above. he has snorkeled everywhere and is not easily impressed.
virginia is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2008, 07:55 AM
  #3  
NM
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 114
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is one of our travel challenges as well--finding great beach snorkeling & we've been to many many islands. Agree with last poster about GC but it probably doesn't surpass St John. We stayed at the Bitter End once on Virgin Gorda and they have 2x's daily snorkel trips included in the rate to various spots in the BVI's. We didn't love the resort but the access to snorkeling from the boat was great!
NM is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2008, 08:10 AM
  #4  
cdw
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 110
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Curacao had some pretty decent snorkeling from some of the more remote beaches. We really like that island. I agree that the snorkeling in St. John has really declined in the last 10 years.

We have been to about 20 islands or so and are becoming more hard to please. Maho Beach on Virgin Gorda was really good. It had beautiful coral, big eels, tarpon, large barracudas, and we even saw 3 1/2 foot nurse shark which is always fun. We stayed at a villa called Bellamare right there on Maho. The other beaches on Virgin Gorda were just so so.

We are going to give the Caymans a try in March.
cdw is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2008, 07:09 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
unlike cdw, I was not impressed with the snorkeling at Mahoe Bay on Virgin Gorda, but had much better sightings and visibility elsewhere on the island--which is all to say conditions can be so varied that no place is totally guaranteed to be great.

My best snorkeling experiences were in the BVI--off of Guana Island (but not on my most recent visit), off of Cooper Island, and the Indians. But I've never been to Bonaire or any of the Cayman islands, which are also purported to be snorkeling meccas.

StanKase, a frequent poster here who has extremely high standards, thinks that snorkeling on St. John is the best that's left in the Caribbean, but you happen to disagree about St. John.
ejcrowe is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2008, 07:51 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would love to hear from Stankase.

Here is where I have snorkeled:

Hawaii

Australia

Phi Phi islands Thailand

St. Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, Aruba(actually pretty good here in isolated locations) Curacao, St. Maarten (very sad), St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, The Indians and the Caves in BVI, Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Vieques, and Grand Cayman (was disappointed in Eden Rock and Coral Gardens, did not get to Rum Point)

Thank you all for the responses so far - please continue to post. Tobago Cays sounds interesting.

snorkelcat is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2008, 08:48 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,718
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Post a new post with StanCase in the title, he really is the best.

I have snorkeled (or scuba): Outside Caribbean-Maldives (the best!) Fiji, Australia, Bora Bora and Rangiora, Cook Islands, Phuket, Seychelles, even places like Greek Islands and spain in Medeteranian.

In Caribbean--Grenadines, Aruba, Antigua, St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Barth, Bermuda, Caymans, Virgin Gorda, St. John, Cooper Island, other areas of VI (including Anegada), Exumas, Abacos, Eleuthera, Rose island(Bahamas)Belize, Cozumel, Most of T&C including Grand Turk.

While it sounds like alot, when I give my opinion, I need to disclose, I'm more about the beach and not snorkeling, snorkeling is just a side to me. So having said that, my favs: (In Caribbean):

St. John (which didn't impress you)
Cozumel
Belize
T&C

I do think T&C is better diving, especially South Caicos-there is a huge plane wreck to scuba-very cool.

I have not made it to Bonaire, but have from good sources claiming it's the best for snorkeling.

If you weren't impressed with St. John, you may have to basically branch out from the Caribbean, try somewhere like Maldives.
blamona is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 04:33 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the advice blamona. Fiji and the Maldives are on my future travel wish list!

While both the USVI and BVI
are one of my favorite all around destinations, I have found at the places I have snorkeled the coral dying or dead due to overuse.

I will post a seperate post for Stankase

Blamona, what was the snorkeling like in the Bahamas (Exuma, Abaco, etc) and T&C?
snorkelcat is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 05:47 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 520
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great snorkeling off Old Providence Island.
bellaboo is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 06:55 AM
  #10  
NM
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 114
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Blamona knows more about T&C but we loved the snorkeling at Malcolm's Beach--4-wheel vehicle needed. We tried North and Middle Caicos specifically for snorkeling and were disappointed--water very churned up. On Anguilla there's Little Bay (one of the Paul Humann reef books is loaded with Little Bay photos). We used to consider it superb snorkeling--you get there by boat or climb down a cliff. It's gotten beaten up some by hurricanes. Many years ago we had good snorkeling off of Green Turtle Cay Bahamas, disappointed with Eleuth and Harbour Isl and have heard snorkeling around the 4 Seasons on Exuma is not good. Still love Stingray City GC. We have carefully researched the Grenadines and heard disappointing things about beach snorkeling from the resorts--you need to take a boat to the Tobago Cays where the great snorkeling is located. We're still in search of the perfect spot in the Carib.
NM is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 04:23 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,402
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Perhaps you could try one of the atolls (Turneffe, Glovers) or one of the cayes on the reef (Southwater, Tobacco) in Belize. The snorkeling/diving near Ambergris is not that pristine.
Patty is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 05:37 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 298
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi - we are shore snorkelers. We haven't been to as many places as some of the posters here but this is what we have found.

Love St. John for the variety and the number of different places to snorkel. The beautiful island. Did an excursion last time for a change and did a fantastic drift snorkel.

Have been to Grand Cayman once and going again in January. The snorkeling was good but still like St. John better. But - was fairly windy on several days when we were there and that can make a difference.

If you really want to find good shore snorkeling - go to Bonaire. We went a couple of years ago and thought the snorkeling was fabulous! Lots of variety - very healthy and colorful. Just amazing. We just did not care for the island itself. Wish it was closer and could go for a half week.

Hope this helps,
sue
sueoz is offline  
Old Nov 24th, 2008, 05:16 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 371
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Snorkelcat, I've snorkeled Bonaire but most of the snorkeling is in fairly deep water. We went all over Eleuthera and wasn't impressed. What I like about St. John is the snorkeling is in shallower water. Some off the beaten path snorkel spots on St. John:
1 - Denis Bay - Park at Peace Hill and take the trail down to the beach.
2 - Haulover Bay, if conditions are right, for entry, this is a great spot.
3 - Kiddel Bay - A little tough to get to but both sides of the bay are great. Since you're advanced you can snorkel around the right to Grooten Bay.
4 - Blue Cobblestone is another good snorkel. You take the trail past Salt Pond.
5 - Great Lameshur Bay - Looking toward the water go to the right around Yawzi Point and back in to Little Lameshur.

Have fun wherever you go!
Pulley is offline  
Old Nov 24th, 2008, 08:33 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,771
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just saw the post. While I am an avid snorkeler I really am critical. You can no longer compare anyplace in the Caribbean or Bahamas to several places in Belize and a few in Honduras with Roatan and Utila being the best. The remaining top sights are in Asia(Redang Islands, Simillan Islands, Phi Phi Don,Bunaken in Indonesia and a few other remote places in that region. Australia is far better tham Fiji in our opinion, but what a trip.
We have not been to St. John in 2 years which had been our favorite but Andros Island Island in the Bahamas was maybe a little better on a visit last year. But, with it's proximity to Miami the best time is really go is late March until mid-June for after that you run the risk of tropical depressions, etc.
We were not that impressed with Bonaire and that was 6-7 years ago so we would rate it just above average and slightly better than GC which used to be great until a series of hurricanes, pollution and global warming destryed it for snorkelers but it is still quite good for divers as is Bonaire and several other Caribbean Islands.
Sorry for us all that there are not many places within a 4-5 hr. flight from the Northeast for us anymore. We may return to Belize and Andros next year if ecomony doesn't skid further.
StanKase is offline  
Old Nov 24th, 2008, 11:33 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 805
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
StanKase, each to their own opinion, but I live (and snorkel) in Grand Cayman, and the statement "GC...used to be great until a series of hurricanes, pollution and global warming destryed it for snorkelers" really shocked me.

Where specifically in Cayman are you talking about ?

I would definitely agree that the massively overused sites next to the cruise ship dock are no good, as they suffer from overuse and (likely) environmental issues from large cruise ships being docked nearby.

however, to make a blanket statement about Grand Cayman, with our c60 miles of coastline, is unfair... there is lots of good snorkelling around with zero damage from "pollution, hurricanes, global warming".

As to Hurricanes and other heavy sea action, remember this is a natural phenomenon, and when Ivan passed Cayman four years ago it actually improved many dive/snorkel sites as it cleared out sand from chutes etc.
TomCayman is offline  
Old Nov 24th, 2008, 03:11 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
tomcayman, i'll be on gc in late april. staying on north shore. would you mind recommeding some good beach snorkel sites. or maybe i should come find you and see if i can pry the best secrets out of you over a libation.
virginia is offline  
Old Nov 24th, 2008, 05:51 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you so much for all the wonderful responses! Pulley, thank you for your suggestions. I went to Salt Pond but did not swim around the point to get to the side where Blue Cobblestone was due to sea conditions on the day I went. I may give St. John one more shot!

Stankase, thank you as well. You are absolutely correct about Phi Phi in Thailand - sadly some shallow snorkle spots are already being destroyed by people standing on the coral, but there were other spots where it was a little too deep for people to stand - and it was a field of brain coral or a field of staghorn!! Those great psychadelic clams you only find in the Pacific. I even found "nemo"!(clownfish)

Roatan is a nice place to go and I will definitely go back - the best snorkeling is at the drop offs along walls -again, were people cannot stand on the corals. Again, I was with divers and swam along the edge of the wall in 30-50 feet of water and chop, but it was beautiful - a total reef environment - brillant corals, lots of fish. Many snorkelers could not handle that.

My experience with Grand Cayman was limited - to spots off 7 mile beach, Stingray City, a couple of other spots within North Sound, and Eden Rock. Deeply disapointed - except with the stingrays.

I am considering Bonaire, but I am not crazy about the distance.

A question for Stankase - What part of Andros did you stay? - Small Hope lodge or the southern part of the island? Did you snorkel any blue holes there?
snorkelcat is offline  
Old Nov 25th, 2008, 04:41 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 371
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Snorkelcat, you continue walking on the trail paast Salt Pond then snorkel your way back to Salt Pond. If you go back make sure to try Kiddel Bay it's remote so bring a friend.
Pulley is offline  
Old Nov 25th, 2008, 07:27 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have also not been impressed with snorkeling the last few years. I was not impressed with the shore snorkeling in St. John. We did take a boat out and found better snorkeling.

The best snorkeling we found from shore was actually in the Abacos. We took a boat over to Great Guana Cay to go to the Sunday Pig Roast at Nippers. There was great snorkeling right out in front of the bar--colorful coral, lots of fish.

There is also a very nice reef in the Abacos. We were on our way out to the reef, when the divers in our group stopped to dive with the sharks. While we waited for them, we jumped in the water to cool off---they had chummed the water so I guess we were really foolish to do that. My husband was bitten by a barracuda--kind of put a damper on snorkeling that trip. Missed slicing his artery by less than an inch.

We loved the beach on Treasure Cay.
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Nov 26th, 2008, 09:27 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,593
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
you might enjoy Small Hope Bay resort. Very bare bones, tons of snorkling and scuba, pack a suit and sandals...maybe a pair of shorts and you are good to go.
cmcfong is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -