Best Snorkeling in the Caribbean

Old Oct 20th, 2009, 12:33 PM
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Best Snorkeling in the Caribbean

I am trying to decide where to vacation in the Caribbean this November. I am drawn to St. Lucia (for the mountains), the Turks and Caicos, or St. Vincent and the Grenadines because I have heard about them though I don't know too much about them. I am not very familiar with the Caribbean Islands and could really use some advice on what islands might be good to visit. (I have been to the US Virgin Islands and would like to try something new.)

I will be traveling alone and am on a somewhat low budget. I would really just like a relaxing stay where I can just hang out at the beach all day and snorkel. (I don't want a loud busy place.) I have been to Fiji and the Maldives so I'm somewhat a snorkeling snob. I love coral gardens and lots of colorful fish. What do you suggest?
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 01:22 PM
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Of the islands on your list the Bahamas Out Islands (lot's to choose from) have the best snorkeling followed by the Turks & Caicos islads.

In the Grenadines, the best snorkeling can be found at the Tobago Cays, but as the name implies these are very small uninhabited islets accessible only by boat so you can't actually stay. in a resort there. Skip St. Vincent if you are seekling nice beaches and snorkeling as they just don't really exist on that island. Bequia, on the other hand fills your need for being moderately priced with some decent but not great snorkel sites.

Snorkeling on St. Lucia is very good near the Pitons but lacking around other parts of the islands.

For what many consider the best snorkeling in the Caribbean visit Bonaire but may people are disappointed with the beaches on the island.

Not on your list but a good destination with very good beaches and very good to excellent snorkeling are the islands of St. John (USVI's), or Virgin Gorda (BVI's). FYI, while St. John is considered by some to be an expensive island it does have some budget priced eco-tourism based resorts.

Hope this helps.

Hope thi
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 03:38 PM
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What are the "budget" priced eco resorts on St John? I looked...and looked....and, u get the idea, lol! Certainly did not find anything "budget". (Not Maho or Estate Concordia r budget to me). I'd love to know as I find lodging crazy $$ there. Thanx!
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 03:40 PM
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Roatan in November/ West Bay Beach fits the bill. Economical lodging, fab off beach snorkelling.
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 04:39 PM
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I would recommend you consider Turks & Caicos (Providenciales aka Provo) for the most amazing, long beach (Grace Bay beach with good off-beach snorkeling at the west end) and/or Grand Cayman (Seven Mile Beach). Provo generally is a little quieter and less developed than Grand Cayman, but neither are loud, busy places compared to other island destinations. The quieter areas (and with good access to snorkeling from the beach) are 1) the western part of Grace Bay beach (Coral Gardens will be the least expensive hotel right at the snorkeling reef, but other places will give you more upscale accommodations and quieter beaches, because people staying at other resorts snorkel at the Reef near Coral Gardens) 2) On Grand Cayman, the north part of Seven Mile Beach. There are a number of condo rentals near there.

People will be able to give you more useful recommendations if you are a little more specific about what "somewhat low budget" means to you. Grand Cayman and Provo usually are somewhat expensive, but there are some really good deals for travel this fall.

I have traveled solo to Grand Cayman, Turks & Caicos and St. Lucia solo. I enjoyed St. Lucia for the fabulous scenery and something different, but for beautiful white sand beaches, clear, turquoise water, and ease of getting around, I think Provo or Grand Cayman are better options.
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 04:57 PM
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Best snorkeling, off beach, is near the base of the Pitons in St. Lucia. There were many fish and coral formations. You can hang there all day as there's a small bar/restaurant. we had to take a taxi to get to this beach which is part of Anse Chastanet Resort. Not budget but unspoiled and beautiful. You may find something in Soufriere. Grand Cayman was too built up for me and water can be choppy.
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Old Oct 21st, 2009, 09:09 AM
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Secret Harbour, St. Thomas. It has great walk-in snorkeling, plus a beach bar and very good restaurant. Being alone, you'd never have to leave the property if you just wanted to relax.

St. John has fantastic snorkeling but you really need a car unless you can afford www.caneelbay.com (pricy, but again walk-in snorkelling right from your room).

www.coralgardens.com Grace Bay, Turks & Caicos. Again walk-in snorkeling right on the property.

Since it's last minute, you may be able to get some great deals or check out www.VRBO.com for some great last minute deals, especially for Coral Gardens.

We are also "snorkeling snobs" and have spent way too much time & money on mediocre snorkeling. As you know, there aren't that many places where you can just walk in from your hotel beach and get a lot of fish. If you have a nice beach, sand is not that good for snorkeling, you need a reef and sometimes if it's close to shore, the tourists have ruined it. I don't mean to condemn tourists, I'm one of them.

Let us know your choice and comments when you return.
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Old Oct 21st, 2009, 11:07 AM
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I agree, tpayt, St. John, Caneel Bay is outstanding for walk in snorkeling, secluded beaches and crystal clear water, but not budget at all. Never been to Grace Bay. thanks for tip.
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Old Oct 21st, 2009, 01:09 PM
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Although I've never been (yet), I thought Bonaire had some of the best walk in snorkeling in the Caribbean. Any thoughts?
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Old Oct 21st, 2009, 05:00 PM
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If you hold snorkeling to high standards Provo may disappoint also same with St. Lucia--snorkeling is limited. Recomm. Grand Cayman-West End for beach snorkeling and boat trip to Sting Ray City also some of the Bahama Islands have good snorkeling--Green Turtle and outside of Nassua at Compass Pt. Hotel. St. John as mentioned here also offers great snorkeling.
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Old Oct 24th, 2009, 11:56 AM
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Thanks for all of the comments! All of the information has been very helpful. I am still undecided, but this has really helped me focus on several places that were recommended. I'll see what is in my budget and go from there. Thanks!!!
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Old Oct 28th, 2009, 05:25 AM
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Having snorkeled in a lot of the Caribbean, Tahiti, Gr. Barrier Reef, and Thailand, I'm a bit of a snorkeling snob myself. Once you've been to the Pacific, there's really nowhere in the Atlantic nearly as good. You will find yourself disappointed in most places - especially the Grenadines. Having said that, I would agree highly with Roatan, Honduras - West Bay Beach. We rented a house there one winter and the off beach snorkeling was the best I've seen anywhere in the Atlantic. Have a look at the cottages at West Bay Village.

http://www.westbayvillage.com/

We spend a good part of each winter in Cozumel, Mexico which also has good beach snorkeling in spots although the shallow reefs were damaged during Hurricane Wilma a few years ago. They are making a nice recovery, but I wouldn't call them great just yet.
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Old Oct 28th, 2009, 07:47 AM
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Add another snorkel snob, i have snorkeled many places of the world.

I have not been to Bonaire, but that has the best reputation in the Caribbean.

I have found it good at St. John, Peter Island, in Virgin Islands. Turks & Caicos has good snorkeling-especially Grand Turk, but it's good enough in Provo where everyone goes. Caymans are good. Cozumel was excellent-probably one of the best.

For me the best so far has been Belize. Underwater is amazing. But the beaches aren't as nice as the other above mentioned.
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 08:10 PM
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Another "snorkel snob" here...I am also trying to decide where to go next summer to find my next perfect reef.

I like Roatan - it has the best variety of fish life in the Caribbean, but I am concerned about the political stability and the number of cruise ships and popularity of the island - in a matter of a few years, the beach reef will probably be destoryed.

I, suprisingly, liked the Bahamas - I stayed on Guana Cay - Of course the best snorkeling is by boat - away from tourist. There were spots with nice, healthy live coral and I snorkeled over a 6-7 foot Caribbean Reef Shark!

I am suprised by people's comments on St. John - I have been to St. John many times and have been underwelmed by the reef I have seen - I have to have a good combination of at least some healthy coral and plentiful fish life. Where are you guys snorkeling on St. John that has great snorkeling?
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 01:42 PM
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the best walk in place was from caneel bay resort, near hawksnest, go far out on the left, near the cliffs. Not bad. other than that, maybe honeymoon beach (also access from caneel resort) , I agree, not the best. For me, St. lucia was amazing for off beach snordeling, near the pitons.
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