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Best snorkeling--St. John, St. Thomas, or Tortola?

Best snorkeling--St. John, St. Thomas, or Tortola?

Old Jul 7th, 2004, 12:35 PM
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Best snorkeling--St. John, St. Thomas, or Tortola?

Hi all,

My husband and I love to snorkel and we're planning on staying a week on one of these islands next year and a week on another(two weeks total). We truly enjoyed all the off shore snorkeling places on Cozumel last year---referred to us through Fodor's message board. We were told the names of places and island directions on how to get to them, including where to get in so we would be swimming(drifting) with the current and where to get out. So my question to all you travelers is which of these three islands have the best snorkeling and could you refer me to a website or tell me the names of places and how to get to them from shore? The more marine life the better, of course. Are there currents near these snorkeling places off these islands as there were in some places off Cozumel? We learned in Cozumel that "if there's a beautiful beach, the snorkeling isn't good. If there's lava rock, there's usually good snorkeling". I'm assuming the same applies to other islands. ---We truly appreciate your input. Waiting to hear from you!
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Old Jul 7th, 2004, 12:59 PM
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I have limited experience with this but I can tell you that St. John is better than St. Thomas. St. John is 2/3 National Park so a lot of the shoreline is protected. We snorkeled of the beach in many places and thought it was very good. St. John has a reputation for great snorkeling off the beaches.

If you want to get more info from more informed folks than I, you might consider posting this question here:

http://www.caribline.com/cgi-bin/agn...bbeanAgnesHTML

A friendly group of seasoned VI travelers (emphasis on St. John but many have BVI experience as well).

Have a great trip...FINS UP!
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Old Jul 7th, 2004, 01:39 PM
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St John is far far better for off-the-beach snorkeling (if one is "off a boat" the snorkeling is equally good at all three). The great thing abt St John is that there's excellent snorkeling off absolutely GORGEOUS beaches-- very easy ins and outs. And there are so MANY spots, all around the isalnd (particularly at Caneel Bay) We like St John much better than Cancun or Cozimel (better than almost anything-- well, ok, we loved the Great Barrier Reef best.)
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Old Jul 7th, 2004, 02:38 PM
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Thanks for your replys. Looks like St. John would be a choice to stay for sure. We'll be trying for the Westi through Interval International. Hope it's not one of those which is impossible to get an exchange.
If St. John is 2/3 National Park, does that mean they have the bays and snorkeling areas roped off and we would have to stay within the ropes? Ugh!---Hope not.
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Old Jul 7th, 2004, 03:09 PM
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Honeydoe1 St. John is a wonderful place for snorkling. Our favorite in the Caribbean. No ropes! 39 beaches with a good portion of the island in National Park Borders. Many beaches are easily accessible, and some must be reached by hike or boat...but none are roped off. Trunk Bay is probably the most touristy with their underwater snorkle trail complete with signs to follow, but the rest are unspoiled and wonderful. Our favorites are Salt Pond Bay and Leinster Bay / Waterlemon Cay. You might want to pick up the book "Feet, Fins & Four Wheel Drive" by Pam Gaffin for a great guide to exploring the island. Whatever you do...leave your resort and drive around and explore! Trish
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Old Jul 7th, 2004, 04:10 PM
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Honeydoe1

Trish gave you a great book to explore St. John beach access ( Feet Fins ). I'll throw in two of our favorites-Haulover and Little Lameshur. Most of St. John's beach access snorkeling is extremely easy to reach.
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Old Jul 7th, 2004, 04:37 PM
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RobertoB is right. Little Lamesur is our favorite too...but we like it because it's usually deserted! If we tell too many... Go there & enjoy!!
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Old Jul 7th, 2004, 05:23 PM
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And thanks to the last two of you that responded, also. I love coming back to this forum and finding my questions answered, plus more! I'll get the book you suggested and, yes, we will explore and enjoy! 2004 seems like a long wait now.;-)
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 05:50 AM
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Honeydoe- If you possibly can, book one of those snorkeling trips that go out for the day (or half-day) to various spots in the waters of the Virgin Islands. They're not inexpensive, but they're truly terrific-- will give you a whole different kind of snorkeling. The boat captains (the boats are small- usually don't take more than a handful of people) know the waters very very well and will take you to 4 or 5 different spots, usually with a different kind of snorkeling in each place-- i.e. sometimes "cave" exploring, sometimes super reefs that you're unlikely to find close to shore, etc. etc. It'd be a shame to be in that area and do just off-beach snorkeling (fantastic as it is!)
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 06:10 AM
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I would agree that St. John rates tops. Check out Waterlemon - though its not for the novice snorkeler.

I would also recommend Capt. Phil - the Wayward Sailor as a snorkel trip. He only books a small amt of people and is very knowledgable and friendly. His # is 340-776-6922 and on the web, www.waywardsailor.net
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 07:07 AM
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When you are in St. John, check out Leinster Bay....I remember this little outcropping of land off shore and we found turtles there both times we visited. Another island that is great for off shore snorkeling is Bonaire....the whole island is surrounded by a coral reef...fish and coral are amazing....
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 09:47 AM
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Thanks ltiltson...you are the third person I've seen on here singing the praises of Bonaire. I'd like to go, but we are not divers, just snorklers. Glad to hear there's plenty for us there too. Trish
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 09:54 AM
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We love seeing turtles! Thanks for all your input. Poss, I thought cave exploring was for scuba divers. Are they low short caves that one swims through or do you mean you see them from the top of the water and they're interesting? My husband will dive down more than I do.--We will definitely check out some of those tours. We have friends that were on Tortola and they said they took a boat trip to some private island and it was great snorkeling--seeing turtles, etc. They couldn't remember the name of the private island. Anybody have any idea where they might have been?
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 12:23 PM
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Turtles can most often be seen on St. Thomas as well at Sapphire Beach. They like to frequent grassy areas.
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 01:04 PM
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Good input to note, Deborah. Want you to know I'll be checking this message board frequently and am making notes on all the advice offered. It's so valuable for a great vacation!
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 02:52 PM
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Honeydoe1 there are several charter companies that run day trips from STT & STJ to Virgin Gorda & "The Baths" and "The Caves" on Norman Island, both in the BVI's. Two well recommended companies for this are Stormy Petrel & New Horizons II. More info at www.bookitvi.com We've seen sea turtles lots of times at various spots off STJ, and amazing hundreds of 18" starfish at Waterlemon Cay.
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 04:12 PM
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Sounds great! ---Does anyone know if certain months are better for seeing sea turtles? Maybe during egg laying season-- which is when?
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Old Jul 9th, 2004, 06:55 PM
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For the turtles, not sure if any particular time is better than another. We were there in February & May and saw them both times. Not tons of turtles, maybe one or two on a given day. I have to remember to look up near the surface to see them usually.
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Old Jul 13th, 2004, 03:57 AM
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Honeydoe1,

The snorkeling is great all over St. John with very easy access. My wife & I spent a week in Bonaire this past April. We are very avid and experienced snorkelers. The snorkeling on Bonaire is okay at best. Difficult water entries and no beach to rest on. The reef is spectacular but in 30'-60' of water. I like to explore the coral and feel like I'm one with the fishes. You can do this on St. John where the snorkeling is in realtively shallow water. You will love St. John.
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Old Jul 15th, 2004, 01:30 PM
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Hi all! I love reading all the posts about beach snorkeling & I see that everyone says to go to STJ. My husband & I will have from 7:30-4:40 on STT, July 26,2004. I have planned to go first to Coki Beach, STT right off the ship. Mainly because it is so shallow, calm & plenty of fish. I am wondering if we can spend a few hours there & still have time to take the ferry to see STJ. Or should we just save that for another trip? I have never been to either island & really don't want to be rushed. I know there is soooo much to see. How long ( worst case ) would it take to leave Coki & get to say Cinnamon Bay, STJ? Thanks!
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