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alikat33 Jul 27th, 2009 06:02 PM

Need Suggestions; snorkeling from beach?
We've been to several spots in the Caribbean (and we keep coming back over any other vacations we've taken) and looking for a new place to visit. Need your expertise because honestly, it's overwhelming!
Here's what we are looking for:
Snorkeling either from the beach, from the actual hotel or not too far. (Caneel Bay was excellent for that)
Some nightlife. We are in our early 40's, and St. John had beautiful beaches but was a little quiet. (maybe we didnt go to the right places??)
Luxury is ok!! Meaning, price is not a huge priority. I have seen some reviews of places that may be tops in the list, but there was no a/c...not for me. :)
Can't think of any other questions you may want answers to, but let me know what i'm missing. Thank you!!!

RoamsAround Jul 28th, 2009 06:33 AM

You'd be hard pressed to find a resort with "off beach" snorkeling as good as you found at Caneel Bay. Check out resorts and or rental villas on Bonaire, Grand Caymen, Virgin Gorda, Anguilla, Providenciales (Turks & Caicos), Anegada and most of the Bahamas Out-islands. Those islands will all have good to very good "off beach" snorkeling, but not necessarilly directly in front of the hotel. Lots of opportunities but you have to keep in mind that the best snorkeling reefs are usually not just "off the beach". Many times you have to take a boat to reach the very good spots.

SnR Jul 28th, 2009 08:46 AM

We like beach snorkeling, too, and loved Grand Cayman. We had booked into Rum Point where there is beach snorkeling from the condos, but Ivan came along so we had to change our accommodations. Snorkeling was great there, though, even right after the hurricane. Don't know about night life--that is the quiet side of the island. Georgetown has the nightlife, I think. Researching Bonaire which doesn't sound like alot of luxury or nightlife (pluses in our book!) but Curacao does. Snorkeling is supposed to be better on Bonaire, but the Snorkeling and Diving in Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire book lists several great-sounding sites, and Curacao has beaches. Many of Bonaire's accommodations have "house reefs" where you can wake up and go right in the water! No beaches to speak of. One luxury place called Harbour Village, I think. The government has identified the dive/snorkel places with yellow-painted rocks so you can drive around the island and go in at will. The other place we are looking at is in Belize on the Atolls, Blackbird Caye. Good luck with your search and report back because alot of us like shore snorkeling.
Sally in Seattle where it is sooooooooooooo hot and no a/c!

january89 Jul 28th, 2009 09:46 AM

Have been to Grand Cayman and Provo. Not sure about night life, but off shore snorkeling was better on Cayman. Cemetary Reef, Governors Reef and a few more (the names escape me). You can just swim off the beach and see some wonderful coral and fish.

We always stay at Plantana Condos so can't help with the luxury accomodations.

alikat33 Jul 28th, 2009 10:07 AM

Wonderful! Thank you for your help. Will print these responses and do some researching on the islands mentioned. Will let you know what we decide upon.
Thanks again!

KVR Jul 28th, 2009 11:54 AM

Look at Coral Gardens on Provo, T & C. There is a reef right in front of thier beach. Many people snorkel there so the beach can get crowded. I didn't find much snorkeling on Grace Bay other than that area.

The El Cozumeleno on Cozumel has a great beach for snorkeling. Be aware that some of the beach is rocky and ironshore, which makes it a great place to snorkel. The El Cozumeleno is a 3* AI, so might not be waht you are looking for. There is some good nightlife in town; Margaritaville, Carlos & Charlies, Sr. Frogs and many local resturants and bars. Also, check out the beach area at Chankanaab Park. Good snorkeling, beach chairs, resturant, bars and chair service from the resturants/bar.

We found good snorkeling at the Wyndham Sugar Bay on St. Thomas. Lots of rocks to wade through, but plenty of fish to see. However, did not care for the hotel or St. Thomas.

The Courtyard by Marriott's beach on Grand Cayman has a reef a few yards off shore. You'll probably need to be a good swimmer to reach it. There were lots of Sargent Majors close to shore though. Georgetown has some decent nightlife. Food and drink are quit expensive there.

We found good snorkeling at Baby Beach and DePalm Island on Aruba. Lots of really huge parrot fish. Snorkeling from the hotels, not so good.

Went to Curacao in May. Didn't find the snorkeling as great as other people have reported. The water wasn't clear. I was told that was do to an alge that came into the area during that time frame. Didn't see many fish though at the hotel or any of the beaches we went to. However, we did the Animal Encounter Dive at the Sea Aquarium (you do not have to be cerfitied to do this dive) and it had to be the most fabulous activity we've done on vacation. Tons of fish, sting rays, dolphins, turtles and sharks.

The best snorkeling we've seen was Grand Cayman then Cozumel. However, I like Cozumel better because we like AI resorts, it's cheaper to get there plus food and accomendations are inexpensive compared to other destinations.

mamamia66 Jul 29th, 2009 03:58 AM

We've stayed at Caneel too & loved the snorkeling. Just came back from Grand Cayman Westin & was able to swim to reef right next door to resort. Great great great snorkeling on that island! Very safe, good food, don't know about night life as we were always in bed pretty early after day in the sun. The Ritz is much fancier but a smaller more crowded beach, in my opinion. We've also stayed at Barcelo Maya resorts right south of Playa del Carmen. Great off beach snorkeling right at the resort. Very nice resort, good food. The Palace part of the resort is the newest most upscale one. We stayed in the Tropical & that is was great too.

zanne Jul 30th, 2009 05:14 AM

Mahoe Bay on Virgin Gorda. Beautiful homes directly on the beach. Incredible reefs in your backyard. Have seen lobsters, turtles, small sharks, octopus, beautiful coral reefs, tons of fish, so colorful!

jhager Jul 30th, 2009 05:26 AM

Fly into Marsh Harbor and take the ferry (20 minutes) to Long Island/Hope Town, Bahamas. Stay at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge, walk out the back door and snorkel one of the prettiest reefs in the Bahamas. Hope Town is a very laid back little town, with a nice selection of restaurants and bars. Golf Carts are the normal means of travel around the island and if you are into boating you can rent a boat to check out the many reefs and marine sactuarys within minutes of Hope Town.

TC Jul 30th, 2009 06:03 AM

Agree that snorkeling right from the beach at the <u>north end</u> of Cozumel island is very good. Several very luxurious condos along that stretch (in particular Las Brisas or NaHa) and great diversion of excellent restaurants in town. Have a look at

I think the best we have found was from West End Beach on Roatan, Honduras. Beach snorkeling was amazing! We rented a house in the West Bay Village complex, but there are also hotels along the beach. Unfortunately, the nightlife might not meet your needs.

Meka Jul 30th, 2009 07:38 AM

Try Roatan, Honduras...a beautiful up and coming tourist destination in the Carribean. You can stay at Infinity Bay condos and walk right into the water and snorkel. The beach itself is fabulous! White sugary sand and turquoise green water. Virtually anywhere on the Island you can beach snorkel but West Bay Beach offers the best beach on the Island. There are many accommodation choices right on the beach...Mayan Princess condo resorts, Coral Sands, La Sirena, private homes, however Infinity is the newest and nearest the best snorkel spot.

Roatan is easily accessible with direct flights from Miami, Houston, Atlanta. This Island is an undiscovered gem! If $$ is not a factor you have many, many choices and will get alot of bang for your buck here.

shirleyk Jul 30th, 2009 10:16 AM

Coral Gardens, Provo, T&C, has a reef right in front of it that you can just walk right in and circle around and snorkel. Also, on Cozumel, we stayed at the Coral Princess and snorkeled right in front of the hotel and swam north from there along the edge and the snorkeling was pretty good. Further north you can snorkel in front of the Playa Azul going toward ElCozumeleno. There is a restaurant overhead (hard to explain) and people throw bread in while you are snorkeling and all kinds of fish appear. There is a reef in Cozumel - Palancar I think - which also has good snorkeling.

travelbuff Jul 30th, 2009 08:31 PM

Alot of the Out Islands of the Bahamas as mentioned above will have good to great off beach snorkling. The Abacos, Eleuthera, Cat Island and Harbour Island would be good to look into.

Harbour Island has several nice places to stay and one of the best beaches in the WORLD. It's never really crowded even in high season.

September is an iffy month so wherever you go, get insurance so if something does come up you are covered.

Try these websites.

Have a great trip.

Larababe Jul 31st, 2009 03:48 AM

We snorkeled right from the beach at the Barcelo Maya Palace in Riviera Maya. There were turtles, rays, a barracuda and an array of colorful fish. It was great!

StanKase Aug 3rd, 2009 03:57 AM

If you are avid snorkelers like us and are looking for more than a few schools of fish and some little coral heads off the beach you really cannot find it, in our exoperience, other than at Caneel and surrounding areas and a few Bahama out islands mentioned above (but even there we found it often necessary to take a speedboat a few hundred yards out to good coral outcroppings with a large variety of fish. Roatan does offer the best choice outside the Caribbean/Bahamas but only in a few selected spots. Belize has the best snorkeling in the Americas but not off the beach. We wish we could also find what you are looking for having visited all the places mentioned earlier and 6-7 other islands in the region we have not duplicated St. John and it's coral according to the scientists has lost 30+5 of its coral due to global warming and pollution.

TC Aug 3rd, 2009 05:21 AM

<i>"If you are avid snorkelers like us"</i>....and us -- you really have to go to the Pacific to find the truly amazing snorkeling. We spent several weeks sailing in French Polynesia and the snorkeling is breathtaking. We would anchor and jump right off the boat; swim a feet hundred yards or take our little rubber dingy and end up in the MOST pristine coral gardens I have seen anywhere in the world. There was rarely another soul anywhere to be seen. Since the islands are ringed by a large barrier reef, the coral gardens within are protected from storm damage. We have been to most of the Caribbean, Austrailia, Thailand, but French Polynesia was the absolute best -- so far.

beardrool Dec 11th, 2009 03:38 PM

have snorkeled polynesia as well. best coral. belize very varied and wild.loved bermuda too.
just wanted to weigh-in on a type of snorkeling that's very appealing to me. it's off the cliffs in negril- from rockhouse going east. different type of snorkel cause it's for the workout-you need to be strong. fish are nice, but it's really about the caves, the jumps, the exercise and the perfect water. added bonus is the food-nobody cooks like those ja mon.

TC Dec 12th, 2009 10:05 AM

Speaking of snorkeling in Belize, I want to mention The Blue Hole. Its a very famous dive spot. When our husbands dove The Blue Hole, we ladies went along and snorkeled around the rim of this underwater crater. Since hardly anyone every snorkels there and its a long way by boat to get there, the coral was in very good condition. Quite beautiful with lots of big fish. Very enjoyable......still, nothing like the Pacific.

beardrool Dec 16th, 2009 07:06 PM

TC going back to belize in feb. thanks for the info on the blue hole. that sounds right up my alley

TC Dec 17th, 2009 10:34 AM

Happy to be helpful. We had another nice snorkel that same day around an island while the guys were diving another spot. I don't remember the name of the little island, but its the one with the nesting blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. We had a picnic lunch there during their dive interval. The birds are AMAZING to see. Of course, we had no idea to expect them so had no camera along :( Do ask about this if you're going to the Blue Hole.

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