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Several Snorkeling Questions

Old Nov 11th, 2002, 07:05 AM
  #1  
Deborah
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Several Snorkeling Questions

Hello, everyone! My boyfriend and I are going to be taking his mom to the Virgin Islands over Thanksgiving. He and I have been there before and snorkeled Trunk Bay. We'd like to go back there again but also snorkel some other areas.

Can anyone recommend the best way to snorkel several sites in 1 day on St. John? Is it best to hire a taxi or tour service or doing a boat charter? My concern with the boat is that his mom doesn't know how to swim and I'm concerned she'll be too afraid to try it from a boat with a vest. It might be best if she will be able to be near the beach.

If anyone can recommend a driving guide or charter boat that would be great.

I do have another question. When we went there before we stayed at the Wyndham. There was some pretty good snorkeling there. This time we will be staying at the Frenchmans Reef. I was wondering how the snorkeling is there? Also, will his mom be able to walk into the ocean and go deep enough to where she won't have to swim but will still be able to "snorkel" by standing and just putting her face in the water? I realize that sounds funny! But we'd like her to be able to experience snorkeling without her being too afraid. Are there any good spots on St. John that have good snorkeling without swimming too far out?

Thanks much!
 
Old Nov 11th, 2002, 11:16 AM
  #2  
Julie
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Deborah,

Snorkeling is much easier than swimming. I'm a terrible swimmer but I snorkled in St. John with no problem. So long as your boyfriend's mom knows how to float she should be OK. Get her a snorkeling vest, or better yet a water-skiing belt (you can rent these from Cruz Bay watersports). The waters on St. John's northshore beaches are generally very calm. Snorkel fins make it much easier to propel yourself through the water. Have her practice a few times in shallow water before you take your St. John excursion. You really can't snorkel standing up. The beautiful coral reefs are the primary attraction and you can't stand on them--you can only float over top.

The best way to see several different STJ snorkel locations is to rent a jeep for the day. Taxis only service limited areas of the island, so you'd be missing out on a lot. With a taxi you'd have to get the driver to come back and pick you up at a pre-appointed time, which means you couldn't stay longer somewhere if you were having a particularly good time. Driving on St. John is an experience in and of itself. You get to see some fabulous scenery that you'd otherwise miss. The roads are pretty good (just be prepared for a few steep hills and hairpin curves) and traffic is much lighter than on St. Thomas. With a jeep, you could visit places like Salt Pond Bay (too far out for taxis) which has great snorkeling. The water is just a short hike from the parking area.

Day sails in the Virgin Islands are fabulous. I'd highly recommend doing both a daysail AND a day on St. John. Even if your boyfriend's mother never left the boat she'd probably still have a great time. Chose a smaller outfit that takes only a few passengers at a time. The Wayward Sailor with Captain Phil would be a great choice, as he only takes 6 people at once. He could then give your boyfiend's mom some individualized attention and help her feel more comfortable in the water. Here's a link with more info:
http://www.bookitvi.com/wayward.htm

Another good choice would be the Stormy Petrel, which is a slightly larger group (usually around 10) but a fabulous trip. They go to the Baths on Virgin Gorda (gorgeous!) and several other snorkel spots. The only potential problem is that you must snorkel into the Baths from where the boat anchors off-shore. It's not a long distance, but could make a non-swimmer a little uncomfortable.

Stay away from groups like Limnos and Captain Nautica, which are too big and generally cater to cruise ship passengers.

For snorkeling try Trunk Bay (go on Saturday to avoid cruise ship crowds), Hawksnest (not the best snorkeling on the island but very good for beginners), Jumbie, Gibney, Salt Pond Bay and Salomon (requires a short hike to get there and may have some nudists). The best snorkeling on the island is at Waterlemon Cay, but this is not the place for beginners as the currents can be strong and it takes a good swim to reach the Cay from the mainland.

Good luck and have a great time!
 
Old Nov 11th, 2002, 11:22 AM
  #3  
Deborah
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Julie:

Just wanted to say thanks for you very thorough response! I appreciate it!

No - I don't want her to step on the coral either! But what I remember from the Wyndham is you could basically step into the water maybe up to your waist, kneel and get your face in the water (with snorkeling gear) and still see pretty fish. Atleast I thought they were pretty! But I will admit it was my first time doing such a thing! She won't see coral though. But she'll get quite a kick out of seeing such pretty fish!
 
Old Nov 11th, 2002, 03:31 PM
  #4  
Cathy
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Deborah,

Although people on this board have said that you can snorkel without swimming, if a person has NO swimming skills whatsoever, I DO NOT recommend boat snorkeling trips. I am not a great swimmer but I am comfortable in the water, especially ocean water with waves. I snorkeled around St. John this summer and my group encountered unexpected waves on a beautiful day. Your boyfriends mom would probably not be comfortable with this. I have seen people freak out on a boat trip and they were swimmers, just not used to swimming in the ocean. I would recommend that people who don't swim at all only go into shallow water where they can stand. You are right not to want her to stand on coral. It damages coral, plus coral cuts are painful and septic!

I would recommend Trunk bay or Cinnamon Bay or a beach snorkeling trip or Coki Beach for her first snorkeling trip. She can stand in the water and see fish. Another good tool to get is a boogie board or a floating mat to help your boyfriend's mom get comfortable with floating. You may want to have her practice in a home pool before you leave. If she feels comfortable, you can use many of Julie's suggestions for great beach snorkels. She may get so excited about seeing the fish that she wants to learn to swim!
 
Old Nov 11th, 2002, 08:53 PM
  #5  
GM
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Deborah, just to add to your question, snorkeling is not good at Frenchman's Reef. The water is mostly from the Atlantic, where around St. John, this is the Caribbean sea.

My hubby is a diver and does snorkeling. You folks might want to take a trip to Buck Island Cove for snorkeling. Besides St. John (which hubby LOVES) he had the BEST time on a charter out to the Brit. VI's. I don't even swim, but the charter we went on took us out to the Baths at Virgin Gorda (where I had a dip) and the rest of the time he went snorkeling around the various sites while I stayed on the yacht; much safer, even tho I float, I couldn't chance it with the vest. Let me advise, it IS pretty scary trying to swim or especially snorkel from the boat in a vest. I'd recommend you folks do your snorkeling WITH her around Trunk / Cinnamon Bays in St. John, and Coki Beach on St. Thomas, then do the boat charter without her, letting her have a day to herself at the pool / beach with a good book (or even a spa treatment at Frenchman's - pretty OK spa, did that myself!). Definitely go with her on the boat shuttle into Charlotte Amalie for shopping, and go to Raadets Gaade (a specific street), where the jewelers have better prices and are willing to bargain; most of my better jewelry is from St. Thomas.

Hope this helps, and have a GREAT time.
 
Old Nov 12th, 2002, 05:04 AM
  #6  
Deborah
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Thanks everyone! Your advice has been most helpful!
 
Old Nov 16th, 2002, 08:32 AM
  #7  
Nazarene
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Deborah: While the snorkeling at Morningstar is not the greatest, I must put to rest this idea that it is because it is the Atlantic... Morningstar happens to be a windward beach (prevailing winds onshore) and so there are waves frequently which cause the water to be stirred up, but it overlooks the Caribbean. Actually, the north side of the Virgins is the Atlantic side! For shallow snorkeling- Coki Beach, Secret Harbour on St Thomas and Maho (in front of the campground)or Honeymoon on St John. Is there a possibility of getting Mom in a pool with a mask and a float before the trip so she can get comfortable with the mask and snorkel? Two more small ideas- you might check with Underwater Safaris (the dive operation at the Reef) re: guided snorkeling trips for beginners and with Waterworks (the jet ski operation on Morningstar) re: their Green Cay guided snorkel tour.
 
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