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ljv Nov 23rd, 2009 12:46 PM

WOW!! Snorkelling??
Can anyone recommend an island that has truly phenomenal snorkelling?

Many years ago, my husband and I snorkelled on an ocean reef about 5 miles off Bermuda. It was what I call our Jacques Cousteau experience. The color of the corals were amazing, as was the reef life. Saw all sorts of tropical fish, as well as tarpon and barracuda. I understand the reef is now under the protection of the Bermuda government and not open to the casual tourist. Probably an excellent idea!

Over the years we've been to St.John(quite good), Mexico/Cozumel(ditto), Anguilla,Tobago and St. Martin(so-so). We have never approximated the Bermuda snorkel experience, but would like to come close again.

ANY IDEAS? Thanks in advance

KVR Nov 23rd, 2009 01:54 PM

Grand Cayman, Turks and Caicos, the out Islands of the Bahamas, Curacao and Bonaire.

We did an intro dive at the Curacao Sea Aquarium. No dive certification needed. No coral also, but we did get to dive with several varities of fish, turtles, sting rays, dolphins ans got to feed the nurse sharks. One of the best experiences we've ever had on vacation.

I also like Aruba for snorkeling, but the water isn't as clear. Lots of fish though.

bellaboo Nov 23rd, 2009 04:35 PM

Old Providence Island.

snorkelcat Nov 23rd, 2009 06:55 PM

I am so glad you posted this question. I was just getting ready to post a very similar question.

Quite a number of people are happy if they see a school of sergent majors. They consider that great snorkeling. I like a complete snorkeling eco system - a good variety of hard and soft corals, a good percentage of LIVE corals( often very colorful as opposed to dull gray or white dead coral or worst - algae covered coral). If the corals are there, great sea life will usually follow, because you have an active, living reef.

Here are my personal opinions of various islands

***Be aware that anyones opinion is based on what they consider good snorkeling to be and what locations you snorkel.

Grand Cayman - I have been UNDERWHELMED by Grand Cayman - maybe I just didn't snorkel out far enough or in the right locations, but most of the beach snorkel sites I visited had very little live coral. Not too much fish life, although Grand Cayman was were I saw my first nurse shark - up close!

St. John - I can imagine what this island was like before it was discovered. The popular beaches - Trunk and Cinamon are "sacraficial reefs" - coral is mostly dead - you may see a live brain coral here or there. Amazingly, you can see good fish life - I almost always see a turtle every time I snorkel at St. John. I also love the huge numbers of tiny silversides and the occasional tarpin. I have snorkeled at Honeymoon beach, Watermelon, Salt pond. The beaches are amazing! But I want to cry every time I see all the dead coral.

Aruba, Curacao - have snorkeled both places - I liked the snorkeling at Aruba - good coral and fish life! But the water can be very choppy and rough and sometimes there is a dangerous rip current running along the shore at the good snorkel spots. The island is not lush and tropical - very, very desert like, including cactus.

I have heard that Bonaire is supposed to have great snorkeling - but very few beaches or topside attractions.

Roatan - this island had the greatest diversity of fish life! I saw plump sea stars to every type of sea cucumber imaginable, plus lobsters, tutles, eels, etc. Everything from micro (Christmas tree worms and tiny red and white shrimp) to the macro. West Bay is a beautiful beach. The coral close to the beach is showing wear and tear due to the rapid development of the island and if often covered in algae. The very best snorkeling is off the walls in 30-50 feet of water where very few tourists go and no one can stand and crush the corals. The coral off the walls is beautiful as well as the fish life. I would go back to Roatan, but I am concerned about the political stability of Honduras right now and the island has become quite popular. I love enjoying a quiet beach, but with cruise ships coming quite frequently, Roatan can get quite busy and noisy, which is not relaxing to me. Roatan is also part of a third world country - the electricity would frequently go out and you cannot drink the tap water, but I really enjoyed myself there.

Out island Bahamas - this past summer I went to Guana Cay in the Abacos. I loved the island - great beaches, and the snorkeling was pretty good - not spectacular, but there was a good percentage of live, colorful corals, good fish populations. Saw a 6-7 foot Caribbean reef shark as well as turtles and sting rays!

So I am trying to decide whether to give St. John one last chance - so many people rave about the snorkeling there - I don't get it. As far as Andros, I have heard good things and I have heard bad things about the snorkeling.

I would love to hear more about Out Island snorkeling.

Stankase and Bloma(sp?) - please post if you read this - you guys have great snorkeling experience.

eileen Nov 24th, 2009 03:49 AM

Buck Island, St. Croix. There's an "underwater" snorkel trail there and I saw more fish and coral than I have ever seen in Aruba, Curacao, St. John, Grand Cayman, Antigua, Turks & Caicos and Cozumel.

ljv Nov 24th, 2009 11:31 AM

Thanks everyone...some good ideas. I,too, would like to hear more about snorkel experiences in the Bahama Out Islands.

Notice that no one has suggested the BVI, Turks or Caicos or Grenadines. Feedback would be appreciated.

Eileen...was the snorkel trail very colorful? How was the whole St.Croix experience? Safe?


KVR Nov 24th, 2009 03:35 PM

Actually, I mentioned Turks & Cacios, but Blamona is the T & C expert. She also knows alot about the Bahamas out Islands. Hopefully she'll chime in. If not, post a new thread regarding those destiantions so she will see it and respond.

ljv Nov 24th, 2009 03:58 PM

Sorry KVR...YOU did mention T&C. Hopefully, Blamona will provide some insights.
Thanks! and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

blamona Nov 25th, 2009 02:16 AM

Everyone is to kind about me! Thanks!

I've been to most places above, except Roatan.

Truly Stankase is the snorkeling expert, you may want to put his name on the post to make sure Stankase see's it.

Out Islands for me have been okay, not great. The best spot in my experiences, were some small spots at Eleuthera, and the best was San Salvador, Bahamas. San Salvador was excellent, but the only thing on the entire island is a Club Med. It is a very pretty resort, the food is excellent, and it might well be the prettiest beach ever. 2 boat snorkel trips a day are included in the price. (as is water skiing!) The reefs seemed healthy, fish were colorful.

I have snorkeled/scuba in Bermuda. You must keep in mind, the last couple of years have been extremely active hurricane wise, and has affected the corals in areas. (this year was quiet, but the last 4 previous years had been brutal.) Having said that, even if you returned back to Bermuda, you wouldn't find it the same, much less other islands.

Bonaire is bar none the best to snorkel.

I too found Aruba surprisingly good, but the water was never very clear like other places.

Cozumel was excellent, but it's been about 5 years since last visit.

St. John and Virgin Gorda have had good snorkeling spots, added bonus of stunning views from the beaches helps. St. Croix has Buck Island, excellent snorkeling, but again, was about 10 years ago!

Grenadines has nice snorkeling at the uninhabited Tobago Cays, so boat trips are required.

Caymans used to be better, or maybe I didn't hit the right spots on my second trip.

I love T&C, gorgeous beach. There are some excellent reefs, even off-the-beach-especially at Coral Gardens. Only negative? It's roped off in a big circle, but there is plenty to see and explore anyway. There is always a grouper, plenty of parrot fish, and a resident barracuda (Barry) There is also the excellent Smith's Reef, but you should rent a flag for on top, as it's close to a marina and you want to make sure boaters know you're in the water. Funny thing about the Outer reefs, on my last trip they seemed a little bare. Still nice, but not what it use to be. T&C was my first shark sighting, that was really cool, and I've swam for 20 minutes with Sea Eagle Rays a couple of times. Next to Coral Gardens are grass patches too-you can always find a turtle or 2 to swim with. If the water is calm, then the outer reefs are cool, the experience you crave, but if the water is choppy, it's hard to swim over the outer reefs, and you don't get close enough to see the greatness.

Overall, if you truly want the Jaques Cousteau experience, I highly recommend Fiji or Maldives.

eileen Nov 25th, 2009 03:24 AM

Hi, unfortunately, I was only on St. Croix for one day as a cruise stop. There's a great article in the December issue of Conde Nast Traveller about St. Croix, I definitely want to return!

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