There are many beaches in the Caribbean where you can snorkel. And many of them offer great snorkeling. But there are 3 beaches that I have visited where the snorkeling really stands out.
With its white sand and turquoise waters, Trunk Bay in St John is an amazing snorkeling beach. There is a great variety of fish to see and some of the most beautiful coral. St. John is unique in that swimmers can follow the Underwater Snorkel Trail. From this trail you can see many beautifully colored fish, corals, and other marine life. Signs under the water describe what you are seeing. This trail is good for beginner snorkelers and kids as well but wear a flotation device if you are not a good swimmer. Trunk Bay is easily reachable if you are staying on St. John or St. Thomas or if you are on a cruise ship docking at St. Thomas. A $5 entrance fee is required to enter.
Vieques Puerto Rico is a short flight from San Juan or a ferry ride from Cieba. The ferry can be inconsistent and sometimes fills up so the flight is often the preferred form of transportation. Upon arrival in Vieques head to La Chiva Beach or Blue Beach as it was referred to by the navy. Coral reefs can be found just off shore and sometimes fish will come right up to the beach. The spots near the beach are great for beginners and there are other areas that are great for more experienced snorkelers. The area near La Chiva (as small island) are best to see a great variety of marine life near the long reef. Make sure not to step on the island as it is prohibited.
Tobacco Bay in St. George Bermuda can be a bit difficult to get to but is well worth the effort. If porting in Bermuda on a cruise, most ships dock at the Royal Dockyard and you must take a long bus/taxi ride or a combination of ferry and bus/taxi to get to Tobacco Bay (unless the direct ferry to St. George is running but it was not running this summer). If arriving in St. George by ferry or bus you then have to walk a distance up and down the hills. But the view is well worth it. From up above you can see the clear blue still water of the protected bay. The beach is quite crowded by beach chairs that can be rented but there is plenty of room once you are in the water. Head to the right and explore the area near the limestone rocks to see a great variety of fish and sometimes even lobsters.
Some tips for snorkeling anywhere (the Caribbean or elsewhere)
- Make sure to protect the reefs. Touching coral reefs can kill them so make sure to watch your step and swim (rather than walk) while snorkeling.
- Use only reef safe sunscreen. Sunscreen is necessary in the hot sun but in order to protect the reefs only use mineral sunscreen with non nano particles. My favorite (and I use this myself) is ThinkBaby Mineral Sunscreen.
- You can rent snorkeling equipment at each place that you snorkel or you can bring your own and snorkel wherever you want. On our most recent trip to Bermuda we brought our own snorkel gear (we don’t need flippers) so that we were able to snorkel at all the beaches we visited. We found the Qingsong Full Face Snorkel Mask to work really well and there are kids sizes available as well.