Virgin Islands Snorkeling
If you can swim, you can snorkel–and snorkeling is a world-class experience in the Virgin Islands, thanks to its underwater world of unique and exotic creatures. There’s so many places to snorkel in the Virgin Islands that you could go snorkeling every day and never have the same experience twice. For those of you who can’t snorkel here everyday, here’s a list of 10 fantastic snorkeling spots you shouldn’t miss when you visit.
1. SALT ISLAND–Stern section of RMS Rhone
Sunk in a category 5 hurricane on Oct 29th 1867, the stern section of the RMS Rhone is a “wreck of a wreck” and varies in depth from 15ft – 80ft. The area closest to Black Rock is the shallowest part of the RMS Rhone, and is easily visible to snorkelers. You can see the propeller shaft, gears, and aft mast with rigging. Since this is one of the most popular scuba diving places in the world, there can be a lot of boat traffic, so be very careful. You’ll find lobster, puffer fish, squirrel fish, angel fish, turtles, schools of squid, and a variety of rays. In addition, there are shallow boulders that lead to a sandy bottom filled with soft corals.
2. COOPER ISLAND–Chromis Reef
This is a great place to snorkel if you have a lot of time, because there’s a lot to see. There’s the wreckage of a small airplane about 35 feet down, but you’ll need a day with good visibility to see it. There’s a reef here that’s home to a giant school of electric blue chromis, which you can swim through–hence the name! Depths here go up to about 45 feet. There are boulders in the shallow area home to corals and a variety of fish.
3. GINGER ISLAND–Ginger’s Backside
Ginger’s Backside is a protected area that is home to hard corals which gently slope down to the sandy floor of the sea. Depths here go to about 65 feet, and you’ll see some of the most amazing and unique corals in the world. Brain coral, moon coral, stag horn coral, and pillar coral are home to colorful schools of electric blue chromis, damsel and angel fish, turtles and occasionally, a nurse shark hiding under a reef or ledge!
4. VIRGIN GORDA–The Baths
This area is as gorgeous underwater as it is above. Patchy coral reefs and giant boulders surround this famous BVI attraction. This area has heavy boat traffic, so be very careful. The terrain here is shallow and the bottom of the sea is soft sand. There are “caves” and “pools” where you can see flounder on the sandy floor, parrotfish, goat fish, and small rays.
5. NORMAN ISLAND–The Caves
Get there early, as this is a popular site for the cruise ship crowd. Three very different caves, all fairly shallow, lead into Norman island. It is said that pirates hid their stolen treasure here, so keep a look out for anything shiny! Be careful when the waters are rough as the surge can flood the caves. Each cave is very different and interesting. One of them goes back pretty far, so take a flashlight if you can. Just outside the caves are gorgeous coral formations, and the area is home to a huge variety of sea life.
Sting rays, eagle rays, barracuda, sergeant majors, even squid can be found here. This area can be dangerous too–watch our for fire coral and long spine sea urchins on the rocks.
6. NORMAN ISLAND–The Indians
As you approach this rock formation, you’ll see from a distance that it looks like an Indian head dress. Named for the Arawak Indians, this area gets really crowded in the middle of the day, so plan around the cruise ship tour boats if possible. You could literally snorkel here all day long. There are 4 rock outcroppings that are visible from the surface, but there is a 5th rock underwater on the northern side of the grouping. There are a lot of corals, including fire coral growing on the rocks, so be very careful not to touch anything! Besides that warning, enjoy. You’ll see an amazing array of sea life here. Wrasse, angel fish, squid, and colorful corals will put on quite a show.
7. NORMAN ISLAND–Angel fish reef
This is a great area for leisurely snorkeling because the water is usually very calm here and underwater canyons are full of sea life. Away from the rocks, the area slopes to a sandy bottom where you may see a variety of rays and flounder. Around this area, you’ll find a number of Angel Fish, including French angel fish, grey angel fish and Queen angel fish.
8. NORMAN ISLAND–Spy Glass Hill
This calm and protected cove is one of the Virgin Islands’ best kept secrets. From land, Spy Glass Hill is the highest point of Norman Island, offering incredible views. The wall of the hill drops steeply into the sea, creating a whole different kind of snorkeling experience. The wall goes down about 15 feet, then slopes gently to a sandy bottom. Along the wall, you’ll find coral sea fans and purple sponge tubes. Damselfish, wrasse, angel fish and schools of blue tang cruise along the wall. This is also a big spot for eagle rays, moray eels and schools of squid.
9. PELICAN ISLAND
If you’re on a lobster hunt, this is a great place to start! The waters here are usually calm and the site is a protected snorkeling site, so there isn’t a huge amount of boat traffic. Lobster is usually hiding under the ledges!
10. COKI POINT BEACH
Because of its proximity to Coral World, Coki Point offers incredible year-round snorkeling. Straight off the beach, you’ll find amazing schools of blue tang, butterfish, parrot fish, and angel fish. Near coral World’s underwater tower, there are fantastic coral ledges where you’ll see Elkhorn coral and gorgeous sea fans. This area is not known for rays or turtles, but is the perfect place for beginner snorkelers thanks to the shallow, calm waters.