Snorkeling Around the BVI

Photo Credit: © Jonathan Ramos CC BY
 

What exists beneath the surface of the sea surrounding the British Virgin Islands is almost indescribable.  What can be said for sure is that the national park system has done such an amazing job working to keep the underwater world as pristine as possible that the local sea life is as healthy as it gets and the visibility is superb. 

Snorkeling is an activity that can very quickly be learned and enjoyed by anyone who knows how to swim. Most accommodations offer snorkeling kits to guests at no cost to them, and even if your lodging doesn't, local dive shops will rent out gear for around $10(USD) a day. Once you've got the snorkel in hand, find a spot with clear, calm waters, pop on your swim fins, mask, and snorkel, and get exploring! If you want to make sure you find the best locales, and you want to learn all the inside tips on how to make the most of your underwater adventure, you can sign on for a snorkeling tour. This will cost you around $70(USD). 

In addition to the snorkeling sites that each island in the British Islands chain is known for, there is also a collection of reef systems, islets, and cays that avid snorkelers make a point to visit.  Most snorkeling tours or sailing excursions will get you to these sites (which are listed below), or if you're sailing your own boat you'll typically notice that there are mooring buoys very near each of them that were put in place by the national park system.

No matter where you stay, or which sites you choose to see, you can expect to experience water temperatures that range from 77 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit and visibility as deep as 100 feet down.  Avoid the waters in the 24 hours after a storm and try and snorkel as far away from cruise ship terminals as possible for the best over all conditions.  

Tortola

For the best snorkeling on Tortola, stick to the northwest coast, which will also coincidentally, bring you to less crowded areas of the island.  Although you can find snorkeling on any coast, the two best spots are Smuggler's Cove and Brewer's Bay Snorkel Site, where off-shore reef systems keep waters calm, and coral structures closer in keep marine life lively.  

Anegada

Anegdad is unique because the entire island itself is made of coral, but add in the stunning turquoise hues of the sea and you'll have a hard time resisting these waters.  Coral only seems to approach the coast on the Atlantic side of the island, so you'll have the best sites to see if you stick to beaches like Loblolly Bay Snorkeling Site.  You will definitely want to keep conditions in mind when snorkeling here, because the waters can be rough at times.  

Virgin Gorda

Virgin Gorda's most popular attraction, The Baths, is also a great location for snorkeling.  There are also several other beaches near The Baths within a few miles of one another that offer shallow, calm snorkeling sites that families frequent because the conditions are so great for families.  

Jost Van Dyke

Jost Van Dyke may be a popular yachting destination, but snorkeling is not to be overlooked here.  The best snorkeling can be found on the west coast, where the bays as well protected by reefs that keep things calm and interesting.

Snorkeling Sites

If you're ready to see what's below the surface you might enjoy visiting The Baths. At one of the most popular attractions in the islands all on its own is a trail that leads all the way to Devil's Bay that snorkelers won't want to miss. Hidden within the crevices and shadows of the boulders are dozens upon dozens of schools of tropical fish. This snorkeling site is located on Virgin Gorda, the BVI.

Brewers Bay is another place you might enjoy. As the most popular snorkeling spot tied to the island of the same name, it can get a little crowded, but not so much that you should consider avoiding it. Turtles really love it here, and you'll also see an abundance of stingrays.

A third place to consider is Treasure Point Caves. Many people snorkel this site in hopes of finding buried pirate treasure. While it is a long shot, there is still plenty of beauty to be seen, including pastel colored coral and sponges, plus blue tangs, sergeant majors, and yellow tails.

A fourth place where you can go snorkeling is Pelican Island Beach. Popular among cruise ship passengers, this site is typified by a cropping of three cone-shaped rocks jutting out of the sea, plus a fourth separated by a narrow channel. The rocks start at 40 feet below sea level and shoot up over 30 feet out of the water. If you're interested, this site is found on Pelican Island, in the southern part of the BVI.

Chromis Reef is a fifth location to consider. A collection of coral creates a patchy reef system that ranges from depths of zero to 45 deep. The area is home to grunts, squirrelfish, baby drum fish, and electric blue chromis. If you stick to the boulders in the shallows you'll have an easier time finding juveniles.

Check this table for a quick overview of 38 of the most popular locations where you can go snorkeling in this area.

Snorkeling Sites Near the BVI
Site Location Island
The Baths 1.5 mi. South West of Central Spanish Town Virgin Gorda
Brewers Bay 1.5 mi. North-Northeast of Central Cane Garden Bay Tortola
Treasure Point Caves 4.2 mi. South West of Central Peter Island Norman Island
Pelican Island Beach 3.8 mi. West-Southwest of Central Peter Island Pelican Island
Chromis Reef 5.2 mi. Southeast of Central Parham Town Cooper Island
Angelfish Reef 6.2 mi. East-Southeast of Central Coral Bay Norman Island
Rainbow Canyons 6.4 mi. South of Central downtown Road Town Pelican Island
Soldier Bay 6.9 mi. South of Central downtown Road Town Norman Island
Rhone Marine Park 6.5 mi. Southeast of Central downtown Road Town Salt Island
Cistern Point 0.4 mi. West-Northwest of Central Cooper Island Cooper Island
The Bight 6.9 mi. East of Central Coral Bay Norman Island
Great Harbour 5.1 mi. South-Southeast of Central downtown Road Town Peter Island
Manchioneel Bay 5.1 mi. Southeast of Central Parham Town Cooper Island
Rocky Bay 6.2 mi. Southeast of Central Parham Town Ginger Island
Great Dog Central the BVI George Dog Island
White Bay Central the BVI Guana Island
Smuggler's Cove 3.4 mi. North of Central Coral Bay Tortola
Valley Trunk Bay 1.0 mi. South West of Central Spanish Town Virgin Gorda
Cam Bay Central the BVI Great Camanoe
Green Cay Beach 2.7 mi. East of Central Jost Van Dyke Green Cay
White Bay Central the BVI Guana Island
Privateer Bay 1.2 mi. West-Southwest of Central Norman Island Norman Island
Carrot Shoal 1.9 mi. South of Central Peter Island Peter Island
Stoney Bay 1.8 mi. South-Southeast of Central Peter Island Peter Island
Sand Pierre Bay 0.7 mi. West-Southwest of Central Peter Island Peter Island
Copper Island Bay 0.7 mi. Northeast of Central Cooper Island Cooper Island
Vanishing Rock 5.2 mi. Southeast of Central Parham Town
Conch Bay 2.0 mi. East-Northeast of Central Parham Town Beef Island
Cow Wreck Bay 2.1 mi. Northwest of Central Setting Point Anegada
Spring Bay 1.3 mi. South West of Central Spanish Town Virgin Gorda
North Lee Bay 0.2 mi. North-Northwest of Central Fallen Jerusalem Fallen Jerusalem
Devils Bay 1.6 mi. South West of Central Spanish Town Virgin Gorda
Pond Bay 2.7 mi. South West of Central Leverick Bay Virgin Gorda
Mosquito Rock 2.4 mi. North of Central Virgin Gorda Mosquito Island
Lee Bay Central the BVI Great Camanoe
Loblolly Bay 1.7 mi. North of Central The Settlement Anegada
South Bay Central the BVI George Dog Island
Anegada Reef 0.8 mi. East-Southeast of Central Setting Point Anegada

Snorkeling Boat Trips

BVI 360

Some people believe the most enjoyable snorkeling is experienced away from the shore.

If you're ready to combine some snorkeling with a boating adventure, you should consider B&B Charters. Whether you're an independent sailor looking to charter a boat to take out and explore local waters on your own, or you want to hire them for for a captained charter, an airport shuttle, or a trip to another island, if it has to do with sailing in the BVI, this boat charter company has you covered.

Another option worth investigating is Footloose Sailboat Charters. So confident that you'll love their services, this charter company promises to beat any competitors price by $100(USD). So, if you're looking to find a yacht to sail around the BVI independently, why not give them a try? They're located within Road Town, the BVI.

A third good option is Spirit Of Anegada Day Sails. See Anegada from the unique perspective of the sea when you book a day sail for you and your group with Spirit of Anegada, one of the best loved sail boat charters on the island.

You can look through this table for a list of boat operators that provide snorkeling opportunities.

Day Sails and Boat Trips In the BVI
Name Phone Location Island
Aaron Rentals (284) 494-8917 Downtown Road Town Tortola
Aristocat Charters (284) 499-1249 Downtown Road Town Tortola
B&B Charters (284) 496-9341 0.7 mi. North of Central Santu Patia Virgin Gorda
BVI 360 (284) 541-1281 0.7 mi. South-Southeast of Downtown Road Town Tortola
BVI Sea and Land Tours (284) 541-2369 0.2 mi. North of Central Great Harbour Jost Van Dyke
BVI Yacht Charters -- 0.5 mi. Northeast of Downtown Road Town Tortola
Conch Charters (284) 494-4868 Downtown Road Town Tortola
Day Trips BVI (284) 340-3434 2.9 mi. North-Northeast of Central Coral Bay Frenchman's Cay
Footloose Sailboat Charters (284) 494-0528 0.4 mi. North-Northeast of Downtown Road Town Tortola
Island Rydes Boat Charters (284) 541-3068 1.7 mi. West of Central Santu Patia Virgin Gorda
Kuralu (284) 495-4381 3.0 mi. North-Northeast of Central Coral Bay Tortola
La Boheme Charters (284) 541-4861 0.2 mi. West-Northwest of Central Spanish Town Virgin Gorda
Mystique Charters (284) 494-0740 2.9 mi. North-Northeast of Central Coral Bay Frenchman's Cay
Sea It Clear (284) 343-9537 Spanish Town, Southeastern part of the BVI Virgin Gorda
Silmaril Sailing (284) 342-6248 5.2 mi. Southeast of Central downtown Road Town Peter Island
Spirit Of Anegada Day Sails (284) 499-0901 Spanish Town, Southeastern part of the BVI Virgin Gorda

Snorkeling Services

BVI Scuba Company

If you looking for someone that offers snorkel rentals, excursions, or similar services, you might want to contact Dive BVI. If someone you're traveling with wants to get in some scuba diving but you don't know how, give this group a call. They have a program which allows snorkelers to ride along and see the sites from a shallow depth as their friends or relatives go deeper. They are situated in Spanish Town, the BVI.

Another place catering to snorkelers is Dive BVI. While this is best known as a scuba diving training facility, they also offer another service for snorkelers which allows them to pay a reduced rate and sail along with divers to do some snorkeling at the dive sites.

A third option is Dive BVI. This group has been in operation since the mid-70s and in that time has garnered a reputation as one of the top scuba diving companies around. What many people don't know is that they also allow snorkelers to tag along and visit all of the dive sites with them at prices that are adjusted just for the sport. They're located on Scrub Island, in the central part of the BVI.

Look through the chart below for a list of 11 firms that offer snorkeling related services.

Snorkeling Services In the BVI
Name Type Phone Location Island
BVI Scuba Company Snorkeling Tour Operator (284) 540-2222 Downtown Road Town Tortola
BVI Scuba Company Snorkeling Tour Operator (284) 495-0271 Western part of the BVI Jost Van Dyke
Blue Water Divers Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (284) 494-2847 1.9 mi. South West of Downtown Road Town Tortola
Blue Water Divers Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (284) 495-1200 2.9 mi. North-Northeast of Central Coral Bay Frenchman's Cay
Boardsailing B V I Watersports Watersports Equipment Shop (284) 495-2447 Tortola Tortola
Dive BVI Snorkeling Tour Operator (248) 495-5513 0.2 mi. West of Central Spanish Town Virgin Gorda
Dive BVI Snorkeling Tour Operator (248) 495-7328 0.6 mi. North of Central Santu Patia Virgin Gorda
Dive BVI Snorkeling Tour Operator (248) 495-5513 Central the BVI Scrub Island
Dive BVI Snorkeling Tour Operator (248) 495-5513 0.8 mi. North of Central Spanish Town Virgin Gorda
Jost Van Dyke Scuba Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (284) 495-0271 0.0 mi. West of Central Great Harbour Jost Van Dyke
Paradise Watersports Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (284) 495-9941 5.2 mi. Southeast of Central downtown Road Town Peter Island

To learn more concerning snorkeling, including helpful suggestions and tips for both "old pros" and beginners, read our extensive discussion of snorkeling in the Caribbean.

Any one of these islands will provide some of the best snorkeling you could hope to encounter if you just know where to look.  Whether you hire a guide to show you the best of the best, or you chance it and head out on your own, snorkel in hand, you really can not go wrong snorkeling in the British Virgin Islands.  

 

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