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 want to experience what's below the surface you might want to visit 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 option. 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 location 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 location 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 want to check it out, you'll find this site located on Pelican Island, in the southern part of the BVI.

Chromis Reef is a fifth site 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.

The chart right below summarizes more details regarding 38 of the best places to experience 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

For some people, the most enjoyable snorkeling is located off shore.

If you're hoping to snorkel during a boat trip, you might want to contact 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. Every custom sailboat in their fleet includes electronics and navigational charts, double staterooms, freshwater showers, fully appointed galleys, stereo systems, initial ice and water, housekeeping supplies, and much more. Everything you need to get your sailing adventure started comes included. They're found within Road Town, the BVI.

Still another option is Spirit Of Anegada Day Sails. Sailing tours are arranged to suit the needs of their guest. Typical destinations include North Sound, Fallen Jerusalem, the Invisibles, the Dogs, the Wreck of Rhone, Cooper Island, Salt Island, Scrub Island, and Guana. Refreshments and snorkeling equipment are included.

Take a moment to look through this table to learn more about boat trips and day sails that offer snorkeling.

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
Blue Sail BVI (284) 494-2268 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
White Squall II (284) 494-2564 Downtown Road Town Tortola

Snorkeling Services

If you looking for a place that offers snorkel rentals, excursions, or similar services, you might want to contact Paradise Watersports Snorkeling. Run by the very friendly Randy Keil, this shop offers underwater adventures hosted by a team of guides that not only love what they do, but want you to love it as well. That is why they cater to your needs, creating snorkeling trips that you'll look back fondly on for years. They are located on Peter Island, in the southern part of the BVI.

A second place catering to snorkelers is BVI Scuba Company. Just 200 feet from the entrance to the cruise ship dock, this dive shop is easily accessible by cruisers who are looking for a snorkeling tour. In addition to their great location, they are known for creating eco-friendly tours that educate their guests about local marine life as they explore underwater.

A third place to consider is Blue Water Divers. Planning on doing some snorkeling during your time on the isles? This group is not only the top scuba diving operation around, but they also rent out snorkeling equipment. They're located in Nanny Cay, the BVI.

Review the chart below to find out more regarding 12 firms that provide 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
Caribbean Images Tours (Snorkelling) Ltd Snorkeling Tour Operator (284) 494-8599 Downtown Road Town 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) 495-5513 Central the BVI Scrub Island
Dive BVI Snorkeling Tour Operator (248) 495-5513 0.8 mi. North of Central Spanish Town Virgin Gorda
Dive BVI Snorkeling Tour Operator (248) 495-7328 0.6 mi. North of Central Santu Patia Virgin Gorda
Jost Van Dyke Scuba Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (284) 495-0271 Jost Van Dyke Jost Van Dyke
Paradise Watersports Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (284) 495-9941 5.2 mi. Southeast of Central downtown Road Town Peter Island

For more information concerning snorkeling, including suggestions and helpful tips for both "old pros" and beginners, read our exhaustive Caribbean snorkeling article.

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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