Snorkeling Around St. Thomas

Photo credit © Independence Sailboat Charter

Whether you encounter a rocky shoreline or a beach of soft white sand, the snorkeling possibilities that surround the island of St. Thomas exist almost everywhere.

When you're planning to spend some time snorkeling during your St. Thomas getaway, you have a few options available to you.  The first is to bring your snorkeling gear to a beach of your choosing, wade in, and get to exploring under the sea on your own.  Many beaches around the island have access to some amount of coral and all of the fish that they attract such as jacks, barracudas, and snappers.  Even if a coral reef is not easily accessible, you can usually still find some sea grass with rays or other juvenile fish in them.  

Some of the hotels and villa rentals on the island include snorkeling gear as part of your stay, but if not there are watersports equipment and dive shops all over that will allow you to rent it for around $10(USD) a day.  Coki Bay Snorkel Site, Sapphire Beach, and Secret Harbour are favorites, but any time you plan to visit a beach you should consider bringing your equipment along with you. 

Your next option is to return to the dive shop where you may have considered renting a snorkel kit and inquire about snorkeling excursions.  Many offer a specified trip out to some various islets and reefs that you can't access without a boat.   Others don't have snorkeling trips but will often let snorkelers ride along with their divers to spots that are good for both sports.  There are also a few tour guides that include snorkeling in some of their excursions, and most sailing charters are happy to stop to let their guests do a bit of snorkeling.

Your final option, of course, is to do both.  This will give you a chance to compare and contrast snorkeling from the shore and from deeper waters.  Are the reefs healthier close to the beaches, or out among the uninhabited cays?  Are fish friendlier in one place over the other?  What about visibility and the overall condition of the water?  These are all great questions that you can answer in a single day of snorkeling if you've planned things just right. 

Snorkeling Sites

If you're looking forward to experiencing what's below the surface you might enjoy visiting Coki Bay. Most agree that this spot has the best beach snorkeling on the island thanks to its calm and clear conditions. Families with children especially love it here. This snorkeling site is located within Coki Point, in the eastern part of St. Thomas.

Secret Harbour Bay is another place you might enjoy. Some of the island's healthiest reef can be found here, with colorful coral and interesting rock formations making a home for a huge array of sea life. In addition to lionfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, and trumpetfish you may also encounter sea turtles, porcupine puffers, manta rays, and spotted eagle rays.

A third place to consider is Saint John Bay. Close enough to the shore that even new snorkelers will find this an easy spot to locate, the reef here is shallow and busy with sea life. Staghorn coral dominates, and fish include trumpetfish, four-eyed butterflyfish, trunkfish, blue tang, squirrelfish, beaugregory, and parrotfish. Grass beds at the center of the beach are favored by rays and sea turtles.

A fourth place where you can go snorkeling is Long Point. This site is set between several small islands in waters that are shallow and near enough to mangroves to make it especially interesting. The sea life you can expect to see include spotted eagle rays ad stingrays. If you're interested, you'll find this site found in the southeastern part of St. Thomas.

Lindquist Beach is a fifth location to consider. There is a small fee to enter the park that this bay is located in, yet it can still be crowded on weekends. If you swim in a few hours before low tide you'll find the water level to be perfect for exploring wit your snorkel and mark.

Take some time to look through the chart below to find out more about 9 of the most popular places where you can enjoy snorkeling in this area.

Snorkeling Sites Near St. Thomas
Site Location
Coki Bay 0.7 mi. South West of Central Thatch Cay
Secret Harbour Bay 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Saint John Bay 0.8 mi. North of Central Red Hook
Long Point 1.4 mi. South of Central Maroon Town
Lindquist Beach 1.8 mi. East of Central Anna's Retreat
Water Bay 1.2 mi. East-Northeast of Central Anna's Retreat
Hull Bay 2.7 mi. Northwest of Central Charlotte Amalie
Magens Bay 1.6 mi. North of Downtown Charlotte Amalie
Bolongo Bay 2.8 mi. Southeast of Central Charlotte Amalie

Snorkeling Boat Trips

Independence Sailboat Charter

Some people believe the most enjoyable snorkeling is located off shore.

If you're hoping to go snorkeling during a boat trip, you should consider Independence Sailboat Charter. Independence will lead you to clear waters that are perfect for snorkeling. The trip includes an open bar, complimentary hot lunch, snorkeling gear and lessons, and water toys.

Another option to investigate is Fury Sailing Charters. There are two main cruises offered by Fury. The first is the half day cruise which includes travel to some of the best places to spot turtles and tropical fish. They're found in Charlotte Amalie, in central St. Thomas.

A third option is Oh Be Joyful Sailing. These sailing charters can accommodate 2-10 people. They are respective of your schedule as well.

Take a moment to read the following chart for more information about day sails and boat trips that provide snorkeling.

Day Sails and Boat Trips On St. Thomas
Name Phone Location
Aqua Blue Charters (340) 344-1190 0.6 mi. North-Northeast of Central Red Hook
Caribbean Blue Boat Charters (340) 690-2583 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Cool Boats (340) 344-6812 0.5 mi. West-Southwest of Downtown Charlotte Amalie
Day Sail Fantasy (340) 775-5652 St. Thomas
Daysail High Pockets Adventure (340) 690-0587 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Fury Sailing Charters (340) 643-7733 0.8 mi. East-Southeast of Downtown Charlotte Amalie
Good Day Charters (340) 514-3458 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Hakuna Matata Charters (626) 824-5039 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Independence Sailboat Charter (340) 775-1408 1.7 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Nate's Custom Charters Day Tours (340) 244-2497 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
New Horizon Sailing (340) 775-1171 0.6 mi. North-Northeast of Central Red Hook
Oh Be Joyful Sailing (340) 244-0605 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
One Love Charters (340) 227-5229 1.9 mi. Southeast of Central Anna's Retreat
Privateer Charters (888) 727-0793 2.0 mi. East-Northeast of Central Maroon Town
Rumbaba Charters (340) 690-1659 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Sail With Liberty (443) 831-1911 1.8 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Sail with Captain Max (340) 775-7467 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Simplicity Charters (340) 774-9348 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Sonic Charters (340) 244-5096 1.8 mi. Southeast of Central Anna's Retreat
Stormy Petrel and Pirate's Penny Tours (340) 775-7990 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Sun Sea Charters (340) 626-6785 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Tribal VI Day Sails (340) 998-7767 1.9 mi. West of Downtown Charlotte Amalie
VIBE Charters (340) 626-2875 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town

Snorkeling Services

Island Wilson Excursions

If you looking for a place offering snorkel rentals, excursions, or similar services, you might want to contact Red Hook Dive Center. When you're snorkeling on vacation you want to make sure you have all the proper gear. The collection here is extensive and high in quality and the team that's on hand will help you to make sure you have the perfect set for you. They are located within Red Hook, in the eastern part of St. Thomas.

A second company catering to snorkelers is Island Wilson Excursions. All trips are private and can accommodate up to six passengers with Captain Wilson. They include snorkeling gear, soft drinks and bottled water, and snacks. Note that half day trips are limited to the islands in the USVI chain only, while eight hour trips can go to the British Virgin Islands as well.

A third option is Patagon Dive Center. Known as the local "snorkeling authority," this shop works to assist their guests with all of their snorkeling needs, whether it be learning about the educational benefits or teaching you the best way to participate in the sport. They're located in East End, in the eastern part of St. Thomas.

Some key facts regarding 8 companies that provide snorkeling services are displayed here:

Snorkeling Services On St. Thomas
Name Type Phone Location
Aqua Action Dive and Water Sports Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 775-6285 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Captain Nautica Snorkeling Excursions Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 642-8319 1.7 mi. Southeast of Central Anna's Retreat
Coki Beach Dive Club Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 775-4220 1.2 mi. East-Northeast of Central Anna's Retreat
Independent Sea Tours Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 344-6397 1.6 mi. Southeast of Downtown Charlotte Amalie
Island Wilson Excursions Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 626-2583 1.5 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
Patagon Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 775-3333 0.7 mi. East-Southeast of Central Red Hook
Red Hook Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 777-3483 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town
St. Thomas Scuba Snorkel Adventures Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 474-9332 2.5 mi. Northwest of Central Charlotte Amalie

To learn more concerning snorkeling, including useful tips and suggestions for both "old pros" and beginners, check out this comprehensive guide to snorkeling in the Caribbean.

St. Thomas may be the busiest island in the US Virgin islands, but the moment you find yourself underwater exploring the sea you'll see how little that fact affects the peaceful, serene, and pristine nature of its marine landscape.  Make sure you get the chance to experience it all first hand by setting aside time to snorkel during your trip.  


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