Snorkeling Around the USVI

Photo credit: © Andrey Armyagov | Dreamstime.com
 

The US Virgin Islands stands out in the snorkeling world.  Each of the inhabited islands is well-known for its gorgeous underwater world, where nearly every beach is perfect for the sport.  There are also several small islands and cays, off-shore reefs, and wreck sites thrown into the mix to make this an all-around great snorkeling destination.  

It is easy to get started snorkeling. Many resorts offer snorkeling equipment to guests oftentimes at no charge. Equipment for snorkeling includes a dive mask, snorkel, and swim fins. If you are not staying at a resort that offers this amenity, local dive shops, and even some stands along the beach, will rent you the equipment for as low as $10(USD). 

Once you have obtained equipment, find a known snorkeling spot, and begin your underwater exploration. A location with calm waters is essential – choppy waters and waves can sometimes allow water to get into your snorkel. Fortunately, for the most part you'll experience calm waters by default throughout the USVI, plus ideal water temperatures of between 73 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you'd like the guidance of a professional knowledgeable in snorkeling and the top snorkeling spots, investigate snorkeling tours which may be found for anywhere from $35 to $150(USD). 

Whether you go it alone or sign up for a tour, you can expect to instantly enjoy the quiet calm and peace that comes with being cut off from the noise of the shore while you explore under the sea.  Of course, what you're looking at will change by location, for the most part you can expect to encounter coral in all colors including black, uniquely formed sponges, sea turtles, sting rays, eels, jelly fish, star fish, conch, lobsters, and hundreds of different types of vibrant fish. 

St. Thomas

Almost all of the beaches on St. Thomas are great for snorkeling, so bring your gear with you even if your goal is just to relax in the sand.  If you are drawn to the sport and want to make sure you see the best of the best, make sure to check out Secret Harbour, Coki Bay Snorkel Site, and Sapphire Beach.  

St. John

Everything about the island of St. John screams “Natural Paradise,” and the marine landscape is no different.  Once again, there is hardly a beach that you can't snorkel from, with spots along the north coast being the most popular among tourists.  Consider a day at Trunk Bay Underwater Trail which is run by the National Park Service and features a marked underwater trail.

St. Croix

Most of St. Croix is surrounded by a barrier reef, which keeps the surf calm and makes snorkeling from most beaches a real possibility.  Around the island you'll find that snorkeling opportunities abound, from an old pier covered in sea life, an artificial reef, a wall that goes several thousand feet deep, and a snorkeling trail off an uninhabited island.  It is hard to say no to a day of snorkeling here. 

Snorkeling Sites

If you want to experience below the water's surface you might want to check out Buck Island Reef National Monument. Explore the natural wonder of Buck Island from under the water. While there are many tour groups that will take you here, they are not necessary, at Buck Island the main snorkeling site actually comes complete with underwater signs to help you find your way along an underwater trail. This snorkeling site is found within southeastern the USVI.

Trunk Bay is another snorkeling spot you might enjoy. This locale is a reef full of signs with information for snorkelers to read and use to guide themselves through a tour around Trunk Bay. These signs will inform snorkelers of some of the many species around the reefs as well as conservation information. You will want to get here as early as possible, as it is a very popular destination for visitors to St. John thanks to the calm, clear waters and easy-to-read signs.

A third place to consider is Cane Bay. Although this wall features a significant drop into the water, snorkelers will have plenty to explore near the surface. Elkhorn and brain coral are especially prominent.

A fourth location where you can go snorkeling is Haulover Bay. Snorkeling here may not be as colorful as some other sites, as the bay is very rocky. However, it is a good spot to catch some of the smaller marine animals that often make their home on or near the rocks. If you want to check it out, this site is located on St. John, in the northern part of the USVI.

Coki Bay is a fifth site to consider. 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. The waters remain under 20 feet deep near the shore, but you can also swim out deeper for a reef that is better for experienced snorkelers.

The table just below enables you to learn more information about 74 of the best places where you can experience snorkeling in this area.

Snorkeling Sites Near the USVI
Site Location Island
Buck Island Reef National Monument 7.0 mi. East-Northeast of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Trunk Bay 2.2 mi. Northeast of Central Cruz Bay St. John
Cane Bay 0.1 mi. South-Southwest of Central Cane Bay St. Croix
Haulover Bay 2.3 mi. Northeast of Central Friis Bay St. John
Coki Bay 0.7 mi. South West of Central Thatch Cay St. Thomas
Isaac Bay Beach 8.7 mi. East of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Annaly Bay 2.7 mi. West of Central Cane Bay St. Croix
North Star Dive 0.8 mi. West-Southwest of Central Cane Bay St. Croix
Lameshur Bay 2.2 mi. South-Southwest of Central Coral Bay St. John
Maho Bay 2.3 mi. West-Northwest of Central Coral Bay St. John
Waterlemon Beach 1.5 mi. North-Northwest of Central Coral Bay St. John
Ann E. Abramson Pier 0.2 mi. Northwest of Central Frederiksted St. Croix
La Grange 0.5 mi. North of Central Frederiksted St. Croix
Butler Bay 2.7 mi. North of Central Frederiksted St. Croix
La Vallee 1.0 mi. Northeast of Central Cane Bay St. Croix
Baron Bluff 1.6 mi. Northeast of Central Belvedere St. Croix
Rustoptwist Dive 1.3 mi. Northeast of Central Belvedere St. Croix
Butler Bay 2.6 mi. North-Northwest of Central Frederiksted St. Croix
Secret Harbour Bay 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Saint John Bay 0.8 mi. North of Central Red Hook St. Thomas
Long Point 1.4 mi. South of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Lindquist Beach 1.8 mi. East of Central Anna's Retreat St. Thomas
Water Bay 1.2 mi. East-Northeast of Central Anna's Retreat St. Thomas
Hull Bay 2.7 mi. Northwest of Central Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Hansen Bay Beach 2.5 mi. East of Central Coral Bay St. John
Frank Bay 0.4 mi. West-Southwest of Central downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Salomon Point Snorkeling 0.8 mi. North of Central downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Honeymoon Bay 0.8 mi. North-Northeast of Central downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Caneel Bay 1.0 mi. North-Northeast of Central downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Henley Cay 1.5 mi. North of Central downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Long Bay 2.6 mi. East of Central Coral Bay St. John
Salt Pond Bay 2.7 mi. South of Central Coral Bay St. John
Kiddle Bay 2.6 mi. South of Central Coral Bay St. John
Little Lameshur Bay 2.3 mi. South-Southwest of Central Coral Bay St. John
Jack's Bay Beach 7.9 mi. East of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Gallows Bay 0.2 mi. Northeast of Central downtown Christiansted Protestant Cay
Mermaid Beach 1.6 mi. East-Northeast of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Punnett Bay 1.9 mi. East-Northeast of Central Christiansted St. Croix
Chenay Bay 2.8 mi. East-Northeast of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Teague Bay 1.0 mi. East of Central Cotton Valley St. Croix
Aitken Point 3.1 mi. East of Central Cane Bay St. Croix
Cormorant Beach 3.3 mi. Northwest of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Hibiscus Beach 2.3 mi. Northwest of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Sugar Beach 1.1 mi. West-Northwest of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Ram Head 1.7 mi. South of Central Friis Bay St. John
Hawksnest Bay 1.6 mi. Northeast of Central Cruz Bay St. John
Cinnamon Bay 2.3 mi. East-Northeast of Central Caneel Bay St. John
Francis Bay Beach 2.4 mi. Northwest of Central Coral Bay St. John
Lovango Cay Bay 3.5 mi. East of Central Thatch Cay Lovango Cay
Prune Bay 3.9 mi. East-Northeast of Central Christiansted St. Croix
Cramer Park 0.8 mi. North-Northeast of Central Knight St. Croix
Tamarind Reef 2.6 mi. East-Northeast of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
East End Bay 1.8 mi. East of Central Knight St. Croix
Sandy Point Beach 0.8 mi. South-Southwest of Central Frederiksted St. Croix
Hams Bluff Cove 4.0 mi. North of Central Frederiksted St. Croix
Bolongo Bay 2.8 mi. Southeast of Central Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Princess Bay 1.5 mi. East-Northeast of Central Coral Bay St. John
Jumbie Beach 2.0 mi. Northeast of Central downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Green Cay National Wildlife Refuge 2.8 mi. East-Northeast of Central downtown Christiansted Green Cay
Scott Beach 1.3 mi. North-Northeast of Central downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Reef Bay Beach 3.3 mi. East of Central downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Limetree Cove 2.3 mi. East of Central Coral Bay St. John
Oppenheimer Beach 1.7 mi. Northeast of Central downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Brown Bay 1.2 mi. Northeast of Central Coral Bay St. John
Hurricane Hole 1.3 mi. East of Central Coral Bay St. John
Magens Bay 1.5 mi. North of Central Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Hansen Bay Beach 2.6 mi. East of Central Coral Bay St. John
Newfound Bay 3.0 mi. East of Central Coral Bay St. John
Johns Folly Bay 2.6 mi. Southeast of Central Coral Bay St. John
Grootpan Bay 2.5 mi. South of Central Coral Bay St. John
Turner Hole 1.3 mi. East-Southeast of Central Cotton Valley St. Croix
Rod Bay 1.4 mi. South of Central Cotton Valley St. Croix
Surlaine Point 3.0 mi. South-Southeast of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Vagthus Point 3.4 mi. South of Central downtown Christiansted St. Croix

Snorkeling Boat Trips

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

If you're hoping to combine some snorkeling with a boating adventure, you might want to check with Independence Sailboat Charter. Sail with Captain Pat Stoeken aboard Independence, her 44' Clipper-Bowed Ketch. Let Captain Pat's passion for the Caribbean waters rub off on you during your adventure.

Another option to investigate is Oh Be Joyful Sailing. These sailing charters can accommodate 2-10 people. They are respective of your schedule as well. They're located in Red Hook, in northern the USVI.

Still another option is New Horizon Sailing. The Virgin Islands are your playground when you book a charter with New Horizons. With a range of specialized tours to meet your interests, you can hand select exactly what you want.

A few details concerning boat operators that provide snorkeling opportunities are provided here:

Day Sails and Boat Trips In the USVI
Name Phone Location Island
Aqua Blue Charters (340) 344-1190 0.6 mi. North-Northeast of Central Red Hook St. Thomas
Big Beard's Adventure Tours (340) 773-4482 Downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Bilinda Charters (340) 514-2270 Downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Boat Day V.I. (855) 262-8329 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Calypso Charters (340) 777-7245 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Caribbean Blue Boat Charters (340) 690-2583 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Cloud 9 Sailing Adventures (340) 998-1940 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Cool Boats (340) 344-6812 0.8 mi. West of Central Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Copeland Boat Charters (340) 690-9988 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Day Sail Fantasy (340) 775-5652 St. Thomas St. Thomas
Daysail High Pockets Adventure (340) 690-0587 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Fury Sailing Charters (340) 643-7733 Charlotte Amalie, Northern part of the USVI St. Thomas
Good Day Charters (340) 514-3458 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Hakuna Matata Charters (626) 824-5039 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Independence Sailboat Charter (340) 775-1408 1.7 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Island Roots (340) 643-5000 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Jolly Roger Charters (340) 513-2508 Downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Kekoa Sailing Expeditions (340) 244-7245 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Lion In Da Sun (340) 626-4783 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Lovango Charters (340) 626-9685 2.3 mi. North of Central downtown Cruz Bay Congo Cay
Nate's Custom Charters Day Tours (340) 244-2497 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
New Horizon Sailing (340) 775-1171 0.6 mi. North-Northeast of Central Red Hook St. Thomas
Oh Be Joyful Sailing (340) 244-0605 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
One Love Charters (340) 227-5229 1.9 mi. Southeast of Central Anna's Retreat St. Thomas
Palm Tree Charters (340) 643-4239 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Privateer Charters (888) 727-0793 2.0 mi. East-Northeast of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Rumbaba Charters (340) 690-1659 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Sadie Sea Charters (340) 514-0778 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Sail Pepper (340) 771-7011 Coral Bay, Northern part of the USVI St. John
Sail Safaris (340) 626-8181 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Sail With Liberty (443) 831-1911 1.8 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Sail with Captain Max (340) 775-7467 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Salty Dog Day Sails (340) 244-7290 1.1 mi. South West of Central Coral Bay St. John
Simplicity Charters (340) 774-9348 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Singing Dog Sailing Day Tours (717) 602-3536 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Sonic Charters (340) 244-5096 1.8 mi. Southeast of Central Anna's Retreat St. Thomas
Southern Hospitality (340) 998-4399 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Stormy Petrel and Pirate's Penny Tours (340) 775-7990 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Sun Sea Charters (340) 626-6785 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Tribal VI Day Sails (340) 998-7767 2.2 mi. West of Central Charlotte Amalie Water Island
VIBE Charters (340) 626-2875 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Wayward Sailor (340) 473-9705 Cruz Bay, Northern part of the USVI St. John
Wish Upon a Star Charters (631) 946-9292 Northern part of the USVI St. John

Snorkeling Services

If you're looking for someone offering snorkeling excursions, rentals, or other services, you might want to contact Arawak Expeditions. You can rent or purchase snorkeling gear here from a team that is extremely knowledgeable in helping each individual find the right fit for them. They are also happy to make suggestions about where you should snorkel. They are located in downtown Cruz Bay.

A second place worth knowing about 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.

A third option is Low Key Waterports. Offering daily excursions no matter what watersport you're interested in, this operator give you and your group the opportunity to choose from one of their regularly scheduled sail and snorkel trips, or work with them to create one that will better suit the needs of your group. They're located in downtown Cruz Bay.

Take a look at the table below for details on 20 firms that provide snorkeling related services.

Snorkeling Services In the USVI
Name Type Phone Location Island
Aqua Action Dive and Water Sports Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 775-6258 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Arawak Expeditions Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 693-8312 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Cane Bay Christiansted Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 718-9913 Downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Cane Bay Frederiksted Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 772-0715 0.2 mi. North-Northwest of Central Frederiksted St. Croix
Captain Nautica Snorkeling Excursions Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 775-9360 1.7 mi. Southeast of Central Anna's Retreat St. Thomas
Caribbean Sea Adventures Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 773-2628 Downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Caribbean Sea Adventures Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 773-2628 Downtown Christiansted St. Croix
Coki Beach Dive Club Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 775-4220 1.2 mi. East-Northeast of Central Anna's Retreat St. Thomas
Crabby's Watersports Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 714-2415 0.9 mi. South of Central Coral Bay St. John
Independent Sea Tours Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 344-6397 1.5 mi. South-Southeast of Central Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Island Wilson Excursions Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 626-2583 1.5 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
Just BEach! Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 776-6256 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Low Key Waterports Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 693-8999 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
N2 The Blue Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 772-3483 0.2 mi. North-Northwest of Central Frederiksted St. Croix
Patagon Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 775-3333 0.7 mi. East-Southeast of Central Red Hook St. Thomas
Red Hook Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 777-3483 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas
St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventure Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 773-5994 Downtown Christiansted St. Croix
St. Thomas Diving Club Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 776-2381 2.8 mi. Southeast of Central Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
St. Thomas Scuba Snorkel Adventures Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 474-9332 2.5 mi. Northwest of Central Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas
Sweet Bottom Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 778-3800 1.7 mi. South West of Central Cane Bay St. Croix

For more information concerning snorkeling, including tips and suggestions for beginners and "pros" read this detailed guide to snorkeling in the Caribbean.

Certainly impressive, the snorkeling opportunities throughout the the USVI are seemingly endless.  The good news is that every spot brings something interesting to the table, so you can't go wrong even if you only have time to snorkel at one site.

 

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