This tiny Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles is a popular vacation destination among those seeking beauty above and under the sea. It has nature, wildlife, culture, history and nightlife, so no matter your interest, it is easy to find exciting things to do, moreover the area is a paradise for beach lovers and underwater adventurers too. Kids and adults will be sure to enjoy chilling out on the island’s soft-sanded beaches and snorkeling in Barbados while exploring shipwrecks and the spectacular marine life. Find out here where to find the best snorkel spots, clearest water and most spectacular coral formations!
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Barbados snorkeling conditions
It is true that Barbados doesn’t have many deep-water diving sites, but shallows reefs are found close to the shore all over the island that make it a really enjoyable destination for snorkelers. Due to the year-round constant wind conditions it is pretty straightforward where to look for the best Barbados snorkel spots.
The trade winds are blowing from the north-east, therefore only the south and west costs have calm sea. Here the beaches have white sand, easy water access making the conditions ideal for some underwater exploration.
Weather-wise, the island can be visited anytime thanks to its tropical climate but we think the best time to go snorkeling in Barbados is between March and June. This is the driest time of the year with around 6-7 rainy days per month, the air is not too hot, humidity is lower and there is a pleasant breeze.
And also, this is the time when you will have the highest chance to spot nesting turtles! The leatherback turtle nest from February to July, while the green and hawksbill species between May and September.
The sea temperatures don’t go below 79 F / 26 C, while the average air temperature is between 84-86 F/ 22-30 C year-round. The months from July to October are less popular because it is the Caribbean Hurricane Season, however the region is outside of the Caribbean Sea Basin so usually it is affected by tropical depressions only.
Best beaches for snorkeling in Barbados
This crescent-shaped bay is a natural harbor on the west of Barbados, on the outskirts of the capital city and it is part of the Bridgetown UNESCO World Heritage Site. No doubt, it is one of the busiest areas of the island with several excellent hotels around like the Hilton Barbados and Radisson Aquatica, but if you know where to go, it is still possible to find quiet places here that are easily among the best places for snorkeling in Barbados.
An interesting fact is that more than 200 ships wrecked in the bay since the 17th century creating a complex artificial reef system along the shore and attracting rich marine life to the area including turtles, rays, octopus, starfish and lots of fish species. If you are lucky, you can see sea horses too, look closely in the seaweed!
In Carlise Bay, there are three beaches: Brownes, Pebbles and Bayshore Beach. To go snorkeling, we recommend Brownes and also going out approx. 200 meters past the end of the swim area where there is a shipwreck in 15-30 ft (4.5-9 m) deep water with its top approx. 10 ft (3 m) deep.
After exploring the beautiful undersea world, you can just chill out on the stunning sandy beach (umbrellas are available to rent) or enjoy some cocktails in the beach clubs nearby.
Tip: due to boat traffic in the area, carry a surface marker dive flag when swimming!
Folkstone Marine Park
This underwater park sits West Coast in Holetown. The artificial reef here and the Stavronikita Shipwreck belong the island’s top diving sites, but the Folkstone Marine Reserve’s inshore reef is considered as the best beach snorkeling in Barbados too.
The shallow water is teeming with life thanks to the area’s protected status. Nice corals with large shoals of blue tang, parrotfish, barracudas, angelfish and filefish found here, and also moray eels, squids.
To get to the park, you can leave your car next to St. James Church. There are two small beach areas with picnic tables, food trucks, bathrooms and you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas too. Snorkeling in front of these beaches are safe because no jet skis and boats are allowed in the designated area. If you feel like, there is even a museum you can visit.
Dover is a wide beach along the south coast of Barbados, in Saint Lawrence. It has white sand and blue sea, plenty of places to get snacks, lots of sun loungers and umbrellas to rent, so definitely a beach worth visiting if you wish to enjoy the sun and sea.
However, Dover Beach is more popular among those who love water sports including windsurfing, jet skiing and sailing since the reef is a bit far from the shore, it is still a popular Barbados snorkel spot because it is one of the best places to swim with turtles that come to feed in the shallows.
There are no strong currents here but the water can get wavy. Usually there is a lifeguard on duty, but make sure to take the necessary precautions to stay safe when snorkeling!
An ideal beach for snorkeling in Barbados is Paynes Bay on the west coast of the island where the water is calm and the sand is soft. With various facilities available (beach and sports gear rental, shaded areas, places to get snack) it is the perfect spot for families and couples who seek out a relaxing place with services around. If you like sea food, visit the Cliff restaurant where you can buy freshly caught fish at reasonable prices!
The best time to snorkel here is early in the morning because the bay gets busy during the day and water sport activates make the water cloudy. This is the time when you can swim around undisturbed observing the small reef and swim with turtles! It is also good to come in the afternoon when most people leave. Don’t miss out on watching the sunset, they are magical from this beach!
A beautiful white sandy beach along the south coast that is a not-to-miss-out spot if you are a sea lover! This Barbados snorkeling spot is excellent for families with children and for beginners with calm and shallow waters (the maximum depth is approx. 6-7 ft / 1.8-2.1 m).
The reef runs just off the shore. There are several smaller coral heads close to the shore too, but the main reef starts when the water gets a bit deeper (on the western end of the beach). Wait, did we mention that often turtles hang around here? Look for them when there is seaweed!
Heywoods Beach is definitely one of our favorite Barbados snorkel spots since it is a long beach lying in the north-western coast with lots of parking and barely anyone there. You need to come here prepared though, since there are no facilities around.
The sandy seabed provides safe water access to the shallow reef, but there are small tide pools too around the rocky area where children can play and observe small fish and crabs. If you get bored at the beach, you can go for a walk in Port St Charles and to the Speightstown Pier that is a nice vintage photography spot!
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