Complete guide to go snorkeling in St Thomas US Virgin Islands
Despite being only 31 square miles in size, St. Thomas boasts an impressive range of interesting attractions and two cities complete with old-world charm and nightlife. This US Virgin Islands pearl also offers beautiful locations for people who wish to experience the underwater beauty of the Caribbean Sea while snorkeling in St Thomas. Now we feature the best ten spots that are especially worth visiting for the turquoise waters and abundant sub-marine life.
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St Thomas snorkeling conditions
The best feature of St. Thomas snorkeling beaches that the reefs are easily accessible from the shore so there is no need to pay for expensive boat trips.
The climate of the US Virgin makes it a year-round destination with air temperatures of 80’s in the daytime and 70’s by night, and sea temperatures averaging between 26 and 29 C (79-84F) This makes it possible to snorkel any time of the year.
However, winds become more extreme in the winter which increases the wave sizes and reduces water visibility versus the rest of the year, and there is hurricane season from July to October.
For the best clarity and snorkeling experience, visitors generally choose to come to enjoy their Saint Thomas snorkeling vacation in the late spring or early summer months.
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10 Best spots to go snorkeling in St Thomas US Virgin Islands
Magen’s Bay Beach
Magen’s Bay enjoys the reputation as the most popular beach in St. Thomas. The beautiful public park stretches for a mile with its generally calm waters. Waves and current are both mild here making it ideal for families with small children.
This is not the best beach for snorkeling on the island if you want to see coral, but definitely one of the best St Thomas snorkel spots to swim with turtles who regularly hang around in this protected bay.
Also, there are many other water sports available at this beach including kayaking and paddle boarding. The concession offers snorkeling equipment to rent, but it is always better bringing your own snorkel set. A restaurant and bar provide refreshment such as pizza and burgers.
Tip: should you look for a nice place to stay nearby, check out Flamboyan on the Bay Resort. It offers not only great views, but Magens Beach can be reached in 10 minutes by foot!
Coki Beach is not only one of the prettiest places of the island but with its soft sand and crystal waters, but also considered the best beach for snorkeling in Saint Thomas by many. This also means it is a busier location when the cruise ships call in the port, so arrive early to avoid the crowds.
The two best areas for snorkeling are the rocky places to the left side or the right side close to the Coral World Ocean Park. Here visitors will find many stunning tropical fish along with rays and crabs.
This St Thomas snorkeling hotspot also benefits from having the most amenities of the various snorkel beaches. There are rentals of snorkel gear and dive gear, a beach shop, a bar, chair and umbrella rentals, and even a kids’ playground.
Tip: the closest resort to Coki is the fantastic Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham
If you want to know where to snorkel in St. Thomas that is far less crowded, look no further than Lindquist Beach that is part of the Smith Bay Park 21 acre protected area. The locals consider it to be one of their favorite spots because the cruise ship crowds do not frequent it. Therefore, it is an excellent place to play beach games or just chill out and enjoy the view of the neighboring St. John.
Entering the water from the beach, snorkelers find sea grass that makes it great spot for snorkeling with turtles in Saint Thomas. Sometimes also rays can be spotted feeding or resting on the sandy bottom. Farther off the beach is the extensive and beautiful reef.
Note: there is a small entry fee (5 USD for non-residents) and except to pay for parking too.
Sapphire Beach is among those spots to go snorkeling in St. Thomas USVI on the eastern side of the island that offers ideal conditions for any level of snorkel enthusiast. The incredible view is accented by the stunning white sand beach. Because this beach is maintained by the Sapphire Beach Resort, you can use the facilities including the restroom and chairs.
The reef runs along the left side of the beach. You can count on enjoying brain coral, colorful tropical fish, and sometimes a turtle or ray here since this beach and its coral are well protected by local authorities. The Snorkel Police watch to see anyone who gets too close to the coral. They will blow their whistle and order you to swim away from the reef if you go directly over it.
Secret Harbor Beach
Secret Harbor on the south side of the island turns out to be a great St Thomas snorkeling place that is enjoyable for underwater enthusiasts of every level, and highly recommended for beginners. Its calm waters are protected and feature a great deal of sub-aquatic sea life.
Corals can be found on either side of the bay (but be careful on the left because the current can be stronger there) and there is a reef in the middle too. Moreover, there are seagrass meadows that attract turtles and rays. Besides the colorful coral and fish, sometimes octopus and squids can be seen here.
The Secret Harbor Resort features an on-site restaurant and you will be able to use the restrooms too. These features make this beach a very convenient one with all facilities easy reachable you need for a relaxing day.
Brewers Bay Beach
One of the top places to go snorkeling in St Thomas near the cruise port is Brewers Bay, which is also a top spot to swim with green sea turtles! This beach has a pretty unique location on the west side of the island, directly next to the airport runway and just 4 miles away from the ship terminal.
Brewers Bay has a lot of seagrass that attracts dozens of sea turtles! The best is that you don’t need to swim far out, usually they hang around the waist-deep water.
There may not be a coral reef or too many fish to admire, but the turtles grazing on the sea grass more than make up for it. It is also a great spot to escape from the crowds of the cruise ships on busy tourist days. The only weak point is that there is little shade so bring a sun tent or umbrella!
Hull Bay Beach
Hull Bay is among locals’ favorite St Tomas snorkeling beaches with good reason. It is a kind of secret spot without the crowds.
The beach is primarily sandy with occasional rocks. Out in the water snorkelers will enjoy sea life and small fish close to the shore. Venturing out a little farther will reward the effort with squid and lobster sightings.
The reef that lies here extends from mid-bay to the right and starts approximately 40 yards/meters off the shore. The largest coral heads are approx. 100 yards out where you find the best fish with big schools of tangs and angelfish. Around the buoys sea turtles can be seen too.
Hull Bay doesn’t have facilities but there is also a beach bar and restaurant on-site to refresh you after when your underwater adventure ends.
If you are looking a unique place to go snorkeling in St Thomas, then consider the Mermaid’s Chair. This interesting spot lies on the most western point of St. Thomas within the Preserve at Botany Bay. The trip requires you to approach the location on foot. Your reward for this challenge is being on a place where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea come together.
The beach features gorgeous rocks, and pristine waters for both snorkeling and swimming. This is the place to come for watching the waves from the Atlantic crashing ashore as they meet the calmer ones from the Caribbean, but make sure to bring beach and water shoes as there are many shells, coral and sea lass pieces washed onto the shore
If you are thinking about booking a St Thomas snorkel tour while on the island, we highly recommend visiting Buck Island.
It is a premier place to enjoy unspoiled snorkeling in the US Virgin Islands thanks to the protected wildlife refugee status that the entire island enjoys. You will find many coves here with colorful reefs, but the most popular ones are Turtle Cove and Shipwreck Cove.
Turtle cove, as its name shows is where there are high chances of seeing several sea turtles. In Shipwreck Cove you can observe a 190ft freighter Cartanza Senora wreck that functions as an artificial reef and regularly visited by stingray and also turtles. It rests in about 40ft deep water but thanks to the superb water clarity, it is clearly visible for snorkelers too.
Buck Island boat tours typically include snacks and rum punch on the return trip, so going for such a trip is a fun day of spending the day. Although it might not be the best snorkeling in Saint Thomas in terms of marine life, but seeing the shipwreck is certainly a cool experience.
Last but not least we mention Christmas Cove which is another popular St. Thomas snorkeling destination you can visit by signing up for a bout tour. It lies a short distance from the mainland but rewards visitors with a calm bay that provides many sea turtle sightings.
Besides swimming with sea turtles, the main attraction here is the unique eating offered by Pizza Pi Boat. This one-of-a-kind restaurant serves pizzas at lunch time right aboard the boat. It enjoys a reputation as among the best pizza places on the island. I’m sure you’ll be hungry after your snorkeling session, so don’t miss out on this experience while in St Thomas!
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