If you enjoy snorkeling, the cays, coves, and crescents of the US Virgin Islands are the perfect destination. From family-friendly reefs to unexplored waters teeming with life, the USVI provides a wide range of stunning snorkeling spots. With some preparation and knowledge about USVI's best snorkeling spots, you can have a safe, fun experience that will be the highlight of your USVI vacation. The following guide will go into the USVI's best snorkeling spots, why it is a great spot for snorkeling, and what you can expect to pay for snorkeling there.
The US portion of the Virgin Islands is an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. It is made up of 3 islands: St Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. The islands and their islets are part of US culture and geography. The USVI has a wide variety of ecosystems, including white sand beaches, diverse wildlife, mangrove swamps and shallow reefs.
Snorkeling in the USVI is so popular for several reasons. First, you'll find an incredible range of underwater terrains, such as coral gardens, sandy floors, and even sunken ships and planes. Second, the USVI boasts some of the clearest water in the Caribbean, with visibility ranging up to 80 feet. Third, the Virgin Islands are home to a variety of different snorkeling spots that range from shallow shore dives to deep wall dives. Last, the world-class beaches where visitors can relax and explore before and after a diving trip are always a hit!
USVI snorkeling does not have to be expensive, and it's surprisingly affordable when you know where to look. The cost will depend on various factors, such as the type of snorkeling experience you're looking for and how long your USVI trip will be. Generally speaking, USVI snorkeling can cost anywhere from $70 to $250 per person, depending on the type of tour chosen.
What usually drives prices to be in the high part of that range is if you book a professional guide to conduct the snorkeling expeditions. You may find the extra expense may worth it, as these professionally-guided USVI snorkeling tours offer the chance to explore USVI’s vibrant coral gardens and diverse marine life with the help of trained professionals.
The US Virgin Islands boast tranquil seas, gentle trade winds and clear water conditions that make USVI a prime destination for snorkeling year-round. Still, some months are better suited for snorkeling than others. Cooler water temperatures are the norm from January until April. At that time, sea temps will be around 79°F. If you like warmer snorkeling trips, you'll want to go from September to October when the water temps average 84°F. Finally, if you want to avoid the rain that passes by the islands at times, you'll want to go snorkeling sometime between February and March when the USVI is the driest.
So, where to snorkel in the USVI? To help answer that question and get the most out of USVI snorkeling, we’ve put together a list of the top 11 USVI snorkeling spots you can find on St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas:
St. Croix is a popular snorkeling spot, and with good reason. There, you'll find everything from living coral gardens to reef fish to a vertical wall that drops over 3,000 feet.
This popular snorkeling spot sits on the north side of St. Croix, approximately five miles west of Salt River Bay. The waters are typically calm in Cane Bay, but they can also have strong currents. Cane Bay Beach is easily accessed from the main road, and you can rent snorkeling gear from the local shops. Once you reach your snorkeling destination, you can explore hard and soft corals and see a wide array of sponges and reef fish. Snorkelers can also swim out to the famed "Cane Bay Wall" that's about a quarter mile offshore. It has a sheer drop-off that plunges more than 3,000 feet!
This USVI snorkeling spot offers a unique experience with its historic ruins, submarine canyon and lush tropical seascapes. Located on the east side of St. Croix, Salt River Bay National Historical Park & Ecological Preserve is home to a wide array of marine life, including morays and tropical fish. For snorkelers looking for USVI's history as well as its incredible underwater views, this is definitely one spectacular USVI snorkeling spot that's a must-see.
USVI snorkeling at Buck Island Reef National Monument is a special experience for nature enthusiasts and USVI fans alike. Located about 1.5 miles northeast of St. Croix, USVI, this snorkeling sanctuary is home to one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the Caribbean: The elkhorn coral barrier reef. The reef surrounds two-thirds of Buck Island, and here, snorkelers will find sea turtles, sea fans and deep grottoes.
You're sure to experience USVI's vibrant waters no matter which island you visit, but St. John snorkeling is something special. Here are a few spots to check out:
Popular Maho Bay is a favorite for visitors looking for an accessible yet thrilling USVI underwater adventure. Located at the eastern end of St. John USVI, this USVI snorkeling spot offers beautiful underwater views of hard and soft corals, schools of tropical fish and squid – sometimes you can even spot giant manta rays gliding across the currents. If you come upon any brain coral colonies, be sure to try and catch a glimpse of the brightly-colored, fluffy Christmas tree worms that are permanently embedded within them.
Located on the USVI's North Shore, Francis Bay is a stunning spot for snorkelers of all ages and experience levels. Francis Bay offers a rocky terrain where you can explore USVI's vibrant coral gardens and diverse marine life, which includes many species of reef fish, sea turtles and eels. Francis Bay offers more of a low-key vibe than its often-packed sister beach, Maho Bay. This aspect makes it great for USVI snorkeling if you're looking for a calmer USVI experience.
If you are planning on snorkeling at Cinnamon Bay, know that you'll be doing it in a small cay that's filled with wonders. For instance, its terrain has sea grasses, and brilliantly colored schools of fish, stingrays and turtles. There is even a sunken airplane you can easily view since it's only 8 feet underwater. After conquering the snorkeling experience, you can check out Cinnamon Bay's white sand beaches or take a nature walk through a fascinating piece of history in the open-air ruins of the Cinnamon Bay sugar mill ruins.
No USVI snorkeling tour would be complete without a trip to the famed Trunk Bay in USVI. Located on USVI's North Shore, this USVI spot is considered one of USVI's most beautiful beaches, and its USVI underwater park features an exciting array of reefs, sea fans and fire coral that you can explore. There is also a snack bar there that you can frequent after a long day of snorkeling to refresh yourself.
Snorkelers that enjoy a meal with spiny lobster as the guest of honor will find Leinster Bay to their liking. The bay is on the Northeast coast of St. John, and the snorkeling area where you can find the lobsters is located in protected locations in the VI National Park. You can stumble on these crustaceans in the mangrove shallows and the fringing reef of the bay – just be sure to familiarize yourself with the laws and guidelines for marine life fishing before harvesting any spiny lobsters.
When planning your snorkeling trip, don't forget to make some time for St. Thomas, USVI. Here are a few exciting locations that USVI snorkelers should consider:
Coki Point Beach faces the Caribbean Sea and offers a supreme snorkeling experience among its vibrant coral garden and rocky reefs near the shore. The turquoise waters there are calm, and the marine life is quite diverse. You can expect to see brightly colored Caribbean fish darting around, including blue chromis, angelfish and parrotfish. Many of them are used to seeing snorkelers and may even swim up to you! Coral World Marine Park is right next to Coki Beach, so you can easily make a day of visiting the beach and seeing the underwater attractions at the marine park.
If you are a nature lover that would like an eco-tour with your snorkeling, Cas Cay is the ideal USVI spot for you. The cay is a true eco-tour destination with mangrove forests and coral reefs. It is located on the west side of St. John, USVI, where it offers some of the most pristine USVI snorkeling spots in all of the US Virgin Islands. For a little over $100, you can book a 3-hour snorkeling, kayak and hiking eco-tour with lunch.
Avid snorkel fans will love Secret Harbor beach. The spot, which is located on the Southeast side of St. Thomas, is easily accessed. Secret Harbor offers an abundance of wildlife to discover. One of the best parts of the harbor is the seagrass meadows, where you can see barracuda, sea turtles, starfish, stingrays and scores of colorful saltwater fish. There is also a floating raft anchored in the middle of the bay that you can use to rest when you are tired from all the fun snorkeling experiences.
For an unforgettable USVI snorkeling experience, book your stay at The Hills, St. John. We offer luxury condo and villa rentals near some of the top snorkeling spots in sunny St. John. Additionally, island hopping is a breeze, as St. Croix and St. Thomas snorkeling spots are only a short boat ride away. Contact us today at +1 800-727-6610, and let us help you with your snorkeling itinerary and other vacationing needs.