From the new, never snorkeled before to seasoned snorkelers there is something for everyone. Rocky coast lines, near shore reefs, off shore cays and sunken items like ships and planes provide beautiful and varied snorkeling opportunities. The conditions are; great visibility, fairly constant water temperatures of 79-83 degrees year-round, calm seas with little current and fantastic underwater scenery. In other words, perfect for snorkeling. View gorgeous underwater gardens of coral and visit with the residents; turtles, rays, octopuses, moray eels and an abundance of fish large and small. With the use of a mask, snorkel and fins you can float on the surface and admire the marine life below. Snorkeling is an option from beaches and also by boat trips.

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From Beaches

Rocky coast lines and coral reefs near shore offer great opportunities to snorkel from beaches. Snorkeling from shore can be done with or without a guide. Some of the favorite beaches on St. Thomas for shore snorkeling include Coki Point, Sapphire Beach and Secret Harbor. View pictures and information on these and other beaches on the St. Thomas Beach Guide.

By Boat Charters

Charters for ½ or full day trips can take you out to two or three unique snorkeling areas. Many of the charters from St. Thomas sail or motor to protected marine areas in the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John. A favorite destination for day trips catering to cruise passengers is Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge on the south side of St. Thomas. Day charters often include lunch, drinks, snorkeling gear, a little history or stories by the captain and overall a combination of enjoying the weather, boating and snorkeling. More on Boat Charters: Sailboats | Powerboats

Tip: Don’t snorkel alone. Don’t touch or stand on coral, it is very fragile. Don’t feed the marine life non-fish food. Cereal, cake, bread, nuts, dog biscuits, leftover hotdogs from lunch are not part of marine creature’s natural diets and are considered unhealthy for them. Do wear sunscreen on your back or wear a t-shirt. You can easily spend 30 minutes to an hour floating along admiring the fish and that is plenty of time for the bright tropical sunshine to leave you with a painful sunburn.

 

The Gear

Fins, a mask and a snorkel. Some of the popular beaches have watersports booths that rent snorkel gear. You can also rent gear for a few days from a dive shop. A popular question by visitors is “Should I buy or rent a set”. Frequent visitors agree that you should buy a set. Here’s why. To enjoy snorkeling your gear needs to fit you well, particularly your mask. A leaky mask can ruin a snorkeling experience. When buying your mask test it out by holding it to your face without the strap behind your head and inhale slightly through your nose. Let go of the mask, it should say in place; this indicates a good seal. Your fins should fit you snugly when dry because when you get in the ocean the water acts as a lubricant. Snorkels are easier because they are mostly one size fits all. If you get a bag for your gear make sure its a mesh type bag so that water and sand can drain out. An underwater camera is a great accessory; you can pick up a disposable underwater camera at your local supermarket. Another neat accessory is a Fish ID Card; a small, waterproof card that includes popular marine animals you might see while snorkeling.

Super Snorkeling

For those of you who like snorkeling and are not divers there is a middle ground option called super snorkeling! Prices range from $57 a person to $99 respectively for the three different types of super snorkeling available on St. Thomas.

Snuba

Snuba enables people with the use of a mask and breathing tube attached to a tank of air floating on the surface to explore shallow coral reefs and marine environments while swimming under the water. Available to anyone from eight years old and up and doesn’t require experience.

Helmet Dive

This form of super snorkeling involves divers wearing a helmet connected to the surface by an air hose. Divers climb down a ladder into the water, are fitted with the helmet and are off to explore a multitude of marine life. It is available at Coral World where it is called Sea Trekkin. Trekkers walk along a trail on the floor of the sea. A marine expert guides 8 people at a time around coral beds teeming with marine life. Available to anyone from eight years old and up and doesn’t require experience.

Breathing Observation Bubble

This is an underwater scooter complete with a breathing and observation bubble attached to an air supply. You ride along on a scooter underwater while observing an assortment of beautiful marine life. Available to anyone from ten years old and up and doesn’t require experience.

And say you want to enjoy the fascinating underwater world without getting wet, there are options for you too! How about a visit to an aquarium. For more on these options visit Animal Encounters.

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