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ST. JOHN

Set off on an undersea hike along the world’s first marked underwater trail, the 400-foot-long Trunk Bay Underwater Snorkel Trail, located just off the St. John shoreline in picturesque Trunk Bay. The easy-to-access trail is marked with underwater plaques that direct you on where to snorkel and include fun facts about the many marine creatures that depend on the fragile coral reef. Bring your underwater camera to snap selfies with the sea turtles, eagle rays, parrotfish and barracuda you’ll likely meet on your incredible journey.  

For the ultimate serene snorkeling experience, Waterlemon Cay delivers. A half-mile-long trail leads from St. John’s Waterlemon Beach to Leinster Point. From there, it’s about a 10-minute swim to the cay, where you’ll also find a small beach. Because it’s secluded, Waterlemon Cay rarely gets too crowded with people. Yet the waters surrounding the cay teem with blue tangs, bluehead wrasses, conch, sea turtles, starfish and parrotfish. Since strong currents sometimes surround the cay, this excursion is best suited for more experienced snorkelers and confident swimmers.

Tranquil Maho Bay is home to one of the dreamiest beaches in the USVI. It’s also one of the most popular spots for snorkeling in search of sea turtles, who enjoy grazing among the bountiful seagrass. Clear, calm waters make the protected bay ideal for families and visitors new to snorkeling. The flat beach can easily be accessed from the road, with a parking lot and restroom facilities available. Across the street, Reef2Peak rents snorkeling gear, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Remember to wear reef-safe sunscreen to protect the turtles and other marine animal friends. 

ST. CROIX

Rated as one of the top snorkeling sites in the Caribbean, The Wall is located about 100 yards from the shore of Cane Bay Beach, where it rapidly drops from 40 feet to over 13,200 feet. The deep-water trench houses an abundance of tropical fish, including reef sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, barracuda, parrot fish, angelfish and trumpetfish. Between March and April, you may be lucky enough to spot or hear the humpback whales as they migrate along the island in the Puerto Rico Trench. On rare occasions, you might encounter a regal whale shark. Four waterfront restaurants and a full-service dive shop all welcome snorkelers.  

Calm, turquoise waters make Buck Island Reef National Monument an excellent destination for snorkelers of all skill levels. Located in a quiet lagoon 1.5 miles off the coast of St. Croix, the 880-acre elkhorn coral barrier reef is situated near a small, uninhabited island that serves as a critical nesting, foraging and developmental habitat for three species of sea turtle — the leatherback, hawksbill and green turtle. Beginners can snorkel the island’s coral grottoes via an underwater trail marked with plaques to help identify the fish that live here. 

Great Pond Bay on St. Croix’s southeast coast is one of just a few mangrove ecosystems in the USVI. Shallow water access makes this an excellent spot for beginner snorkelers. And the beach is protected, so most days there isn’t much surf. Sea turtles, rays and giant hermit crabs can be spotted in the seagrass beds. Bring your binoculars, too. Great Pond Bay is a popular bird watching destination, where you’re bound to spot egrets, herons and white-crowned pigeons nesting in the mangrove trees.  

ST. THOMAS

Enjoy an underwater adventure without the need for a diving certification when you set off on a SNUBA tour at Coral World Ocean Park, adjacent to Coki Beach. SNUBA is a hybrid of snorkeling and scuba diving that allows you to breathe underwater using a helmet equipped with a hose that pumps in air from above the water’s surface. Following a brief lesson on how to use the equipment, a certified guide will lead you on an exploration of Coki Beach’s coral-filled waters. Back on land, Coral World Ocean Park features a coral reef aquarium, a dolphin sanctuary, shark and stingray exhibits, a scenic nature trail, and an Undersea Observatory Tower where you can come face-to-face with fish without getting wet.  

If you’re looking for a less crowded place to snorkel, head to Hull Bay, a favorite among locals who enjoy fishing from small boats moored in the bay. Snorkel from the white-sand beach into the bay. In the shallow waters, you’ll find lobster and plenty of small, colorful tropical fish. Squid, sea turtles and large fish lurk among the coral in the deeper waters. The dive shop in the bay, St. Thomas Scuba & Snorkel Adventures, rents snorkel gear and offers guided snorkeling tours of Hull Bay, including a night snorkel excursion. 

Located on the eastern side of St. Thomas, Sapphire Beach offers ideal conditions for any level of snorkeling enthusiast, plus a stunning white-sand beach with shady sea grape trees — the perfect spot for lounging after your underwater adventure. Colorful tropical fish, turtles and rays mingle among the shallow reef’s beautiful brain coral, which features grooves and channels that look like the folds of the human brain and help build up coral reefs. Beware of the Snorkel Police, who will blow their whistle if you come too close to the precious coral.  

Learn more about USVI snorkeling and other fun water activities.
 

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