Snorkeling Church Bay is commonly recommended when you are looking for spots in Bermuda, and is very popular as a result. Often we find these busy beaches are not that great, but Church Bay is worthy of the recommendation. Nice corals, fun topography and good numbers of fish make this bay great to snorkel, if you know where to swim.
Besides fantastic views of the bay, the park up on the hill has quite a few facilities including a seasonal concession that rents chairs, umbrellas and snorkel gear.
To reach the good snorkeling you need to swim out a ways. If the winds or waves are high from the south, don't snorkel here. Choose a calmer day.
Note: This page is a sample from our popular Bermuda Snorkeling Guide eBook available here.
The entrance is sandy, but there is a rock shelf all along the shore that you may have to step up onto depending on the tide. Watch for it because it is a toe stubber. There are also a few boulders both in and out of the water to watch for. Even so, you can walk in with bare feet.
The best snorkeling Church Bay area for sea life and depths is out to the right, at an angle, toward the inside of the boiler reefs and large rocks you can see from shore. On the swim out, the bottom is shallow without much coral but some fish, 3 to 8 feet of water. Then you reach some deeper canyons where there is more coral and fish and it gets healthier as you get closer to the boiler reefs, from 2 to 15 feet deep. The topography is fun to explore, but only if the waves and surge are low. If they are up, you could easily get injured. Please do not try and stand on the the boiler reefs. You will kill things, and if a big wave crashes over it you will get hurt.
If you have a calm day you can also snorkel outside the boiler reefs. There is an outer reef in deeper waters, 8 to 25 feet, that runs parallel to the beach across the opening to the bay. There are not as many fish or soft corals, but the coral patches are still fairly healthy.
There are some rocks along the left edge of the bay you can check out for some fish and a little coral too.
The visibility was best inside the boilers and rocks on the right side of the bay, but in summer it is not perfect. The areas that were not protected by the boilers had lower water clarity.
This was a nice place to see both corals and fish in interesting terrain.
Church Bay is accessed from South Road in Southampton Parish. Between the junction with Middle Road and the intersection with Church Road, there is a one-way turn in with a sign for Church Bay Park.
Once in the park watch for the little road to the left where you drive down the hill to the cycle parking area. To reach the beach you must walk down a long set of wooden stairs.
Church Bay Park is accessed on bus route #7 from Hamilton or Dockyard/Somerset. The bus stops slightly east of the park and requires a short trail walk to get to the park and the stairs down to the beach.
Up on the hill above the beach is a nice park, with grass, shade and picnic tables, restroom, trash cans, and a seasonal concession renting chairs, umbrellas and snorkel gear.