Snorkeling Kiddel Bay is not as well known as the neighboring Salt Pond Bay, but it requires a much shorter swim to the healthy reef area. Although not heavily used, this is one of the best snorkel spots on St. John, if you like interesting topography, big caves and walls and canyons, lots of fish, and healthy dense reef life.
Note: This page is a sample from our popular St John Snorkeling Guide eBook available here.
Kiddel is a small bay on the southeast side of St. John with a medium sized cobblestone beach. It is reached via a dirt road that is best negotiated in a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
The best snorkeling is out on a rocky point, so you need to have a calm day, a day where the wind is either low or directly out of the east or better more northeast.
The cobblestones on this beach are much easier to navigate in shoes, so we recommend wearing your footwear into the water for snorkeling Kiddel Bay. Fortunately there are not many urchins or other corals in the rocks close to shore. Since this is a small beach you can really enter anywhere.
The best snorkeling Kiddel Bay area is on the right side, around the rock sticking out of the water near the point, and a little beyond.
After entering the water swim along the right edge of the bay. There are many fish and some nice corals to see on your way out.
After about a 600 foot swim, you reach the rock sticking out of the water. Explore around it and beyond it around the corner to the right. This area has amazing snorkeling. It is exposed here, so you need a calm day, with low wave and surge action. But if you have that it is exceptional.
You will find big walls, canyons, caves, all covered in healthy soft and hard corals and sponges. There is a section to the right of the rock sticking out of the water, slightly past it close to shore that has a number of very healthy Elkhorn Corals. On the southern tip of the rock sticking out of the water there is a patch of healthy Staghorn Coral. The ocean side of the rock sticking out of the water is covered in fields of soft corals. And all around there are many fish, schools of fish, and bigger fish hanging out in the shade of the caves.
The center of the bay has some deep sea grass beds with many big live conch. There is also a patchy reef with unhealthy Lobe Star Coral heads closer to shore.
The left side of the bay is also decent, all the way out to the point. It is rocky with some corals and quite a few fish, but it is not nearly as good as the right. We would spend all of our time on the right side.
While snorkeling Kiddel Bay we had excellent visibility on the right side of the bay and good, not great on the left. The depths for snorkeling around this bay ranged from 1 to 35 feet.
This is a great place to see healthy corals and many fish. Specifically there was lots of Staghorn Coral, Elkhorn Coral, and large live conch in the deep sea grass area in the middle of the bay.