Anse Chastanet Snorkeling
St. Lucia

What the Reef Is Like and Where to Snorkel

Anse Chastanet snorkeling has soft corals, fun boulder topography, and good numbers of fish.

Anse Chastanet snorkeling is very good and can all be accessed from a public beach. We snorkeled it thoroughly in 2019. The house reef has four different areas to explore from shore, each distinct in underwater topography and sea life. If you want to relax at a beach resort and do a lot of snorkeling from shore, it's a pretty good option. You can also add in a unique guided night snorkel, and some boat trips to great close by reefs. They are very friendly to snorkelers at their dive shop, and take snorkelers out by boat daily to neighboring reefs.

Below you will find our detailed guide on where to snorkel at Anse Chastanet, what the reefs are like, some safety tips.

Anse Chastanet Beach has very good snorkeling.

Anse Chastanet Snorkeling
What Is the House Reef Like?

Sponge encrusted boulders and soft corals are a common sight on the reefs of Anse Chastanet.

From the beach you can snorkel the shallow fringing reefs along the shoreline. There are a few areas of large boulders that make for interesting topography to explore. What stands out on these reefs are the numerous varied sponges that can be very colorful. And there a some of the largest sponges we have ever seen. The reefs are not populated with a lot of hard corals. There are some, but they are not dense. There is a soft coral garden to explore with fans, plumes, and rods, in generally good health. In front of both beaches there are sea grass beds directly offshore, that can have interesting fish life, turtles, and rays to see. The reefs are not immaculate. In some areas the corals suffer from poor health, the sea fans look stressed, and there is some algae present in areas.

The gorgeous Flying Gurnard we spotted snorkeling the sea grass beds off Anse Chastanet Beach.

What about fish? The Soufriere Marine Management Area protects some areas from fishing. Overall we saw good numbers and variety of fish. We saw squid, turtles, but no rays. And at night we saw lots of eels, lobster, and other unique creatures. We loved seeing a Flying Gurnard.

For a complete list of the fish species we saw on a one week trip see it here. And read our tip below for what time of day is best for seeing the most fish.

The numerous fish we saw snorkeling Zone 1 of the Anse Chastanet house reef early in the morning.

What about Sargassum seaweed, is it a problem at Anse Chastanet? Like many places in the Caribbean, St. Lucia is experiencing lots of Sargassum. Fortunately the vast majority of it blows in on the windward side of the island, which is the opposite side of the island as the resort. Occasionally some still reaches the resort, and there was a small amount on one of our snorkel days.

There are a couple large beautiful Elkhorn Corals on the Anse Chastanet House Reef.

So overall, Anse Chastanet snorkeling is not perfect and unspoiled, but given the declining conditions of reefs in the Caribbean, and the fact that this is a resort reef that many other boats and resorts take their visitors to, it is still very good. And if you snorkel the areas we recommend, at the times of day we recommend, you will see many more corals, fantastic sponges, interesting underwater topography, and more fish than the majority of people who visit the area.

Our Anse Chastanet Snorkeling Zone Guide

Take a look at the map below and read the details that follow about the four different snorkeling zones that you can access from the beaches at Anse Chastanet Resort. Also, if you are up at the resort, look down at the snorkeling areas while wearing polarized sunglasses to get a sense for where to swim.

Anse Chastanet Snorkeling Map With Zones
Colorful tube sponge and fishes on Anse Chastanet Reef Zone 1.

Zone 1 - This area is a protected marine park, with a floating rope around the perimeter that keeps boats out. This is the primary area that most people snorkel, including groups brought in by tour boats from outside the resort. This is the only zone where a dive flag or visibility marker is not necessary. You can access this area by getting in from the end of the boat dock, or you can swim into the area from the beach, but watch for boats swimming to the dock if you do this.

Anse Chastanet Reef Zone 1 - view from the resort above.

The reef here is made up of many large boulders encrusted with colorful sponges and a few corals. The boulders make for fun topography, and there are a wide variety of depths to explore. The fish numbers here in the morning were large, with big schools and good variety (second picture above map). The corals are not very healthy or numerous, but there are a few large healthy heads, including a couple Elkhorn Corals (picture above map). There are though many healthy sponges. We caught a quick glimpse of a young Hawksbill Turtle here one morning too.

Warning - Do not go beyond the rope, particularly outside the bay and around the point to the left. There can be a suddenly changing, very strong current here, that is too strong to swim against. Boats also blaze by very close to that point. We are not giving that warning lightly. We were able to snorkel that area by boat. Underwater there is a ridge that funnels water around that point, and it cooks. And our guide boat had to fend off other boats while we were in the water. You are safe within the roped area though.

We also recommend that snorkelers have a high visibility marker or flag when snorkeling Zones 2, 3 and 4, because boaters commonly move through these areas.

There was a pair of octopus living around and under this rock in the sea grass beds. We spotted them because of the pile of shells next to the rock.

Zone 2 - In front of most of Anse Chastanet Beach is a sea grass bed (partially shown in picture above). It is worth swimming over this area. There is life around the mooring blocks and a few rocks, like a pair of octopus we found that look to be residents. We saw many flounder, Flying Gurnard, trumpetfish, scorpionfish and juvenile Spotted Drum. We did not see turtles eating the grass but would not be surprised if you could, along with rays in this area.

Fish hang around the soft coral encrusted boulders on the reef in Zone 3.

Zone 3 - Before the right end of Anse Chastanet Beach you will find some varying sized boulders in shallow water all along the coast until you reach the dock. There is some great snorkeling here. If you follow the first of those rocks into deeper water straight out, as you get over the sea grass beds there are some nice larger boulders that are easy to miss. Then continue to the right moving in and out from the shoreline. In the shallow areas close to the end of the beach we found huge schools of silversides.

It is always a treat to swim within a huge school of silversides like this one in Zone 3.

A particularly interesting Anse Chastanet snorkeling area is straight off the big rock sticking out of the water near shore, before the dock. You can see in the pictures that there are some huge boulders that extend a good ways offshore. There are interesting canyons around these boulders, with lots of sea life and a few corals. Big schools of fish like to hang out under the edges of these boulders. You can follow the shore all the way to the dock, and explore under the dock. Sometimes schools of fish hang out in the shade of the dock. And there is a small amount of coral life on the pilings. Be aware that the Anse Mamin side of the dock sometimes has boats landing at it.

Straight out from the big rock in this picture is a fun reef to snorkel. It's past the right end of Anse Chastanet Beach.
There was a large group of these razorfish inhabiting the sea grass bed off Anse Mamin Beach.

Zone 4 - This Anse Chastanet snorkeling area is different from Zone 3 because of the large soft coral gardens, with some boulders covered in sponges and a few hard corals. If you wish to snorkel just this zone, it is best to walk down to Anse Mamin Beach, and enter the water close to the left side, near the rocky shoreline. On this end there is some sea grass with a large population of razorfish that are fun to watch. Swimming on toward the dock, when you reach where there is a small tree on shore, the topography gets more interesting with boulders and the reef becomes more rich. There are many large soft corals, and this area extends away from shore a good distance. We saw another young Hawksbill Turtle in this reef. You can work back and forth as you continue toward the dock.

Beautiful sea plumes and colorful sponges you can see snorkeling Zone 4 from Anse Mamin Beach.

Depending on if there is a current and its direction, you can do a drift snorkel one way covering Zones 3 and 4.

We would skip snorkeling at the other end of Anse Mamin Beach. There is little sea life. And the resort recommends you do not snorkel beyond the large rock at the right end because of currents and boat traffic.

When to See the Most Fish? In general, we think you will experience the best fish numbers early in the morning, before most of the boating activity begins, and more people get in the water. Our first morning snorkel we were honestly a bit blown away by what we saw in terms of variety and numbers within about 10 minutes, right at Anse Chastanet snorkeling Zones 1 and 2. Other snorkels we were less impressed with the volumes. So it is variable, but generally early mornings, as soon as it is getting light, is the best time.

Anse Chastanet Night Snorkeling

There were many Spotted Spiny Lobsters out and about on the Anse Chastanet reef when we snorkeled it at night.

We highly recommend you sign up for a guided night snorkel. The guide will take you into Zone 1, and may also explore some of the sea grass areas in Zone 2. We did this twice and saw a nice variety of interesting creatures including lots of lobsters, both spiny and slipper, and some amazing huge Channel Clinging Crabs, one of which had claws nearly as big as an Alaskan King Crab. So cool! Other highlights where Glassy Sweepers and cardinalfish. They offer guided night snorkeling Monday and Wednesday nights.

These awesomely large crabs, locally known as Stone Crabs, with a common name of Channel Clinging Crabs, were also out at night on the reef here.

Anse Chastanet Boat Snorkeling - Scuba St. Lucia

You could have a nice week of snorkeling just from shore. But there are some great snorkel spots that the Scuba St. Lucia dive shop can take you to by boat that are really worth it. You can read more about some of those spots we visited here, but one highlight is snorkeling at the base of the Petit Piton, where the mountain continues to dive into the ocean. That drop-off, combined with currents, has provided a home to some healthy coral reefs full of fish that are a joy to see, and where we saw two frogfish!

Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain Resorts from the water.

Printable Anse Chastanet Snorkeling Guide

We have put together a PDF of the Anse Chastanet snorkeling map above and all of our snorkeling zone information and tips, with more pictures of what we saw. You can download this for free to take with you on your electronic device, or you can print it.

Click here for the free Anse Chastanet Snorkeling Guide PDF.

Anse Chastanet Resort Review

In general, we do not review resorts on this website. But we did stay at Anse Chastanet, so will give our general sense of it. We recommend viewing  TripAdvisor reviews of Anse Chastanet, to decide if it is for you.

The resort has an almost old fashioned rustic feel to it, that is good for nature lovers.

One of the rooms available at Anse Chastanet.
Anse Chastanet Beach Restaurant

The majority of the rooms and a number of the restaurants are located up on a very steep hillside, although there are a few rooms on the beach level, and two lunch restaurants on the beaches. Your room feels like it is a tree house, with lots of bird life. The rooms are spacious, but not fancy, with no A/C. At night the forest comes awake with the sounds of geckos, bugs and birds. It is an amazing cacophony of sound. Ear plugs are in the rooms if you sleep light.

Stairs are abundant at Anse Chastanet Resort, but you can always call for a shuttle.

There are steep stairs down from most of the rooms to the restaurants and to the beach. If you enjoy the exercise, you will get a serious workout. But the resort also has shuttles and is very accommodating in taking people up and down whenever they desire.

The food is fantastic at the resort.

When to Visit?

During our stay we learned that Hawksbill Turtles lay eggs on Anse Chastanet Beach in July and August and hatching of those eggs happens in September and October. This would be a real treat to experience, so you might want to schedule your stay during the hatching months.

We wrote more about when to visit St Lucia for snorkeling on this page.


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