Anse Chastanet snorkeling is very good. We have snorkeled it thoroughly. The resort 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 wonderful beach resort and do a lot of snorkeling from shore, it easy to recommend. You can also add in a unique guided night snorkel, and some boat trips to great close by reefs. And that is not to mention the superb service and fantastic food.
Below you will find our detailed guide on where to snorkel at Anse Chastanet, what the reefs are like, some safety tips, and a brief review of the resort. You will also find a snorkeling room package that Anse Chastanet has created for our readers at a good discount.
As mentioned on our main St. Lucia snorkeling page we went to the island with the goal of finding a resort with a great house reef in the Caribbean. Our research led us to Anse Chastanet specifically. Not only was their house reef supposed to have good snorkeling, but also because they are very friendly to snorkelers at their dive shop, and take snorkelers out by boat daily to neighboring reefs.
From the resort 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.
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.
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.
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 much more corals, fantastic sponges, interesting underwater topography, and more fish than the majority of people who visit the area. All and all you can have a great vacation of snorkeling, all without driving anywhere.
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, when you are up at the resort, look down at the snorkeling areas while wearing polarized sunglasses to get a sense for where to swim.
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.
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.
- Do not go beyond the rope, particularly outside the bay and around
the point to the left. There can be 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 night snorkeling Monday & Wednesday nights.
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!
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.
Anse Chastanet is a very interesting resort. In some ways it has an old fashioned rustic feel to it that we found appealing. They offer incredible service, and the staff are very friendly. The food is fantastic, really much better than expected, and you won't lack for options, since they have five restaurants with different menus.
We feel like Anse Chastanet is really a good place for people who are nature lovers. The resort is up on a hillside, as are the majority of the rooms and a number of the restaurants, although there are a few rooms on the beach level, and two lunch restaurants on the beaches. The rooms and restaurants are all open air with great views. The rooms and restaurants hanging in the treetops give you the feeling of being in a tree house. The rooms do have wood shutters, but they seem rarely used, because they are arranged to be very private. Our room was comfortable and spacious, but not fancy. There are ceiling fans in the room but no A/C. Being up in the tree tops, birdlife is always present, and views of the ocean and sunset are great. 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.
Because of the open nature of the rooms and restaurants all of the light bulbs are yellow throughout the resort, which do not attract bugs. It makes for an interesting ambience with low light pollution for viewing the stars. We were at first concerned about bugs in the room. But there is mosquito netting over the beds, and the resort does spray and do a good job limiting bug ingress. We were pleasantly surprised how few bugs we encountered.
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 workout. But the resort also has shuttles and is very accommodating in taking people up and down whenever they desire.
There are lots of nice amenities to staying at Anse Chastanet, like free paddle boards, kayaks and sailboats to use, two free daily yoga classes, free guided nature walks through an old plantation, as well as many other activity options, like arranging for you to hike up one of the Pitons. Much of the food served is grown on their own farm, including some excellent dark chocolate that they make. And they have a full service spa; you know, to loosen up those snorkeling and hill climbing leg muscles.
Finally, the resort is privately owned, and is staffed mostly by locals, many of which have worked there for years. We talked to a lot of the staff, workers and one of the owners, and it really does seem that the resort is a good employer, treating workers fairly, and helping them and the community out. We like to see our dollars going to a good place that puts a lot back into the local community. It is rare.
So, as long as you enjoy the idea of the rustic natural experience of your room and the hillside the resort is on, then you will likely enjoy your experience here.
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.
After exploring Anse Chastanet snorkeling thoroughly, and experiencing their great service and food, we decided we were happy to recommend it to you, and we partnered with the resort. Anse Chastanet has created a special snorkeler package with great prices on the room and meals, and we will receive a small commission if you book through our contact form below at no extra cost to you.
APRIL 16 - MAY 31, 2019
JAN 4 - April 15, 2020
This special package includes: 7 nights run of house accommodation, airport transfers, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, all tax/service, welcome drink and culinary amenity on arrival, complimentary non-motorized watersports, snorkeling equipment provided free of charge, complimentary snorkeling from Anse Chastanet and Anse Mamin Beaches.
Optional Boat Snorkeling Trips Can Be Added
Add 4 boat snorkel trips: Add US 120 per person inclusive of 10% tax and 10% service charge (Marine Park fee of US 5)
Add 8 boat snorkel trips: Add US 210 per person inclusive of 10% tax and 10% service charge (Marine Park fee of US 10)
Add 12 Boat Snorkel trips: Add US 290 per person inclusive of 10% tax and 10% service charge (Marine Park fee of US 15)
And if you happen to be celebrating a special event or romantic milestone in your life, you may want to ask about the other resort owned by the same folks called Jade Mountain, located higher up the hill. We received a quick tour of this resort and it is rather breathtaking, with completely open rooms fronting stunning views of the Pitons and ocean, and infinity pools in each room. That all comes at a higher price, but it is world class.