Bermuda snorkeling is remarkable. We spent nearly a month in Bermuda, with perfect weather, and snorkeled it thoroughly, from both gorgeous pink sandy beaches and outer reefs by boat tour. The reefs and sea life are very healthy.
What are the best snorkeling beaches and boat tours?
Fortunately there is great snorkeling all around Bermuda you can access from shore, although there are no full size car rentals. And the outer reefs that are accessed by boat tours are even better, but many boat companies don't actually take you to the outer reefs.
Click on the links below for full reviews, descriptions and many pictures of these shore snorkeling locations. Continue down the page for a snorkeling in Bermuda video, more pictures, what to expect, a snorkel map and travel and safety tips.
Bermuda Snorkeling Guide eBook - The sample locations below are just a few from our popular eBook guide. You get:
Elbow Beach - This beautiful public beach has lots of healthy reef to explore.
Church Bay - Fun snorkeling awaits you at this gorgeous and popular spot.
Snorkel Park - This Royal Naval Dockyard beach is great for cruise ship passengers because it's close to the docks.
Click on the links below for descriptions of Bermuda snorkeling excursions to the outer reefs and shipwrecks.
Outer Reefs - There is a massive outer reef system to the west and north of the group of islands that offers some of the very best Bermuda snorkeling available. Unfortunately most boat companies do not take you to the outer reefs, and instead take you to to some poor shore spots. We recommend a company in our eBook guide.
Shipwreck Snorkeling - Thanks to the shallow reefs surrounding the group of islands, Bermuda shipwreck snorkeling is plentiful. If you enjoy wrecks there are a few you can access from shore, and a number available by boat excursion.
Watch our Bermuda snorkeling video below to see what you can expect on your trip. Also read further down the page for more about why we like it, see a snorkel map and read some useful safety and travel information.
1. Gorgeous Public Beaches With Easy Shore Access
Bermuda has some of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen. And yes, they do have the reputed pink hue. Many of the Bermuda snorkeling beaches are public for free access to healthy reefs.
2. Wonderfully Healthy Shallow Reefs
Almost everywhere you snorkel, the shallow reefs are healthy. These are the most northern coral reefs in the world, and in the winter the water temperatures drop into the 60's °F. So, they are not the most diverse reefs you will encounter, but they are some of the healthiest we have seen.
3. Big Creatures
Many of the fish and hard and soft corals in Bermuda are bigger than their counterparts in the Caribbean. By a large margin, we saw the biggest Chubs, Squirrelfish, Snappers, Corky Sea Fingers, Branching Fire Coral heads and many others than anywhere else before. Maybe it is a result of the northern location and colder winter waters somehow?
4. You Can Always Find a Calm Beach for Bermuda Snorkeling
Bermuda's winds are more variable in speed and direction than anywhere we have snorkeled before. Unlike many destinations in the Caribbean and even Hawaii, there is not a consistent easterly trade wind. And the beaches are scattered all around, instead of dominantly on one coast. This means that no matter where the wind is blowing from, you will always be able to find a calm shore snorkeling spot.
5. Super-Friendly Destination
Bermuda's residents are the most friendly we have encountered yet in our tropical snorkeling explorations. It's so nice to be greeted with smiles and friendly words. And questions are welcome too.
As you can see by the Bermuda snorkeling map below, the snorkel beaches are all over.
Respect the Ocean Conditions
There are not many protected coves or bays with good Bermuda snorkeling. And you have to swim outside the coves or bays to find the best underwater sights. Though most of the south shore beaches have reefs offshore, they are not protected from big waves or currents. And even the north shore, which is inshore water protected by offshore reefs, can get wavy in the right wind direction. So most of the time you will be in water exposed to open ocean conditions. There is also the potential to encounter a current anytime, as tidal changes are more significant in Bermuda because of its northerly location, and tides contribute to currents.
The reefs on Bermuda are often a little ways offshore sometimes requiring a long swim. You must be able to read the ocean and know your limits to snorkel these locations safely. And when you snorkel these reefs always watch for boat or jet-ski traffic.
After our trip to Bermuda in July, and some consultation with locals, we think the best time to go to Bermuda for a snorkeling trip is June. The air and water temperatures are in the upper 70's °F, the underwater visibility is a little better than later in the summer when algae starts to bloom, the mosquitoes are not present and there are a lot of bait balls. Early in the summer you are at a lower risk of hurricanes too.
The months to avoid for Bermuda snorkeling are February and March. They have the worst weather with high winds, and cold water.
In the winter there is much better underwater visibility, but you will need a wetsuit for warmth. But boat tour companies often shut down during the winter months, so if you go during the winter you may not be able to access the outer reefs.
Because Bermuda is out in the Atlantic Ocean and farther north than any of the Caribbean islands, it has very different snorkeling conditions. The water temperatures have a large range throughout the year, in the 60's °F from December through April, the 70's °F in May, June, October and November, and the 80's °F in July, August and September. Air temperatures are basically the same as water temperatures year round. Also the tides move much more in Bermuda which can make some spots too shallow for snorkeling at low tide and can change the water visibility especially on the outer reefs in summer.
The other thing that varies much more than other destinations is the underwater visibility. Unfortunately, the warmer the water gets, the lower the visibility is. This is a result of algae blooms as the water temperature increases, and of of calm weather that allows the water to sit. In the summer, the water will be clearest after a hurricane or tropical storm passes within at least 300 miles of Bermuda, because the storm will refresh all of the inshore waters.
Unlike destinations with winds that very consistently come from one direction, Bermuda's winds are variable. During our July stay, we had wind from every single direction. Though, when the winds are more consistent, they come out of the southwest, blowing parallel with the length of the group of islands. And generally speaking, the winds are lower in the summer months, June, July, August and September, which you can see on the Windfinder statistics page.
There is no specific rainy season, every month gets some rain. Get the statistics on this website.
Hurricane season is officially from June to November. Historically they are most common in September, but can happen during any of the months. Plan your trip accordingly and consider trip insurance.
It's a little easier to fly to Bermuda from the U.S. than many Caribbean islands. There are a number of daily options and some seasonal ones too. Cities with direct service include Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York (JFK), New York/Newark (EWR), Philadelphia, and Washington DC. You can fly to Bermuda from London and Canada as well. This website has a list of airlines that fly to Bermuda.
Bermuda is unique in that full size car rentals are not allowed. So how do you get to the snorkel beaches? You have five options.
1. Taxi - Expensive, but excellent service, very nice, tons of them, and it's safe. You just can't get in the cabs in your wet beach gear. So take dry clothes, and plan on changing under a towel because there are few to no changing rooms.
2. Bus - The public bus goes most everywhere, and it is affordable, but it is slow and you also cannot ride it in wet beach gear.
3. Scooter Rental - This is what we did. It's the most popular way to get around, gives you the most freedom, and you can ride in wet beach clothes. Riding "bikes" as they call scooters on Bermuda is one of the major forms of transportation used by locals. Getting your first 50cc scooter for your sixteenth birthday is a rite of passage for residents.
4. Small Two-Seat Electric Vehicle Rental - This is a relatively new option in Bermuda, but, calling these little things a car is a bit of a stretch. This is an attractive alternative to a scooter. The rentals have four wheels and two seats with seat belts. They are fully electric so you must charge them up, but charging is free. Some are open air and some have windows and air-conditioning.
5. Ferry - You can shorten many trips across Bermuda by taking a ferry. Some allow you to bring your scooter.
Snorkeling From a Scooter or Small Electric Car? - We were at first concerned about how it would work to snorkel from a scooter. But it was actually great. We drove it all over, snorkeling many locations per day for almost a month. We kept a little soft cooler with a lunch and water under the seat. There is a good sized basket on the back of all the rental scooters that carried our snorkel bag with gear.
The small electric vehicles vary in how much space they have for gear, so the passenger may need to carry it on their lap. And they vary in whether they are open air or have windows with doors that lock.
Remember, they are electric vehicles which means you will need to charge them up. They vary in how and where you can charge them, so make sure the company's setup fits into your plans. A charge will take you 43-100 miles depending on the vehicle.
What Are the Challenges With Scooters?
Driving on the Left Side - Although new to us, it was not a problem. We feel it's much easier to get used to on a scooter, compared to a car with the steering wheel on the opposite side, and more driving habits. At every intersection just say to yourself "Keep Left!", and you will do fine. Oh, and go clockwise at traffic circles and yield to traffic from the right. There is so much traffic that mostly you just follow what other people are doing and you won't mess up. And all scooter renters wear white helmets that Bermudians are used to accommodating. People are kind in Bermuda.
Is It Safe? - If you get hit by a car it's going to be a problem. But keep two things in mind. Speed limits are low, officially at 22mph, but 30mph is what you should expect. Also, the roads are very narrow and winding with no sidewalks and normally a wall alongside. Personally we found that navigating these narrow roads was much easier and less stressful on a scooter, as compared to a car. You just have more room to move. There are innumerable blind intersection corners, that are easy to pull out from on a scooter, but difficult with a car. Bermudians are excellent car drivers, because there is zero room for error.
Still, driving a scooter on Bermuda requires constant vigilance and care. Driving when the roads are wet is not recommended, nor at night. If you don't have any experience on a scooter, ride double with someone who does. That is what we did. Or maybe rent one at home to get used to it first.
The small electric vehicles offer more safety for sure. There are seat belts and air bags in case of any major accident. Even though they are a car, they are still quite narrow, allowing you to have more ease with the narrow roads in Bermuda than a normal car.
Bermuda has numerous lodging options: resorts, hotels, guest houses, apartments, vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts. Lodging can be expensive. Our Bermuda snorkeling accommodations page shows you how to find affordable options and where to stay to be close to the best Bermuda snorkeling.
Take a Cruise to Bermuda
The major cruise lines Celebrity, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, leave from U.S. east coast cities and dock at Dockyard, often for 3 days allowing you to explore the group of islands. It can be an affordable way to go as you do not need to pay for accommodations. But, if you do this, don't book a Bermuda snorkeling boat tour with the cruise company as they will not take you to the better offshore reefs, but inshore ones that are not good.