Snorkeling Elbow Beach – Do a Drift to See It All
When snorkeling Elbow Beach you can explore healthy coral reefs and see a nice diversity of fish just a few hundred feet offshore. Popular with locals and visitors alike, this large Bermuda beach has a reef that runs parallel to the entire shoreline and extends out a long distance. The size of the snorkeling area makes this a great spot for a one-way drift snorkel.
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Elbow Beach Park is a public section of beach between two private ones. The private area to the right is in front of Coral Beach and Tennis Club and to the left is in front of Elbow Beach Resort and Spa. On Bermuda, beaches are public up to the high tide line, so you can access the water and beach in front of the resorts, but not their facilities unless you are a guest.
Besides the reef here, you can, with a long swim, check out the Pollockshields Wreck on the breaking reef edge. Read more about this on our Bermuda shipwreck snorkeling page.
Water Entrance for Snorkeling Elbow Beach
Where to Snorkel
Snorkeling Elbow Beach is possible along the entire length of it. The reef runs parallel to the beach, some of it in patches over the sandy bottom. It starts about 200 feet offshore and goes out to a breaking barrier reef edge more than 1000 feet out. You can usually see the white of the waves breaking out there.
It is a large area, and to see it all we recommend you do a one-way drift snorkel of the length of the public beach area. To do this, figure out the wind and current direction and plan on swimming with it instead of fighting it, entering at one end and exiting at the other.
There are smaller patch reefs close to shore in 2-7 feet of water. They are a little less healthy and have lower visibility, but you’ll still see some corals and fish. If you swim out farther, the set of reefs about half-way out to the barrier reef, in 4-5 feet of water, are better for both corals and fish, and visibility too.
So, for drift snorkeling Elbow Beach, head out to the farther reefs. On the reefs to the right of the stairs (looking from the beach), close to the private section of the beach, the coral health declines a bit even on the outer reefs.
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Snorkeling Elbow Beach is best straight out from the stairs that come down to the beach at the public entrance. The outer reef area is shallower here, so the water moves over it faster which seems to promote better coral health. The corals and number of fish were best here.
If you don’t want to do the whole drift snorkel, just head straight out from the stairs. The closest patch reefs are not as healthy but the next ones out are great.
In the summer months the visibility is not going to be perfect, but it will likely be a little better farther out from the beach.
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What We Saw While Snorkeling Elbow Beach
When we visited, the fish numbers were not high, but there was a good diversity of species. While snorkeling Elbow Beach we saw coral in good number and health, especially on the outer reefs. And, we caught a glimpse of an octopus in the reef.
- Angelfish, Blue – many
- Butterflyfish, Reef
- Chub – schools
- Damselfish: Beaugregory, Sergeant Major – schools, Yellowtail
- Filefish, Whitespotted
- Goatfish: Spotted, Yellow
- Grouper, Coney – many
- Grunt: Bluestriped, Caesar, French
- Hogfish, Spanish – many
- Jack: Almaco, Bar, Palometa
- Lizardfish, Sand Diver
- Parrotfish: Blue, Queen, Redband, Redtail, Stoplight, Striped, Yellowtail
- Porgy, Bermuda Bream – schools
- Puffer, Sharpnose
- Surgeonfish, Ocean
- Tang, Blue
- Triggerfish, Gray
- Trunkfish, Smooth
- Wrasse: Bluehead, Puddingwife, Slippery Dick, Yellowhead
- Brain: Grooved, Symmetrical
- Corky Sea Finger
- Fire, Branching
- Mustard Hill
- Sea Fan, Common
- Sea Plumes
- Sea Rod: Bent, Black, Porous
- Star: Greater, Lesser, Mountainous
- Anemone, Giant
- Urchin, Long Spined
- Zoanthid, White Encrusting
Driving Directions for Snorkeling Elbow Beach
The public access to Elbow Beach is just off of South Road in Paget Parish between the junction with Middle Road and the intersection with Cobb’s Hill Road. You will turn onto Tribe Road 4B and follow it to the end. There are signs at the turn for both the road name and Elbow Beach Park. Park your scooter at the end of the road and take the stairs down to the beach.
If you are coming from the west, the entrance is a sharp right turn. From the east, you basically continue straight down the small road instead of following South Road as it curves to the right.
Elbow Beach is accessed on bus route #7 from Hamilton or Dockyard/Somerset. The bus stops east of Tribe Road 4B and requires walking on a sidewalk to the turn, then down the small road to the stairs and the beach itself. There are signs with directions at the bus stop.
There is a composting toilet and a trash can in the parking area.