Snorkeling Options in the British Virgin Islands
by Barb and Gary Koop
(Sudbury, Ontario, Canada)
We have a partnership in a 30 foot sailboat in the British Virgin Islands and have snorkeled there extensively. I have been over to St John, United States Virgin Islands, as well and I find the BVIs better.
I haven't seen any information on this site so I will give a brief summary of the snorkeling options. Unfortunately, most of these sites are only accessible by boat, but hey, the BVI is a charter boat paradise and dive boats come out regularly from Tortola if you're on a cruise.
- The Indians - this little gem gets a visit from us every year. It consists of several small steep-walled islands with mooring balls for yachts (get there early or late) that you can swim from or use the dinghy tie-up. The wall is spectacular, and so is the reef to the east. Dive boats come out here.
- The Bight of Norman Island - This is a large and popular anchorage and there are daily trips out from Tortola. The reef between the two bar/restaurants (one being the infamous floating "Willie T Thornton") has a very good variety of angelfish, and we've seen octopus, lionfish, Spotted Drums, Porcupinefish, rays, barracuda and everything in between. There are several other spots that deserve an hour or so in the bay including the reef on either side of Water Point and the too popular Caves. Day-sails come here.
- The Wreck of the Rhone, Off Salt Island - This is a must see, but a bit deep for really good snorkeling.
- Soper's Hole at West End Tortola - If you end up here and have access to a dinghy or don't mind the walk along the north side of the harbor, there's a nice long reef outside the anchorage to the north.
- Trellis Bay East End Tortola - Outside of Trellis Bay there are several rocks marked by a buoy. It is accessible from shore by walking around the south beach of the bay. It has a good variety of fish.
- Mosquito Island Northeast Reef - Our favorite spot near Virgin Gorda, is the reef on the northeast side of Mosquito Island. It is accessible by dinghy to the adjacent beach or by walking along the path from Drake's Anchorage.
- The Baths, Virgin Gorda - This should not be missed as a walk and snorkel spot and is also accessible by land by taking a taxi from Spanish Town. Mostly for scenery rather than fish, but there are always a couple of rays hiding among the large spectacular boulders.
- Carvel Rock, Cooper Island - This spot has good snorkeling. Look for the resident Whitespotted Filefish and swim out to the extensive grass bank just off the beach to see one of several large Spotted Eagle Rays in the bay.
- Jost Van Dyke - Take a cab to Foxy's Taboo on the east end for snorkeling in Long Bay - lots of turtles and rays, and a nice walk to The Bubbly Pool - fun at high tide.
Some General Hints
- If you're on a charter, it's worth picking up a guide book to the snorkeling areas.
- If you're only there for a day on a cruise, get out on a dive boat or day-sail to the Indians and Norman Island.
- If you're at a resort, there are many walk-to reefs from beaches, but you may have to get a cab to get there, or take a dive boat or day-sail out.