Our St Lucia snorkeling experience was different from most of the destinations we share on this site. We went to St Lucia, in the Caribbean, with the intention of finding a resort with a great house reef that we could recommend to you all. We found a resort, and were also able to snorkel some of the other reefs on the island. On this page we share our overall impressions of the snorkeling on this island, along with some details about the spots we snorkeled.
Overall we think that St Lucia is a good snorkeling destination. The snorkeling spots are all located on the leeward protected side of the island, making them calm most of the time. The island is small and there is not a large number of snorkeling spots.
While you can drive around and snorkel from a few beaches on the island, we think it is better to stay at a resort, snorkel their house reef, and take boat tours to other reefs on the island.
All the snorkel spots are over fringing reefs, dropping off a short distance from the shoreline. Most reefs are made up of large boulders that create interesting topography to explore. The reefs we saw were not populated by many hard corals; there are some, but they are not dense. There are numerous areas with soft coral gardens to explore with fans, plumes, and rods. What stands out on these reefs are the varied, numerous, and colorful sponges. Most bays with beaches have sea grass beds directly offshore which can hold a few wonderful sightings.
there are good numbers and variety of fish. On repeat visits to reefs,
the fish numbers varied. We commonly saw squid at most locations, which
is always a treat. The Soufriere Marine Management Area protects some areas from fishing.
Boats are a concern in most St Lucia snorkeling areas. Some protected areas are roped off so boats cannot enter. If you are on a boat trip, the boat you came on and the guide with you in the water will keep an eye out for them for you. If you don't have these protections, some type of marker buoy or flag is necessary.
A few of the snorkeling spots on St Lucia are accessible from beaches. The rest are visited by a boat trip. And even the ones accessible by beach are regularly visited by the boats as well.
We snorkeled from two beaches on the island. We also were taken by very short boat rides from the resort to a few of the boat accessible spots.
We stayed at Anse Chastanet Resort to check out the beaches and house reefs for snorkeling. Both ends of Anse Chastanet Beach have reefs with very good snorkeling. Anse Mamin Beach
is also part of the resort because they own the land behind it and
provide access to it by a road along the shore. You can find good
snorkeling at Anse Mamin as well. Read our full review of Anse Chastanet Resort and its snorkeling here. And don't miss the special snorkeling package the resort is offering to only our readers!
If you are considering a visit to this resort, 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. Learn more about when to plan your St Lucia snorkeling trip below.
Superman's Flight - This St Lucia snorkeling location is normally done as a drift
snorkel along the base of the Petit Piton. Overall, this is a great spot, with some areas being more alive than others. We saw nice soft
coral gardens, interesting topography with boulders and canyons, healthy
hard corals and sponges, lots of squid, and a good number of fish. We
were lucky enough to have pointed out to us by our Anse Chastanet guide two different frogfish on
one of the sponge encrusted boulders, a first for us. See picture above.
Piton Wall - On our drift snorkel along the base of the Petit Piton, we also snorkeled what is known as the Piton Wall. There is a wall where the current gets quite strong that drops off precipitously, like the piton above, that is awesome to snorkel over.
Trou Diable - We snorkeled this spot and cannot recommend it very highly. Most of the shallow reef was unhealthy, though there were a few interesting large boulders with life on them and some fish. We also saw a Hawksbill Turtle. Unfortunately we happened to visit on a day with low visibility. Trou Diable means Devil's Hole, which is an interesting natural feature. It is a round hole in the reef with an arch you can freedive to swim through. The reef is encrusted with a little life on it too.
Anse Bouton Beach - While not accessible easily from shore, on a boat snorkel we found a wonderful reef off this beach north of Anse Mamin. It was large and extended out perpendicular from the shore. It had wonderful topography, corals and sponges encrusted it and a lot of fish in good variety were hanging around it. The reef dropped off up to about 30 feet deep on both sides making for interesting snorkeling too.
Pinnacles - We had a quick look at the pinnacles. They are in the northern edge of Soufriere Bay. There are four seamounts that rise from the sea floor to near the surface. They are certainly a sight to see, but don't make for a great St Lucia snorkeling spot as snorkelers at the surface can only see the top of each pinnacle.
Grand Caille - Just around the corner south of Anse Chastanet we snorkeled a little bit of this area and did not honestly see very much life at snorkel depths. This is also a high boat traffic area.
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Anse Couchon Beach - We were not able to visit this beach and snorkel the reef, but the Ti Kaye Resort backs this beach. The fringing reefs on both sides of the bay here look like the same large boulder formations we saw elsewhere on the island.
Malgretoute Beach - This beach is just north of the Petit Piton and apparently offers some snorkeling.
Sugar Beach (also known as Jalousie Beach) - This beach is between the two Pitons. It is the house reef for the Sugar Beach Viceroy Resort. We did not snorkel the house reef ourselves, but heard from numerous sources that it is not as good as Anse Chastanet.
Jalousie - Just south of Sugar Beach and at the base of the Gros Piton, we did not experience the snorkeling here.
Coral Garden - Near the western point of the Gros Piton, we wish we had gotten to visit this St Lucia snorkeling spot, but alas we did not.
A hot topic in the Caribbean these days is the Sargassum seaweed problem. It does affect St Lucia, but primarily on the windward side of the island. Since all the snorkel spots are located on the leeward side of the island, Sargassum is only an intermittent issue. We had one day on the island when a small amount made its way to the west side.
Being so close to the equator (13-14° N), the climate is not very changeable. High air temperatures range from 79-84°F and lows range from 73-79°F year round. Water temperatures only range from 79-84°F year round. St Lucia does have a rainy season from June to November. Like most of the Caribbean, there is a regular northeast trade wind that happens most of the year, and in the fall months the winds are generally lower. Hurricane season in the Caribbean is from June to November. Visibility is generally good, but rain can affect it. And in our experience if one spot has low visibility, your guides can usually find a spot with better visibility with some ease.
Since the St Lucia snorkeling spots are on the leeward side of the island the winds do not generally affect them. You can travel here for snorkeling most any part of the year, but we recommend trip insurance if traveling during hurricane season.
You will find that prices for accommodations vary by how busy it is on the island, so traveling in the slow season will generally save you some money.
While we did not rent a car on the island and simply used a taxi from the airport to our resort and back, we did have the experience of traveling on the roads.
In St Lucia, vehicles drive on the left side of the road and the rental vehicles are right hand drive. If you rent a vehicle you will also need a temporary driving permit.
The roads are windy with a lot of elevation changes due to the mountainous nature of the island. Speeds are slow which means it takes quite a while to travel a short distance. We arrived at the Hewanorra Airport in Vieux Fort on the south end of the island and it took an hour to get to Anse Chastanet Resort, a distance of about 21 miles.
Here is a list of the fish, coral and creatures we saw during our St Lucia snorkeling adventure.