Weather Websites to Choose Snorkeling Spot?

by Laurie Rabatich
(Calgary, Alberta)

Do you use any particular weather websites to choose your snorkeling spot for the day?

I am just home from a month in St. Croix & a few days in St. John, USVI. Often the wind was blowing from the north. Often we drove a distance, hiked or kayaked to find our chosen spot with low visibility.

I am wondering where I can learn how to read weather charts for optimum conditions on any particular day?

Thanks so much.

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Mar 30, 2015
Websites We Use
by: Nicole & Galen

Hi Laurie, that is a good question. The wind direction and speed is super important when planning a snorkeling day.

Most often we have found Windfinder or Windguru to be the most useful. Google either one with the name of the place you are snorkeling. These websites are geared for kite and wind surfers who are usually looking for high winds, but us snorkelers are often looking for the opposite. It is okay though as you are looking for wind directions and speeds, which are provided clearly.

In the US, the National Weather Service website will often have a weather data buoy nearby with current weather data that can be useful. They also release a marine forecast that predicts wind and is geared toward boaters, but completely applies to a snorkelers use.

Here are the links to the St John Buoy and the Puerto Rico area marine forecast we used for St John snorkeling planning.

But there are buoys and forecasts for other USVI, Hawaii and Florida as well.

Another factor to find calm snorkeling is swell, or ocean waves. It is usually caused by nearby weather systems. When we were on St John, there was a north swell for about a week that caused terrible snorkeling conditions on the north shore. A swell forecast is charted on both Windfinder and Windguru as surfers often want swell so there are waves to surf. You might also find other local surf/swell forecasts for where you are by searching the web. Just be aware when you are reading these surf sites that you are not looking for the same thing surfers are. You want low swell days.

Generally, you want to find a snorkeling spot that is either sheltered from the wind direction of the day, or low enough (under 10 knots) that the ocean is not too rough for you to snorkel the exposed spots.

Visibility does not change as quickly as the winds and waves. If you want to snorkel a spot that is usually exposed to the prevailing wind direction, to get the best visibility, it is best to snorkel it after a few days of calm winds. But if you don't have numerous calm days, you will likely have to put up with some lower visibility.

There are other factors to visibility too though, that are not predictable by weather forecasts.

Hope this helps. Maybe other folks will share their insights too!

Mar 30, 2015
Totally Agree.....
by: Cary Bennett

Windguru is definitely your friend! Look for the days with little or no wind from the direction you are planning to snorkel. We found it to be a huge help in Fiji, as well as our trip to Miami the first week of January.

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