9 Super BVI Snorkeling Spots For Your Sailing Charter
Snorkeling is very popular in the Virgin Islands, there are many spectacular spots in the Caribbean Islands, below you can find the best BVI snorkeling spots for your yacht charter vacation.
1. The Wreck of the Rhone (Salt Island)
Salt Island, Wreck of the Rhone. Photo by @hanhanbvi. Used with permission.
Depth: 30-90 ft.
At the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, just off Salt Island’s Lee Bay, lies the wreck of a British Royal Mail Steamer. The RMS Rhone is one the most extraordinary shipwrecks you can snorkel in the BVI and all of the Caribbean. Although primarily a dive spot, you can snorkel above it for a bigger picture view of the wreck.
Expect to see: Shipwreck, various schools of fish, lobster, turtles, large porcupine puffer fish, southern stingrays, eagle rays, moray eels, and octopuses
Tip: Use two blue dinghy balls and exercise caution when snorkeling as many tour boats and yachts moor within the Marine Park.
2. Cistern Point (Cooper Island)
Depth: 40-50 ft.
South of Manchioneel Bay, off the western coast of Cooper Island, Cistern Point is a large rock, rising out of the water, that marks the spot of a vibrant coral reef system perfect for snorkeling. As it’s not as popular as some of the larger snorkel spots, you’re less likely to run into a lot of tour companies here.
Expect to see: Various schools of fish, spiny lobster, shrimp, anemones, turtles, southern stingray, and moray eels.
Tip: Weak swimmers should have their boat moor close by, the water can get choppy in the afternoon on the south side of the rock.
3. Blue Chromis Reef (Cooper Island)
Blue Green Chromis. Photo by Andrea Mars. CC BY
Depth: 30-90 ft.
In Hallovers Bay, off the west coast of Cooper Island, the Blue Chromis Reef has lots to offer eager snorkelers. Reef fish frequent this spot, including the blue chromis, which the reef is named after. With a calm current and good visibility, you can easily snorkel here for hours on end.
Expect to see: Blue chromis and other reef fish, shrimp, anemones, quillfin blennies, coral, sea fans.
Tip: If you look hard, you may spot the wreckage of a twin seat airplane at about 35 ft. below.
4. Alice’s Backside or Ginger’s Patch (Ginger Island)
Brain Coral. Photo by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble. CC BY
Depth: 25-50 ft.
Located off Ginger Island, a private island within the Little Sisters, is a popular snorkel BVI site called Alice’s Backside. Abundant with sea creatures and coral, you’ll find yourself in awe of the underwater landscape that stretches amongst the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
Expect to see: Brain and mushroom coral, parrot fish, eels, lobster, Nassau grouper, trunkfish, trumpetfish, and other schools of fish.
Tip: Get there early to secure a mooring buoy or risk losing out to a commercial diving or tour company.
5. The Baths (Virgin Gorda)
Depth: 0-40 ft.
A rocky shoreline with impressive boulders, caves, and tide pools make up the scenery of a popular snorkeling spot known as The Baths. Part of the Devil’s Bay National Park in Virgin Gorda, you can snorkel a trail, following schools of fish as they weave in and out from the rocky crevices.
Expect to see: Multiple species of coral, tropical fish, caves and boulders (both above and below the water)
Tip: Swim out from the shore to avoid the crowds and see a different ecosystem.
6. The Caves (Norman Island)
The Caves. Photo by @alton.bertie. Used with permission.
Thought to be the site of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Norman Island has a fantastic cave system that has made it a popular stop for adventurous tourists. Although you’re unlikely to spot any treasure, bring a flashlight to illuminate the colorful coral, which lives at the base of the caves.
Expect to see: Blue tangs, southern stingrays, eagle rays, sergeant majors, barracuda, schooling grunts, anemones
Tip: The Caves can provide a challenge, so start at nearby Bight, the main anchorage of the island, to get accustomed to the water.
7. Rainbow Canyon (Pelican Island)
Snorkeling. Photo by Asier Sarasua Aranberri. CC BY-SA
Depth: 45-60 ft.
Named after the colorful rocks that make up Pelican Island, Rainbow Canyon attracts snorkelers and divers alike. A wide variety of sea life makes their home here, and the canyon provides an excellent alternative to Pelican Island’s most famous snorkeling and dive spot, The Indians.
Expect to see: Sea slugs, anemones, lobsters, reef fish, colorful sponges, garden eels, and queen angelfish.
Tip: Bring a camera! Rainbow Canyon’s inhabitants are very photogenic!
8. Buttonwood Bay (Great Harbor, Peter Island)
Humpback Whale. Photo by Alan Moore. CC BY-ND.
Depth: 8-40 ft.
Off the northern tip of Peter Island, a shallow reef starts near the surface of the water and slopes down to nearly 40 feet in Buttonwood Bay. As it’s in a secluded location, you can snorkel and enjoy a meal at the Lazy Iguana Beach Club before heading back to your charter for the night.
Expect to see: Various species of coral, sea fans, fish, and sometimes humpback whales!
Tip: The best snorkeling is approximately 20 yards offshore.
9. The Indians (Pelican Island)
The Indians. Photo by @alton.bertie. Used with permission.
A popular snorkeling spot in the BVI, The Indians are named after the native “Indians” who occupied this area of the Caribbean Islands before its settlement by the British. A fantastic reef lies below the rock formations here and allows you to snorkel the perimeter without having to venture too far out to see marine life.
Expect to see: Variety of reef fish, sea fans, corals, sponges, rays, lobsters.
Tip: Because it’s full of life, and a busy snorkeling spot, we recommend stopping at the Indians at the very beginning or very end of your yacht charter.
What do you think of our picks for the best BVI snorkeling spots? Every location is accessible by boat, making it easy to travel from location to location.
If you’re ready to have your own underwater adventure in the British Virgin Islands, book your charter and start planning your trip. We’ve also compiled lists of the 5 Best BVI Scuba Diving Yacht Charter Spots and the 7 Best USVI and BVI Beaches You Can’t Miss.
We’ll see you on the boat!