Where Are the Best Snorkelling Spots on St Thomas, US Virgin Islands?

Magens Bay Beach is a popular spot for snorkeling on St Thomas
Magens Bay Beach is a popular spot for snorkeling on St Thomas | © Michael DeFreitas Caribbean / Alamy

St Thomas sits between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, offering some of the best snorkeling sites in the region. Spot sea turtles, eagle rays and barracuda while exploring the underwater world on the largest of the US Virgin Islands. From hidden coves like Secret Harbor to the unique Mermaid’s Chair, we’ve put together a rundown of the best beaches on St Thomas for snorkeling.

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Magens Bay Beach in Enighed

Take a dinghy ashore at Magens Bay Beach and enjoy an afternoon snorkeling off the 1mi (1.6km) narrow stretch of beach. The main sections of coral are located on the sides of the beach, where you can find stingrays, tarpon and schools of fish. If you’re lucky, you might see green sea turtles or hawksbill turtles swimming off the beach.

Coki Point Beach in Smith Bay

Drop anchor close to the left side of Coki Beach, grab your snorkel and swim over to the rocky areas. Here you’ll find hundreds of bright tropical fish swimming through the coral. Alternatively, head over to the right side of the beach and explore the coral reefs close to the aquarium, Coral World Ocean Park. Crabs and rays are often spotted in this popular snorkeling spot.

Lindquist Beach in Smith Bay

Lindquist Beach is a popular snorkeling spot with locals, so you will find fewer crowds here than in other locations. Wade across the pristine white sand to the right side of the beach for the best wildlife spotting. If you’re lucky, you might see green sea turtles or eagle rays swimming through the seagrass. Afterward, kick back under the sea grape trees and listen to the sound of the waves rolling in.

Secret Harbor Beach in Nazareth

Secret Harbour Beach is located within a protected bay, making it an ideal sheltered anchorage. Leap into the clear water and head over to the right side of the beach or make your way across to the double reef on the left. Peer down and you’ll see the extensive coral growth, rocky ledge, plenty of colorful tropical fish, as well as green sea turtles, octopus and squid.

Brewers Bay Beach in Charlotte Amalie West

The waters of Brewers Bay Beach may not have coral reefs, but they have plenty of seagrass, which happens to be hawksbill and green sea turtles’ favorite food. You might also spot a stingray or two. Brewers Bay is located on the west side of the island close to Cyril E. King Airport, so it is a great place to enjoy one last snorkel before boarding an afternoon flight.

Mermaid’s Chair in Sandy Bay

Discover this unique strip of sand that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea on the westernmost point of the island. It is most easily accessible by boat. Dive under the waters and you’ll discover tangs, brightly colored wrasses, snapper, sea fans and fire coral. Alternatively, if you’re venturing here on foot, follow the path (mostly tarmac) – the view on arrival is astonishing.

Christmas Cove off Great St James

If you’re looking for a calm place to anchor overnight, head to Christmas Cove. Rumour has it Christopher Columbus anchored here on Christmas Day while waiting for a storm to pass. Today, it is still a super sheltered spot, primed for snorkeling, thanks to its clear waters and great visibility. Keep your eyes peeled for sea urchins, conch and the occasional ray. If you stop by between November and August, check out Pizza Pi VI Boat, which serves New York-style pizza from a yacht anchored in the cove.

Hull Bay in Ensomned

You’ll find this tiny cove on the north shore of St Thomas, just west of Magens Bay. Sea turtles swim right off the beach here – you may even be lucky enough to spot one. Look out for barracuda, lobster, squid and schools of tangs and angelfish. Local onsite dive shop, Homer’s, offers guided snorkeling trips to ensure you’re looking in the right place. Make sure you book ahead. Afterward, set up a portable barbecue on the beach and watch the sun dip behind the hills.

Buck Island off St Croix

Fancy a slightly longer day trip? Located 2mi (3.2km) off the south coast of St Thomas, Buck Island is a nature reserve with designated mooring balls to tie up to and swim off the back of your yacht. Shipwreck Cove is a popular cove, named fittingly thanks to the 190ft (60m) freighter Cartanza Senora, which sits 40ft (12m) underwater. The freighter was used during World War II to transport goods. It has been at its current location on the seabed since 1979. The clear water makes the shipwreck visible for both snorkelers and divers to explore.

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