Snorkeling Around Antigua

Best Snorkeling in Antigua

Surrounded almost completely by coral reefs that are not only well-preserved but thriving, Antigua is a great snorkeling destination. Between these reefs and the lack of a dangerous current almost anywhere around the island, it doesn’t matter where you choose to stay, you can make this sport a major part of your vacation activities.

As opposed to diving, snorkeling can be enjoyed on a more spontaneous basis; many beaches offer concessions for rental equipment, and tourists can explore coral reefs directly from the shoreline without instruction. Additionally, vacationers should consider the differing expenses that accompany each activity. Due to the complex equipment and requirements of diving, this activity tends to cost more. Those traveling with tight budgets will be more inclined to opt for a snorkeling excursion.

Cades Reef Snorkeling

Travelers may easily partake in snorkeling directly from one of Antigua’s beaches, while more remote locations are accessed by boat. Underwater visibility ranges from 50 to 140 feet, allowing snorkelers to see reef systems that are a less than desirable distance below the surface, though most people choose to stick to Cades Reef or snorkel from the shore. There are even a few ship wrecks that can be experienced, but for these and Cades it is recommended that you hire a local tour guide.

Cades Reef is widely regarded as the best snorkeling spot in Antigua. The reef is about two miles long and is part of Antigua’s Cades Bay Marine Park on the island’s southwestern coast. Snorkelers at Cades Reef can see nurse sharks, moray eels, barracudas, lobsters, eagle rays, sea fans, and other soft and hard corals in addition to reef fish.

Antigua Snorkeling Sites

Cades Reef

8.2 mi. South-Southwest of Central St. John’s

If you’re looking forward to exploring what’s down below you might want to check out Cades Reef. Perhaps the most popular snorkeling spot around Antigua, this reef is a protected area part of the Cades Bay Marine Park. This means some great snorkeling, especially for those wanting to catch a glimpse at a diversity of marine life. This snorkeling site is located within the southwestern part of Antigua.

Carlisle Bay East

3.4 mi. South West of Central Sweets

Carlisle Bay East is another snorkeling spot you might enjoy. The clear waters of Carlisle Beach make it a great place to spot the tropical fish that frequent the shore.

Deep Bay

2.8 mi. West of Central St. John’s

A third site to consider is Deep Bay. The final resting place of a ship that wrecked in 1905 when it caught fire and sank, it now rests at a depth of only 35 feet, making it more than accessible to divers and snorkelers alike. Since its sinking, the wreck as become a popular habitat for sponges, as well as countless small fish.

Darkwood Beach

1.8 mi. South of Central Jolly Harbour

A fourth place where you can go snorkeling is Darkwood Beach. While it does not offer the best snorkeling on the island, the clam waters and decent wildlife viewing opportunities make Darkwood Beach a good spot for beginners and anyone looking for a quiet snorkel. If you’re interested, you’ll find this site situated in the western part of Antigua.

Great Bird Island Beach

6.9 mi. Northeast of Central All Saints

Great Bird Island Beach is a fifth site to consider. While the island serves as a private sanctuary for a number of birds and reptiles, there is also plenty of wildlife action to be seen just offshore. Shallow reefs full of tropical fish can be found all along the coast, making it a good spot to explore the underwater habitats.

Antigua Snorkeling Boat Trips

For some people, the most enjoyable snorkeling is experienced away from the shore.

On Deck

Dockyard Drive, Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

If you’re hoping to go snorkeling during a boating adventure, you should consider On Deck. On Deck offers the largest selection of sailing courses on the island, whether you are interested in practical training or theory. For your convenience, online courses are offered as well. Located in Falmouth Harbour, fairly close to English Harbour, On Deck is a good choice if you’re going to be staying in this area of Antigua.

Adventure Antigua Day Sails

Another option to investigate is Adventure Antigua Day Sails. Adventure Antigua offers different boat tours that specialize in different aspects of the ecosystems around Antigua. The Eco-tour is a full-day tour. They’re found in Freeman’s Village, in western Antigua.

Wadadli Cat

Still another option is Wadadli Cats. Join Wadadli Cats on one of their several tours around Antigua and experience the tropical waters of the Caribbean in one of their stabilized catamarans that are known for their reduction of seasickness.

Snorkeling Services

Dockyard Divers Snorkeling

0.0 mi. Northeast of Central English Harbour

If you’re looking for someone offering snorkel rentals, excursions, or similar services, you should check out Dockyard Divers Snorkeling. A local watersports operation that specializes in diving, the sites they visit are also perfect for snorkelers as well and so they allow guests to tag along for a snorkeling trip. If you’re traveling with a diver or just want a knowledgeable team to show you the best sites for snorkeling, this spot has you covered on all ends. They are located in English Harbour, in the southern part of Antigua.

AquaSports St. Johns

Downtown St. John’s

A second place catering to snorkelers is AquaSports St. Johns. A shop that began in 1994 mainly selling snorkeling and fishing equipment is now the number one shop on the entire island for watersports equipment. In addition to offering fishing and watersports equipment and snorkeling kits for sale, you can sign up with one of their knowledgeable guides for a tour of some of Antigua’s best fishing, snorkeling and dive sites.

Stingray City

Downtown St. John’s

A third place to consider is Stingray City. See the stingrays of Antigua up close in this tropical snorkeling adventure. They’re located in downtown St. John’s.

Final Word

You should also consider the health benefits of snorkeling, something that is often overlooked. Similar to meditation and yoga, when you are breathing through a snorkel, you are forced to take slow, full, and deep breaths. Indeed, many people compare the sport to meditation as it is known to calm the mind and the soul through a combination of the deep breathing, the silence, the healing nature of the warm salt water which is on average 80 degrees Fahrenheit in Antigua, and the indescribable beauty. Depending on the season and where you do your snorkeling, be prepared to see hard and soft corals, sea grass, sea fans, sponges, moray eels, sea turtles, jacks, sergent majors, barracuda, batfish, spadefish, and more.

When it comes to snorkeling in Antigua, the options are plentiful. Bring your own equipment or rent it, hire a tour guide or go it alone, stick close to shore or head out to the reef. Pick what works for you and go for it, just make you plan to do some snorkeling during your trip.

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