Guide to the Best St. Thomas Snorkeling Spots

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by Kristin Young | Updated On: September 23, 2020 | Snorkel

Although St. John is usually known as the best snorkeling in the Virgin Islands, there are plenty of amazing spots in St. Thomas snorkeling from the beach.  If you want to explore more than the mainland, you won’t regret taking one of the St Thomas snorkeling excursions by boat. Spending a day cruising around the Caribbean on a boat and exploring some fantastic snorkeling spots is one of our favorite St Thomas activities.

Best St Thomas Snorkeling

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The best beaches in St Thomas for snorkeling are also some of the prettiest beaches on the island to relax for the day.  Plus the almost all offer plenty of amenities and lodging nearby, so even if there’s a non-snorkeler in your group, they will be able to relax,soak up the rays, and grab a bite to eat while you explore in the water.

Where to Stay:  Check our complete guide to the Best Places to Stay in St. Thomas.
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Check out our top pick, Sapphire Bay Beach Resort.  Don’t let the name fool you though, it’s a group of independently owned condos, not a traditional resort.  There is an onsite bar, restaurant, and pool though.  If you’re looking for a traditional resort experience, the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas has it all.  The location is fantastic and they have tons of amenities.

Check out the Sapphire Bay Condos on airbnb HERE.

Check out our video from all of the best spots!

Fish swimming at Coki Beach, St Thomas, USVI

COKI BEACH SNORKELING

  • Entry: Beach
  • Experience: Beginner (Lifeguards on duty)
  • Access:  Parking is $5, but very limited.
  • Facilities: Snorkel Gear & Dive Rentals, Beach Bar, Restrooms, Beach Shop, Umbrella & Chair Rentals, Playground for kids
  • Look Out For: Cruise Ship Crowds- check the cruise schedule here.

Considered one of the best snorkeling St Thomas spots, this beach can get quite busy, especially on days that cruise ships are in port.  Once you have your face in the water, it won’t matter though because there’s tons of sea life to see. Head for the rocky areas and you are sure to find tons of brightly colored fish, and maybe even some crabs or rays.  

Of all the snorkeling beaches, this one has the most amenities, but is also the most popular and busiest.  With little shade, the ability to rent an umbrella, beach chair, and have a waitress bring you a nice cold drink, to me is worth the trade off.  If the crowds don’t bother you, and you’re looking for the best place to snorkel in St Thomas, make Coki Beach your first stop. 

Although it’s popular to bring along or buy food for the fish, please don’t feed them.  It’s harmful to both the sea life and the overall ecosystem.  

Coki Beach is the best spot on the island to see lots of fish in a relatively small and easily accessible area.  

Coral and fish at Sapphire Beach, St Thomas

SNORKELING SAPPHIRE BEACH ST THOMAS

  • Entry: Beach
  • Experience: Beginner
  • Access:  Free Parking and Beach Access
  • Facilities: Snorkel Gear, Snorkel Bob, and Kayak and Beach Chair Rentals, Beach Bar, Restrooms
  • Look Out For: The Snorkel Police- Even if you aren’t touching any coral(which you never should), there are security guards who will blow their whistle and tell you to stay away from the coral if you are snorkeling over it.  Apparently you must have a 6 ft distance between your stomach and the coral if snorkeling above it.

Sapphire beach snorkeling is one of our favorites because it’s a calm bay that’s perfect for snorkelers of all levels.  You’re sure to see some colorful fish, nice brain coral, and possibly a ray or even a turtle.

If you stay in one of the Sapphire beach condos, you’ll have a perfect white sand beach, great snorkeling, and an incredible view, just steps from your door.  It’s one of the best St Thomas snorkeling beaches for groups or family trips because of the ease of access to everything right from your condo.

For a one stop place to stay on the island, Sapphire Beach is our top pick.

Check out our Complete Guide to Sapphire Beach Here!

coral and fish at secret harbor, st thomas, US Virgin Islands

SECRET HARBOR ST THOMAS SNORKELING

  • Entry: Beach
  • Experience: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Access:  Free Parking and Beach Access
  • Facilities: Snorkel Gear Rentals & Dive Shop, Beach Chair Rentals, Beach Bar, Restrooms

Yet another great virgin islands snorkeling spot for families and people of all abilities, Secret Harbor is a protected bay with calm water and quite a bit of underwater life.  Many people head for the rockier right side of the beach, but the double reef is actually a bit further out on the left of the beach.  You’re likely to see plenty of colorful coral, lots of fish, maybe a turtle in the middle, and, if you’re lucky, possibly even an octopus.  

The resort has a restaurant on site, and there is a local dive shop on the beach where you can get a snorkel rental.  St Thomas is a popular island with a cruise port, but Secret Harbor remains relatively calm and secluded.  As always, I recommend you check in with the dive shop for recent tips on where to snorkel and what has been seen lately.  They’re always a treasure trove of information.  

Along with Sapphire Bay, Secret Harbor is one of our top picks for places snorkelers will LOVE to stay!

Check out our Complete Guide to Secret Harbor Here!

Eagle Ray at Lindquist Beach

LINDQUIST BEACH AT SMITH BAY

  • Entry: Beach
  • Experience: Beginner to Advanced
  • Access:  $5 per adult; $2 per vehicle parking
  • Facilities: Picnic areas, Fantastic Restrooms and Showers, Lifeguard on Duty
  • Look Out For:  Rough waves at the reef on windy days

The seagrass as you enter the beach is a great place to spot turtles and rays.  As you swim out a bit further, you’ll find a beautiful and long reef.  Make sure to heed any warnings about strong surf.  On especially windy days, the area around the reef can have large breakers that really toss you around.

Our favorite part about this beach is the lack of crowds.  Its seems to be a local favorite, and is not frequented by cruisers.  So, even mid-day, the beach is usually sparsely crowded.

Smith Bay was the sleeper hit of my most recent trip the St. Thomas.  Within 5 minutes of being in the water, I’d seen 3 turtles and an eagle ray.   

BUCK ISLAND ST THOMAS SNORKELING TOUR

  • Entry: Boat
  • Experience: Beginner
  • Access:  Boat Tour or Boat Charter
  • Facilities: Many tours offer rentals, snacks and drinks
  • Look Out For:  This is not the same Buck Island that is off the coast of St. Croix.

If you have time to get off the main island of St Thomas, snorkeling tours to Buck Island are an easy way to get out on the water, enjoy some sailing, and explore the bays and coves surrounding this protected island wildlife refuge.  There is also a Buck Island off the coast of St. Croix, so when planning, make sure you look for Turtle Cove St Thomas snorkeling or Buck Island St Thomas snorkel trips.

Speaking of Turtle Cove snorkeling, it’s the most popular spot for the Buck Island boat tours, as there’s a pretty good chance of spotting a few sea turtles.  Most of the trips take about thirty minutes by catamaran, followed by about 1-2 hours of turtle cove snorkeling, and plenty of rum punch and sometimes snacks on the boat trip back to St Thomas… yes, most of the trips include rum punch!

Check availability on either of our two favorite boat tour options HERE and HERE!

catamaran sailing off the coast of St. Thomas, USVI

ST THOMAS TO ST JOHN SNORKEL TOUR

  • Entry: Boat
  • Experience: Beginner
  • Access:  Boat Tour or Boat Charter
  • Facilities: Many tours offer rentals, snacks and drinks
  • Look Out For:  These can book up in advance, so make sure to plan ahead if this is on your bucketlist!

And, last but definitely not least, is a St Thomas St John boat trip or snorkel tour.  St Thomas has some wonderful snorkeling spots, but St John is known to have some of the best snorkeling in the US Virgin Islands.  From Watermelon Cay to Trunk Bay, St. John will not disappoint!

OVERALL

We love snorkeling St Thomas USVI because of it’s complete ease of access and options.  There are plenty of spots on the island that offer easy beach access to great snorkeling, but also an abundance of boat trips that can get you to incredible and secluded spots. 

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Best St Thomas Snorkeling

Hi!  We’re Kristin & Andrew, lovers of everything tropical.  We spend as much time as possible searching for the best beaches, snorkeling, hiking, and fun in the sun!