All the Best St. Thomas Snorkeling Spots| Beaches & Boat Trips
This page may contain compensated links. For more information read our disclaimer here.
by Kristin Young | Updated On: January 21, 2021 | St. Thomas
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.
The best beaches in St Thomas for snorkeling are also some of the prettiest beaches on the island to relax for the day. Plus they 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.
One of the best parts of snorkeling on St. Thomas is that there are so many beaches with easy access to nice reefs and plenty of marine life close to shore. Sure, you can take boat trips to more secluded areas, but with all of the great spots to choose from on St. Thomas, you can fill your whole vacation with easy snorkeling right from the beach.
Coki Beach Snorkeling
Entry: Beach 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 on the left of the beach or to the right near Coral World Ocean Park and you are sure to find tons of brightly colored tropical 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 Point 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 St. Thomas snorkel spot to see lots of fish in a relatively small and easily accessible area.
Snorkeling Sapphire Beach St Thomas
Entry: Beach Access: Free Parking and Beach Access Facilities: Snorkel Gear, Water Sports Rentals, 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.
Entry: Beach Access: Free Parking and Beach Access Facilities: Snorkel Gear Rentals & Dive Shop, Beach Chair Rentals, Beach Bar, Restrooms Look Out For: Boats- the second reef is further out into the ocean, so be aware of your surroundings.
Yet another great Virgin Islands snorkeling spot for families and people of all abilities, Secret Harbor is a protected bay with calm water, quite a bit of underwater life, and is one of St. Thomas’s best snorkeling beaches. 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 marine life 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!
Entry: Beach 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 our most recent trip the St. Thomas. Within 5 minutes of being in the water, I’d seen 3 turtles and an eagle ray and is now one of our favorite spots for snorkeling St. Thomas..
Brewer’s Bay Snorkeling
Entry: Beach Access: Free Street Parking Facilities: Restrooms, Outdoor Showers, Food Trucks Look Out For: Sea Turtles and Airplanes
Brewer’s Bay is the perfect beach to get away from all of the cruise ship crowd and tourists on busy days. It’s much more of a locals beach with several food trucks and vendors selling food along the street.
Although there are really no coral reefs or many fish to be seen underwater, Brewer’s Bay is one of the best spots on the island to find sea turtles grazing on the seagrass. With limited crowds and plenty of grass to munch on, it’s a favorite spot for them and we’ve seen turtles every time we’ve been to Brewers Bay.
In addition to checking out the turtles underwater, the beach lies adjacent to the landing strip for the airport on St. Thomas. So, it’s a fun spot, especially for kids, to grab a seat under a shade tree and watch the planes land.
Hull Bay Snorkeling
Entry: Beach Access: Free on site parking Facilities: Restrooms, Restaurant and Beach Bar Look Out For: A longer swim for the best snorkeling
Hull Bay is definitely a locals beach, but it’s a good spot to get away from the crowds and enjoy some good snorkeling. The beach area is mostly sand, but once in the water it’s quite rocky.
Often overlooked by people wanting to snorkel St. Thomas, Hull Bay is another great spot to get away from the crowds at a more local beach.
You will find some small fish and sea creatures among the rocks near the shore, but if you head out deeper there’s some large beautiful coral and interesting marine life like lobster or squid. The reef at Hull Bay runs from the right to the middle of the bay and is about 40 yards from shore
If in St. Thomas during the winter months when the winds pick up, Hull Bay is a great spot to watch the local surfers catch a wave.
ST THOMAS SNORKELING TRIPS
The snorkeling right from the beach on St. Thomas is great, but sometimes it’s fun to get out on the water and explore more remote places. Plus, with a boat trip you can get to some amazing and harder to reach snorkeling spots near St. Thomas.
Christmas Cove Snorkeling
Entry: Boat Access: Boat Tour or Charter Facilities:Pizza Pi Pizza Boat Look Out For: Rough Open Water at Cow and Calf and The Stragglers
Christmas Cove is a popular spot for St. Thomas snorkeling tours to head as it’s not far off the mainland, a calm bay, and is a great place to spot sea turtles.
Most of the group tours will only head to Christmas Cove for snorkeling, but if you charter a boat for the day, you can hit up Cow and Calf Rocks and The Stragglers, just outside the cove as well. But, be warned that you should only visit these spots if you are a strong swimmer and the sea is calm. They are out in the open water and can be a bit rough and even dangerous in the wrong conditions.
Want to know the best part about Christmas Cove though??? Pizza Pi Pizza Boat!!!! Make sure you plan to stop by and grab a pizza for lunch on the boat. Not only is it such a cool spot, but it’s also rated one of the best restaurants in St. Thomas.
Buck Island St Thomas Snorkeling Tour
Entry: Boat 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!
St Thomas to St John Snorkel Tour
Entry: Boat 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 bucket list!
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, a day sail to St. John will not disappoint!
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.