Snorkeling is one of the most popular things to do in the U.S Virgin Islands. With the number of stunning beaches in St Thomas, there are plenty of snorkeling opportunities to watch tropical fish, green sea turtles, octopus, squid, and many other native animals of the Caribbean.
While St John and St Croix closely match St Thomas in terms of natural beauty, the island can hold its own when it comes to offering visitors a great snorkeling experience.
These are some of the best places for snorkeling in St Thomas and trips you can sign up for to get tours from professional guides.
1. Brewers Bay Beach
Brewers Bay Beach is one of the hidden gems of St Thomas, especially with regard to snorkeling. The beach is close to the Cyril E King Airport on Charlotte Amalie West. It doesn’t get a lot of tourists and is more commonly filled with locals.
The snorkeling is great around the area. You can find sea turtles, colorful fish, manta rays, stingrays, jellyfish, and octopus. The white sand beach has clear and tranquil waters, making swimming and snorkeling a breeze. Look for turtles near patches of seagrass, typically on the left side. You don’t have to swim too far out to find turtles either, and since there are boats that park along the waters, there are lines you can’t swim past anyways.
There are restrooms and showers to wash off after your snorkeling adventure. A food truck also hangs around Brewers Bay Beach, so it’s a great place to grab tasty local food. There aren’t any beach chairs or umbrellas, but you’ll find a rocky section close to the shore that offers shade under the large palm trees.
It’s also a great place to visit late in the evening to catch a glimpse of the sunset. The view from this area is amazing and makes for a romantic date walking along the water shore. The beach is also commonly frequented by students from the University of the Virgin Islands Center.
2. Coki Beach
Coki Beach is located on the northeast end of St Thomas. The white-sand beach has crystal clear waters, making it an amazing spot for snorkeling. You don’t need to snorkel in deep waters to see ocean life since you can find plenty of fish near the shore.
Since people often feed the fish (which you should not do!), fish aren’t very shy and approach humans in the water. The tranquil water makes it easy to snorkel and swim without being bothered by big waves.
The area is also quite popular with scuba divers, and you can rent scuba gear from the local Coki Dive Center. They also offer boat and diving tours for beginners and advanced scuba divers.
You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas to relax on the beach after your water activities. A lot of locals set up food stands on the beach, so you can enjoy some delicious Caribbean food.
It’s also located right next to Coral World Ocean Park, one of St Thomas's most popular tourist attractions. You can sign up for their guided tour, which takes you around Coki Beach and provides expert guides to learn about the surrounding landscapes. The park also offers live animal exhibits, aquariums, and beautiful outdoor trails to hike.
There are several luxury accommodations around the beach if you're looking for a place to stay in St. Thomas.
3. Sapphire Bay Beach
Sapphire Bay Beach is located on the eastern shore of St Thomas and offers snorkelers a stunning white sand beach with clear waters and a sandy bottom. The east end of the beach is a great snorkeling spot that offers a coral reef teeming with amazing sea creatures.
The beach isn’t too big, so while your snorkeling area might be limited, it still offers a great experience, and you can observe scenic views of St John. The wind is pretty strong around this area, so windsurfing and other water sports are pretty popular. The marina offers jet ski rentals and parasailing experiences offered by Parasail Virgin Islands.
You won’t just find wildlife in the water. There are quite a few iguanas, chickens, and ducks that roam the beach. Amenities and beach facilities include a bar for food and drinks, bathrooms, and chair rentals to lounge on the soft sand.
It’s only a few minutes away from Red Hook, so if you want to try some high-quality restaurants or take a ferry to Saint John, it’s worth checking out after your visit. If you’re looking for a place to stay near Sapphire Beach, the Sapphire Beach Resort offers luxury accommodations with cozy and spacious rooms with private balconies.
Apart from being one of the best snorkeling spots in all of the US Virgin Islands, it's also one of its most stunning beaches.
4. Secret Harbor Beach
Secret Harbor Beach is one of the best snorkeling spots in St Thomas. Located on the island’s east end, it provides visitors with calm turquoise waters and soft sand. You can find plenty of marine life around the area, like tropical fish, eagle rays, green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, and octopuses. There are also colorful coral reefs on the left end of the beach.
It’s a quiet beach with restaurants, bars, and gear rental shops close by. This makes it easy to rent snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving gear for your water adventures. The waves are small, and the water is quite shallow near the shore, so it’s a great place for kids to swim in with supervision. Like most beaches in the U.S Virgin Islands, the water is quite warm, so it’s pleasant to swim in.
A great place to stay in the area is the Secret Harbor Beach resort since you’ll only be a couple of feet away from the beach. The resort also offers activities for its guests like scuba diving, swimming pools, fitness centers, and much more. For more places to stay in St Thomas, read this guide.
If you’re not staying at the resort, arrive early to find a parking spot. Although it’s quiet and secluded compared to other St Thomas beaches, there are only a few parking spots for non-guests.
5. Lindquist Beach
Lindquist Beach is located in Smith Bay, near the east end of St Thomas. The USVI’s famous iguanas roam the area, so you might catch sight of some of these beautiful creatures before you go snorkel. You can find crabs, starfish, rays, and tropical fish in the water but just beware of the sea urchins on the shallow shores.
There are restrooms nearby, lifeguards on duty, and beach chairs you can rent. The area offers natural shade below the trees, so there is no need for a beach umbrella. The secluded beach doesn’t get a lot of tourists, so you can get away from the crowds here. However, there aren’t any bars or restaurants around, so bring snacks for the day and your own snorkeling gear. Also, don’t forget to bring some sunscreen.
Lindquist Beach is a popular beach in St Thomas, so arrive early to beat the crowds and find parking spots. The right end of the beach tends to offer a better snorkeling experience, with a bit more wildlife near that side. You will have to pay a small entrance fee to enter the beach, but it’s well worth it for the magnificent views and snorkeling opportunities.
Coki Beach is only a five-minute drive away, so if you don’t find much sea life in the waters during your visit, head on over to the other beach.
6. Hull Bay Beach
Hull Bay Beach is found near the north shore of St Thomas. Snorkel along the rocky sides to find colorful coral reefs with an abundance of fish that roam the waters. The bottom of the sea is quite rocky along this point, so it’s not the best for kids to hang out along the shallow water.
There is a local dive shop where you can rent snorkeling gear as well as book snorkel tours. It doesn’t have a designated swimming area like other St Thomas beaches, and there are plenty of boats that set anchor, so just be aware of your surroundings.
Apart from snorkeling, it’s also a great place for surfing due to the big waves and rough water in this part of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also a popular fishing area with its own boat launch.
Since it’s off the beaten path, you won’t find any amenities like restrooms or showers around. It’s a bit farther out, so if you didn’t rent a car and are relying on taxis, you may need to wait a while to get one. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay a fee to enter the beach.
One of the closest places to stay here is The Hideaway at Hull Bay, which is open for large groups.
7. Buck Island
Buck Island is technically its own island, closer to St Croix than Saint Thomas. But the Buck Island Reef National Monument has so many snorkeling opportunities that make it one of the best places to snorkel in the US Virgin Islands.
With an extensive coral reef system, there is plenty of marine and plant life to look at while snorkeling. Turtle Beach is a great place to visit in Buck Island, and you can find leatherback sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, and colorful fish inhabiting the area.
Birdwatching is quite popular with ospreys, hummingbirds, doves, and many other bird species flying the skies. You can find an underwater snorkeling trail that you can traverse. Scuba diving is also a pretty popular activity for the same reasons above.
It’s only accessible by boat, so you’ll need to charter a boat from St Thomas to get to the island. While it may be tempting to kayak if you’re staying in St Croix, it would be quite the undertaking, and there is also a license restriction. It may be best to book a tour with a professional guide to bring you here instead and show you the top areas to snorkel in.
Buck Island also has plenty of private hiking trails, where you can see some of the island's diverse vegetation. There are picnic tables with grills on the beaches to enjoy a relaxing day after some fun water sports.
St Thomas Snorkeling Tours
Since snorkeling is so prevalent in St Thomas, quite a few companies offer private snorkeling trips to different areas of the island and other islands like Saint John and Saint Croix. Here are some of the best St Thomas snorkeling tours that you can sign up for.
St Thomas Sailing Snorkeling Tour - This tour takes you and your friends on a 3-hour tour in a catamaran ship over to Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge. On this boat trip, you can expect to swim with Caribbean fish and sea turtles. As an added benefit, you also get an open bar along with snacks to keep you energized. The boat departs from the Marriott Frenchman's Cove Dock.
Buck Island & Honeymoon Beach Tour - If you have a small group, you can book this excursion to visit some of the most beautiful places in the U.S Virgin Islands. The four-hour trip first takes you to Buck Island to snorkel and observe sea turtles and fish like the Red Snappers. After, you make it to Honeymoon Beach, which is one of the best beaches in St John. The boat tour also includes water and alcoholic drinks for guests.
National Park Snorkeling Excursion - This snorkeling trip departs from Red Hook and makes its way to the St John U.S Virgin Island National Park. It lasts a total of 4 hours and lets you swim in the waters with green sea turtles and notable Caribbean fish. The snorkel gear is included with your trip, as well as drinks and snacks. Both St John and St Thomas are closely related when it comes to snorkeling opportunities.
Mangrove Lagoon Kayak and Snorkel - This 2.5 tour takes you kayaking and snorkeling along the Mangrove Lagoon on the south side and east end of the island. You can observe stingrays and fish in the waters while birdwatching and look for pelicans.