The BVI’s 15 Best Snorkeling Spots

The British Virgin Islands offer some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the Caribbean

Norman island snorkelingAmong the activities available during a BVI yacht charter, snorkeling is one of the most popular. Here are 15 of the BVI’s best snorkeling spots for you to explore on your next crewed yacht charter.

Smugglers Cove

Located on the Tortola coast, Smugglers Cove is a great spot for new snorkelers. The water is very shallow and has some of the best underwater life, including angelfish that you can practically reach out and touch.

The Aquarium

Located between the world-famous Baths and Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda, The Aquarium is one of the BVI’s finest snorkeling locations. Impressive vertical coral formations, volcanic boulders, sponges, lobsters and the occasional nurse shark are just some of the reasons why this should make your list.

The Bight

Norman Island’s main anchorage is The Bight, a sheltered location with great snorkeling on the reef in the harbour’s east end. The vibrant reef extends several hundred yards, with elk horn and brain corals, plus sponges, sea fans, parrotfish, wrasse and reef squid.

Norman Island Caves

The caves located off Norman Island’s Treasure Point hold some of the most enchanting snorkeling in the BVI. Bring an underwater flashlight to check out the orange cup coral and red sponge that cover the cave walls as schools of yellow tails, blue tangs and sergeant majors swim nearby.

The Indians

It may be challenging to find a mooring buoy at The Indians, located just off Norman Island, but the snorkeling is definitely worth the effort. These four cone-shaped rocks rise 30-40’ above the water’s surface, but the real magic is underwater, with a wide variety of reef fish and crustaceans, and schools of harmless jellyfish, plus sea fans and corals in every color imaginable.

Buttonwood Bay

The western end of Peter Island’s Great Harbor is where you’ll find Buttonwood Bay. Snorkelers will enjoy a shallow coral reef that begins in 8’ of water and plunging to 40’. Thousands of small fish, a variety of coral, and purple sea fans are some of this site’s highlights.

Manchioneel Bay

Located on Cooper Island is Manchioneel Bay, one of the BVI’s most intriguing snorkeling sites. The sea grass attracts green turtles, stingrays, eagle rays, and a Queen Conch bed. Explore the shallow, u-shaped reef and discover clownfish, blue tang, blueheads, snapper, butterfly fish, parrot fish and grunts. The sandy bottom attracts sea stars and sea horses.

Alice’s Backside

The northwestern tip of Ginger Island is where you’ll find Alice’s Backside. Mooring buoys are scarce but it’s worth checking out for the huge sand patch dotted with spectacular giant brain coral and mushroom coral heads, plus the occasional ray.

The Baths

The Baths are more than a great spot for swimming. The crevices and tunnels formed by the boulders are home to colorful tropical fish. It’s ideal for a short outing, or if you’re more adventurous, snorkel along the rocks from The Baths to Devil’s Bay.

Great Dog

The Dogs are a group of small islets located between North Sound and Jost Van Dyke, and Great Dog is an excellent spot to stop for an afternoon of snorkeling. The south side of the island is part of the National Park with the coral reef running parallel to the island. Explore its rock ledges, overhangs, cathedral-shaped tunnels and grottoes for crabs, lobsters, fan corals and large schools of reef fish.

Monkey Point

Located at the southern tip of Guana Island, snorkeling at Monkey Point is a magical experience. Bluestriped grunt, yellowtail snapper and yellow jacks are plentiful, but what makes this site so special is the sea turtles that call it home.

Chromis Reef

Located on the west side of Cooper Island is Chromis Reef, named for the hundreds of electric blue chromis fish that swim around the coral. Its overhands also hold squirrel fish, grunts and even baby drum fish. For more experienced snorkelers, there’s a twin-seat airplane wreckage that you can try to locate in a sand patch 35’ below the surface.

Angel Fish Reef

The southwest tip of Norman Island holds Angel Fish Reef with its underwater canyons and gullies. Here you’ll find Queen angel fish, large green moray, glass fish, French angel fish, grey angel fish and lobsters.

Rainbow Canyon

Pelican Island’s Rainbow Canyon is named for its colorful rock face. Snorkelers mainly come here for the unique topography, but also to get a closer look at sea slugs, Christmas tree worms, cleaner shrimps, spiral anemones and large lobsters.

Spy Glass Hill

Just before The Bight at Norman Island is Spy Glass Hill. This protected cove was once a pirate lookout, but it’s now a popular snorkeling spot. You’ll see eagle rays gliding along the wall, along with moray eels and spotted drum fish. There are also elk horn and mushroom corals mingling with large sea fans.