Surrounded by colourful coral reefs, the islands of Antigua and Barbuda are great destinations for snorkelling. Discover the Caribbean underwater world with our insider tips.
Snorkelling in Antigua is one of the highlights you will experience during your visit to the wonderful Caribbean islands. The sun and the beaches offer great relaxation opportunities, but the underwater wonders will liven up your trip as the marine life swims below your feet.
Antigua is mostly surrounded by coral reefs that are home to so many tropical fish, sea turtles, sea fans, moray eels and other sea creatures. These well-preserved and thriving reefs can be found on the Antigua snorkelling map that caters for a variety of options spread around the island. Due to the coral reefs surrounding Antigua, the current is safe for swimmers of all abilities giving visitors the whole island to explore.
Is Antigua good for snorkelling?
Antigua snorkelling sites are aplenty; with great beaches spread all over the sovereign state, and off-beach opportunities available when visiting the islands in Antigua and Barbuda’s collective by boat. Our handy table gives you a quick glimpse of Antigua’s top five snorkelling spots. For more insight, check our dedicated section.
|Green Island Beach||Darkwood Beach||Great Bird Island Beach||Hawksbill Bay||Long Bay|
|Location||2.8 miles northeast of Central Freetown in Green Island||Western coast of Antigua, 1.8 miles south of Central Jolly Harbour||6.9 miles northeast of Central All Saints, 3 kilometres from Antigua’s mainland||North-eastern Antigua, 3.6 miles west of Central St John’s||1.1 miles northeast of Central Willikies|
|Sights & splendours||Devil’s Bridge and friendly sea-turtles.||The historical Greencastle Hill Park and parrot fish.||The Gobiney Gilly old sugar factory and incredible bird-watching opportunities.||Eponymous hawksbill sea turtles and the culture-packed Fort Barrington.||Stunning scenery and underwater wildlife, and excellent water sports facilities nearby.|
|Snaps to get your pulse racing|
The clear blue water gives a visibility range from 50 to 140 feet (15 to 43 metres), giving snorkelers the wonderful opportunity to enjoy reef systems that thrive so greatly in the area – Cades Reef being one of the most memorable sites that is only a short snorkel from the southwestern shore.
While the natural reefs are a spectacle in themselves, the underwater shipwrecks that rest below the surface of the Antiguan waters are also excellent sites to spot a nurse shark or a few moray eels as they glide among the ruins. Sessions in these areas are best experienced with a licensed Antigua snorkelling guide – if you’re looking for the best instructor or tour to meet your snorkelling desires; contact Relocate Antigua for expert advice.
Compared to scuba diving, snorkelling can be enjoyed everywhere. All the 365 beaches in Antigua and Barbuda offer some sort of underwater beauty, making Antigua snorkelling sessions an everyday possibility. Most Antigua snorkelling beaches offer rental gear such as masks and fins to make sure you’re equipped throughout your discovery of underwater life.
Whether you’re travelling with family or friends, snorkelling is an affordable and rewarding experience that can easily become an unforgettable experience. Remember to pack an underwater camera for your Antigua snorkelling excursions; an investment that will allow you to look back on your memories and share them with everyone back home!
The Antigua snorkelling map is packed with great options found along the coast of the islands. Diving into the warm crystal clear waters opens you up to a whole new world where colour and life appear in an entirely new form. Expect to be treated to a huge variety of wildlife here, all juxtaposed against the blue sea and white sand:
- Multi-coloured sea fans,
- Neon sea sponges,
- Red-shelled sea turtles such as the hawksbill turtle,
- Electric moray eels,
- Hard and soft coral reef
This kaleidoscope of colours can be viewed around Antigua; such as Darkwood Beach, Barbuda; primarily Gravenors Bay and the off-shore islands including Green Island. Here are the top 5 of the most beautiful Antigua snorkelling sites to visit during your stay:
Green Island Beach
Green Island is an esteemed Antigua snorkelling off beach spot that owes much of its popularity to its calm waters and extremely vibrant reefs that are healthy and in good condition.
This privately-owned island belongs to Mill Reef Club and is a great location to discover secluded beaches and great off-shore snorkelling opportunities.
The white sand beaches are often frequented by local charter services making access to this tropical island highly possible. If you’re thinking of travelling out to Green Island, get in touch with Relocate Antigua for fully catered transportation solutions.
Location: Green Island Beach is situated 2.8 miles northeast of Central Freetown in Green Island. You can access Green Island by boat and make your way around the luscious island full of natural greenery.
What to see: During your visit to Antigua and Barbuda, a Green Island escape is recommended, even if you are staying quite far away from the area. Apart from its excellent snorkelling facilities, where rental gear is readily available, a must visit site is Devil’s Bridge. This naturally carved bridge is a spectacle that should not be missed.
Special features: Probably the greatest feature of a Green Island Antigua snorkelling trip is the excellent chance of seeing green sea turtles as you make your way along the reef and white sand beaches. The sea turtles in this area are also pretty confident with their human visitors, swimming up close to greet their guests.
Darkwood Beach Antigua snorkelling activities are popular activities among family and friends who visit the islands. Antigua and Barbuda snorkelling is thought of as an excellent excursion when travelling to the Caribbean; the clear water and healthy reef systems are stunning sites, and Darkwood Beach is no exception.
Spending a day at Darkwood Beach is definitely doable, there’s a small pop-up snack bar that can provide you with drink and delicious Antiguan cuisine, sunbed rental and ample snorkelling opportunities to keep you entertained.
Travelling to Darkwood Beach with young children might be slightly more tedious due to the lack of public restrooms and the beach’s chilled-out vibe. This beach is also usually crowded, but luckily there’s more than enough reef and sea creatures to keep you snorkelling away.
Location: Darkwood Beach is situated on the western coast of Antigua, 1.8 miles south of Central Jolly Harbour. To get to the beach, you’ll need to travel down Valley Road and locate the beautiful beach in between Turner Beach and Coco Beach.
What to see: Darkwood Beach is not too far from local amenities giving you a chance to get back to the thriving nightlife before it’s too late in the day. Darkwood Beach is also a short drive away from Greencastle Hill Park which makes for a perfect touch of history after a day relaxing in the sun and following parrot fish under the surface.
Special features: One of the best assets of Darkwood Beach is that there is not one building that interrupts the natural beauty of the place. The peaceful energy might be due to this lack of city life and complete focus on the great Caribbean outdoors.
Great Bird Island Beach
Great Bird Island Beach is famous for its sugar white sand beaches that allow you to dig your toes deep beneath its surface. A brisk walk along the shore introduces you to the fantastic clear blue waters that surround you.
Great Bird Island was named by sailors due to its impressive bird population. This natural environment is still quite active today, making the offshore island a great spot for wildlife enthusiasts.
If you’re hoping for a relaxing day trip; full of snorkelling and out-of-the-city activities; Great Bird Island is a great off beach snorkelling Antigua destination for you.
Location: Great Bird Island Beach is situated 6.9 miles northeast of Central All Saints and offers 20 acres of blissful island greenery a short 3 kilometres from Antigua’s mainland. Getting to Great Bird Island requires charter services that can be arranged during your visit.
What to see: When on the island, be sure to pay a visit to the local site; Gobiney Gilly, located 4 miles away from the beach. The old sugar factory serves as a great afternoon snorkelling break; for a quick breather and touch of Antigua and Barbuda’s dynamic history.
Special features: Peace and quiet! This beach is not fully equipped with all the regular amenities, so a few travellers with younger children might be disheartened from travelling to Great Bird Island. Take it all in and enjoy the natural beauty and excellent snorkelling conditions.
Apart from the Hawksbill Hotel, this area has been kept in its ultimate natural state – with acres of palm trees swaying in the warm Caribbean breeze, this could easily become your personal oasis.
Although Hawksbill Bay is popular among locals and foreign travellers, the beach is never overly crowded or left unattended. The lack of public restrooms might be a turn-off for bigger groups and the lack of rentable snorkelling gear might be an issue for some.
If you’re planning to travel to Antigua and Barbuda, carrying your own snorkelling gear as well as a good underwater camera will definitely be an investment in your holiday. Contact Relocate Antigua for more information on what to pack for your Caribbean holiday.
Location: 3.6 miles west of Central St John’s, Hawksbill Bay is situated on the north-eastern side of Antigua. Hawksbill Bay is situated in Five Islands, making it a great spot for snorkelling in St John’s Antigua.
What to see: Within the area, you will notice enhanced beauty due to the limited construction in the area; but a short wander away from the beach will lead you to Fort Barrington where a number of insightful attractions are waiting to be discovered.
Special features: Hawksbill Bay is rarely crowded and owes its name to the magnificent hawksbill sea turtles that call the bay their home. The crystalline waters, soft grey sand and vibrant brown-red of the turtles create such a wonderful underwater sensation; ideal for snorkelling amateurs and a great tactile opportunity for experienced snorkelling crew.
Long Bay Antigua snorkelling is a wonderful adventure that starts off on the crisp white sand and continues into the radiant blue waters. Long Bay is classed as one of the best snorkelling beaches on Antigua’s east side and home to the renowned Pineapple Beach Club.
With a resort in the area, be sure to find enough amenities to keep you and your family entertained throughout your visit. Whether you’re looking to rent a deckchair, buy a cocktail or rent a jet ski, the likelihood is that you’ll have one in hand within minutes of your arrival to Long Beach.
The local flair of Long Beach is only surpassed by the sheer underwater beauty that can only be experienced in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda specifically.
Location: Long Bay is 1.1 miles northeast of Central Willikies a short walk away from Pineapple Beach Club.
What to see: While seeing is a great Antigua pastime, doing can be a whole lot more entertaining at Long Bay. The snorkelling opportunities here are phenomenal, there is such a vibrant array of species swimming by your feet, that spending any time out of the water would be a stunning memory lost. If you do need a break from snorkelling, why not try out the many water sports activities available in Long Bay.
Special features: This area is so abundant in sea creatures, marine life and tropical fish; with rope sponges, vase sponges and even eelgrass in the area; the reefs are thriving and magnificent to witness. The fish selection here is also vast with pale purple surgeonfish, French grunts, blue head wrasse and parrot fish to keep you and your young ones entertained. This gives Long Bay the title of ‘best snorkelling in Antigua’.
More snorkelling spots around Antigua and the Mainland Islands
Perhaps the one of the best places is the Cades Reef Antigua snorkelling spot, known for its stunning 2 mile long stretch of hard and soft reef that forms part of the Cades Bay Marine Park.
Pillars of Hercules
Accessible from Galleon Beach, the Pillars of Hercules display wonderful rock formations that are home to some tiny sea creatures swimming beneath the surface.
Pigeon Point Beach
Pigeon Point Beach offers a super coral formation that can be accessed from the east side of Falmouth Harbour. This site is a great spot for some colourful underwater activity.
Windward Way Beach
This is the island’s best kept secret, or at least one of them. Windward Way Beach is a wonderful spot that provides for an absolutely calm snorkelling experience and can be found south of Pigeon Point Beach.
English harbour is an ideal spot if you’re looking to free dive to the shipwrecks under the sea. The shallow waters allow for easy exploration options and the calm currents make it for an excellent activity to enjoy with children.
Paradise Reef is a stunning destination where marine life, tropical fish and other sea creatures can be followed as they travel around the anemone of the reef. Paradise Reef is accessible through Dickenson Bay.
Jolly Harbour provides quite a deep free diving experience, allowing you to swim over the shoals of fish crossing through the area. If you head a slightly south of Jolly Harbour this experience will be amplified even further with the huge quantity of fish that swim there.
If you’re looking for immaculate coral and an abundance of sea creatures to stun your Antigua snorkelling experience, Picsart Bay will share its abundance of parrot fish, moray eels and tropical fish to keep you highly entertained.
Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay is rated the world’s best bay, has been titled a National Park and offers snorkelling opportunities right off the beach’s shore. This beach is also known as Exchange Bay. Half Moon Bay Antigua snorkelling is definitely not to be missed!
Prickly Pear Island
Prickly Pear Island Antigua snorkelling activities can form a great part of your holiday. This small island is found just off the mainland and is a prime spot for off-beach snorkelling opportunities. Prickly Pear Island is a short 5-minute boat ride from Hodges Bay.
Best snorkelling resorts in Antigua
The islands are packed with a variety of Antigua snorkelling resorts that can offer perfect packages for your family and friends. Finding the right Antigua snorkelling resorts might be a challenge with the great selection available.
Here are some of the best options:
- The Verandah Resort & Spa: a short way from Stingray City, this Antigua snorkelling resort is the ideal location if you’re looking for underwater beauty and on-land luxury in the form of 12 hectares of palm trees and oceanfront coastline views
- St. James’s Club & Villas: if you’re looking to stay in the English Harbour area, close to the best snorkelling beaches on the island, this location will be great for you – visit this beach resort set on a secluded peninsula
- Cocobay Resort: if you’re travelling kid-free; and want to keep it that way; this resort is the perfect solution situated 15km from Fort James in St John’s harbour where great snorkelling opportunities await
- Hawkbill by Rex Resorts: if you plan to experience an adrenaline filled Antigua, this resort will definitely deliver with its tennis, windsurfing, snorkelling and other outdoor activities, combining the beauty of the Antiguan sea life with the thrill of adventure
- Galley Bay Resort and Spa: with Galley Bay as its main viewpoint, this resort and spa is great for overall relaxation and a spot of snorkelling to appreciate the underwater life in the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda
Best snorkelling tour operators in Antigua
Getting to the right snorkelling spot takes a local’s insight, guiding you to the perfect spot where underwater abundance is guaranteed with every visit.
Snorkelling gear can often be hired from resort receptions, or from many of the beach vendors you’ll find scattered around the island, along with sun loungers and beach chairs. Get in touch with Relocate Antigua for assistance.
Check out these tried and tested Antigua snorkelling tours that can guide you to the best snorkelling sites around the islands:
- Scooter Snorkelling: for motor assisted snorkelling tours (Pillars of Hercules beach)
- Bernie’s Snorkelling Antigua: for a great selection of snorkelling tours with highly experienced diver (Galleon Beach)
- Dockyard Divers: for snorkelling safari with gear included in the package (English Harbour)
- Antigua Reef Riders Self Drive Boat and Snorkelling Tour: for self-catering snorkelling adventures, drive your own mini-boat out to Cades Reef (Cades Bay)
- South Coast Horizons: for full-day or half-day tours including snorkelling, kayaking and historical visits (Cades Bay)
- Antigua Kayak and Snorkel Eco Adventure: for eco-tours around the historical snorkelling sites of Antigua (Saint Philip Parish)
Deep-sea magic in Antigua’s underwater paradise
Whether you’re travelling on land or under the surface of the Caribbean Sea, beauty will surround you wherever you go. The Antigua snorkelling sites are havens of colour, life and vibrant beauty; finding a similar experience anywhere else on the globe will take you away from the gorgeous sea turtles, tropical fish, white sand and glorious coral reefs that Antigua and Barbuda preserve so well.
Finding great Antigua snorkelling beaches where excursions, tours and resorts can be enjoyed are simply the small beauties that you will experience when heading for a snorkelling holiday in Antigua and Barbuda. Get in touch with the experts at Relocate Antigua for your expertly prepared itineraries to take you to the best snorkelling spots in Antigua.