Quizzing Experienced Snorkelers...

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#1
USA
396 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
We have been snorkeling for more than 20 years at various places around the Caribbean. Time after time, we've gone to a place that people described as "excellent snorkeling" only to be sorely disappointed at the sight of dead reef and few fish or sea life. We suspect those who made the recommendations were beginners who possibly had never seen living reef and seeing even a handful of fish was exciting to them.

That's why we'd really appreciate it if someone with a good deal of snorkeling experience could tell us if the snorkeling in Roatan off Tabyana Beach is really that good?? We hired a guide on our last cruise to take us to a "good snorkeling place." He took us to some place on Half Moon Bay with dead reef and almost nothing to see except a bunch of sea grass and a few boulder-like dead reefs. It was hardly worth the trouble of getting wet.

If that is all Tabyana Beach offers, we'll plan to do something else that day.

REALLY appreciate anyone's help who can answer our question!
#2
I wander the world.
1,860 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
as you say it is all a matter of perception...

I was on the island for 7 weeks in Feb and March of this year... I was out snorkeling the bits of reef from Infinity to "the wall" past Black Rock daily for three of those weeks. I can tell you every day I saw something new, I followed a sea turtle for about an hour one day. I saw a thing like a cross between a lobster and an armadillo, I still have no idea what it was. There are nine zillion fishes of so many colors and sizes I stopped counting. Came upon two different kinds of jelly fish. I found a spot between the reef bits I started called my "field of stars" cause I could count over 100 star fish. I get a kick out of swimming out to the edge of the reef to watch the big fish appear out of the blue. This is my humble opinion of the sea life between Infinity and the wall. Mind you there were points at wish I was in fair deep water. deeper than where most of the cruise people are, past the guys on kayaks.

Your experience may differ for what ever reason.

I have talked with many a person about the island and there is at least one who says the very best snorkeling Roatan has to offer is a place called "Blue Channel" in front of Luna Beach... it may be possible to get a boat out to that place. I have not been, perhaps next trip. Though again it is all about personal experience.
#3
USA
396 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Thanks. It sounds like you have done a lot of snorkeling. Am not sure where Black Rock and Infinity or the Wall are located. Are they in the Tabyana Beach area? I read where someone said the best snorkeling is to the far left of the beach when you are facing the water.

We are used to places like Bonaire where you can wade in from shore and see beautiful living coral and sea life in about 50 different locations. On the other hand, the shore snorkeling from Cozumel is poor. Many people rave about Chankanaab there, but to us it is just a lot of long-ago dead reef. There are fish only because people feed them so much in that location.

Appreciate your input!
#4
I wander the world.
1,860 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Have a peek at this map...

RoatanWestBay .com

If you look at the water in front of Infinity Bay you see a kidney shaped bit of sand... that is the channel out to the deeper water. If ya look down the page from Tabyana Beach you will see flora..that is the Wall. It is a wall of coral, the edge of the island in West Bay. I snorkle the whole bit between Infinity Bay and The Wall.

I read your post again..far left of the beach while facing the water is "the wall" but the reef is very shallow there and a bit beat up from people...Black Rock is father out from that area. Sadly, one can not see it on the map unless you know exaclty where it is.

It should be mentioned unless you and your group are strong swimmers or there are boats out past Black Rock..be very careful... the current hits the wall and you will end up past Light House point, in open water before you know what hit you.

Its all about perception and personal experience. You may not enjoy it in the least... I find the easy access delightful and the sea life plenty entertaining.


with all that said... I was snorkeling off the coast of Vietnam a few years go and was truly blown away by the life of the reef and abundance of critters.
#6
OH
24,143 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Also, I wanted to ask...(since it's hard to tell by looking at a map), how far would you say this wall is out? Like is it around 10 feet out? 25 feet out? 50? Just wondering. Of course by looking at the map, it looks pretty close to the beach edge.
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#7
orlando
199 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by mitsugirly
Also, I wanted to ask...(since it's hard to tell by looking at a map), how far would you say this wall is out? Like is it around 10 feet out? 25 feet out? 50? Just wondering. Of course by looking at the map, it looks pretty close to the beach edge.
Mitsu......once you leave that "kidney shaped" area through the channel, I would say the outer wall is another 75-100 feet. You will cross over a large sandy bottom area and then come across the wall. Past the wall you will have that "Nemo" moment. Beautiful shades of darker blue/turquoise. The descriptions made by Guest2000 are spot on. In less that two weeks I will be back to Roatan (Carnival Dream) in my search for little Nemo! An ice cold Port Royal has my name on it....
#8
I wander the world.
1,860 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Mitsugirly,

That is a pretty cool deal there, with an arrow...wonderful. Your arrow is pointing to the kidney shaped space in front of Infinity Bay with the channel out to the reef. Indeed there is stuff to see in that area and in both directions past the 1st wall, just pay attention to where you are in relation to the beach and all will be well. I generally swim out that channel to the 1st wall of reef then to the left as you are looking out to sea. There are two reasons I go left, one is the reef gets closer to the beach to the left, the swim back in easier and cause there are fewer boats to the left.

I don't know how far out the 1st wall is...just keep swimming through the channel, when you hit open sand under you, go left.. that is the 1st wall. If you wish to see the 2nd wall swim across the sand, when you see more reef which will be much deeper than the 1st that is the second wall, if ya look over the edge, there are places where you can't see the bottom.. bit of a thrill there.

Distance is hard for me, it is more than 10ft to the 1st wall, I would bet it is more than 25 feet, it may even be more than 50ft. I don't think it takes me five minutes to swim from the beach through the channel to the 1st wall. I never timed it but I doubt it take longer.

Hmmm thinking about it now, there are three walls people talk about... there are two reef walls and the one I was talking about at the end of the beach, the end of West Bay Beach.

Pretty much any of the space between Infinity Bay and the wall at the end of West Bay Beach is worth seeing, depending on your comfort level in the water and how far out you go things in the sea change a bit.
#9
676 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Originally posted by mitsugirly
This is the area that someone pointed out to me in a thread months and months ago and where I plan on going in a few weeks:

Thanks for posting this map. We were trying to find a good snorkel spot in Roatan.
#10
OH
24,143 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by Lusitano
Thanks for posting this map. We were trying to find a good snorkel spot in Roatan.
You are welcome.


Can anyone tell me what the dark looking "wall" is that lines the shore at the beginning of the kidney? Is that just coral or is it a wall of some type? Is this area deep enough to swim over top without having to swim through the kidney channel? I'm just trying to figure out if people just use the channel as a "land (sea) mark" to know where they are but could actually swim out over top of the coral to the wall?
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ROATAN: Little French Key LFK Maya Key West Bay ZiplineLFK
SAN JUAN:Pamelas
ST KITTS:Reggae Carambola
ST LUCIA: Jalousie
ST MAARTEN:Orient & Maho Mullet Maho Divi Pinel
ST THOMAS:Saphhire Coki Linquist Coki
TORTOLA: Baths
#11
I wander the world.
1,860 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
What I would give for the ability to place arrows, stars and circles of various colors on the map. Sadly, I don't have that skill, or not as yet.

I may not be understanding but if I do... the longest part of the kidney closest to the blue Infinity Bay label is rocks perhaps coral rubble, they are deep enough to swim over or paddle around.

Now when you get to talking about the dark areas marking the edge of the kidney... most of that reef/coral is to shallow to swim over. Ya can't really see the bit of channel between the kidney and the 1st wall but once you get out there follow the edges of the kidney til you find a way through.

Part of the reason West Bay is one of the better snorkel spots is cause the reef is so close to the shore.. I have spent many an hour wandering about in the mazes of coral in an attempt to see if there are other ways out, mostly I hit a dead end if some sort.

There are people who claim the snorkeling is better at the very end of West Bay Beach against the wall of the bay...I find it very difficult to get out to the deeper water from that direction cause the water is so shallow. So, I take a leisurely paddle down from the kidney shaped/channel.

As an added thought... I have always found it less work to swim from Infinity to the wall of the bay (this would be down on the map)... one should think about how tired they are when deciding to go back cause swimming the other direction takes a bit more effort...my guess is the current for the most part pushes you from Infinity down instead of the other way. Course you always have the option of finding a way through the coral to the beach and walking back.

I pretty much snorkel solo... for that reason I am often checking where I am in relation to the beach.
#12
orlando
199 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by mitsugirly
You are welcome.


Can anyone tell me what the dark looking "wall" is that lines the shore at the beginning of the kidney? Is that just coral or is it a wall of some type? Is this area deep enough to swim over top without having to swim through the kidney channel? I'm just trying to figure out if people just use the channel as a "land (sea) mark" to know where they are but could actually swim out over top of the coral to the wall?
This area below the kidney is a large, rather shallow reef. It can be navigated through small channels, but it takes more effort.....like a maze, you sometimes navigate to a dead end, then have to back track. In my opinion, the easiest route to the motherload starts at the kidney, then through the outer channel. It's much deeper and results in less damage. I agree with Guest about the far end route by the "iguana wall". Way to shallow to navigate. Much more damage visible. Too bad...... I would hope the cruise lines would tell the guides to keep cruisers away from this vunerable area.
#13
OH
24,143 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by Guest 2000
What I would give for the ability to place arrows, stars and circles of various colors on the map. Sadly, I don't have that skill, or not as yet.

I may not be understanding but if I do... the longest part of the kidney closest to the blue Infinity Bay label is rocks perhaps coral rubble, they are deep enough to swim over or paddle around.

Now when you get to talking about the dark areas marking the edge of the kidney... most of that reef/coral is to shallow to swim over. Ya can't really see the bit of channel between the kidney and the 1st wall but once you get out there follow the edges of the kidney til you find a way through.

Part of the reason West Bay is one of the better snorkel spots is cause the reef is so close to the shore.. I have spent many an hour wandering about in the mazes of coral in an attempt to see if there are other ways out, mostly I hit a dead end if some sort.

There are people who claim the snorkeling is better at the very end of West Bay Beach against the wall of the bay...I find it very difficult to get out to the deeper water from that direction cause the water is so shallow. So, I take a leisurely paddle down from the kidney shaped/channel.

As an added thought... I have always found it less work to swim from Infinity to the wall of the bay (this would be down on the map)... one should think about how tired they are when deciding to go back cause swimming the other direction takes a bit more effort...my guess is the current for the most part pushes you from Infinity down instead of the other way. Course you always have the option of finding a way through the coral to the beach and walking back.

I pretty much snorkel solo... for that reason I am often checking where I am in relation to the beach.
Thanks for the GREAT description. I always snorkel with my husband, but this time is going to be a little different. We are bringing our youngest with us on this cruise. So, we will have to take turns exploring (which I'm nervous about). So, I'm trying to not go too far. That's why I was wondering if that front section that was dark (at the beginning of the kidney) was a wall of coral of some sort.

Originally posted by GOOSEBGONE
This area below the kidney is a large, rather shallow reef. It can be navigated through small channels, but it takes more effort.....like a maze, you sometimes navigate to a dead end, then have to back track. In my opinion, the easiest route to the motherload starts at the kidney, then through the outer channel. It's much deeper and results in less damage. I agree with Guest about the far end route by the "iguana wall". Way to shallow to navigate. Much more damage visible. Too bad...... I would hope the cruise lines would tell the guides to keep cruisers away from this vunerable area.
I've had to snorkel in a place that the coral came all the way up to the beach and we were so far out and kept swimming back following fish and taking pictures that before we knew it, we were right over top of the coral and at the top of the water. It wore me out to try to get back out and over to the sandy part trying to be able to put my legs down to rest for a minute. I need to get better at checking where I am in relation to the beach.

Do either of you know how much it cost to rent snorkeling equipment there? I think someone was telling me awhile back it was around $8pp. We have our own mask and snorkel tube, but no fins. We usually end up using that, but some times have went ahead and wanted to rent the fins and just got the package deal for all of it. Do you know if they have the snorkel vest that blow up and deflate when you want to dive?
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CARNIVAL:
Dream Pride Breeze Fascination Conquest
ARUBA: Arashi All Beaches Animals Sites
BAHAMAS:Great Stirrup Cay Half Moon Cay Blue Lagoon Melia Junkanoo Paradise Cove
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ST THOMAS:Saphhire Coki Linquist Coki
TORTOLA: Baths
#14
orlando
199 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
[Do either of you know how much it cost to rent snorkeling equipment there? I think someone was telling me awhile back it was around $8pp. We have our own mask and snorkel tube, but no fins. We usually end up using that, but some times have went ahead and wanted to rent the fins and just got the package deal for all of it. Do you know if they have the snorkel vest that blow up and deflate when you want to dive?[/quote]

Not entirely sure. We have always used our own equipment. I know there are several venders on the beach near IB. I'm sure you will be able to negotiate a fair price even if it's only for the fins. If that doesn't work out, I think Bananarama's dive shop rents out equipment. If it's a nice sunny day, you and your family will be amazed at the clarity of the water. You might even see a turtle or two. We'll be doing the same again off the Carnival Dream in a little over a week!
#15
I wander the world.
1,860 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
I understand your nervousness... there is sea life and other stuff closer to the beach my opinion is the truly exciting stuff is farther out. You could buddy up with someone else from the ship or just hang about with others who are in the same area... ahh ya know when I was down in Feb of this year there were local guys on kayaks and surfboards in the water above the reef, they may have been educating people about the reef or they may be there for safety... they may lower your stress level.

I am sorry I don't know about renting gear...or a life vest. It be be worth while to contact a few of the dive shops on West Bay Beach..see if they can help you out.
#16
orlando
199 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by mitsugirly
Also, I wanted to ask...(since it's hard to tell by looking at a map), how far would you say this wall is out? Like is it around 10 feet out? 25 feet out? 50? Just wondering. Of course by looking at the map, it looks pretty close to the beach edge.
Go to Infinity Bay.com..... Phote Gallery....image 8..... to see a very cool overhead photo of "the kidney". It gives you a much better perspective of this area.
#19
orlando
199 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Mitsu.......I think the darker line you were referring to is just a discoloration of the sand in places. Can't wait to get back to ATP....."Assume The Position"!
#20
OH
24,143 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Is the discoloration actually that dark? (LOVED the "assume the position statement)

I'm talking about this area:



But it's easier to see (and looks like it lines the beach/coral area in the other picture better:



It just looks like it lines the entire beach area a little ways out. I was just wondering if it was a "wall" of some sort.
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NCL:
EPIC studio SPIRIT PEARL STAR JEWEL GETAWAY SUN SKY DAWN BREAKAWAY JADE EPIC
CARNIVAL:
Dream Pride Breeze Fascination Conquest
ARUBA: Arashi All Beaches Animals Sites
BAHAMAS:Great Stirrup Cay Half Moon Cay Blue Lagoon Melia Junkanoo Paradise Cove
BARBADOS:Boatyard
BELIZE:Cavetubing Cavetubing Bannister Island Shark Ray Alley Goffs
BERMUDA: Horseshoe Bay Snorkel Park Tobacco Bay St Catherines Achilles Bay Jet Ski/boat rental Warwick-Horseshoe Long Bay-Clearwater Tobacco Bay Snorkel Park
COSTA MAYA:Almaplena Maya Chan Nohoch Blue Kay
COZUMEL:Chankanaab Dolphin Swim Chankanaab Nachi Playa Mia Sanchos Passion IslandPalancar
CURACAO Diving
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC:Saona
GRAND CAYMAN:Stingray Sandbar Stingrays, Rum Point
GRAND TURK:BohioGovernorsGibbs
JAMAICA: Sunset Hilton Rose
ROATAN: Little French Key LFK Maya Key West Bay ZiplineLFK
SAN JUAN:Pamelas
ST KITTS:Reggae Carambola
ST LUCIA: Jalousie
ST MAARTEN:Orient & Maho Mullet Maho Divi Pinel
ST THOMAS:Saphhire Coki Linquist Coki
TORTOLA: Baths