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HillBilly Bob

Snorkel Excursions

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We are sailing CCL Magic 02/29/20.   I have never snorkeled before so I am learning at home in our pool.  

 

Of the ports we dock, St. Maarten, Tortola, San Juan and Grand Turk, which one would be the best first time experience for a snorkel excursion booked through CCL?  Or should I look at outside vendors for the pleasure?  

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Bob,

 

In June of 2018 we used Captain Alan’s Boat Charters in Dutch St Maarten. You will find them easily through a google search. They were great. They offer 4 hour and a 6 hour snorkel tours. You can more than likely find some snorkeling at Tortola (check trip advisor for vendors) as well. However I recommend that you consider visiting “The Baths” over at nearby Virgin Gorda. This is also a wet excursion with some snorkeling available. Amazing rock formations have formed grottoes that you walk, crawl and swim through that lead to a beach. You can also access this beach without going thru the grottoes. You have to take a ferry from Tortola to get to Virgin Gorda. Explore a little online first. Read reviews on Trip Advisor. Email makes contacting vendors very easy. Good Luck. 

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Honestly you're going to some great snorkel spots. I'd recommend Grand Turk not only because you can snorkel near a continental shelf, but because there's not much else to do on the island besides water activities.

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Grand Turk is a good snorkel spot.  We did the ultimate snorkel thru Carnival. The boat wasn't all that crowded, and the guides pulled first time snorkelers aside for their own tour (if they wanted the extra help), so that might be a consideration.  The downside is, you do go off a boat and some people get very nervous about jumping in with a snorkel.  

 

If you'd like to go off the beach, read the reviews of excursions- you should be able to find one that does that - (maybe reef and rays?).  It is a little easier to get acclimated and you can just put your feet down if you need to adjust your mask or snorkel.  

 

Booking independently would give you a smaller group, but just be aware, in Grand Turk the independent excursions seem to be pricier compared to other islands.  

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2 hours ago, purplephenom said:

Grand Turk is a good snorkel spot.  We did the ultimate snorkel thru Carnival. The boat wasn't all that crowded, and the guides pulled first time snorkelers aside for their own tour (if they wanted the extra help), so that might be a consideration.  The downside is, you do go off a boat and some people get very nervous about jumping in with a snorkel.  

 

If you'd like to go off the beach, read the reviews of excursions- you should be able to find one that does that - (maybe reef and rays?).  It is a little easier to get acclimated and you can just put your feet down if you need to adjust your mask or snorkel.  

 

Booking independently would give you a smaller group, but just be aware, in Grand Turk the independent excursions seem to be pricier compared to other islands.  

I'm one of the strangely nervous people who don't like jumping off the boat despite knowing how to swim and snorkel...not sure what it is but when I'm on the spot, I start to panic! Plus my balance is just terrible once I get the fins on. 

 

OP, I would look for a catamaran or beach snorkel. Catamarans have steps or ladders for easier access to the water, or a snorkeling from the beach is another possibility. My vote would be for Grand Turk. 

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5 minutes ago, Doggielover68 said:

I'm one of the strangely nervous people who don't like jumping off the boat despite knowing how to swim and snorkel...not sure what it is but when I'm on the spot, I start to panic! Plus my balance is just terrible once I get the fins on. 

 

OP, I would look for a catamaran or beach snorkel. Catamarans have steps or ladders for easier access to the water, or a snorkeling from the beach is another possibility. My vote would be for Grand Turk. 

 

Snorkeling from the beach in the OP's ports of GT, SJU, St Maarten and Tortola would probably be just practice, not much to see with sandy bottoms, no coral and just an occasional fish swimming by.

 

The OP asked about Carnival snorkel excursions, and I would suggest GT as the best of the 1st three ports, I'm not that familar with snorkeling in Tortola.

 

I've gone to the wall with its 7,000 ft dropoff on one tour, and another took us to a "coral garden" and then a small island where the guide using squid as bait enticed wild stingrays to join us in waist high water.

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1 hour ago, Doggielover68 said:

I'm one of the strangely nervous people who don't like jumping off the boat despite knowing how to swim and snorkel...not sure what it is but when I'm on the spot, I start to panic! Plus my balance is just terrible once I get the fins on. 

 

OP, I would look for a catamaran or beach snorkel. Catamarans have steps or ladders for easier access to the water, or a snorkeling from the beach is another possibility. My vote would be for Grand Turk. 

 

 

This is very good advice. A new snorkeler might not feel comfortable in open water. There are many excellent shore dives that are not just sand bottoms.

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I generally avoid ship snorkel excursions, but we did one (for various reasons) at Grand Turk last year.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.  We did the excursion that included Reef, Rays and Beach.  The Reef has a very good assortment of fish and coral and the boat trip out there was not long—something to consider if you get seasick in small boats as I do.  The 2nd spot was snorkeling off a beach to see stingrays—very cool.  And the day ended with being dropped off at a lovely beach area where we had our choice of free loungers and umbrellas.  It was uncrowded and much nicer than the area near the dock.  (They will Shuttle you back to the ship or it can easily be walked in 20 minutes or so.) 

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14 hours ago, GradUT said:

We did the excursion that included Reef, Rays and Beach.  

I believe that will be the tour we choose.  Thanks for your insight.  

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