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Eastern Caribbean Port Snorkeling Excursions

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We are cruising the Eastern Caribbean on the Nieuw Amsterdam in November.  We want to go snorkeling (either Ship Excursion or Private).  Our Ports are:  San Juan, St. Thomas, Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk.  We will only go one time so we want to experience the best adventure we can.  But not too strenuous since we are “young seniors”.   😎  A reef snorkel is the goal.


I have read the specific CC Port information, but we would like comments from anyone that has actually taken snorkeling excursions in these ports with insights, ideas, recommended tour vendors, etc.  Thank you in advance for your help!

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Grand Turk you can go on your own.  A few years ago we did a charter with members of my roll call with Grand Turk Diving.  They took us to one spot somewhat shallow, to the ledge drop off, and to Gibbs Bay where you could hang out with stingrays.  But again, you can enjoy some nice views from the beach if you bring your own gear. 


Half Moon Cay you would have to do their excursion.  We had some onboard credit to burn one trip and did it.  They took you by boat away from the main part of the island and you had time to snorkel near some reefs.  It's ok.  Not the best spot.


San Juan I haven't snorkled. 


St Thomas - a note here that traffic around the port area can get very backed up.  I would only suggest doing an excursion with the cruise ship (that will be sure to wait for you, or you might get left behind.)   I don't know if HAL still offers it but we went to a marine sanctuary and had a kayak trip through the mangrooves.  And when we got to the farthest point, we could snorkle.  It was only like 5' deep which was great and the marine biologists that were our guides would tell you about different things we saw.  Very fascinating and enjoyable.


Whatever you decide - have a great trip!

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Of those ports, by a very great distance,  the best snorkeling is Grand Turk. I would seek an excursion that goes to the "Wall". Excellent snorkeling there.


Conversely, I would not snorkel at Half Moon Cay. Not very good there.


St Thomas has moderate snorkeling. Haven't snorkeled at San Juan.

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Grand Turk has excellent snorkeling either by yourself (you dock at the beach) or with a tour.  San Juan is best as a walking city tour with or without the forts.  ST. Thomas is more beach or sailing I would say than snorkeling. Can't comment on Half Moon Cay.

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I have to agree with Grand Turk, there is a nice beach with snorkeling right off where the ship docks or take a tour. There is not a lot of other things to do in Grand Turk other than the beach and diving or snorkeling. I have done both there and the water is spectacular. 


San Juan the port is not close to a beach or good snorkeling and with the civil unrest going on now I would skip it.


St Thomas is so crowded and the port is not close to any beach either. You will have a great cruise, we have done that itinerary several times.


The problem with Half moon Cay is you could miss it due to high winds, the ship can't anchor in high winds and tender to the island.  In the 3 HAL cruises that had HMC as a stop we have only been their once, the other 2 were cancelled due to weather. If you plan on only doing one snorkel tour and if HMC is your last port, if you miss it you miss any chance to snorkel in the beautiful Caribbean waters.

Edited by terrydtx
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Definitely Grand Turk is best. We have been several times with "Exclusive Escapes" on private tours. Just Google them. We just walked a few minutes down the beach from the pier to their place, got gear which they furnish if you like and got on the boat. We were a family of 8 and there were a couple of others but a small group. They do 2 snorkel spots, the wall and diving for conchs if you wish. My grandson loved it and we went home with the most gorgeous huge conchs which they clean out for you. Also took us to beach for homemade conch salad. Great company. Not $$$.

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Thanks everyone - looks like Grand Turk is the winner!  And we are looking at Exclusive Escapes, based on a bit of research on other vendors.  I do like the idea of a smaller group.

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