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Snorkeling in Cococay/Key West


huenix

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Hi all.. My DW and I will be cruising on the Explorer 4/6 for 4 nights. As part of the cruise we wanted to go snorkeling. My DW tried it in PR the first time two years ago and turned out to be a natural.

 

From the look of the excursion packages, we would be a lot better off just showing up with our own snorkel gear and going out. Is that true? I read a lot on here and elsewhere and while its probably not like snorkeling on the reef at PR, it looks fun. And my inlaws lived in Key West for a while and said there are some great places there. They mentioned one or two places that are beach-accessible.

 

I guess the questions are:

 

Can you just show up with your own gear and snorkel at Cococay?

 

Do they require a life vest and can you rent one there if so?

 

Any other tips are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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We snorkeled at CocoCay but did not have our own equipment. We rented from RCI and it was $29 for everything. They did tell us at the little orientation presentation you can go to that everybody snorkeling is required to have on a vest and if the lifeguards see somebody snorkeling without one they will make them go back to shore.

 

I had read a thread about this before we went from somebody who brought their own equipment and rented just the vest, so that must be an option. It seems like they said it was $7 or $8 for just the vest. I don't remember if they said they arranged it in advance or if they just showed up at the rental shack and asked for a vest only. It would be hard to find that old thread - it was months ago.

 

We had snorkeled in Belize and Cozumel on our last cruise. Although in those places we saw coral reefs and a bigger variety of fish, I liked that in CocoCay we were on our own. We had the equipment all day and could go in the water any time we wanted. You don't go in groups - you are just on your own.

 

I've attached a few photos we took snorkeling at CocoCay.

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Yes, you can just show up and snorkel at Coco Cay with your own equipment. They do require a vest however, with can be rented for about $7-9 last time I was there. You don't need to reserve the vest, they'll have them.

 

I thought the snorkeling at CocoCay was great...saw a ray and if you swim out to the sunken airplane, there are lots of fish. There is also a ship's facade to swim out to, but we never saw that many fish there to make the swim worth it. The area to the left, facing the beach, where it is rocky a good place to spot some nice fish.

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I'll go ahead and second the opinion of the other two posters. You are on your own at Coco Cay; they rent you the equipment and you have it for the rest of the day. I'm sure they'll let you rent the vest because they require everyone wear a diver's vest.

 

You won't see fish immediately like you would in St. Thomas on certain beaches. You have to swim out - go toward the sunken plane. They've built up a lifeguard chair and he'll throw out food to lure the fish. I have video and pics of swimming in the school of fish and of the fish that made the plane a home.

 

I forget the exact time they have a "training session" out by the rental shack left of the locker rentals. It's like a 15 minute deal that goes over how to operate the diver's vest and making sure your mask is sealed. The time will be posted though so you won't miss it.

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We've snorkeled at CocoCay twice. The first time we were further away from the area with the sunken plane, so there were no guard around and we snorkeled with our own equipment without vests. The second time we went we decided to check out the plane, so we started heading that way and one of the staff told us we needed to rent vests even with our own equipment.

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In September I sailed to Cococay and did the snorkeling. They had underwater cameras for sale which ended up being about $20. We saw some awesome fish and some stingrays and used up all of the film. When I went home and tried getting them developed, they said none of them came out because it was to dark and no flash and a bunch of other stuff.

 

So if you are planning to take pictures with a disposable camera, I'd buy one ahead of time. Just an FYI :)

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It is not "spectacular" but definately something worth doing. I agree you can just as easily bring your own. They don't take you anywhere. They just hand you the equipment and you swim out when you are ready. Be careful though because you have to swim pretty far out to the sunken ship/plane and they have a resting platform out there. But I got tired swimming out and only swam out once.The sun was really strong that day and we all got burned backs. I did see a ray and some cool yellow fish.

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