A female snorkeler in Antigua

The Best Beaches In Antigua For Snorkeling

The Caribbean is said to get around 26 million visitors each year spread across 700 islands, with Antigua and Barbuda receiving around 270,000 tourists every season. Whether it’s a cruise ship, a yacht, or a plane landing, that’s an awful lot of people.

People looking for holiday activities to partake in.

So if you find yourself heading towards Antigua and looking for possible activities to do there, then you should definitely consider giving snorkeling there a go. With the whole of the Caribbean to consider there are thousands of beaches but Antigua has some unique attractions.

Antigua is said to have 365 beaches, which sounds strangely coincidental to the 1 for every day type tourist talking points. There’s certainly a lot.

As is common in the Caribbean the island is abundant with coral reefs and as the general area has been fought over from centuries past there are a few shipwrecks to see as well. Some of which are accessible from the beach so there’s a variety to Antigua snorkeling for sure.

Other great snorkeling spots are only available to those who do a boat trip so there are options for everyone.

Where Is Antigua?

Antigua is the island sovereign state of Antigua and Barbuda in the West Indies. They are located in the Lesser Antilles group of islands in the Caribbean sea.

Caribbean map

The islands are separated by 39 miles, with small islands and coral reefs dotted around. It has a population of just under 100,000 with the capital St. John’s on the Northwest side of the island.

Best Time Of Year To Visit

Although you can go any time of year, the ‘official’ season runs from mid to late November right through to April.

Both Antigua and Barbuda have tropical weather, with the dry season from January to mid-April. Correspondingly the rainy reason is from mid-June to November.

antigua temperatures

The average temperature only varies between 22°C (72°F) and 31°C (88°F) all year round

The Best Snorkeling Beaches In Antigua

antigua snorkeling sites map with wrecks

Galleon Beach – English Harbour

On the Southernmost tip of the island Galleon beach is a location offering not just snorkeling, but walks and breathtaking views. 

There’s plenty to explore in the area, from the white sands to the clear blue snorkeling waters.

The surrounding scenery makes Galleon beach and the surrounding area one of the most astounding on the island. 

As a snorkeler, towards the left-hand side of the bay, there are two shipwrecks around which there are loads of fish. All accessible from the beach.

There’s a coral reef close to the beach also where you can discover the aquatic wildlife, where there is quite an abundance.

Great Bird Island

A mere 3km to the Northeast lies a 20 acre strip of land that gets just over 20,000 tourists a year.

As you might imagine, it was named due to the large number of avian residents that nest and live there. If you want to feel like Robinson Crusoe, this is the place to go.

You’ll need a tour to get here, but you’ll be welcome despite the fact it’s a private island. It is open to the public for snorkeling.

Long Bay

9 miles from the capital, on the East coast of the island is Long Bay. It has a few hotels on it, but the main feature is the extremely shallow beach where you can walk out to the coral reefs for some snorkeling.

It has fine white sand and clear blue waters that are pristine, so it’s a great place for beginners and those who want to relax on a picture perfect beach.

Green Island

Green island is the most Eastern point of Antigua. It’s another palm decorated little island with white sands and blue waters. It’s also another private island.

It has a fantastic sense of peace and quiet. With easy snorkeling for beginners in the sheltered shallow water.

It has an abundance of life with fish and turtles on the sightseeing menu.

Stingray City

A trip to Stingray City will see you amongst the most popular snorkeling spots on the island. You will find yourself snorkeling and swimming with the most human friendly stingrays.

The stingrays will quite happily circle around you assuming you have food and are unafraid of being touched. If you have never been around rays before, it’s a must.

The only downside is it’s not a public site, but a private one. Snorkeling tours set off from Mercers Creek Bay quay and can range from $50 per person upwards.

Despite this, everyone seems to agree that it’s an unforgettable experience.

Pillars Of Hercules

Around the headland from the English harbour are the Pillars of Hercules. They have been formed over the years from natural wind and water erosion.

You can find scuba divers as well as snorkelers at this location. It has an abundance of natural marine life that recreational divers want to take a look at. 

You can see a variety of colorful fish, as well as moray eels, turtles, and occasionally a reef shark may turn up.

Check the local conditions as this is snorkeling next to big rocks so tours can be inadvisable in the hurricane seasons.

Deep Bay

Just a few miles South of the capital lies the deep blue waters of Deep Bay.

Taking a look at any images for the bay you will immediately sense why people want to go and visit to have a snorkeling excursion. Not requiring any boats to visit, it is a crescent shaped white sand beach that looks the very picture of Caribbean beach life.

It’s said to be quite sparse of tourists with not much life around in terms of getting amenities, but just beyond the beach is a shipwreck you can snorkel around.

Prickly Pear Island

The Northernmost point of Antigua is an island named Prickly Pear, It’s not big, only measuring 50m by 50m. No-one lives on the island but the area is frequently visited by boat excursions.

What many consider a paradise, with those famous white sands and clear waters.  There are coral reefs to explore and it’s another good place for beginner snorkelers.

It’s an idyllic little place, quite literally. It has some of the bluest calmest waters you could imagine.

Cades Reef

On the Southern end of the island off the coast lies the amazing Cades reef.

The stunning marine life gives a snorkeler probably the best spot on the island. The reef is 2 miles in length which is the habitat of just the most amazing array of aquatic wildlife. Colorful fish in abundance with eels, sponges, and even the occasional barracuda.

You will need a snorkeling excursion to get here, and the area is deep, some 30 meters down, but you can see the sunken yacht on the seabed.

Paradise Reef

Just North of Dickenson Bay and almost directly North of Bush Bay, about half a kilometer off the mainland is Paradise reef.

Some more of the best snorkeling on the island again, with many fish species to see amongst the corals.

Final Thoughts – Parting Waves

A quick trip around google images for Antigua and a plethora of white sandy beaches nestled up to crystal clear waters assault the eyes. It seems like an island paradise for many.

The calm shallow waters are ideal for beginner snorkelers or the more advanced alike, with coral reefs teeming with wildlife.

While snorkeling isn’t the activity that attracts people to Antigua, it’s something people do while they are there, and there are many places you can go if snorkeling is a must.

There’s a lot here for the beach snorkeler as well as those wanting to visit the island reefs. On quite a lot of beaches, you can just wade out into the water and start snorkeling. The water is calm and crystal clear.

Hotels and dive shops will happily sell or rent a snorkeling set, although you can take your own.

A lot of snorkeling on Antigua is done from tours, like trips to Great Bird Island, Paradise reef, or Cades reef. They’re too far out from beaches so you need to look for a good tour operator.

The conditions for snorkeling are good, with warm weather nearly all year around. A rash guard may be necessary for the summer months in the heat.

The variety of sea life is always one of the most interesting things for a snorkeler and Antigua doesn’t disappoint. The colorful fish are all around and plentiful. Sea turtles, moray eels are all around the reefs, and you may even see a Reef shark.

There are even Nurse sharks and Barracuda’s around, so be careful.

Snorkeling in Antigua has some great attractions and there are some great sights to see.

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