It’s not necessary to go diving to get a close-up view of the island’s marine life; snorkelling in Bermuda can be an equally rewarding experience. The reefs are healthy and generally close to shore, and the fish abundant and colourful.
The best time to snorkel is between May and October. The water temperature during this period averages 80 F. November to March is considerably cooler, although water visibility is better.
Renting snorkelling gear can be fairly expensive in Bermuda, especially if you’re travelling with a family. Prices vary but average around $20 per day for a mask, snorkel, and fins. If there’s a few in your party and you are planning on doing a lot of snorkelling the cost can quickly add up. If you have room in your baggage you can save a bit of money by bringing your own snorkelling equipment.
You could also buy snorkel gear in Bermuda, but it’s almost certainly going to be more expensive than in the US. Shops selling it include Makin’ Waves at Dockyard, the Phoenix Centre in Hamilton, and Robertson’s Drug Store in St George.
The best places to snorkel
Snorkelling is possible at most of Bermuda’s beaches but Church Bay and Tobacco Bay are widely regarded as the best. Other good places include John Smith’s Bay, Warwick Long Bay, Snorkel Park Beach, Hog Bay Park, and Achilles Bay.
Church Bay is in Southampton Parish and is a good choice for most tourists. It’s near the Fairmont Southampton and the Reefs and is on the main bus route (number 7) between Dockyard and Hamilton. The reef is close to the shore and home to large parrotfish and other colourful fish. The water can get a little choppy though, and the beach is fairly rocky. There’s also a concession here that rents snorkelling gear.
Tobacco Bay is the main beach in St George’s Parish. When the cruise ships used to dock in St George it used to get packed with cruise passengers. Now most of the ships dock at Dockyard it is much quieter. It’s not near any major hotels and is at the opposite end of the island to Dockyard. If you’re looking for a good place to snorkel though, it’s worth making the effort to get there. The water is shallow and calm and great for children, and the bay is surrounded by interesting limestone rock formations. There’s also a beach bar here where you can buy drinks and food, and hire snorkelling equipment, beach chairs etc. Achilles Bay is nearby. It’s a lot smaller but has a nice restaurant and bar.
Warwick Long Bay is another option that ticks a lot of boxes. As well as offering fairly good snorkelling it’s also a great place for walking and jogging. Jobson’s Cove is right next door and is one of best places for children to snorkel.
Hog Bay Park is for the adventurous traveller. To reach the beach you’ll have to navigate your way through woodland and farmland. It requires a bit of planning too. Visit at low tide or you’ll find the beach has disappeared. Pick up a copy of the Royal Gazette to find out the tide timings. It’s easily reached from Dockyard and is served by bus routes 7 and 8.
Snorkel Park Beach at Royal Naval Dockyard is the easy option for cruise ship passengers. It’s just a short walk from the cruise ship docks at Kings Wharf and Heritage Wharf. The beach isn’t particularly pretty, but there’s a bar here and you can rent masks and fins, kayaks, floats etc.
John Smith’s Bay is another option off the beaten path. It’s one of the few beaches in Bermuda with lifeguards.
Snorkelling excursions and tours
Some of the best snorkelling is found too far from the shore for swimming. Companies such as Fantasea offer snorkelling tours that often include a visit to a shipwreck. You could also rent a boat and snorkel gear and plan your own trip. Companies offering this option include H20 Water Sports, Blue Hole Water Sports, and the Tucker’s Point Dive and Water Sports Centre.
Water sports concession at Grotto Bay. Rents boats, kayaks, snorkelling equipment, and more.
Concession at the Elbow Beach hotel. Offers shore dives, kayak rentals and more.
Bermuda's oldest diving centre. Offers wreck dives, tuition and more.
Diving centre at the Fairmont Southampton resort.
Company offering a wide range of activities including diving, snorkelling tours, kayak tours, bike tours, whale watching, private boat charters and more.
Based in Sandys Parish. Offers sailing boats, kayaks, jet ski tours, fishing gear rentals and more.
Dive centre at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort.
PADI dive centre at the Rosewood Tucker’s Point hotel. Offers scuba diving, boat rentals, kayaks, and snorkel gear.