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 79°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 $15 – $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.
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. It is also on the main bus route between Dockyard and Hamilton (bus route 7). 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 a park here with picnic tables and public restrooms.
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. Rip currents are common on this and other South Shore beaches so it’s best for experienced swimmers.
Jobson’s Cove is adjacent to Warwick Long Bay and is one of the best places on the South Shore for children and novice swimmers. The water is completely enclosed by cliffs and is shallow and calm.
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.
Clarence Cove at Admiralty House Park is a good snorkelling spot for those staying in Hamilton. The cove here is sheltered and shallow enough for small children. Bus service 4 will take you there.
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.
Average Ocean Temperature by Month
The graph below shows the average ocean temperature in Bermuda by month. The ocean is warmest between May and October. This is the best time for snorkelling.
Underwater Visibility By Month
Underwater visibility varies throughout the year. Visibility is at its highest during the winter months. Unfortunately, this coincides with a fall in average water temperature.
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.
One of the best snorkelling sites is North Rock, located around 10 miles offshore. The world’s most northerly rim reef is teeming with marine life but is rarely visited by tourists or locals. The Island Tour Centre offers occasional snorkelling trips here.