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Last updated on January 31, 2021
The Caneel Bay Resort, on the west coast of St John, has several beaches and bays suitable for snorkeling. It offers different marine ecosystems to explore, including coral reefs, rocky overhangs and seagrass beds. This diversity of environments allows snorkelers to spot a large diversity of marine species, such as green sea turtles, stingrays, and dozens of colorful reef fish species.
The Caneel Bay Resort, destroyed in the 2017 Irma and Maria hurricanes, is currently closed. The beaches and snorkeling areas can only be accessed by boat.
The snorkeling areas are all located inside the Caneel Bay Resort. Access is therefore mainly reserved for guests of the complex. (The Caneel Bay Resort, destroyed in the 2017 Irma and Maria hurricanes, is currently closed. The beaches and snorkeling areas can only be accessed by boat.)
Like all beaches in Saint John, Caneel Beach, Scott Beach, Turtle Bay Beach and Hawksnest Beach are in theory public, but it is not allowed to walk through the resort to get there.
The only way to reach these areas if you are not staying at the Caneel Bay Resort is by sea, by kayak (mainly from Honeymoon Beach) or with your own boat.
You can enter the water from the beach of the bay you want to snorkel. Scott Beach has several areas of shallow rock ledges, so choose your access and exit point carefully.
The Caneel Bay Resort area is made up of several large sandy embayments with rocky headlands between them. Each of the bays and associated headlands have their own characteristics and support different marine ecosystems.
The headland to the right of Caneel Bay beach has a particularly good variety of fish species while the center of the bay has very healthy seagrass communities.
In Scott Beach, once in the water, the ledges can be followed to the right, with plenty of fish choosing the shelter provided under the ledges.
Swimming towards the headland to the right of Scott Beach numerous examples of elkhorn coral can be observed. Be aware of currents in this area.
The small beach at Turtle Bay has good reef to both the left and right. To the left are some good examples of staghorn coral.
To the right there are some spectacular rocky outcrops, however this area is subject to stronger currents and heading towards and around Hawksnest Point should only be attempted by the most experienced snorkelers. Numerous examples of southern stingrays can be noted in this area.
Hawknest Bay is very wide and is substantially composed of seagrass, hence is popular with green sea turtles.
The reef and shallow boulder strewn sands to the left of the bay support a wide variety of fish species, including large shoals of some of the more open water species.
Caneel Beach, Scott Beach, Turtle Bay Beach and Hawksnest Beach are the Caneel Bay Resorts house reefs.
These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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