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Chris Burton
Chris Burton

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The small Palm Island is a true tropical paradise, bathed in the calm and translucent waters of the Caribbean Sea. You can start snorkeling from the beach of Palm Island Resort & Spa, the main hotel established on this private island. While the sea floor is poor in corals, it is full of colourful fish, even at shallow depth. Please note nevertheless that the access to the island (and therefore to the snorkeling spot) is reserved to the resort’s guests or to the clients of the surrounding villas.

Spotfin porcupinefish
A spotfin porcupinefish, found hiding under overhangs in area 1.

How to get to Palm Island snorkeling spot?

Palm Island is one of the 32 smaller islands that make up St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is located to the southern end of the chain, less than 2km east of Union Island. It is also 5km to the south-west of Tobago Cays, the most famous snorkeling spot of the archipelago. Palm Island is a private island that hosts a hotel complex – the Palm Island Resort& Spa – and luxury villas sometimes available for rent. In order to snorkel around the island, you must book a stay in one of the accommodations of the island (you will be picked up by boat from Union Island). If you visit the Grenadines by boat, you can also anchor on the leeward coast of Palm Island, but the main beach (zone 2 on the map below) is not opened to day visitors.

Palm Island snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Palm Island

The easiest entry point for snorkeling on the island is adjacent to the landing jetty (location 1), to the left of the jetty as you face the sea. Entry point 2 is on the north-western point of the island, just before the reef emerges on the shore. Entry and exit from the sea are on a steep but safe sandy beach, next to the beach path.

Entry point 3 is at the furthest (eastern) end of the southern beach, adjacent to a small shelter. In this area, you need to exit at the same point from which you entered, as further west a very shallow ridge of rock appears, making exit uncomfortable.

Palm Island snorkeling exploration

The best snorkeling is largely restricted to the sheltered, western end of the island, as the prevailing winds are from the east and northeast.

Several areas of easy access to the sea can be used to view the variety of marine life.  Despite the degraded condition of the corals in some areas, a good range of habitats can be found including live coral outcrops, rock ledges with numerous overhangs, seagrass beds, mixed sand, and coral debris as well as clean sandy seabeds.

Spotfin butterflyfish at Palm Island
The spotfin butterflyfish is one of the most beautiful fish found in Palm Island shallow waters.

In area 1, the seabed has a mixture of rock ledges, mixed coral debris, seagrass, sand, and small coral outcrops. Numerous ledges provide shelter for a wide variety of fish species, while the shallow top of the reef supports a variety of small hard corals, soft corals and gorgonians, including seafans.

Area 2 has the greatest variety of open water fish species. In area 3, the water is largely shallow, with sand and some coral debris. If you swim out you will reach a large reef feature including live coral.

Lizardfish at Palm Island
Keep and eye on the sandy areas: it is frequent to spot lizardfish here, as this diamond lizardfish.

Despite this average quality seabed, beautiful diversity of fish is found around Palm Island: grunts, snappers, filefish, goatfish and horse-eye jack can be seen almost everywhere. The beautiful spotfin butterflyfish is also common to Palm Island, just like the French angelfish and the Caribbean trumpetfish. More than 100 species can be found at this spot. With a little luck, you might also come across a stingray, which take shelter in the calm waters of the island.

If you decide to stay in Palm Island between June and October, you might have the chance to observe sea turtles laying eggs on the beaches of the island, usually during the night. You can rarely see them while snorkeling around Palm Island, but you can easily snorkel with sea turtles in the Tobago Cays, a little further north.

Stingray in Palm Island
Large specimens of stingray are sometimes found in the shallow sandy areas in zone 3.

Restaurants and accommodation in Palm Island

The Palm Island Resort & Spa, which offers 43 cottages, suites and villas, is the main accommodation of the island. You can also rent from individuals certain private villas located all along the northern coast of Palm Island.

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth2m in the lagoon
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsStay on the island's resort or villas
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

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.