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Top-ranked Shoal Bay East Beach is a beautiful, white sandy beach towards the northeast of the island of Anguilla. The beach allows easy access to several outcrops of coral reefs, which features a varied sea life including colorful reef fish, as well as occasional eagle rays encounters.

Reef slope at Shoal Bay, Anguilla
Shallow sloping reef edge, area 2.

How to get to Shoal Bay Beach snorkeling spot?

Shoal Bay is Anguilla’s signature beach. It is located within Shoal Bay Village, along the island’s northern shore. Shoal Bay Beach has several access points but the closest to the best snorkeling area are the Tropical Sunset Restaurant & Bar, the Madeariman (where parking is available for $5 per day), or the beachfront hotels which include The Manoah Boutique Hotel, Shoal Bay Villas, and Elodias Beach Resort.

Shoal Bay Beach snorkeling map, Anguilla
Shoal Bay Beach snorkeling map, Anguilla.

Water entrance for snorkeling Shoal Bay Beach

Shoal Bay East Beach has some of the easiest-to-access reef features that can be snorkeled on from the shore. The first access point (snorkel entry 1 on the map) is straight off the beach in front of the Manoah Hotel.

A further location can be found to the east of the hotel, off the tip of East Beach, before it becomes North Shoal Bay Beach. Looking to the east, the second access point (snorkel entry 2 on the map) can be seen in the distance, about 350m away.

Shoal Bay Beach snorkeling exploration tips

Looking straight off the beach the reef feature (reef 1 on the map) is easily visible. This reef is very shallow so can be a little rough when an Atlantic swell rolls in.

The coral on this reef, like many of the other nearshore reef features, is severely degraded with a limited range of coral species. Some Elkhorn coral is visible, along with Mustard Hill coral. The most notable feature of the reef is the extensive pink coralline algal cover as well as extensive brown algal cover.

Hamlet at Shoal Bay
A Butter Hamlet in Shoal Bay.

Adjacent to this point (access point 2) it is easy to swim out to the edge of the nearshore reef, through a wide sand gully (reef 2 on the map). Once on the outside it is possible to swim to both the west and the east on the reef edge.

The reef edge at this location has a variety of forms including areas with vertical faces but is mostly gently sloping into deeper water. The marine life is typical of a wave-exposed habitat with many Sea Fans and Sea Plumes.

Spotted eagle ray at Shoal Bay
Young Spotted Eagle Ray, over the sand between area 1 and the shore.

The habitats that can be observed while snorkeling in Shoal Bay Beach include beach sand; concretions/degraded coral; sand with coral debris; gently sloping rock/coral with numerous soft coral species and finally steeply sloping coral and rock. The sand area around area 1 is good for spotting rays, with the Eagle Rays particularly spectacular.

This outer side of the reef at area 2, is one of the best places to see large shoals of fish, including Blue Tang, as well as more solitary species such as Barracuda and Jacks.

School of Blue tang at Shoal Bay
Shoal of Blue Tang over the reef at area 2.

Don’t forget to look at the full site description on our sister site.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

The Manoah Boutique Hotel has 31 rooms, of which 9 are on the beachfront. It also has a restaurant and a separate bar. Other hotels and rooms in the area include The Zemi Beach House and Shoal Bay Villas. Several other bars and restaurants are dotted along the beach.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m on the reef flat, 65ft+/20m+ on the outer reef
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersCurrents, waves
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes, several beach front options

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

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.