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Best daysail itineraries for snorkeling?

Hatfield...
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Best daysail itineraries for snorkeling?

My husband and I will be heading down to the BVI in July with his 13 year old granddaughter. She is most interested in snorkeling, so we'd like to take a full day sail.

She's done only a bit of snorkeling, and only from shore, so part of me thinks that doing the Baths and Cooper Island might be better than the open water scenario of snorkeling the Indians. Anybody have any suggestions?

No cruise ships are scheduled during our trip. Will the Baths still be crowded with daytrippers? Is there actual good snorkeling there, or is the bulk of the experience just based on the unusual rock formations and swimming through grottoes?

Does Smuggler's Cove have the best snorkeling from shore on Tortola?

Thanks in advance!

Hatfield...
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11. Re: Best daysail itineraries for snorkeling?

Linda, I've always wanted to stay on Jost myself--either at Sandcastle right on the beach or a villa in the hills. In a previous incarnation my husband stayed on Jost for about a week back in the early 80s, before most of the beach bars were there. I'm eager to try it for myself, but he's a little reluctant about revisiting the island and feeling that it's changed. He hasn't gone back to St. BArth's since the early 80s, either, and he loved it so much then that he's reluctant to go back now. But I tell him he's just being an old fuddy duddy. :)

Now I'm counting down the days until we leave--it's going to be such a great time! Thank you so much for all of your input. If you have any more suggestions in the next week or so, please let me know. I'll post a trip report probably here and on Fodor's when we get back.

Ontario, Canada
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12. Re: Best daysail itineraries for snorkeling?

Emily, your hubby is right - Jost will have changed a great deal since he was there last - pre electicity (or "current") and pre internet. White Bay is still absolutely awesome, but it has definitely been "discovered" these days. That doesn't mean that it isn't a lot of fun. However, there are a lot of day trippers (both day sail cats and owner power boats) that come in each and every day from the USVI. It can get very very busy there. We adore Jost, White Bay and Sandcastle to death, but I doubt that we will go back again except for extreme off season. I'm thinking about Sandy Ground Estates for our next trip. I envy his experience of having stayed there back in the days when it was totally unspoiled. In any case, I'm sure that you will have an excellent time on both Jost and Tortola. I wait with bated breath for the trip report!

Linda

Lu2
BVI
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13. Re: Best daysail itineraries for snorkeling?

Try www.patouche.com

or Caribbean Images Island Tours 1-284-494 1147

Chicago
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14. Re: Best daysail itineraries for snorkeling?

I'm not sure if you're still monitoring this post or not, but I just wanted to touch base with you on our snorkeling experiences at both The Baths and at The Indians.

For starters, I am a very strong swimmer (swam in college and had graduated 2 years ago at the time we were there) and had problems fighting the current swimming back into shore at the Baths. There are several places you can "debark" from there. If you don't go through the maze of rocks and simply start snorkeling at the rocky/coral alcove, you may experience similar problems. If you begin snorkeling on the other end of the rocks, you may have an easier time. The snorkeling at the Baths was okay at best. We didn't see too many fish, but did see some sting rays going along the bottom of the ocean. While we were there, there was a high warning for Jellyfish, but we didn't see any and no one appeared to have been stung (at least while we were there). As for daytrippers, there were a decent amount there, and we had to wait around 10-15 minutes to get a picture alone in one of the grotto-like areas. Essentially, if the north swell is running, you'll have to take extra precautions as the waves will come crashing into the boulders possibly creating a less than stellar snorkeling experience.

Honestly, my husband and I thought our snorkeling experience at Indians was superior to The Baths. There were so many more fish and colorful coral and FAR LESS CROWDED!! We had an afternoon sail and were at The Indians by 2:30 and snorkeled for around an hour and a half discovering all sorts of hidden treasures. There were maybe a dozen other folks snorkeling with us (+ 3 scuba divers). It was a unique and exciting experience for us.

Hatfield...
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15. Re: Best daysail itineraries for snorkeling?

Well, first of all, thank you to everyone who shared their input for our trip to Tortola. We ended up going with Patouche Charters, sailing on Shamwari for the saturday sail to Virgin Gorda and Cooper Island. It ended up being a great day, but I have two complaints about the company we chose. First of all, their website promised ample shade, which is the one of the main reasons I chose them. We had fleeting shade provided by the sails when we stopped motoring and started sailing during the morning. Then we had fleeting shade for about an hour in the afternoon provided by the spinnaker when they raised it on the way home. The rest of the time there was no break from the sun. If I had known that, I definitely wouldn't have booked with them. My husband ended up with mild sun poisoning, but luckily my granddaughter and I only had mild sunburns.

Secondly, I requested a vegetarian meal that was confirmed by email before departing for Tortola, but when I asked the crew about it, they said that nobody had requested a vegetarian meal.

The two crew guys themselves were wonderful, keeping up a steady stream of stories throughout the day--I find absolutely no fault at all with either of them.

I was prepared for the Baths to be crowded and touristy, which they were. What I was not prepared for was how enchanting I would find them--the way the dappled sunlight played through rocky grottoes and varying depths was simply beautiful. Not much coral there, but what was there was so colorful that it more than compensated. We just loved it and would definitely go back, but earlier or later in the day to avoid some of the folks. (Though there were still plenty of moorings available when we arrived and left, so it couldn't have been a maxed out crowd.)

After lunch we motored to Cooper Island for some more very colorful snorkeling. Plenty of colorful fish and coral. The snorkeling was not disappointing in the least, the water was very calm, and we all had a blast. In fact, all of the snorkeling we saw thereafter from the beaches on Tortola literally paled in in comparison--most of the corals we saw looked like they were dead or dying.

We saw White Squall sail past us, with a shade awning on board and we longed to be on her instead. If booking for the future and shade is important to you, take a look at White Squall instead of Patouche.