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List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

Hagerstown, Maryland
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List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

Hey all. I know this thread is one of a million in regards to snorkeling, but I’ve been researching the forums and compiled this list and wanted to consult with you on some things I was not clear on. We are staying for two weeks (in Punta Blanca) and plan to get a lot of snorkeling in. My partner and I have been to Roatan for a day last year on a cruise (it sold us!) and we are bringing our friend this time. We are definitely going to do West Bay again so our friend can experience it as well. Also, we are renting a car for the two weeks so we can go exploring.

Here are the places I’ve gathered are good places to snorkel based on what I’ve read here on TA, and the info that I’ve gathered regarding them. Can some of you take a stab at some of my questions, and/or confirm what I have down already?

1. West Bay – you can walk out to the reef. Where should we park our car around here for access?

2. Pristine Bay – kayak or boat ride out. Any recommendations on a kayak or boat company that will take us out?

3. Blue Channel – boat ride out. Any recommendations on a boat/tour company to take us out?

4. Camp Bay near Sirena – can explore from shore. La Sirena is further east than Punta Blanca, right?

5. Smuggler’s Cove – at Smuggler’s Cove Restaurant at the Meridian, snorkel off their beach. Can be reached by the main road, past Infinity Bay parking lot, on right at tip of island.

6. Port Royal – Not sure how to access this spot, what I read was not clear.

7. Reef off Luna Beach – Not sure how to access this, same as above.

8. Reef off Xbalanque – Not sure how to access this, same as above.

General question: if we could only do a few of these spots, which would you recommend as the top spots?

Also, the house we are renting is on the beach, so we will definitely be trying out the snorkeling there. I’m not sure how far out the reef is though. I’ve also been in contact with Marble Hill Farms and we can rent a kayak from them, as they are very close to us, and venture out as well.

I know that some of these questions may seem redundant for some of you experts, but I really do appreciate your expertise and your time in answering!

Jen

Menlo Park...
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1. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

(1) walk out to the reef? This I gotta see.It's been a while since I've seen someone walk on water. But I guess you could wade out, so that's the same as walking. West Bay has some parts where the reef crest is high and thus a little dangerous,since the coral can slice you up. Better stick to the deeper parts, and swim around to the back side where the reef is in surprisingly good shape. Just avoid the area to the far left.

(2) the reef at Pristine Bay is definitely a boat ride away, same at Turquoise Bay

(3,5,7,8) you can swim out to the reef here. no need for a boat.

(6) Pot Royal is accessible only by a long boat ride, and there is little fringing reef here. For all the hassle you can skip it.

Yes, Camp Bay and La Sirena are way east of Punta Blanca.

In general I think you may be staying too far east to be assured of good snorkel conditions every day. The constant wind tends to raise the waves which mess up visibility even inside the reef. And the coral east of Punta Blanca (including Camp Bay) is not nearly as vibrant as at the west end. Wind is a factor at Marble Hill and Paya Bay to the extent that it's a big kite boarding area. Plus you would have to deal with the dirt road and an hour drive each way to get to the guaranteed excellent snorkeling at West End. I stayed a week just recently out east and never had a day where you could see your hand in front of your face under water. In fact I bumped my head on a rock trying to swim there. You may get lucky and find a period with no wind, but that's is very unlikely. Marble Hill has a lot of nice kayaks to rent but you'd still be dealing with the wind.

Minneapolis...
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2. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

1 At Infinity bay, the parking lot is divided into two parts... as you get to it you can hang left into the IB part heading up to their desk area, or you can stay left... the lot on the left is a public parking lot... there was always room there when we wanted to park. Alternatively, there is parking along the road across from Celeste's by the road heading down to Bananarama... perhaps a hundred yards before you get to IB... or you can pay a buck or two to park in lots along the short road leading down to Bananarama.

If you want to get outside the reef at West Bay on the west end of the beach as dhauk is rightly encouraging you to do, you start out right in front of IB... going straight out past the first stretch of sand you find a triangular patch of sand... swim across it, hang a left along what is an obvious kind of channel - and you will be outside the reef. The water is too deep for inexperience snorkelers to kick the coral or take souveniers and it is suprisingly healthy reef. Look at a satelite picture and you can clearly see the route I'm describing.

Can't say much about the rest. I know the road past Camp Bay is described as "4-wheel only" heading to Port Royal. We took our standard drive rental a short distance past the restaurant and decided it would be prudent not to proceed.

An easy alternative to West Bay... one day you might want to go to West End... hang to the right around Half Moon Bay to HMB Resort. They have a little dock/ladder to get into water waist-deep or so... swimming to the right you can see some fish and coral... I enjoyed watching the squid there...

Smuggler's Cove restaurant has been closed for some time, and though some folks talked about good snorkeling from that westernmost point, others found it difficult. Current is rarely much of an issue snorkeling around Roatan, but when you get to a spot like that westernmost point... basically the black rocks on the west end of West Bay Beach on to the end of the island... folks do describe having to watch the currents so you don't find yourself heading involuntarily out in the general direction of Utila.

You may be overplanning. The folks you are renting from should give you tips on snorkeling nearby. The folks at Marble Hill should be able to give you good tips. The folks at the lodge on Camp Bay and at the restaurant should be able to give you tips - it is a long, long stretch of beach with the reef a good distance out.

As a general rule of thumb... if you see the reef breaking the waves, and if you see a buoy, you can paddle a kayak out and tie it to the buoy and snorkel. I say this in theory, because in practice we've never actually done it. We stay in Sandy Bay and we mostly just do a liesurely 400 yard or so swim out to the reef, noodle around for an hour, and swim home.

Hagerstown, Maryland
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3. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is good information.

"You may be overplanning." - It's the story of my life! : )

dhauk - how do I access Blue Channel and Luna Beach? When I try to search for Luna Beach on google maps, I get Luna Beach Road - is that what I'm looking for? Blue Channel just gives me a restaurant.

And I see there is a resort called Xbalanaque, I'm assuming the reef is right off of there.

I'm thinking that since there are so many great places you can snorkel from right off of the beach, maybe I wouldn't have to go with a boat company to do any snorkeling.

The Dalles, Oregon
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4. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

Plan to use a kayak from Camp Bay, too, unless you are really into swimming. The snorkeling was ok there but not fabulous - poachers had netted out most of the fish, at least that was the case when we were there less than 2 years ago. We snorkeled around Port Royal in 2006 and 2011 and liked the wrecks (long boat trips from either Camp Bay, Port Royal, or Oak Ridge. Sandy Bay snorkeling from shore was fabulous, though.

My photos with blog and travelogue links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - Camp Bay and Sandy Bay snorkeling photos in the 2001 collection. Happy trails!

flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

Hagerstown, Maryland
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5. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

Hope, thanks for sharing the pictures, they are fantastic! Is there a kayak rental near Camp Bay?

That Sandy Bay snorkeling looked amazing. I was looking on a map - is Sandy Bay considered the location around Anthony's Key Resort? Or does it encompass a larger area?

Hagerstown, Maryland
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6. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

I thought of another question. When you are at these places snorkeling, what is the best way to hold your car keys? Obviously we'll bring towels and won't leave any other personal items on the beach, but the car keys? And now that I'm really thinking about it, I'd like to bring my DLSR camera as well (besides my underwater one) and there's no way I'll be able to, because I can't leave it in the car or on the beach.

The Dalles, Oregon
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7. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

We take our towels, keys, $$, etc. along with us when we snorkel in 1 of these:

rei.com/product/…

We just hook it to a wrist or ankle and it bobs along beside us.

Hagerstown, Maryland
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8. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

Thanks Hope... I should look at our drypack we have for kayaking and see if I can attach a clip to it.

I liked this too: http://www.amazon.com/Dry-Pak-Multi-Purpose-Nylon-9-Inchx12-Inchx3-Inch/dp/B000OF3JLS/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1369772432&sr=8-6&keywords=kwik+tek

It would be big enough to hold my sunglasses.

The Dalles, Oregon
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9. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

Ours is pretty big - enough for 2 lightweight towels plus valuables. I like the clear feature because it makes it easy to find what you want rather than just digging around blindly or emptying out the whole thing.

Menlo Park...
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10. Re: List of Snorkeling Spots with Questions!

There is continuous reef from the southern tip of Half Moon Bay all the way down to the wall at West Bay, and Blue Channel is a passage through this reef, close to the northern end. It sits right off Sueno del Mar hotel. And not too far from there is the resort called Luna Beach; it's at the end of Luna Beach road off the main West Bay road, if you cared to drive there. Xbalanque is also in this stretch of beach. Sueno and Luna both have kayaks, though perhaps only for their clientele. When I was staying at Sueno last month, I gave up on the kayak and just swam out because the reef is so close. I did have to pay attention to boats though. You can see Blue Channel very clearly on Google Earth, as the (duh) Blue Channel cut through the reef closest to West End.