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Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

Jersey City, New...
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for Anguilla, St. Lucia
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Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

Desperately in need of rejuvenation, hubby and I would like to make our 2nd trip to Antigua over the Thanksgiving holiday in late November. Hawksbill was charming for our first trip in 2005, but we'd really appreciate suggestions on a property with a great beach, good reef snorkeling close to shore, that's not too big. I've been intrigued by what I've read about Blue Heron, but it's booked. So we need a Plan B. Also, where are the best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda? Thanks for sharing!

Lake District, UK
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1. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua isn't noted for off beach snorkelling. The best hotel/snorkelling combination is probably the Grand Pineapple or Long Bay Hotel on Long Bay, or maybe Freemans Bay at English Harbour. You could try Galleon Beach Resort or The Inn on that beach. There's a good spot there called the Pillars of Hecules. Oherwise, take a boat trip to one of the better reefs. There are quite a few based in Jolly Harbour. I'd recommend one of Eli's tours. Look them up at www.adventureantigua.com. You'll find info on many other tours (and accomodation) at www.antiguanice.com.

Croydon, England...
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2. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

I understand that Antigua is not one of the best places in the world for varieties of fish and snorkelling but according to feedback the Grand Pineapple is one of the best (if not the best as someone said he looked at the other 364 beaches and couldn't find one that betters) for snorkelling and is one reason why we're going there in Feb. Not forgetting one has to balance this with the type of hotel and its facilities that one aspires. Cheers.

United Kingdom
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3. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

Rex Blue Heron is actually closed fpor renervations I believe, have you considered the Inn at English Harbour or Galleon Beach (self Catering). Some of the best snorkelling is of the Pillars of Hercules at the entrance to English Harbour and is easily accessed from both these properties .

Cape Elizabeth...
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4. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

Due to various human and natural factors, there is no beach in Antigua off which one can find live reefs. There is a nice variety of fish though, and that's what one has to be looking for in any Antigua snorkeling.

Long Bay (home of both Pineapple Resort and Long Bay Hotel) does indeed have the best off-the-beach snorkeling on the island. I am wondering though if after Hawksbill you might be disappointed in this beach. Don't get me wrong, it's lovely! But Pineapple has a much more crowded "feel" than Hawksbill. As a secondary matter, the beach is often used by the cruise ship passengers, and the Long Bay Hotel end can get fairly jammed with people on cruise ship days.

As to the two hotels there, Pineapple is all-inclusive and quite a bit larger than Long Bay. Long Bay is an older property, run by the same family since the early 60's. I think it's nicer than Pineapple, but there is a significant price differential. Both places have die-hard fans...people love them both, for different reasons.

Otherwise, consider choosing a hotel based on other attributes and plan on taking car trips or boat tours out to the good snorkeling spots. Curtain Bluff is a fine hotel with gorgeous beaches, and I have dived on Cades Reef (nearby, by boat) and it's pretty nice.

Harmony Hall has long had a nice deal that included lunch at their fine, fine restaurant and a snorkeling trip out to Green Island. People just raved about this. However, Harmony Hall always closes for the summer season, and there is a lot of debate on this forum as to whether or not they will be re-opening this fall. As their usual opening date is mid-November, it might be worth checking this out once you get to the island.

I notice that nobody has touched your Barbuda question, and I don't feel very qualified to do so either. There is (or at least there was last time I was out there) a gorgeous resort called The Beach House on a 90 acre estate with 20 or so suites. Other than that, I only know of guesthouses, but it's been a year or two since I've been over there.

Brussels Belgium
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5. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

First of all mant thanks to cessnapilot- you gave me some useful info before our trip to Pineapple Beach, albeit about the Montserrat helicopter trip. We did the trip and it was really great, not only for what we saw, but just as much to realise that there are 6 complete villages buried beneath all the lava! Awesome and so sad!.Back to snorkelling...Pineapple probably does have the best snorkelling off its beach, but we were disappointed. The coral is dead and although we snorkeled twice a day every day for a week saw only a few yellow and black striped ones, the blue/purple ones and a couple of other less interesting varieties, and so few! We also did Eli's Eco tour which was good, but not as "eco" orientated as one would imagine. There were 3 snorkelling opportunities-considered to be the best on the island, but were also disappointing (apart from the stingray my daughters and husband saw. The sandy seabed is just not condusive to good visibility. Barbados is so much better for snorkelling!! But having said that, we'd rather return to Antigua!

P.S. Anyone know anything about the Sunsail in Antigua?

Bonaire
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6. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

Sadly Antigua's government has not invested in permanent moorings to protect the now badly damaged reefs. Go to Bonaire if you want snorkeling. The entire island is a marine park. Go to Antigua for it's culture, beaches, museums and more.

Croydon, England...
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7. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

Belgiumbelle, so the prospect of seeing varieties of fish is not promising then. Did you go to Bird Island and/or Green Island and if so what was the snorkelling like there? Interesting to know you've been to the same hotel we're going to in Feb and like it and that you liked the island enough to want to return.

Brussels Belgium
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8. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

Hi Royeee, yes, we had lunch at Bird Island (named for the shape of it rather than the birdlife found there!) We were on the Eco tour. Most of the people went on a guided hike to the top of the hill, but as our daughter was recovering from a broken foot we snorkelled instead. Absolutely NOTHING there to see! The sea bed was very sandy and pretty much free of anything that fish call interesting, but the water was nice. The official 'snorkelling stops' were in deep water and provided more opportunities to look for fish, but I can't say I was impressed . The water was fairly clear,and with the help of our snorkelling guide who swam on ahead to find "interesting things" like a starfish and a Manta Ray half consealed on the bottom, we did see a few things. The experience was enjoyable, but don't expect the architypal "tropical fish tank" stuff. As I said before, Barbados was better for snorkelling suprisingly- but by the specially sunken ship and other strategic places advertised. You can snorkel off Pineapple, at the far end of the beach: Walk to the small green and white hut then swim out from there until you get to the big rocks just beneath the water. That's where we found the greatest number of fish.You'll like the Pineapple. We were there for only a week, but because of the time difference you'll be awake at sunrise so will have nice long days on the beach! Like most places in the Caribbean, the locals are very friendly if you take the trouble to talk to them as you would a friend rather than just treat them like 'staff'. When my husband called in at reception to book a taxi the receptionist was quite put out by my husbands businesslike attitude. Don't get me wrong, he was v polite, but he just went in and said "please can I book a taxi for tomorrow morning" When it was done, he said thank you and was about to go when she said ...."don't you want to talk to me then? You book a taxi but didn't talk to me!"My advice (even if you don't need it) slow down and talk to everyone! You'll love it. Have a good trip.I'm envious!

Brussels Belgium
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9. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

Cessnapilot, just noticed your post on Long Bay Hotel. I was at Pineapple 2 weeks ago and the Long Bay Hotel was closed- our hotel guide said perhaps indefinitely...don't know how much truth there is in this..it's certainly fenced off from the entrance all round the perimeter....Dian Bay was open though, albiet only just (is was the first week of the season for them.)

Fallston, MD
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10. Re: Best snorkeling beaches in Antigua and Barbuda

For: "BelgiumBelle"

I just checked, and the Long Bay Beach Restaurant has been open this week. Therfore, I'd assume the Hotel surely must be as well. I suppose they just reopened a few weeks later than Chris had anticipated.

Cheers,

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