I would like to get an idea of which place would find more off beach snorkeling. Can anyone give me an opinion? We are pricing these two locations....thank you
I don't know about Curacao, but there is good beach snorkeling on St. John's. The north shore is accessible by Safari ride & has lovely beaches at Maho, Francis & Cinnamon Bays, as well as other sites.
The Christmas winds blow from about November to January, churning up waves that cut the water clarity. But even then you can get great conditions if you aim for rockier lee spots like Waterlemon Cay. A dinghy or kayak would be really helpful for reaching these spots, however, unless you are a rather unusually strong & fit swimmer.
You might also consider a day charter out to Norman Island or elsewhere for great clarity & deeper water.
An attentive & dedicated deep snorkeler can expect good diversity of coral, invertebrates, shallow & deep water fish, with occasional nurse sharks, turtles & tarpon probably providing the biggest thrills. Expect ledges, rubble, surge, blue water, turtle grass, sand & various coral habitats.
I was a yacht captain in the Caribbean. ( I also have a BA in Marine biology) I spent more time in the USVI, and in St John in particular than in the ABC's. Since I accessed the water from a boat my experience is different than from the land.
Curacao has much better diving and snorkeling in all ways imaginable. Access from land is more challenging then St John. In addition, at least true in 2006, one could rent a dingy from a company in Cruz Bay on St John. In a small boat one can get to some great snorkeling at Congo Cay. If the trades aren't kicking, one can also enjoy the coral at Hawksnest Bay. There is a "guided snorkeling swim, at Trunk Bay which is also open to the predominant NE trades.
I have not been to St. John but I have over 100 dives on the Island of Curacao. If diving gets any better than there on Curacao I want to know where! My first trip to Curacao was in 2001 where I had to pickup a dive buddy on the boat I was diving on. The young lady was a great diver and I wanted to dive with her some more. So I ask are you going to be diving on the boat any more. Which she replied "no I can not afford the boat but one or to time on this trip. I am living with one of my family members here on the island. I am Dutch and this way I can save money. I am here to do shore diving." Turned out the young lady was a Dive Instructor from the Red Sea. We would meet at a dive shop in the center of the island and get tanks and a list of places to dive each day. I have been back 5 times taking people with me and we would spend all of our time shore diving on beaches that may have one of two other people on it.
Not a lot of large fish but lots of little things on the reef. One sight has a reef reconstruction project going on. Concrete reef balls on the bottom, damage to the reef was from a storm years ago. It has been fun watching this grow. A really good trip is to Key Curacao where the reef is almost untouched by divers.
Curacao is large and full of dive sights most of them are a short swim from the shore. Many has been the time that I would go to a dive sight with my buddy and we would see the dive boat on one sight, that after the dive would move on and we would have the sight to ourselves doing 3 or 4 dives in the day with out having to wait on other or the boat.
All you have to do is ask and the dive shops will tell you where to go and what you most likely will see. I would go back in a heart beat.
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