My Favourite Barbados Snorkelling Spots

My Favourite Barbados Snorkelling Spots

I’ve been snorkelling in and around Barbados for over 10 years and even lived at some of the spots so I thought I’d share my favourite spots to jump in the water and observe the marine life Barbados has to offer.

Folkestone Marine Reserve

Location

This is usually one of the stops on the West Coast catamaran tours, situated right opposite the Bali Hai property it can be found by parking in the Holetown mall car park or, even closer, by Surfside bar.

You then walk South along the new boardwalk to what seems like a little deserted, private cove.

The bay is a nice quiet bay if you wish to get away from the usual busy West Coast beaches - just bear in mind there are no real facilities/vendors so carry with you what you what you may want during your stay.

You can get in the water here and swim straight out through the reef. The reef, while teeming with fish life isn’t in fantastic shape here but there is a lot to see. If you venture a little further out (look for the floating buoys in the water) there are two small ‘wrecks’ to see.

They sit in 30ft of water and are teeming with fish – the catamarans and glass-bottom-boats feeds this fish daily so they are very confident. I would recommend taking a bag of bread out with you to experience it. The wrecks are quite plain – just simple barges but you will also find eels around them if you search.

Coming back into the reef there are many small ravines to explore, I’ve seen many turtles here, squid, eels, lobster (harder to find!), rock fish and more. On a normal day there is no real current here but the best sites are in water 15-30ft deep.

If you get the chance, strapping on a tank and venturing out into the 50-60ft deep water reveals a reef the snorkelers seldom see – it really is healthy, teeming with life and quite amazing.

Coming in closer to shore and at the tip of the boardwalk is sand dollar alley – diving down (20ft or so deep here) you’ll find hundreds of sand dollars and the occasional heart urchin as a souvenir.

A night dive here is spectacular, you will see a completely different side to the reef and many lobster – however, it’s a reserve so sadly you can’t take any home!

Carlisle Bay

Location

Situated on the South Coast on the outskirts of Bridgetown, you can park right by the beach (look for the bandstand) and then simply swim out.

Carlisle Bay is a very large bay and a beautiful beach but it can get very busy - getting into the water and going snorkelling is quite calming as it's never very busy and is a wonderful sense of freedom.

The beauty of Carlisle Bay is the wrecks – in shallow water (20ft – 40ft) they are easily accessible to most snorkelers and quite interesting to swim around. If confident you can even get inside them and have a look. To find the wrecks, swim around the bay – within the swimzone markers – and look for the buoys marking the wrecks. You can’t miss them, they’re of a good size.

Again, fish life here is teeming and confident due to the frequent feeding of them. Between the wrecks you will find many heart urchins, if lucky you’ll find a perfect one.

In the breakers closer to the beach you can find turtles, gurnards, rockfish and even more heart urchins.

There is a slight current that changes through the day in Carlisle Bay, just take note of it when you head out but it is nothing to worry an average snorkeller in fins.

Paynes Bay

Location

Paynes Bay is found on the West Coast, just south of Holetown. You can park opposite Sandy Lane 1 by the electrical sub station. Cross the road and a short walk through the public access to the beach, turn left and you will be in Paynes Bay. It is also walkable from Sandy Lane beach itself (just head South).

A popular beach there is always a lot of traffic both in and out of the water although the turtle area is very safe to swim in.

Another stop on the catamaran tours Paynes Bay is the stop to see turtles and rays. Fed more than daily they will congregate as soon as a boat appears – usually around 10am and 3pm. You can swim out from the beach and see the turtles, they will come very close and vary in all sizes. If you're having trouble finding them, just wait for a boat to come in and tag on to the group - the boats will be feeding the turtles to make them appear.

There isn't much else to see in Paynes Bay with the exception of the turtles, however you're pretty much guaranteed turtles here, I never tire of seeing and swimming with turtles, a wonderful experience.
 

Six Mens

Location

Six Mens is on the West Coast just north of Port St Charles. You can park by the road at Six Mens market itself and walk onto the thin strip of beach.

While a little more out the way Six Mens is where the St Peter fishing boats congregate and sell their fish. They frequently gut the fish in the bay so there are many rays and turtles hovering around waiting for their free food.

As such, the turtles here are huge and confident! Make sure to keep your hands to yourself and you can admire the large turtles and the good sized rays. There isn't much in the terms of reef so the attraction here is the large turtles and larger breed of normal marine life, it's also a much quieter spot tourist-wise.


Do you have any favourite spots? Please feel free to reply and add them!

Graeme.

Photographs taken with a Canon PowerShot D10

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