15 September 2010

Snorkeling around the Fat Virgin

Virgin Gorda trip report, continued...

One of the many reasons I love traveling to the Caribbean is my love of snorkeling.  And on the trips that I've taken with DG, we have snorkeled up a storm--my estimate is that we swim/snorkel more than a mile each day on vacation together.  Despite the heavy bleaching of the corals found in the Caribbean and elsewhere (thank you, Global Warming!), the snorkeling we did on this trip is the best we've encountered so far. 

Our first full day on the island we went on a daytrip with Double D Charters on their motor yacht for $95 per person, plus tip.  This was an excellent trip with four snorkeling stops: Peter Island, Norman Island, the Indians, and the wreck of the RMS Rhone.  Our captain for this trip was Corinne, and she was terrific—skilled, engaging, and informative.  Big kudos to her for making the trip even more enjoyable. Peter Island was mezzo-mezzo in terms of coral and fish, but Norman Island and the Indians were excellent, in my opinion.  It was extremely cool to be able to swim in and out of the caves at Norman Island, and we could have spent a good bit more time in the water than our allotted 45 minutes.
The Caves

Close up shot of anemones on wall in one of the caves
Inside one of the caves
The Indians were amazing, especially when rounding the far end where there was a huge explosion of color and fish.  We could have spent more time there, too. 
The Indians, seen from the boat

One of the colorful areas of The Indians
The wreck of the Rhone was a bit more interesting in theory than in practice.  It was submerged in 25 feet of water and there weren’t a ton of fish there that day.  It was still pretty neat, but it was the only snorkeling spot that day where I felt that I had time to see everything in the 30 minutes we had there. 
Looking down into a smokestack (?) on the wreck of the RMS Rhone

The snorkeling at Mahoe Bay was also pretty good in my opinion.  While there was significant bleaching of the coral, the sea fans looked healthy and there were fish everywhere.  There were also very interesting pinnacle-like coral formations, some of which came within a few inches of breaking the surface.  We snorkeled there for a total of about 4 hours over different days and still didn’t feel like we exhausted everything to see. 
One of the pinnacles off of Mahoe Bay
Healthy sea fan at Mahoe

Our favorite snorkeling was the coastline running south from Big Trunk Bay to the more southerly of the Spring Bay beaches.  We also had the water and beaches mostly to ourselves, which was divine.  We snorkeled with sea turtles and saw the largest fish I’ve ever been in the water with—a huge barracuda that was about four feet long (NB: I have, since the trip to VG, swum with larger fish, namely tarpon, but in 2007 that barracuda was a personal best).  The water clarity was excellent and the colors of the sealife were vibrant—partly because we had less overcast weather on the days we were at Spring Bay.
The coast of VG is dotted with these boulder-strewn grottoes.
The sundappled effect on the snorkeling is magical.

Brain coral near Spring Bay
A school of Blue Tang near Spring Bay
A barracuda --believe me--it looked bigger in person!
Some healthy sponges at Spring Bay
Elkhorn (staghorn?) coral at Spring Bay
Riding home on the Double D: DG (left) and me (right)
To be continued...

(NB: photo credits belong to Emily Crowe, Emmaline Martin, or Barry Moser)


  1. Oh wow. Those pictures make my soul ache. I think I need to plan a trip to round yon virgin post-haste!


  2. Maybe we could make it a joint trip, beeb! Honestly, the water clarity there is what makes the pictures so good. Can you imagine snorkeling all day through those rocky grottoes? It's magical!

  3. Snorkeling is my passion. I also love to dive down exploring what is a bit deeper. I like your photos.


  4. Peter, I wish I were better at diving down, but even with fins to aid me, my natural padding makes it difficult for me to do...

  5. Emily, thank you very much for responding to my comment.

    I found a short clip on YOUTUBE about how to make it easier getting down with little effort, saving your breath and engery to stay down longer.

    I wish you a lot of happy snorkeling.




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