Snorkeling – St. John

Caneel Bay offers laid-back luxury-along with seven of the most beautiful beaches on St. John

Caneel Bay offers laid-back luxury-along with seven of the most beautiful beaches on St. John

Sailing - Charleston | Kitesurfing - Bahamas | Nightime Kayaking - Puerto Rico | Snowshoeing - Vermont | Dog Sledding - Central Oregon | Snorkeling - St. John | Surfing - BarbadosHiking - New Hampshire | Snowcat Skiing - UtahZip Lining - St. Lucia | ATV Riding - Virginia

Adventure Rating: 1

You might think of snorkeling as less than adventurous—until three six-foot tarpon, with ugly grins and menacing dorsal fins, glide along ten feet below you. That'll quicken your heartbeat. Snorkeling in the calm waters off St. John offers thirty- or forty-foot visibility, underwater canyons and cliffs, fish of every hue, and a chartered boat with a full bar. Even if you stick near the beach at Caneel Bay -- which makes a fine base of operations while on St. John -- you're likely to see sea turtles and lazy stingrays.

Where to Stay

Caneel Bay offers laid-back luxury -- along with seven of the most beautiful beaches on St. John, superb dining, first-class tennis, and all manner of excursions ($325-plus per night, caneelbay.com, pictured). Former Charlottean and middle-school biology teacher Scott Begley runs the beach activities, and he'll make sure you have a good time. To loosen up your snorkeling muscles, book a massage in one of the private cabanas ($90 and up). For a more private vacation, consider one of the villas that dot the island's hillsides. Wimco has a nice selection of beautiful middle- and upper-range villas, wimco.com, $2,000 per week.
Need More Adventure? Two-thirds of hilly St. John is a national park, which means there are miles of hiking trails through forest and sugar mill ruins. Book a hike on the Reef Bay Trail with a park ranger ($21 per person, nps.gov/viis) to learn about the history of the island, which plants you can eat (try the stinky toe), which bugs you can play with, and how to find the bats in the ruins. Or learn to scuba. Caneel Bay offers a free introductory lesson, $125 for an afternoon dive.

THE GEAR

To be sure of the best fit and quality, bring your own snorkel gear. Try the kit from U.S. Divers Deluxe Grande Vista. $89, amazon.com.
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