Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
jdkbrim

Best/cheapest snorkeling option for beginners

Recommended Posts

We will be cruising to Nassau, Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, and Amber Cove with kids ages 17, 15, and 11 next March. I have snorkeled only in Grand Turk. This will be my kids' 1st time snorkeling. I'm looking for recommendations for a good 1st experience for them given these 4 ports. Also, cost is a factor since this is times 5 people and we have to pay more in order to sail during Spring Break. I have looked at the Port of Call Boards but see more recommendations of companies versus a cost/benefit analysis across ports.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Best option would be to do an excursion at Grand Turk to show your kids what snorkeling is about. There is a tour that takes you to 2 or 3 spots. One is a coral garden in maybe 15' - 20' of water, then a stop on a small island where the guides may be able to coax some sting rays into shallow water. Plenty of corals and fish to see. You don't have to take them to the wall, which is a 7,000' drop off into the deep blue.

 

Nassau has a few snorkel spots as well, but Amber Cove doesn't (gray Atlantic water) and the only snorkel spot at HMC is in ocean waters that could be dangerous for experienced snorkelers, so not recommended there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:) I agree that Grand Turk is the place to snorkel among your stops. Do an excursion.

 

Half moon will be a disappointment - little to see off the beach - even if you walk the 2 miles to the far end. If you do the Carnival excursion you will be in rougher water than you want....

 

At Amber Cover - just do something else.

 

In Nassau it will be hit or miss but not cheap. Snorkel tours can be in deep water with a lot of difficult logistics.

 

So do Grand Turk - Capt. Donovan at White Sands tours - on the internet are the best. :cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

for a beginner I would not do a tour, I would snorkel from the beach, rental equipment is available at most beaches. Of course you will not see as much as on a tour , but the kids might be more comfortable. We had a friend who freaked out in waste deep water. She just could not get her head underwater and breath through the snorkel. Being on a tour a little off shore can be terrifying for some. Once they comfortable in shallow water, then take the on a tour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the water is clear enough, you can STAND there and see what's in the water! No need to put your face in at all!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with coevan. Let them get some practice in first. If they get the hang of it and like it, they'll enjoy a tour that much more.

 

We had never snorkeled before our cruise last year. We just bought some cheapo gear from Walmart just in case we didn't like it. Didn't want to rent, too many unknown variables there (to include cleanliness and worn out gear). We first tried it on HMC at the main public beach. It's nothing but a sandy bottom with very little to see. I think I saw one fish. We decided to give it another go on Grand Turk. Instead of going to the main beach out in front of Margaritaville, which was extremely crowded, we went to the other side of the pier. If you're standing on the pier facing shore, we went to the right (out in front of the NASA exhibit). There's several lounge chairs in the shade and when we were there, not even 10 people in this area. There are some larger rocks to navigate, but as long as you're careful, nothing too extreme. We saw fish, a couple crabs, a live conch. So much better than HMC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can also buy full face snorkel masks that are great for novices. Then you can use them at any beach plus if you do an excursion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grand Turk-No excursion needed. Just you own snorkel mask and fins. You can snorkel right beside the ship. A lot of fish. Husband and son love snorkeling there.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The really should have masks and snorkel and try using them in a pool first. Find a place like Big 5 that has masks you can try. Hold up to face and inhale through nose. If it doesn't stick or is uncomfortable try something else. The problem with this is that cheap masks are stiff, uncomfortable and tend to leak. A dive shop is better, but masks will start at $30 or so there (and for the older kids will last 10 years or so). You can buy decent masks online (leisurepro, for example), but the problem is you can't try them on there.

 

You don't need fins to snorkel in shallow water but it is important to get used to the idea of breathing through a tube and what to do if it floods. Teach them how to clear a mask as well. Beach snorkeling is a good introduction even if there isn't much to see. A lot of the boat tours are work - fighting against waves or current and in deeper water. Save this until they are comfortable relaxing on the surface and watching the scenery. And consider buying some low-end underwater digital cameras.

 

And Grand Turk is by far the best of the ports you are going to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We will be cruising to Nassau, Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, and Amber Cove with kids ages 17, 15, and 11 next March. I have snorkeled only in Grand Turk. This will be my kids' 1st time snorkeling. I'm looking for recommendations for a good 1st experience for them given these 4 ports. Also, cost is a factor since this is times 5 people and we have to pay more in order to sail during Spring Break. I have looked at the Port of Call Boards but see more recommendations of companies versus a cost/benefit analysis across ports.

 

On Grand Turk if you take a "taxi" (really a mini van - about $8 p/p each way) to Bohio they offer snorkel equipment at $20 p/p. The water is shallow enough to tool around right off the beach.

 

What we liked about Bohio is that while it is a "resort" (less than 40 rooms) it isn't at all grand or snooty. What it does offer is anything you might want to do at a beautiful beach ala carte (kayak $20; stand up paddle boards $30; loungers $10) they have clean rest rooms, and showers -- we had a wonderful time there. My one disappointment is that they do have a lovely restaurant on site, with a highly recommended chef...but...the restaurant is for guests of the resort only :( so "food" was not a highlight there (literally chicken fingers and I think that was it - we didn't eat). We "bought" 2 loungers which we had set up under a palm tree for shade, one kayak, and 2 virgin pina coladas (which were amazing!). We spent a few hours enjoying the relaxing location with beautiful water. We bring our own snorkel gear, so snorkeled and enjoyed the time immensely.

 

 

Bring water shoes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ships sell snorkels for $5.

 

Thanks everyone for the feedback so far. I had thought Grand Turk would be the best snorkeling location, but I do wonder how the kids would react to the water depth. I had planned on them practicing snorkeling in a pool before we go, although I don't really want to invest in a bunch of snorkeling gear.

 

I can't remember for sure, but is the ocean water calm out by the wall? I want to think the water wasn't rough in Grand Turk compared to other places that I have snorkeled at.

 

Where do the ships sell snorkels? Shore excursion desk, guest services?? If it makes any difference, we will be sailing on the Conquest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can't remember for sure, but is the ocean water calm out by the wall? I want to think the water wasn't rough in Grand Turk compared to other places that I have snorkeled at.

 

If your kids (especially) have not snorkeled before I would not recommend The Wall in Grand Turk. It's more than 7,000 feet in depth, and can be quite overwhelming for a new snorkeler. Best bet, for this trip, is to snorkel from the beach, where if one gets tired, or nervous, it's easy enough to head back to shore/shallow waters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If the water is clear enough, you can STAND there and see what's in the water! No need to put your face in at all!

 

Lets keep the last few coral heads alive... so, please don't follow this terrible advice. This type of advice/behavior is what kills coral. If you can't put your face in the water and float, stay away from snorkeling areas... definitely don't stand in them!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lets keep the last few coral heads alive... so, please don't follow this terrible advice. This type of advice/behavior is what kills coral. If you can't put your face in the water and float, stay away from snorkeling areas... definitely don't stand in them!

Terrible advice? I don't think that person was advising to stand on coral or any other sea life. It is possible to snorkel from the beach in shallow enough water to stand up and not be standing on anything alive. We did this at Grand Turk. We were able to see a few different types of sea life without being near coral. Besides, that person was merely suggesting that there are spots where the water is clear enough that a person doesn't have to put their head underwater if they're uncomfortable with it. They didn't say do it where you'd have to stomp all over coral. I think you're jumping to conclusions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am by no means a great swimmer and/or snorkeling but in Feb was in Mexico with my cheap gear from an online store. I also purchased a snorkel vest and that makes a huge difference for a beginner. Mine cost around $30 and worked great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am going to disagree with the others.... I would do a boat snorkel trip in Nassau.

Several reasons, but one of them is they are going to put you at a place with coral and fish, not just sand.

Also, they are going to provide the snorkel equipment and vests.

If someone doesn't like it, they can get back on the boat by a ladder or stairs, depending on the type of boat. Easy.

And 11-15 year olds are probably just fine doing this type of snorkel excursion.

 

I am a scuba diver, but I have done some snorkel trips also and no way I would try to snorkel from a beach full of swimmers splashing around. If there are 2-3 fish, they will be scared off. Just a fact.

 

robin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am going to disagree with the others.... I would do a boat snorkel trip in Nassau.

Several reasons, but one of them is they are going to put you at a place with coral and fish, not just sand.

Also, they are going to provide the snorkel equipment and vests.

If someone doesn't like it, they can get back on the boat by a ladder or stairs, depending on the type of boat. Easy.

And 11-15 year olds are probably just fine doing this type of snorkel excursion.

 

I am a scuba diver, but I have done some snorkel trips also and no way I would try to snorkel from a beach full of swimmers splashing around. If there are 2-3 fish, they will be scared off. Just a fact.

 

robin

 

Except that a boat excursion can be expensive for 5 people. I do think an excursion has some advantages i.e, they provide equipment and usually some instruction and usually they know where the best snorkeling is, not to mention you are with other people (which can be good or bad).

 

 

On the other hand, I've done some pretty good snorkeling just off the beach while on cruises but not at any of the places the OP mentioned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Except that a boat excursion can be expensive for 5 people. I do think an excursion has some advantages i.e, they provide equipment and usually some instruction and usually they know where the best snorkeling is, not to mention you are with other people (which can be good or bad).

 

 

On the other hand, I've done some pretty good snorkeling just off the beach while on cruises but not at any of the places the OP mentioned.

 

The OP asked for BEST and Cheapest..... you can't get both IMHO. The old saying "you get what you pay for" applies here. Sure, shore snorkeling is going to be cheapest, except that you will have to pay for rental of gear for everyone, so not free, and then you may or may not see a single thing except other peoples feet.

 

robin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We will be cruising to Nassau, Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, and Amber Cove with kids ages 17, 15, and 11 next March. I have snorkeled only in Grand Turk. This will be my kids' 1st time snorkeling. I'm looking for recommendations for a good 1st experience for them given these 4 ports. Also, cost is a factor since this is times 5 people and we have to pay more in order to sail during Spring Break. I have looked at the Port of Call Boards but see more recommendations of companies versus a cost/benefit analysis across ports.

 

What did y'all end up doing? How did it go?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the end, we decided our youngest was not ready for snorkeling. I wanted to do snorkeling from a boat versus the shore given these ports and we were worried she might not like knowing she couldn’t stand up. Anyway, it was the kids’ 1st time to all the ports besides Nassau, so they enjoyed the ports since they were new to them. You can’t beat exploring the conch graveyard, and the kids had a blast zip lining at Amber Cove.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In the end, we decided our youngest was not ready for snorkeling. I wanted to do snorkeling from a boat versus the shore given these ports and we were worried she might not like knowing she couldn’t stand up. Anyway, it was the kids’ 1st time to all the ports besides Nassau, so they enjoyed the ports since they were new to them. You can’t beat exploring the conch graveyard, and the kids had a blast zip lining at Amber Cove.

 

 

 

We bought adult snorkel sets for $30 at Costco in Canada and they have worked really well. For your youngest if she could practice in a pool it would help her to be comfortable.

 

In future if you go to Half Moon Cay, although not the best snorkelling to see much, it is very calm and a good place for a beginner. We like looking for the resident octopus there!

 

e2870c7e843d1a5c5c8474e0803b0db0.jpg

 

 

 

Glad you all had a wonderful time!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards
      • Forum Assistance
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a 7-day Caribbean cruise for two!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...