BVI snorkeling at the baths

Snorkeling along the shoreline of The Baths offers an entirely different world. (Photo: Getty Images)


BVI Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Sites Mix Old and New Delights

The best tropical destinations for scuba divers tend to be equally enticing for snorkelers, too. And the rich reefs of the British Virgin Islands include many shallow underwater views that you don’t need to be scuba certified to enjoy. That said, if you plan a BVI scuba diving or snorkeling vacation, get ready for big diving adventures on some of the Caribbean’s best wrecks—including a few recent additions to the archipelago’s growing collection of artificial reefs.

The Baths

A visit to this incredible natural attraction on the southwestern tip of Virgin Gorda is on the itinerary for most visitors to the BVI. And as fascinating as it is to walk through the shadowy spaces and pools of water between huge granite boulders lining the shore at The Baths National Park, snorkeling along the shoreline offers up another world entirely.

Start your BVI snorkeling adventure with Day Trips BVI at Devil’s Bay and fin your way all the way around the sea-facing side of The Baths’ boulders, peering into cracks and crevices to scout for lobster and tropical fish like wrasse, angel fish and sergeant majors.

Afterward, dry off with a walk along the boardwalk through the boulders. Be sure to stop at the formation called The Cathedral for the ultimate Instagram shot as sunlight filters through the rocks from overhead, casting an ethereal light.

The Indians

Four jagged rocks jutting up from the water off Norman Island mark a sweet BVI snorkeling spot where you’ll be floored at what lies beneath the surface. At the site called The Indians, sea fans sway in the currents atop submerged rocks. There are often so many schooling tropical fish here it can feel could-like as you swim through them.

On the deeper side of the rocks, a sheer wall plunges down over 30 feet and often teems with schooling grunts. Be sure to look into the blue, where you may spot something bigger—perhaps a barracuda or an eagle ray winging past. Jost Van Dyke Scuba leads guided tours to snorkel The Indians.

The Willy T

One of the most legendary (some might say notorious) bars in the BVI was destroyed during hurricanes Irma and Maria. But the floating barge Willy T has found a final resting spot in Key Bay off Peter Island. An organization called Beyond the Reef is responsible for helping convert the floating bar-turned-hurricane debris into an underwater pirate ship complete with pirate-themed artwork and fake skeletons for divers to explore.

Before sinking the barge, the team made sure the Willy T was safe for BVI scuba diving by cutting holes in the deck for access points and patching dangerous areas. Dive BVI leads guided dives to the Willy T once a week.

RMS Rhone

Experienced divers who come to the BVI have the wreck of the Royal Mail Ship Rhone at the top of their must-dive list. One of the most famous shipwrecks in all of the Caribbean, the Rhone crashed into Salt Island during a hurricane in 1867 and was left split in two. The wreckage is still down on the sea floor for anyone to explore in about 90 feet of water—although it’s more spread out these days, thanks to the many hurricanes that have rearranged it since.

You’ll need more than one dive to see all the Rhone offers (Dive BVI scheduled regular dives to the site). But the highlights that remain intact after all these years underwater include the ship’s propeller, steam engine and part of its rigging.

Kodiak Queen

One of the newest sites for BVI scuba diving, the Kodiak Queen was sunk as an artificial reef in 2017 off Virgin Gorda and has quickly become a favorite among divers. The former Navy fuel barge has a fascinating history as one of just a few ships to survive the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

It was later reborn as a fishing boat before rusting away in a Road Town junkyard and being sunk as an underwater attraction. Now, the wreck is the anchor of the BVI Art Reef project. And even though the Kraken sculpture that once decorated it collapsed during winter swells in 2018, divers thrill over the abundant marine life and artistic murals that decorate the wreck.