Divers and snorkelers will find plenty of tropical treasures under the translucent waters that surround St. Kitts and its sister island Nevis. The island has some 70 dive sites, many of which harbor rarely explored shipwrecks and even thermal vents teeming with abundant sea life. Colorful coral reefs protect much of these waters, which serve as prime snorkeling spots where you can see as far as 60 to 100 feet down. Snorkeling is easy to do right off beach; for diving, check with Pro-Divers on St. Kitts or Scuba Safaris in Nevis, two of the best outfitters on the islands. Remember to bring your underwater camera when you try our top 8 spots to dive and snorkel in St. Kitts and Nevis.
1. Pelican Cove
If you happen to arrive in St. Kitts by boat, a snorkel shore excursion to Pelican Cove is a splendid introduction to the vibrant sea life that flourishes beneath the surface. You’ll be taken to a secluded beach, where you may even spot the rare pelican that gives the cove its name. Don mask and fins, and head off shore where you’ll see a kaleidoscope of coral, tropical fish, and maybe even a stingray or two.
2. Nag’s Head
A sparkling array of tropical fish, lobsters, stingrays, parrot fish, sponges, and even turtles flutter in the reef-filled waters at Nag’s Head, a battered rock formation on the southwestern tip of St. Kitts. The crystal-clear water provides optimal visibility for snorkelers. Nag’s Head also draws experienced divers, who can brave the strong currents for a dive some 70 feet deep, where volcanic coral, sponges, and ominous black sea urchins peak out from the cracks.
3. White House Bay
Just north of Nag’s Head lies the rocky beach of White House Bay, which opens onto jagged coral reefs for excellent snorkeling. Beneath the calm waters, snorkelers and divers can see an array of rainbow-hued fish, which dart in and out of an old tugboat resting on a sandy bottom 65 feet below the surface.
4. Brimstone Shallows
Just two miles off the west coast, Brimstone Shallows has a gorgeous, pristine coral reef that stretches down more than 100 feet. On a dive here you may encounter barracuda, turtles, lobsters, and schools of creole wrasse. A narrow sand shoot opens up to a pool, which makes for easy diving.
5. Booby Shoals
Abundant sea life thrives in Booby Shoals, a popular diving spot off the southeast Atlantic coast, between St. Kitts and Nevis. The semi-circular shaped reefs teem with horse-eyed jacks, stingrays, hawksbill turtles, and nurse sharks. Both certified and novice divers will find much to see in these clear waters, where dives are up to nearly 40 feet.
6. Pinney’s Beach and the Thermal Vents
A stellar stretch of palm tree-lined powdery golden sand, Pinney’s Beach not only is a haven for sunning but its shallow, reef protected waters offer superb snorkeling. Just a few feet down, you can see damselfish, tangs, grunts, and parrot fish lingering with all sorts of other creatures. For divers, a short boat ride away takes you to the famous thermal vents. Beneath the waves, a coral reef, ornamented with large black coral trees and wire coral running up its side, begins at a shallow 35 feet and plummets to 95 feet. Abundant see life makes their home on the overhangs and small canyons, including arrow crabs, large lobsters, stingrays, and barracudas. Divers can swim to the bottom, where hot-water vents pump bubbling 100 degree Fahrenheit water.
7. Frigate Bay
Not to be confused with North Frigate Bay on the Atlantic side of St. Kitts, this Frigate Bay lies on the calmer Caribbean side, off Frigate Bay Beach, a popular stretch of soft, cream colored sand. A narrow reef provides an easy haven for snorkeling and shallow dives. Expect to see turtles, lobsters, and eels. The beach scene here is popular, as well, so after your time in the water, you can hang at one of the beach bars and soak up the sun.
8. Monkey Shoals
One of the top dive sites in St. Kitts and Nevis, Monkey Shoals lies about 3 miles offshore, just outside the narrows between the islands. This is a gorgeous atoll reef, made up of majestic stands of both hard and soft coral, with dives from 40 to 100 feet. Superb visibility and mild currents enable divers to see angelfish, turtles, yellow-tailed snappers, lobsters, and much more, including the occasional nurse shark darting about. As this is a large reef, divers can try a number of different sites. Perfect for novice and advance divers.
- William Travis