7 of the Best Places for Snorkeling in Barbados

Barbados is best-known for its gently lapping waves, powder white sands and rum cocktails, but there’s more to this Caribbean island than lounging about in the sun. For starters, it’s an excellent snorkeling destination. It doesn’t boast much deep-sea diving, but its shallow reefs are teeming with colourful fish, corals, turtles and sharks. Year-round bath water-warm waters and excellent visibility make for brilliant snorkeling conditions too. It’s best to stick to the west and south coasts where the waters are much calmer. If you’re looking to bump into nesting turtles, the best time to visit is February – September. Off to Barbados sometime soon? Check out the best places for snorkeling in Barbados before you slip into those fins.

Best places for snorkeling in Barbados

1. Folkestone Marine Park 

This underwater park sits in Carlise Bay – one of the most beautiful sandy stretches in Barbados here. The artificial reef here is brimming with marine life, including parrotfish, blue tang, moray eels, trumpet fish and barracuda. There’s often squid here too. It’s also where you’ll find the Stavronikita shipwreck. The 265-ft Greek freighter was built in Denmark in 1956 and sank here in 1976 en route to the Caribbean. The vessel caught fire in open seas and was towed to Barbados.

To get here, it’s best to park near St. James Church. There are two charming beaches here with picnic tables and shacks renting out sunbeds and umbrellas.

Turtle underwater

2. Dover Beach

Dover Beach is located along the southern coast of Barbados in Saint Lawrence. It’s popular with water sports aficionados who come here for windsurfing, jet skiing and sailing. You’ll need to venture a little further out to get to the reef, where there’s a sparkling snorkeling scene. It’s one of the best places on the island to swim with titles that feed in the shallows. Head here in the morning when the waters are at their clearest and most tranquil.

best places for snorkeling in Barbados

3. Freshwater Bay 

Situated on the southwest coast of Barbados, Freshwater Bay – or Pile Bay  – is an excellent option for beginners. There’s virtually no current to speak of here and the water are generally still. Underwater, you’ll find colourful coral, fans and schools of fish, while back on dry land you’ll find beach and rental gear, a few cafes and a handful of picnic areas. Seafood fans should hotfoot to Cliff restaurant for freshly-caught, affordable fish dishes too.

The bay can get busier later in the day so it’s best to head out to Freshwater Bay in the morning. The water is clearer then too and you’ll have the best chance of bumping into turtles.

4. Heywoods Beach 

On the northwest coast, there’s the lengthy Heywoods Beach. This shallow reef here is easily accessible from the beach and brimming with exciting marine life such as trumpetfish, parrotfish and sea turtles. The rockier areas with tide pools are popular with little ones. When you’ve tired of swimming alongside colourful corals and fish, there’s water skiing, jet skiing and glass-bottom boat rides to keep you entertained.

Make sure you pack a picnic though as there aren’t many facilities on the beach.

5. Martin’s Bay

While the west coast tends to be a safer bet for snorkeling, Martin’s Bay is the exception. The sprawling reef here offers some protection from the more aggressive waves, though it’s still only recommended for confident swimmers due to the strong currents.  Located on the eastern coast, it’s a local favourite with lobster fishermen thanks to its rocky bottom.

Once you’ve built up an appetite, head to the Bay Tavern Restaurant, which is renowned for its Thursday seafood lime and sparkling views out over the bay.

Best places for snorkeling in Barbados 

6. Carlisle Bay 

The horseshoe-shaped Carlisle Bay is popular with both snorkelers and divers thanks to its six shipwrecks – C-Trek, Barge, the Bajan Queen, Berwyn, Cornwallis and the Eilon. The wrecks vary in depths between 55-ft and just 9-ft so there’s plenty for snorkelers to see. It’s easy to spot them too, with several buoys marking each spot. The 70-ft long Berwyn wreck is the most popular due to its high concentration of stingrays, grouper, manta rays, starfish, seahorses, parrotfish, barracuda and squid. You might get lucky and spot a sea turtle weaving through the wrecks too.

It’s also conveniently located just outside the capital city of Bridgetown.

Best places for snorkeling in Barbados 

7. Mahogony Bay

Also located on the west coast, Mahogany Bay is the best spot to swim alongside Mantarays. It’s also popular with miniature wrasse, schools of jacks, barracuda, stingrays and pufferfish, as well as the odd nurse shark. Mayongony Bay is equally famous for the Paynes Bay fish market, held right on the beach. Head here in the early evening to catch the candyfloss sunset or early in the morning when the waters are clearer.

It’s easy to get to the beach too via a walkway from the main stretch. There are catamarans and sailboats available to rent here too.

Best places for snorkeling in Barbados 

Allie D'Almo

Allie is a passionate traveller with a hearty interest in great food and stories. She likes to travel slowly, particularly to underrated and underloved places. She’s lived in Italy and is now based in London, where she spends most of her time either plotting her next trip or writing about her last one.

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