The rainbow of coral colours and clear blue waters teaming with spectacular fish possess a magic that excites virtually all who visit the Caribbean. While most often one thinks of scuba diving as the preferred way to get in close to take it all in there are other options for those who don’t wish to encumber their bodies with the myriad of modern equipment divers use today.

Glass bottom boats offer a marvelous way to view coral reefs in a more comfortable and relaxed manner. But for those who want to get in close surrounded by the refreshing sea water, there’s snorkeling.

Snorkeling is a very popular holiday activity in St. Lucia and throughout the Caribbean for many reasons. It requires very little equipment and, for those who do it right, snorkeling is a serene and relaxing way to glide among one of natures most impressive habitats. And given the fact that the most interesting and concentrated variety of reef life is found in the shallows at depths less than 30 feet, you don’t miss much at all by not strapping on the tank and regulator.

Snorkeling is an excellent holiday activity as well because it can be equally enjoyed by individuals of different ages and swimming abilities. With a little experience, especially under the watchful eye of trained guides, Snorkeling is a safe activity for the entire family.

Most snorkeling in St. Lucia is done in the calm of sheltered bays such as Anse Cochon, Anse Mamin, Malgretoute and Beausejour. The magnificent reefs of these and other areas are accessible from the beach as well as by sea. Most day charter boats on the island include an hour of snorkeling with their excursions and there are numerous licensed water taxi and other boat operators who provide snorkeling trips, complete with quality equipment, to wherever you care to go. Many hotels even provide the equipment for free. Even though snorkeling is a very easy activity, dive operators offer courses for those who wish to learn the more sophisticated techniques.

There are two important considerations for snorkelers that must be noted. The first is safety. While even novice swimmers can become very competent at the sport, respect must always be shown for the strong currents which exist as you get away from the beach. Snorkeling without boat support should always be done close to shore.

The other consideration is for the ecology of the reefs. Whether snorkeling, scuba diving or just swimming, one should never touch or stand on the reefs as they are extremely delicate and susceptible to damage. Department of Fisheries (DOF) Regulations prohibit touching and all licensed operators will follow this practice closely. A daily snorkeling fee of EC $3 is levied that will go to the Soufriere Marine Management Association for monitoring and management of these precious resources.