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Second Sailing Itinerary

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    SNORKELING IN THE BVI

    The British Virgin Islands are known as one of the best sailing and cruising areas in the world. They are also recognized as one of the top dive and snorkel destinations. With so many options, it is nearly impossible to explore the variety of underwater sites in a typical one week sailing charter. Following the most favorite snorkeling spots in the BVI. All are suitable for the entire family, from novice to experienced snorkeler.

  • The Bight

    The main anchorage on Norman Island is the Bight, an exceptionally well-sheltered anchorage popular with
    many sailing charterers. Excellent snorkeling exists on the reef at the eastern end of the harbor, just south of the
    beach. Tie up at the Pirates’ dinghy dock and walk a short distance down the beach just past the gift shop. The
    reef along the rocky outcrop is incredibly healthy and it extends several hundred yards. Floating peacefully over
    this garden of sea fans, sponges, parrotfish, wrasse, elk horn and brain corals is a delightful introduction to the
    BVI’s underwater community.

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    The Norman Island Caves

    Norman Island is famed for its tales of buried treasure, but the caves off Treasure Point offer a different type of booty for snorkelers. A short ride from the Bight, you can tie up your dinghy to the line strung between two small round floats or you may also move your sailing charter and pick up a National Parks mooring during the day. Schools of friendly yellow tails, blue tangs and sergeant majors will follow you into the caves. Bring a flashlight to truly experience the Caves, which shimmer with a pastel coating of orange cup coral and red covering sponge

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    “The Indians”

    Considered a daytime stop only, the Indians, a series of tall jagged rocks off Norman Island, are well worth the effort of trying to find a mooring buoy. As part of the National Parks Trust, this area is protected and thus offers spectacular reef snorkeling.Arrive early – this snorkeling spot is popular and
    cruisers tend to spend several hours exploring.

    Four cone-shaped rocks rise from a depth of 40 feet to about 30 feet above the surface. Three rocks stand together while the fourth is separated by a narrow channel. Near the bottom, a myriad of fish fill the narrow passages. Expect to see almost every variety of reef fish and crustacean, as well as schools of harmless jelly fish in the summer.
    Sea fans and corals of every hue dot the walls. When the sun’s rays spotlight the vibrant colors of this reef, you will know why this site is considered to be one of the best spots for snorkeling in the BVI. It is truly a spectacular site not to be missed on your sailing charter.

  • Buttonwood Bay

    Located on the western end of Great Harbour, Peter Island, this bay offers private seclusion as both an anchorage and snorkeling spot. A shallow coral reef begins about 20 yards offshore, beginning in 8 feet of water, slopes gently to approximately 18 feet, and then drops vertically to a depth of 40 feet. There is a marvelous array of small marine life. In fact, swimming through literally thousands of small fish felt somewhat like a sci-fi experience. What is particularly special about this site is the large variety of coral and huge, deep purple sea fans.

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    The Wreck of the RMS Rhone

    Before she was sunk off Salt Island during an 1867 hurricane, the Rhone had been the pride of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. During the storm, she hit Black Rock, broke in two, and promptly sunk. Today, she sits in three well preserved sections on a sandy bottom and her steel wreckage has become home to many species of fish and is gilded with colorful sponges and flourishing corals. The Rhone is now a marine park that is part of the BVI National Parks Trust.

    Although preferred as a dive site, snorkelers can still enjoy this spot since much of her decking, rigging,steam engine and propeller are still visible in the section closest to shore. The Rhone is perhaps the most impressive shipwreck in the entire Caribbean

  • Manchioneel Bay

    Located on the northwest shore of Cooper Island, this anchorage is home of the Cooper Island Beach Club. There is a good sandy beach fringed with palm trees with views of many of the islands to the west. Using the dinghy dock, snorkel along the shoreline heading southwest, just past the guest cottages. This shallow, ushaped reef has plenty of fish action because of the swiftly flowing currents in the nearby channel between Cooper and Salt Islands and the close proximity to the open sea. You will see large schools of blue tang, clownfish, blueheads, butterfly fish and snapper, several varieties of parrot fish and grunts, and an occasional octopus. Along the sandy bottom, closer to the beach, expect to see sea stars, sea horses, and
    rays.

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    Cistern Point

    Before she was sunk off Salt Island during an 1867 hurricane, the Rhone had been the pride of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. During the storm, she hit Black Rock, broke in two, and promptly sunk. Today, she sits in three well preserved sections on a sandy bottom and her steel wreckage has become home to many species of fish and is gilded with colorful sponges and flourishing corals. The Rhone is now a marine park that is part of the BVI National Parks Trust.

    Although preferred as a dive site, snorkelers can still enjoy this spot since much of her decking, rigging,steam engine and propeller are still visible in the section closest to shore. The Rhone is perhaps the most impressive shipwreck in the entire Caribbean

  • Alice’s Backside

    Although Ginger Island is uninhabited and no overnight anchorage is allowed, Alice’s Backside is a good snorkel stop on your way to either Cooper Island or Virgin Gorda. Located on the northwestern tip of Ginger Island, there are only two mooring buoys and they are often occupied by commercial dive operators. If you can find an open buoy, it is worth the stop on your sailing charter. What makes this site unique is that it is a huge sand patch dotted with enormous brain coral and mushroom coral heads. Although our group did not see a lot of fish life other than an occasional ray, the size and beauty of the coral is nonetheless spectacular.

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    The Baths

    When planning a sailing charter around the UntitledBVI, it is essential to include the Baths, a spectacular boulder formation on Virgin Gorda’s northwest shore. An extraordinary natural landscape awaits – grottoes created
    by huge boulders that were scattered by ancient volcanic activity. The sea washes between the huge granite rocks, creating large pools of water that are dramatically lit by shafts of light. A fabulous trail between and over the boulders leads between The Baths,and Devil’s Bay – the white sandy beach adjacent to The Baths.

    Although the trail is really fun, especially for kids, snorkeling is also good. A myriad of tropical fish live amongst the tunnels and crevices formed be these enormous granite boulders as they meet the sea. For an ambitious adventure, snorkel from Devil’s Bay along the rocks all the way to The Baths.

    National Park moorings are the only mode of securing your vessel in order to protect the coral. In addition, dinghies cannot be left on the beach. Thus, in order to experience this snorkeling spot, someone will have to drop everyone ashore or you will have to swim ashore from your boat. Either way, prepare to be awestruck at this marvel of nature!

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    The Baths

    The Dogs make a good stopping off point for cruisers on their way from North Sound to Jost Van Dyke. The snorkeling is excellent and one of the more common anchorages is on the south side of Great Dog. This area is also part of the National park Mooring System. The reef runs parallel to the island going east-west for approximately 100 yards and drops from 10 feet down to 60 feet. Its rock ledges, overhangs, and cathedral-shaped tunnels and grottoes are home to crabs, lobsters, beautiful fan corals and hordes of reef fish. Snorkelers will be delighted with the kaleidoscope of colors created by encrusting corals and sponges.

  • Monkey Point

    At the southern tip of Guana Island is a beautiful rocky outcrop known as Monkey Point. After hooking a National Park mooring buoy, your vessel will be surrounded by hordes of bluestriped grunt and yellowtail snapper. As you snorkel towards shore, friendly yellow jacks are very curious and appear to adopt you as part of their school. What is most special about this snorkeling spot is the several sea turtles that make this day anchorage home. It is truly indescribable to gently swim behind one of these creatures as they glide ever so peacefully through the water.

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