Updated on March 14th, 2023
“Welcome to Paradise!” was a phrase I heard a lot after my arrival in St Lucia. And it’s hard to argue when you’re greeted with gorgeous beaches, backed by the dramatic peaks of the famous Pitons. But the coastline of St Lucia also offers some fantastic opportunities to explore the underwater world too. After much research, here is my round-up of the best beaches for snorkeling in St Lucia.
St Lucia, West Indies
After spending almost 2 years at home, I decided it was time to head back to my beloved Caribbean. I am a huge fan of slow travel & taking time to really get to know a place, so planned to spend a month in St Lucia before heading over to its neighbour, Grenada. I have explored the Caribbean extensively but despite spending time in the Dominican Republic, Antigua, the US and British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Martinique, Cayman Islands and Jamaica so far, I had never been to St Lucia.
And St Lucia is a stunning island! I wasn’t greeted at every turn with the phrase “Welcome to Paradise” for nothing!”
Saint Lucia sits between Martinique and St Vincent and the Grenadines, in the West Indies. The south is dominated by the spectacular Pitons, two mountainous volcanic plugs which form a dramatic backdrop. In the centre, the mountains are covered with tropical rainforests, peppered with waterfalls. To the east, the coastline is wild and battered from the ravages of the Atlantic. To the west, (the focus of this post), are some of the most picturesque and beautiful beaches you will find in the whole Caribbean region.
Even better, beneath the water lies a world of varied marine life, soft coral gardens, colourful fans and sponges. Most importantly, all this is accessible by just walking off the beach. So, pack your snorkel and mask and I’ll share the best beaches for snorkeling in St Lucia, which handily are also all my favourite beaches on the island!
If you fancy exploring St Lucia independently as I did, then don’t miss my Top Tips for Driving in St Lucia to keep you safe & incident-free. And while we are talking safety, during my time in St Lucia, I was broken into & robbed. As a result, I wrote all about the experience & shared my 16 Essential Hotel Safety Tips.
Love chocolate? Then don’t miss the opportunity to take a tour of the Hotel Chocolat plantation & make your own chocolate bar. You can read all about it in my comprehensive blog post. And finally, don’t miss my rundown of over 30 Epic Activities to add to your itinerary in St Lucia.
This post may contain affiliate links. By using these, Sue Where Why What may receive a small commission. You will not pay any extra charges for this. My opinions, reviews and recommendations remain my own. For more information see my disclosure.
Beaches in St Lucia
The great thing about the beaches in St Lucia, like many of the islands in the Caribbean, is that they are all public. Therefore, even when the beach is dominated by a resort, anyone is allowed to enjoy it. Many of the beaches in this guide to snorkeling in Saint Lucia “belong” to some of the top resorts on the island. However, this does not mean that you cannot go and enjoy these beautiful pieces of paradise wherever you’re staying. Some are more encouraging than others, but all are accessible.
The first step is to get through security where they will do a combination of taking your details, spraying your hands with sanitiser, taking your temperature, asking to see your vaccination evidence and explaining the rules. So, ensure you have the obligatory facemask & anything else you require to pass this assessment. I actually found all this reassuring as it made my solo visits to the beach feel somehow safer.
The rules for most resorts are that you can’t use any of the sunbeds or water sports facilities. However, at one of the resorts, the guard offered me a sunbed and even moved it into my selected position!”
The biggest challenge to accessing some of the beaches are negotiating the roads on the way there. I drove myself and some involved dexterous handling while negotiating the potholes, steep hills and blind corners. If you don’t have your own car, then you can take a taxi. However, if you suffer from motion sickness you may want to take a tablet before heading to the beach! Does it all sound too daunting? There’s always the option of a water taxi to avoid the roads completely.
Basically, any time of year it is possible to snorkel in St Lucia, however, peak time to visit is the drier season between mid-December and mid-April. At this time there will be less interruption to beach days and the water may be slightly clearer. Throughout the year the sea temperature is around 260C (790F), warm enough to be welcoming, cool enough to be refreshing!
There are a number of tours that you can take which include some of the best snorkeling in St Lucia, including this snorkeling tour, an island tour that includes Anse Chastanet and a chance to try your hand at scuba diving if you are not already certified.
Best Beaches for Snorkeling in St Lucia
To help you get your bearings, I have started in the south of the island, so these are in order moving south to north along the west coast.
Sugar Beach (Anse des Pitons)
Sugar Beach is my favourite in the whole of Saint Lucia, located just a couple of kilometres from Soufriere. For starters, there is its position. Sugar Beach sits between the two pitons delivering spectacular views in every direction. It is dominated by the Viceroy Resort.
The sand here is different from everywhere else on the island because it’s white. The natural darker sand is mixed with some imported from Guyana.”
The Marine Preserve is the spot for snorkeling on the far-right hand side, just past the small boat dock. Stay close to the rocks to avoid the boats and this is where the pick of the marine life is, literally just off the beach. You could be rewarded with parrot fish, trumpet fish, sergeant majors, scorpion fish and eagle rays. When I was there a lady was thrilled that after 100 dives, she had spotted her first squid. However, also be aware of jellyfish. The only stings I got were both from Sugar Beach.
Whether you get a taxi or drive to the resort, the end of the journey will be the Visitors Car Park. From there it’s a short walk down the steep hill into the resort. The downside of Sugar Beach is that for those of us not permitted to use the sunbeds, there is a limited amount of shade. Once you’re ready to leave, if you have a drink or eat at one of the restaurants, keep the receipt and you will be able to get a shuttle back to the Visitors Car Park, saving yourself the steep climb.
Where to stay at Sugar Beach
If you want to treat yourself and stay at the Viceroy Resort itself then you can check it out here. In addition, on the road down is Stonefield Estate Resort which is also home to Mango Tree restaurant which I heard good things about (expensive but great food apparently). However, if you are looking for something in a more budget price range, with self-catering facilities, then I enjoyed my stay at both Frenz and Diamondview apartments.
Anse Chastanet is another beautiful location close to Soufriere, once again dominated by the resort bearing its name. Although the beach is gorgeous, the highlight comes when you emerge from the water and are treated to a view of Petit Piton staring down at you. For the best view, walk to the end of the pier on the right-hand side of the beach.
Anse Chastanet has limited space for non-residents and again offers little shade. For this, I recommend continuing along the dirt track by the pier and heading over to beautiful Anse Mamin.
It takes just 10 minutes, but you are rewarded with a much longer, broader stretch of paradise with plenty of shade. In addition, you’ll find some picturesque rock formations and a lagoon surrounded by palm trees, which empties out into the sea.”
Anse Chastanet is split in two by the bar and restaurant belonging to the resort. There are reefs to enjoy while snorkeling at either end of the beach, so take your pick which one to explore first. Snorkelers can be treated to parrot fish, sergeant majors, trumpet and angel fish as well as potentially sea turtles, octopus and seahorses. I was mesmerised by the impressive array of coral gardens and sea fans beating to the rhythm of the ocean.
How to get to Anse Chastanet
From Soufriere take the steep and rough road next to the Hummingbird Beach Resort. I’ll be honest, the journey there was probably the worst road I encountered in my whole time driving in St Lucia. However, the views along the route are breathtaking. Look back to see the picturesque town of Soufriere and its colourful houses set off in the background by Petit Piton. Once again, you could opt for a water taxi or if you fancy some exercise why not walk? It’s just over 2km from Soufriere.
Where to stay at Anse Chastanet
If you really fancy splashing out then, Jade Mountain here is reputedly the most exclusive on the island. Then of course there is Anse Chastanet itself. For a budget stay, check out my recommendations above.
For some of the most popular tours in Saint Lucia, check out these from Castries:
Heading up the west coast, near Anse La Raye, you come to another highlight for anyone looking for the best beaches for snorkeling in Saint Lucia. The reefs at Anse Cochon form part of the National Marine Reserve and offer a fantastic place to enjoy the underwater world. You will be unsurprised by now to learn that it also sits in the confines of a resort, this time Ti Kaye .
As Anse Cochon is such a beautiful spot, do not expect to have it to yourself! The snorkeling here is so good, it’s a regular attraction for the island boat trips.
If you want to see this slice of paradise with less competition, then plan to be here in the morning. The afternoons can get besieged by a constant stream of boat tours.”
And for me, Anse Cochon represented the best snorkeling in Saint Lucia. In the clear waters to the far-right hand side, you may be lucky enough to see lion fish, stingrays, shrimp and eels among many more species. You could also choose to take a short boat trip to a couple of shipwrecks just offshore. There are plenty of guys on the beach who would be willing to take you for a small fee.
How to get to Anse Cochon
From Anse La Raye, it’s a 15-minute journey by car to Anse Cochon, but once again down a challenging road filled with lumps, bumps, potholes, sharp turns and steep hills. You may choose once again to take a taxi, by land or sea!
Where to stay at Anse Cochon
To stay at the Ti Kaye Resort itself, then check out all the details here. However, once again I went for a more budget, self-catering option and Eden Crest Villas offered a secluded spot, with a pool and a magnificent view.
One of the must-do activities on St Lucia is to take a boat tour around the island and there are several options to see this spectacular island from the water. This one is a full day tour that departs from Castries (the capital) and includes a trip to Soufriere, Marigot Bay, a traditional Creole lunch and all your drinks. If you don’t fancy negotiating the roads and have a limited time on the island, then I would definitely recommend a boat tour.
Moving up the west coast, we hit beautiful Marigot Bay. Here, you won’t find a long stretch of sand, but the bay itself is a picturesque little enclave, well worth a visit for anyone in Saint Lucia. In Marigot Bay the snorkeling is secluded. Although not as impressive in terms of marine life as the other locations mentioned, it is great for beginners. You may even be lucky and spot a seahorse or two.
How to get to Marigot Bay
Part of the fun of a visit to Marigot Bay is that the beach is only accessible by boat. If you’re staying in any of the accommodation options in the bay or have a reservation at Doolittle’s Restaurant, then you can use the ferry for free. If not, for a small fee you can take a water taxi/ferry.
Also note that you may want to stay for 2 for 1 cocktail at Doolittle’s. Happy Hour is between 5 and 6pm. Take it from me, the rum punches are delicious (and a little lethal!).”
Where to stay in Marigot Bay
In Marigot Bay I treated myself to a couple of nights at the Beach Club and Dive Resort. The view from the balcony was well worth the extra money I paid! I also only took enough luggage for a couple of days which made negotiating the free ferry and steps to my room much easier. Other options are the Oasis Marigot, or the super exclusive Marigot Bay (no ferry required).
On the north of the island, located in Rodney Bay, is gorgeous Reduit Beach. Reduit Beach provides a long stretch of powder-white sand bookended by Mount Pimard on one side and Pigeon Island on the other (more on that next!). Once again, it is a good place to snorkel for beginners, yielding crabs, fish and some eels. There is not a specific spot which you need to head for, but I understand the best snorkeling finds are further out in the sea than many of the other options here.
How to get to Reduit Beach
Rodney Bay is a prime spot to stay for many people visiting St Lucia. There are several resorts that back onto the beach, which can make it more challenging to find an entry point when you first arrive. The north of the beach can get very busy, and my advice is to head south for a much quieter experience. There are some guys near the wooden tower who rent out sunbeds independently and will show you the way through an (unlocked) white iron gate next to the Mystique St Lucia by Royalton Resort.
It may be an insalubrious entry point, through the gap in the fence onto this beautiful, and much quieter stretch of sand but that’s what makes it all the more rewarding!”
I stayed in 2 properties in Rodney Bay, both within an easy walk to the beach. The first was the excellent Coco Palm which I would thoroughly recommend. It seemed to cater more for the independent spirited traveller. In addition, check out Bay Gardens Hotel. It’s not on the beach (15-20 minute walk) but has a shuttle to its sister hotel (Bay Gardens Beach Resort) where you can use all the facilities and sunbeds for free.
Pigeon Island is a must-do on any visit to St Lucia for the historic remains of Fort Rodney. With a little effort, you can also hike to the top of Signal Peak for impressive views across the north of the island. Prepare to spend a couple of hours exploring this National Landmark (entry costs US$10 or EC$27 per person).
However, before you leave, don’t miss the opportunity to cool down in the water, which is said to be the location of some of the best snorkeling in St Lucia. When I visited, I didn’t find the water as clear as in other locations. However, the best spot is close to the rocks and around 15 metres from the shore. Here you could be rewarded with lobster, eagle rays, moray eels, starfish and barracuda.
For me, the most fascinating aspect was that you can try your hand at snuba here. Snuba is a cross between snorkeling and scuba. You breathe through a regulator while your tank of air floats on the surface above you.”
On Pigeon Island, you don a huge helmet and walk along the surface while watching the underwater world around you. I enjoyed seeing the helmets lined up on the seabed. Then a snuba man literally walked into me and I had to try and avoid getting tangled in his pipes!
A causeway links the island to the mainland. It is therefore easy to reach either by car, taxi or a short boat trip from Rodney Bay. Be aware that as mentioned, there is an entry fee to the National Landmark.
If Rodney Bay isn’t close enough, there are two major resorts located on the causeway to Pigeon Island. If you are travelling with a loved one, then Sandals offers couples-only accommodation, while The Landings is all suites.
St Lucia is an island paradise & has many activities to keep you busy exploring its stunning sights both on land & at sea. Even better, is that all the best snorkeling in St Lucia is within easy reach of the beaches. And it’s hard to imagine any more spectacular beaches to grab your snorkel & head out into the water!
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