Church Bay Beach Bermuda: A Top Snorkeling Beach
Church Bay is a picturesque beach in Southampton and excellent for snorkeling. This is a little cove formed by coral cliffs and located at the western part of the south shore.
The beach is rocky but has pink sands. The beach is small and practically disappears during the high tide. It mostly remains secluded and you will hardly find any tourists here.
Church Bay Beach, Bermuda
Church Bay is well known as a great snorkeling beach. A Bermudian will surely rank Church Bay as one of the top three beach for snorkeling.
The bay is full of nooks and crannies, and the reefs are relatively close to the shore, some of them are within 50 yards from the shoreline.
There is a rock in the water known locally as the Poodle Rock. It does look like a poodle from an angle. Although there are several cup reefs and boiler reefs in Church Bay, you won't find much of live corals on them.
Although the water is typically calm and protected during normal conditions, it can become quite rough during adverse weather, and there could be surges. We were advised by the locals to avoid snorkeling here during south or south-west winds.
However, there is a series of reefs here that provide a barrier and offer ample protection during normal conditions. These shallow reef areas are like natural aquariums that host schools of colorful tropical fish and other marine life.
You can spot many angel, butterfly, parrot fish and even Spanish hogfish and filefish in Church Bay. Look for the two boiler reefs to the right of the bay and a 3-reef structure on the water, they are great snorkeling spots to find lots of colorful fish.
Church Bay Beach Imagery
Rotate the image for 360° view
Note that the water depth increases quite fast. So, be careful with your kids. And, as you walk into the water, you are likely to step into many small submerged rocks.
Although most such underwater rocks are not sharp, they are slippery and some are sharp. Try to wear swim shoes or water shoes, otherwise there are chances that you can end up with bruised feet.
Because of the underwater rocks, it may not be easy to enter the water. But once you are about 50 yards out into the water, you are all set for a wonderful swim and snorkel.
Church bay is not a great beach for sun bathing or for lounging. Because the beach is small and there are many rocks on the beach. It can also get quite hot here during the summer as the surrounding reefs block the flow of breeze.
Although the rocks on the beach provide some shades, it is better to get your own chairs and umbrellas to get protection from the sun.
You can enjoy watching the Bermuda Longtail
and the Sandpipers from this secluded and quiet beach.
There are toilets on top of the hill at the Church Bay Beach Park (the toilets have become non-functional in recent times). The park also has picnic tables, and adequate parking areas. There is a ruined fort on the cliff close to the parking area.
The stall rented snorkel gears, underwater cameras etc and sold snacks and fish food. However that has closed down. So carry your own snorkel gears, umbrellas, food etc.
Location of Church Bay Beach
Visit the Beach Map
to see the location of Church Bay and several other great beaches.
Church Bay beach is located in Southampton Parish on south shore and on bus route #7 (which connects the dockyard with Hamilton City). The bus stop is on South Road.
It takes about 30 minutes by bus to reach Church Bay from Royal Naval Dockyard and about 25 minutes from Hamilton City. Get off at Church Bay Park (near Church Road).
A paved pathway goes through the park and leads to a wooden stairway with railings. Climb down the stairway and you will be right on the lovely beach.
Church Bay has been named after the St. Anne's Church which is located across the street (South Road). Built in early 1600s, it is one of the oldest churches in Bermuda.
Towards east along the south road you can reach the famous Horseshoe Bay Beach by bus #7 (takes a few minutes and only about 2 miles away).
Food & Drinks near Church Bay
For lunch, you can try out one of the following venues:
Tamarind is located right below the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse (at it's base) serving great Indian food.
There is a cafe and a beach bar right on Horseshoe Bay Beach offering island cocktails, beer, grills and snacks.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) June 2015
While the beach remains as attractive to the snorkelers as it has always been, lack of maintenance was visible during the off season (December to March). Lots of trash were washed up the shore which weren't cleaned and neither was the toilet. However with the start of summer season, all's well now. No concession stand though.
Pauline Bunt (May 2013)
I see on a map that it is about two miles to Horseshoe Bay from Church Bay. Is it walkable on the road or on the beach? Also is it possible to buy bus/ferry passes at the Gazebo Gift shop at Kings Wharf this summer? Is it even feasible to take buses/ferries around when there are two cruise ships in or should we explore other options? Thanks a bunch!
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) May 2013
Yes, Horseshoe Bay Beach is further 2 miles from Church bay towards east. You can not walk along the beach. I won't suggest walking along the south shore road either .. hardly any side walks and the road is quite narrow. With traffic coming from behind at zipping speed, it can be quite scary.
You will get bus/ferry passes and tickets at the Visitors Information Center at Kings Wharf. But with two cruise ships in the piers, buses are likely to be running full from the dockyard almost all time. A better option is to take the minibus service recently introduced by Mike Tucker. It makes round trips to Church Bay and Horseshoe Bay Beaches from the dockyard almost every hour for $15 per person. You can book a seat in advance. Hope this helps!
David Kaylor (June 20, 2012)
For your information, the rental stand at Church Bay was unattended on Monday, June 11, 2012 and he lost out on at least 15-20 rentals. I would not recommend this rental location if I were you. In addition, Horseshoe Bay also does NOT rent snorkel equipment. They only sell it for $30 and don't have all that many which means they sell out quite early. Thank you.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) June 20, 2012
I have recently received a note from the person running the concession stand at Church bay saying that he has now moved to the 9-beaches in Daniel's head (Sandys Parish). So looks like the concession stand at Church bay is unattended until it's taken over by someone else.
Although this was my 4th trip to the Island I had never thought about snorkeling until this trip. My traveling partner is a big snorkeling fan and has snorkeled in Hawaii and Tahiti. Out of the snorkeling coves here on the island my friend thoroughly enjoyed the snorkeling at Church Bay. Compared to the other beaches on the island it's small and unfortunately not as well maintained. Most beaches are attached to some resorts therefore they have more care put into them. Never the less the water is wonderful and not too overcrowded.
You will find a lot of brain coral and a shelf that makes for some fabulous underwater views. I suggest bringing plenty of water and some thing to nibble on especially during the high summer months. It is well worth the visit to Church Bay for the snorkeling. I also suggest overcoming water fear you may have and snorkel out to the shelf and big rock and venture off the side but keep an eye on the shore. The marine life is worth the trip to this tiny beach.