Mike (June 2012)
Hello! Thank you so much for all of the great information on Bermuda! We will be visiting Bermuda in mid-July and I have a couple questions regarding your amazing description of the Aquarium Coral Reef if you don't mind. It sounds beautiful. I can't find other information on it anywhere. Where is it located? We have decided not to dive while we are there, however we will be renting a boat and doing independent snorkeling.
Would it be worth going to this reef? I have to admit your description of the chance of swimming with tarpon made me so excited - though I realize you may just mean if we were in full scuba gear. If this reef is not a good sightseeing spot for snorkeling, which would you recommend? I'd love one that not only has a beautiful reef, but also has a large population of marine life. Thanks so much for you time.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) June 2012
Hi Mike, The Aquarium reef is a dive site and not for snorkeling. It's located at the eastern side of Bermuda and close to the Castle Harbor opening. For off shore snorkeling around reefs, there are few great sites in Bermuda that offer you amazing corals and marine life. Here are some them:
The Western Blue Cut area
This is an opening through the barrier reefs off the north shore. It takes about an hour by boat to reach the area from the dockyard. There are several shipwrecks here within swimming distances, the most famous are the Constellation and the Montana. They lie in 15 - 18 ft water and can be clearly seen while snorkeling. You can also see many different types of fish here including large black groupers (if you are lucky).
Within a short distance (about a mile off shore and close to Daniels Head in Somerset and near the partially submerged wreck Vixen) there is a beautiful water area called the "Sea Garden". As the name suggests, it is like an underwater garden full of barrier reefs, corals and marine flora & fauna. You will see schools of Sergeant Majors other than parrot fish, huge sea fans, Damsel fish and lot more. If you take an underwater scooter, the experience here can be heavenly.
Most of the snorkel boat operators leaving from the Hamilton Harbor and the dockyard cover the Vixen and the Sea Garden. Some of such well known snorkel boat tours include Jessie James, Snorkel Bermuda etc.
Eastern Blue Cut
This area has reefs that are great for snorkeling. One such reef is Blue Hole which is about 6.5 miles off the north shore. Although this is a diving site, the water here is crystal clear and the reefs come within inches of the water surface. There are many who also visit the site for snorkeling.
You can see lots of fish including Sergeant Majors, Butterfly fish, Parrot fish, Damsels and lot others. Amongst corals, some of the most popular ones are the brain corals and beautiful Gorgogians. You will need take a Motor Boat to reach out to Eastern Blue Cut area. Another option is to charter a boat.
Other Great Reefs
Another reef is North Rock which is about 7 miles offshore from the eastern end of Bermuda and is probably the farthest snorkeling area catered by boats. This is another great area for snorkeling full of great marine life and colorful corals. Fishing is strictly prohibited around North Rock, which gives you great opportunity to see different types of fish here. For North Rock you will need to take a snorkel boat charter.