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Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

Kent. UK
Level Contributor
842 posts
24 reviews
Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

For this trip we were located for the first week at Mango Bay (All inclusive) and second week at Merlin Bay Villas (Hibiscus). The sea during these two weeks was calm, warm and crystal clear, with no swells that can sometimes occur producing large waves and poor visibility at other times of the year.

The first week I snorkeled two or three times a day at the reef just to the left of Mango Bay. It wasn't very far to swim as the beach had grown considerably since last year! It wasn't long before I bumped into Marvin Sobers (Marvelous 1, glass bottom boat) paddling out to his fishing boat) and I arranged a trip for the second week.

This man made reef continues to amaze me. The fish diversity is incredible for such a relatively small reef. Large shoals of small fish ensured the larger predators (large shoals of Jacks & Trevally) visited to feed. The corals look healthy and continue to grow in size. Lobsters can be seen in the rocks and crevices. Turtles are usually around and Rays are frequently seen inside the reef sometimes in shallow water. One extremely large ray (around 8 feet from nose to tail) was spotted inside the reef. This fish started me as it appeared underneath me from behind. It appears the best time for Ray spotting is around 4:30pm inside the reef.

One note of concern is the number of large catamarans anchoring here to swim with the Turtles. Some of the larger overcrowded Cats had 40 plus persons in the water, I wonder how long it will be before the Turtles move on as in the case of other Turtle hot spots. I do wish people would not stand on the reef, damage to the corals is inevitable.

Walking along the concrete pathway between Zaccios and the Beach House after sunset, large Tarpon (around 6 feet long) and Rays can be very close to shore in the lighting here.

We moved onto Hibiscus (in The Garden area, close to Weston) for the second week. Where the beach at Mango Bay had grown, the beach at Merlin Bay had lost around two feet (depth) of sand exposing rocks where usually a lovely sandy bottomed swimming area was located. It did not spoil the snorkeling on the reef here but made entry into the sea (and getting out) more difficult than usual. This shallow reef that extends over 100 yards from the shore has good fish diversity and the corals improve the further out you go. There were also squid around here, no Turtles seen which is unusual and no Rays. Turtles however were nesting on the beach as fresh tracks could be seen to their nesting sites every morning whilst walking along the beach here.

The trip out with Sheldon (on Marvin's boat) was exceptional, The snorkeling was fantastic (all alone with no other boats). One encounter with a large Hawks-bill Turtle, who swum with us for ages. The grandchildren who are now excellent snorkelers in their full face masks were enthralled, we have some great photos both on the surface and underwater. We ended up just off shore of 1 Sandy Lane where the kids (and big kids) were jumping off the boat from the top deck. I was going to snorkel on the adjacent reef but I decided to watch the kids having a great time!

13 replies to this topic
North Wales, United...
Level Contributor
547 posts
41 reviews
1. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

Great report Paul sounds like you had an amazing time as usual.

Edited: 12 June 2018, 15:54
Kent. UK
Level Contributor
842 posts
24 reviews
2. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

Thanks Chris, incidentally your report persuaded us to try Carizma on the Hill at Sugar Hill which is now a firm favourite!

The grandchildren saw fire flies for the first time as well.

Exmouth, United...
Level Contributor
1,274 posts
49 reviews
3. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

I enjoyed reading your report. I was lucky to see a large Ray when we went on Cool Runnings, such magnificent creatures. Also seeing the Tarpon at the Beach House was amazing, we stood and watched them swimming around in the lighted area for ages.

It sounds as if your trip was brilliant as ours was. Oh! I miss Barbados already!!

Kent. UK
Level Contributor
842 posts
24 reviews
4. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

Thanks verderose, only cure is to plan next years visit! We also dined at the Beach House on a few occasions!

Derbyshire, United...
Level Contributor
3,203 posts
20 reviews
5. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

Sounds fabulous, I think the man made reefs really pull in a lot of fish, I haven't snorkeled it for a while but the one off Port St Charles used to be the same. Ooohh the rays scare me 😂 I was snorkeling after turtles on Paynes Bay once and saw a massive stingray, I was out of the water in the quickest time, I know they are probably harmless but they make me nervous. Think the fishermen gutting fish after a catch used to bring them into the shallows. I really must get my snorkel out again in December 😊 glad you had a good time.

New York
Level Contributor
78 posts
3 reviews
6. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

Very nice report. We’ll be there late July and looking forward to snorkeling, We’re also staying at Merlin Bay (Gingerbread). Is there any part of the water off the beach there that still has a sandy bottom good for swimming or is it all rock and coral now?

Palm Beach Condos...
Level Contributor
16,312 posts
31 reviews
7. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

'Hi Sapphire hg-- if you haven;t already read the great west coast snorkel report by find a fish - click link below

https://www.trip advisor.ca/ShowTopic-g147262-i230-k10730067-…

Holetown, Barbados
Level Contributor
14,597 posts
72 reviews
8. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

Hi Paul, I'm so glad you enjoyed your snorkeling over "our " Reef in front of Palm Beach , I often see Mr and Mrs Ray swimming in the shallows when I'm sun bathing on the beach--------------it's a wonderful sight.

Re the Catamarans that now do a "turtle stop " right opposite us. This drives us mad . We have had turtles ever since the Reef was built as the fishermen gut their catch daily at the bottom of 1st Street, but after Hurricanes Maria and Irma upset everything, the turtles went from Paynes and Alleynes and the Cat owners found out about ours ! Last August we had sometimes up to 11 Cats and GBB's ,all at the same time with music and microphone announcements blaring across our beach. I have complained, Mango Bay has complained as it makes water Skiing dangerous, The fishermen have complained , in fact anyone to do with our beach has complained, but our pleading goes unheard. The Cat companies are rich, and have the coast guard in their pockets I fear.

The funny thing is, when these bloody noisy things turn up, the turtles can often be seen hiding close to the beach by the jet ski and speed boats waiting for them to leave. which causes us great amusement. lol. Our local Water Ski Instructor says they are having a quiet cup of coffee and laughing at the noisy splashing people on the other side of the Reef.

As for standing on the Reef--------------the main culprits for this are Mango Bay and Discovery Bay guests and I wish the hotels would explain to them that they are endangering the wonderful new coral growing there. I try my best,to explain to people when I see them do it , but often I just get a dirty look and a "what business is it of yours?" Such a terrible shame-------------you would think people would realise !!!

Kent. UK
Level Contributor
842 posts
24 reviews
9. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

uktripfan, I too am wary around rays and just observe! Amongst the sting rays there were other types of rays I could not identify.During early morning swims I noted large depressions in the sandy bottom inside the reef where I assumed rays were semi buried, I was very careful where I put my feet! Fortunately the sea was crystal clear. The snorkel gear is the first thing to be packed!

Sapphirehg45, apparently the sand shifted during heavy swells that occurred in April. When walking down the steps from Merlin Bay villas to the beach I noticed 4 steps that I had never seen before! (usually buried in the sand. This has exposed some large flatish/smooth rocks that are a bit slippery. There is still a sandy bottom to the left of the beach you just have to be careful getting over these rocks or adjacent coral rubble for access and egress.

Gingerbread is an excellent choice, an extremely well maintained villa with a very good cook (Cheryl), my brother stayed here a few years ago. The visitors book has some very well known UK celebrities who have stayed there in the past.

Westie, I have some friends (who are keen snorkelers) staying at Mango Bay in July. I will see if they can persuade Maxine (one of the managers) to put something in the Mango Bay handbook about standing on the reef.

Kent. UK
Level Contributor
842 posts
24 reviews
10. Re: Snorkelling on the West Coast (24th May - 7th June 2018)

Just to add Sapphirehg45 there is every chance the sand may have returned to the beach by the time you arrive.

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