just returned from cococay snorkeling.....you don't need to boat out, you're renting the snorkel gear....but beware. you won't find out till you're there, but if you bring your own gear, you MUST rent a lifevest......someone else brought their own gear, and couldn't go out until he paid the $6 to rent a vest....good news?....you can put it on your seapass card. it is a liability insurance thing for RCI.....happy snorkeling.
Assuming this won't be your last snorkling trip, go ahead and invest in your own. It'll pay for itself pretty quickly. Concur with other posters on the vest RCI requirement at Coco Cay. Comes in handy actually as although the snorkling area is swimable from shore, it's several strokes out. Was underwhelmed by the views. More grassy areas than coral which is what you need for really great scenery. Likely the reason why RCI sunk a piece of a ship and an airplane out there--to create an artificial reef. Even at that, not much to see. Also, the jellyfish were out in full force (September), but they're a part of the scene as much as other species. They're difficult to spot, and I spent more time watching out for them than looking at what little scenry there was. Got a slight sting anyway. In fairness, it could be I'm being too harsh a critic have seen spectacular underwater sights in Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands. Speaking of which, unless you're on an official excursion, no vest requirement at USVI sites. You mention Trunk Bay on St. John--excellent snorkling; and Megan's Bay St. Thomas--wouldn't bother for snorkling. On St. Thomas I'd recommend either Coki Beach--good near shore snorkling, but very crowded and touristy; or Sapphire Beach Resort--short swim off shore to really neat coral formations and tons 'o fish. I do tend to drone on--sorry!
the lifevest was mandatory at cococay....although this is thru their SeaTrek excursions. even tho they require you have one on, they don't require you to inflate it---as my husband didn't.....i think since this is thru RCI, they do that (& make you sign waivers everywhere) to protect themselves.....
i forgot to mention....i agree with HOKIE78---there wasn't much to see snorkeling. (we went to a gorgeous reef on a nassau excursion-SeaTrek sailing and snorkeling--that was awesome!!) anyway, hurricane isabel churned up the waters along with a storm a couple of nights before....it did send the jellyfish in. my husband got stung 3 or 4 times and he referred to the midpoint between shore and the "wrecks" as playing "Frogger"...dodging the jellyfish. we didn't bother going to the deep water, just to the wrecks. did see the grassy area you mentioned and did happen to see a huge conch shell ( i think it was stragetically placed). but, it was a cheap excursion and we did see a lot of tropical fish.......all in all, we thought it was worth our money. besides, how often do you really get to snorkel in the bahamas?? have fun!!
We took our own masks and snorkels to CocoCay and rented the vests. We thought the snorkeling was pretty good. No coral but lots of fish and I saw a stingray. Also, be aware, if you want to go to the "deep" area you are required to wear fins which we did not have. I wish I had known about that requirement because I would have rented them. We did not see 1 jellyfish when we were there in February. I hope this helps!
Thanks so much for the great insight! You're right, hokie 78, that our purchase will pay for itself very shortly, as we love to snorkel. I will look into the SeaTrek Sailing and Snorkeling trip in Nassau. Are there any other particular excursions on the 4 night Bahama's cruise you would recommend? We leave Sunday!
in nassau, we only did the seatrek sailing and snorkeling and blackbeard's cay/beach break/snorkel with the stingrays. since isabel blew thru some time ago (and a recent storm) we were unable to see the rays (even in shin-deep water)....we could feed them and feel them bumping up against us, but i would have really liked a clearer view of them. i did notice a LOT of people doing the "yellowbird" in nassau.....it looked like a double decker party boat with drinking and dancing.....don't know how much it was, but it seemed very popular. have fun!!
I agree with the others. Buy your gear and snorkel from the beach. We took our daughters, then ages 7 and 9 snorkeling from the beach. They'd never been in a place where you could actually see the fish that you were swimming with and they got really spooked when they saw a big one (3+ feet long). I got some great pictures of a stingray.
I've been to Coco Cay about 10 times now and I also agree that the water close to the beach is horrible for snorkling. If you go to the first beach near the rental shop you have to go out past the small break wall on the left and go way out over 150ft from shore towards the 2 guys sitting way out in the water on elevated lifeguard towers. Out there is nice and lots of fish and two small sunken planes. Further to the left towards the open ocean is also cool as it starts to drop off. Another not to bad place is way down at the other end where not many people go, it stays shallow for over 200ft out and there are a couple of resident stingrays there that I saw everytime I went.