You have been to most of the famous snorkeling spots and are looking for something different? How about a Mangrove Snorkel?
Hurricane Hole is the place where boats seek shelter in a hurricane and no matter how windy it is anywhere else on the island it will usually be calm and flat at Hurricane Hole.
What are Mangroves?
Hurricane Hole is fringed by Mangroves. Mangrove trees play an important role in the coastal ecosystem as they help keep our reefs alive. Mangroves are tropical trees that have adapted to survive in salty, muddy, wet environments like the waters of calm bays or on the edge of salt ponds which are normally not good for plants due to low oxygen and high salt in water.
They have arch-shaped roots that start from the tree and bend over into the water.
Mangroves help protect the coast line from erosion – just like Saltponds they trap sediment that is washed down from the land (for example when it rains heavily, many roads on St. John are not paved and have not gutters).
Like this protect reefs. Reef which need clear water, coral reefs and seagrass cannot survive in cloudy water.
The roots of the Mangrove trees act like a filter, they trap the run-off and prevent it from flowing directly into the ocean. There are many microorganisms living off this debris and the fallen Mangrove leaves, turning it into food for a wide variety of fish and other sea creatures.
Hurricane Hole Mangrove Snorkel
While the idea of snorkeling among Mangroves sounds muddy and buggy but it is a very rich habitat where can see lots of sea creatures: Anemones, spaghetti worms, upside-down jellyfish and much more. It will totally be worth getting a bit dirty on your way out of the water (you might want to bring a gallon of fresh water to rinse off.
It is advised not to wear fins to not kick up sediment or get tangled. Check out the amazing video by Gerald Singer.
And here is what a tripadvisor user had to say about a recent Mangrove snorkel:
5* “Mangrove snorkeling magical!”
the mangrove snorkel was truly magical, with amazing coral, anemones, and tons of fish of all sizes and colors!
How to get to Hurricane Hole
From Cruz Bay take centerline road towards Coral Bay. At the intersection with the colorful signs do not turn right but keep going straight, past Skinny Legs and then Estate Zootenval. Continue along the road until you pass the National Park sign and mile marker 10. Shortly afterwards you can park your car close to the water and access the bay in an opening between the Mangrove trees.
Thanks to www.sup-stjohn.com for the photos. They also recommend that as a great place to paddleboard on windy days.