The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish. – Jacques Cousteau
I am a horrible swimmer, but I’ve wanted to try snorkeling for the longest time. We had actually tried to snorkel in Grand Turk, but I had chickened out. Visions of me jumping into the water and sinking like a lead weight were all that I could see. Even though I had a life vest on, I had no faith in it and didn’t get any further than the boat’s ladder. So, I did my research and discovered that St. Thomas had a small beach called Coki Beach that would be perfect for a nervous snorkeler.
Finding a cab
The Carnival Magic docked in St. Thomas early that day, so after eating a good breakfast and changing into our swimwear, we headed to the port to find a cab. I knew that it would cost $8 per person each way for a cab, but we had never hailed a cab in St. Thomas before and we were very confused.
We stood there awhile at the cabstand, with cabs all around us, but we could not get one to actually say he’d take us to Coki Beach, and I was very hesitant to just get into a cab without being positive of where we’d end up. I had no clue on what to do so my husband went over to the cab stand and we finally found someone who would help us figure it all out.
Once we actually got into a cab though, we were very happy with our driver. He was very polite, and chatted with us the entire trip. I love getting to know people from other areas, so it was a very enjoyable ride. Coki Beach is on the other side of the island, and took us maybe half an hour to get there because we stopped to pick up someone else. One thing that I’ve noticed over the years in St. Thomas is that people drive like crazy, and horns blow constantly. Be careful, or you may get run over. I really don’t think they’d stop for you.
Once at Coki Beach we found a small open patch of sand and laid down our towels. It’s a pretty small beach, and kind of crowded, but we managed to find an empty spot. There is no charge to use the beach. We didn’t use the chairs so I’m not sure about them. I hear that there is a lot of marijuana around, but we didn’t see or smell any signs of it. It seemed pretty safe to me, and I was not nervous there. You’ll find chickens walking around, and locals trying to sell you food and drinks.
You can rent snorkel gear, beach chairs, or lockers. They also have restrooms and showers. Right down the beach is a Scuba Diving school, the Coki Dive Center, if you’re braver than me and you’d rather try that. We had bought our own snorkel and mask at Walmart because I had come across a deal that I could not pass up on the clearance rack one day. We had also found flippers at an outlet store for a steal, so we brought all of our own equipment.
We discovered quickly that we could not possibly walk on the beach in flippers. We even tried backing up with them on, but no go. We could not get the hang of it no matter what we tried. So, the flippers came off and we left them on the rocks next to the beach. Then we waded out into the clear aquamarine waist deep water and gave it a try.
I have to admit that I had a hard time figuring out how not to get water into my snorkel and mask, I had to pop up quite often to clean it out. But the internet was right, I could snorkel in waist deep water and actually see fish. I really did float, even without a life vest. It must be something about the salt water. Actually, it was a little challenging just to stop floating and get back on my feet.
Feed the fish
We had brought a small box of dog biscuits, because I had read that the fish will come right up to you and eat them out of your hand. They were right. I’d imagine that Cheerios from the ship would work also. There wasn’t a huge variety of fish, and no really big ones, but it was still exciting to actually be snorkeling, and because I could stand up when I got water in my snorkel, I wasn’t afraid.
The right side of the beach looking from the beach at the water is very rocky, but most of the beach is fine and sandy. We watched a number of novice divers being taught how to scuba. I’d love to be able to do that, but I’m such a chicken. Guess I fit right in with all the chickens walking around the beach.
We had wanted to get a Go-Pro for our snorkeling, but couldn’t afford it. We ended up getting an Iconntechts IT Sport Action Camera from Amazon and we were really happy with it. It’s comparable to a Go-Pro, but way less expensive, and does still and video pictures. Check it out here, along with some pictures and a video that were taken with the camera by my husband and I at Coki Beach.
Time to head back to the ship
After a while it started raining lightly and looked stormy off in the distance, so we decided it was time to go back to the ship. However, there was sand everywhere, and I mean everywhere. In our suits, in our flippers, in our hair, even in our shoes, although we had carried them instead of wearing them in the sand. Even after we showered off there was sand.
We walked to the parking lot, and an attendant showed us where to find a cab back to Havensight Pier. We ended up in a van with a few other people, and I’m afraid that we tracked, what else?… Sand… into his van. He must really get tired of cleaning that van out after bringing people back from Coki Beach.
He wasn’t as chatty as our first cab driver, maybe because of the sand, but he dropped us off right at the end of our ship’s dock. And no sooner than we had gotten back onto the ship, the heavens burst and it was raining cats and dogs. After we showered and changed, we were watching people from our balcony coming back from their excursions drenched. I don’t think it stopped raining hard for the rest of our time at port in St. Thomas. But it was a beautiful day for us.
Loved Coki Beach!
So, I would definitely recommend Coki Beach from my experience, especially if you want to test the waters for snorkeling and you’re nervous about it, like I was. The waters are clear, the fish are plentiful, and you can stand up if you get nervous. I didn’t feel in the least bit unsafe there and the beach is clean. The cab drivers are friendly, although it can be a bit intimidating the first time you’re looking for a cab in St. Thomas. Some of the streets we traveled on to Coki Beach were a mess, we drove through a lot of standing water. But I’m really glad that we went to Coki Beach, and I’d go there again. It’s just the right place for a nervous snorkeler to snorkel.