While staying near English Harbour in Antigua, I had the opportunity to snorkel and dive Galleon Bay. Granted, it isn’t a premier dive site, but it was a fun way to experience my first shore dive and my first unguided dive. The fact that I was able to snorkel the bay beforehand meant that I had a sense of what I was getting myself into.
Galleon Beach is a beautiful place to snorkel with relatively easy access. You can park just outside the Galleon Bay Beach Resort along the road and then walk the gorgeous beach to the far end. I’d suggest taking the trail just past the huts (there’s a watersports rental hut at the far end of the resort where you can rent snorkel gear if needed, the rest of the resort is under renovation). Find the trail and hike slightly uphill of the water, but stay low, don’t start hiking up the road. You’ll quickly get to another sandy beach and this is a good place to enter the water for snorkeling.
You might be tempted to start snorkeling along the first beach, closer to where you parked. The water along the shore is quite shallow, but just past the small dock there is a lot of grass and some of it has sea urchins waiting to ruin your day. So, I’d suggest either accessing the water closer to the dock if you want a long swim, or hiking along to the second beach as I described above.
While snorkeling, we saw turtles, rays and a wreck. There are fish around the rocks and interesting marine life along the ocean floor.
I’ve enjoyed over 60 guided boat dives, but had never taken the initiative to dive on my own. Since our friend who was hosting us has BCDs and regulators, and lives on one of the most beautiful beaches in Antigua, we decided to rent tanks (just $10 each!) and dive without a guide.
Galleon Bay was a perfect place for this new adventure. We had snorkeled there earlier in our trip so we kind of knew what we were looking for and how to access the water. We decided to enter the water at the dock since it’s sandy there and we wouldn’t be trying to navigate rocks and sea urchins with full SCUBA gear. It turned out to be a long swim to get to the wreck, so I might rethink that choice next time. Still mulling that over.
I struggled to get underwater since we didn’t have enough weights. We finally improvised with Kevin carrying a big rock tucked in his BCD and me tucking a huge steel boat clip in mine. That helped.
We saw a turtle and sea cucumber along the way, but the wreck was what was most fun. What a joy to be able to take our time and explore the wreck.
What I learned once I started editing video from the dive is that there are actually 2 wrecks! No one had mentioned this to us, but the two wrecks we saw snorkeling, then diving, look completely different, so there must be two of them – and we found both!