During my last stay, I had the pleasure of trying the brand new Beaches SNUBA program, currently rolling out at select Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.
I am a certified diver, but no one else in my family dives. When we vacation, I generally have the choice to dive on my own or skip underwater activities. SNUBA is a relatively new option that allows those who do not have a SCUBA certification to experience life under water. It is more than snorkeling, as you breathe air under water and swim near the bottom to better see fish and other nature.
Beaches Resorts offers so many options to have fun. We adore this resort chain. Do you already have a vacation booked? Check out ten things you need to know before you visit. Enjoy the dining. Spend time in the pool. And definitely check out the Reading Roadtrip as part of the Sandals Foundation in addition to this SNUBA experience.
Who can SNUBA at Beaches Resorts?
As long as your kids are 8 or older, this is a great add on activity to try out at Beaches Resorts. You remain in shallow water, as your regulators remain connected to a raft floating above your group. The hoses are 20 feet long, which means the dive sites are generally around 12 to 16 feet deep and not the same sites certified divers visit. All those participating in SNUBA do need to fill out a health questionnaire, which is easily completed at the dive shop.
How do you sign up for a Beaches SNUBA excursion?
When you arrive for your Beaches SNUBA adventure, you pick up a pair of fins and a mask. Try on the fins to ensure they fit comfortably before you head to the boat. For SNUBA, you do not need a snorkel with your mask, and you are always free to bring your own from home. Grab a towel from the pool or beach to bring with you to dry off a bit once you finish your SNUBA excursion. Aside from that, you need just your swimsuit and an underwater camera if you choose to capture your moment. You receive your small “vest” and weight belt on the boat.
Once you check in and board the boat, the captain will provide instructions for the SNUBA experience. Though it is similar to SCUBA diving, there are some differences. You breathe air from one of two large tanks on a raft that floats with your as you swim under water, so you do not attach to a tank individually. Instead, you strap into a slight “vest” that ensures the hose stays with your as you swim.
What is a Beaches SNUBA excursion like?
The boat takes you directly to a SNUBA dive site. Once you arrive, the leader explains what you will see and answer any questions you may have. He also shares signals you and he use under water to communicate. You then clean your mask and put on your fins and weight belt. The weights ensure you easily go to the bottom to swim, and if you don’t know how many pounds you need, the SNUBA experts from Beaches help you. For certified divers, you generally need two pounds less than normal, as there is no BC.
As you carefully make your way to the back of the boat, the leader is already in the water to help. The captain remains aboard the boat at all times for safety reasons and will help you get into the water. The leader does a SCUBA dive to allow him more freedom to move amongst the group to assist as needed. In the water, you use the regulator to breathe even before you go below the surface. Get comfortable while everyone gets in the water, as you hold onto the edge of the raft.
Once everyone is in, you descend to the ocean bottom, 12 to 16 feet below the boat. Make sure to not touch the bottom to avoid stirring up sand that reduces vision. You also want to avoid touching anything, especially coral. Touching coral kills it, and it grows incredibly slowly, just an inch a year. In shallow depths, you may see fish everywhere, but keep in mind that you may need to look under, through, and around coral and other formations to find sea urchins, lobsters, turtles, and more.
During your Beaches SNUBA adventure, the leader will swim ahead of the group to guide you along the trip. Depending on how quickly the group uses the air in the tank, you may have 20-25 minutes under water to explore. Your leader will periodically surface to check on the pressure remaining in the tank on the raft you pull with you. If anyone struggles to descend, the leader assists to ensure everyone comfortably and safely makes it to the bottom.
In that depth of water, you will need to clear your ears as you descend. The easiest way is to plug your nose and try to breathe out through your nose. This pushes air against your eardrums and relieves the pressure, just like you do on an airplane. If you descend first and wait for the remainder of the group, you can explore within the range of your hose.
As you swim, keep one hand on your hose and swim horizontally. As you swim, you pull the raft behind you. My SNUBA group had two who decided they couldn’t go down and instead go back in the boat, which is totally fine. Know your limits. That said, two people pulling the raft was a bigger challenge than having four people pull it. I would love to see another Beaches helper at the surface helping to push the raft in the direction we travel.
At the end of your Beaches SNUBA adventure, the leader signals that it is time to surface. You swim up slowly, again clearing your ears. Hold onto the raft, and the boat comes to you. Swim to the boat and hold onto it as you remove your fins and hand them aboard, just like SCUBA diving. Climb onto the boat, and gush over your amazing experience as you head back to land.
Would I recommend a Beaches SNUBA adventure?
This was my first time with SNUBA. I am really glad I experienced it, and I would love to do this with my family. This is a perfect bridge for those comfortable with snorkeling who are not SCUBA certified. It is a great one day experience with no classroom preparation needed in advance.
As a SCUBA diver, I definitely prefer SCUBA diving to SNUBA. It’s a freer experience, as you aren’t physically tied to anyone or anything else. I like going deeper, which often allows for a greater variety of sea creatures. That said, SNUBA was a blast and perfect for those who don’t have certification to dive.
For the cost, I would love to see a second dive location added, giving guests two 20-25 minute experiences. This would also allow for a wider variety of sea life, making for a better experience. Until locations have a second raft and can take out two groups of four at a time instead of just one, I understand why it is so short, as Beaches SNUBA requires a boat, a diver, and a captain at a minimum for just four people.
The next time I head to the Carribbean, I plan to sign up with my family. I did it once, and I want them to enjoy a Beaches SNUBA adventure, just like I had!
Where can you SNUBA?
Right now SNUBA at Beaches Resorts is offered only at Beaches Ocho Rios and Beaches Negril in Jamaica, as well as Sandals Ochi Beach Resort and Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The team plans to expand this to all Beaches and Sandals Resorts as they train throughout their locations over the next year plus. Definitely ask to see if you can SNUBA on your next vacation!
This is not included in the price of your Beaches vacation, and currently costs $89 per person for the trip. Sign up in advance, as each raft supports just four people doing SNUBA. Currently, each location has just one raft per trip. Beaches told us the goal is to move to two, allowing eight guests per excursion. As with all watersports activities at Beaches Resorts, you can sign up one day in advance. Be sure to show up ten to fifteen minutes before your departure to ensure you have maximum time on your adventure.
Have you tried the Beaches SNUBA excursion yet? What questions do you have?