Novice and experienced snorkelers alike will enjoy this shallow water site. Spend an idle hour casually exploring, or go one step further and identify and understand the marine life that surrounds Luna Beach Resort. Three different ecosystems provide an interesting combination of factors to explore. From the turtle and manatee grass near the beach, to the rocky shoreline in the south, to the barrier reef in the west, you’re sure to find something to interest and enthrall you.
ALSO, be sure a snorkel over the main reef by going out on the dive boat for a $15.00 boat ride fee.
The map below details the different points of interest.
These areas (zones) are numbered from the barrier reef, which is the farthest point from the beach.
What do the numbers and letters on the map mean?
This area includes the barrier reef and the sandy area inside. An iron channel marker indicates the point where you should begin.
- All of the shallow-water hard corals can be seen here. The channel is the connection between the inner and outer reefs; therefore you’ll see quite a bit of fish activity in this area.
- Next to the back reef is a sandy area with sporadic coral heads and fascinating creatures. Be on the lookout for holes with scattered dead shells nearby. A keen observer might be lucky enough to spot an octopus, the “king of camouflage.” You might also see the territorial sand tilefish. They decorate their burrows with tiny bits of sand and coral, and if you move the debris, this meticulous fish will quickly rearrange it. Watch closely for strange shapes lying flat on the sand if you see one, it’s likely to be a peacock flounder.
- Among the flats are sporadic coral heads. These isolated mounds usually attract a variety of marine life ‘ small groupers, wrasses, and eels. This is an ideal spot to observe “cleaning stations”, where a symbiotic relationship exists between parasite-eating fish and larger individual fish.
- Rocks of unknown origin. This type of rock is not found anywhere on the reef. They may be ballast stones from a shipwreck! A few coral heads have grown over the rocks indicating that they’ve been here for a long time. This is a good place to see invertebrates, such as nudibranchs, sea anemones and sea cucumbers, as well as a variety of crustaceans.
Turtle grass is the dominant feature in this area. Turtle grass protects the reef by filtering sediment and particles that wash into the sea from the shore. Between these nutrient rich blades of grass, the careful observer can discover a wealth of mollusks and achinoderms (sea urchins).
Test yourself by trying to identify the different varieties of urchins. West Indian sea eggs, short-spined white urchins and heart urchins (the favorite food of the spotted eagle ray) are frequently seen here.
This area runs about 150 meters out from the shore.
- In this area, turtle grass and manatee grass combine to protect the reef from siltation and the shore from erosion. This thick, grassy mat is a great contributor of food for the algae eaters and herbivorous fish.
- To the south of the dock is a rocky point where you’ll encounter a unique ecosystem just below the surface of the water. The rocks are the only structure where marine inhabitants can find refuge. Even though the corals are sparse – mostly sea fans and fire coral – the fish population is dense in this tiny area.
This shallow-water snorkeling experience is not to be missed! Although this is a rather small snorkeling site, you’ll observe the majority of species found on any identification chart of Caribbean fish. You’ll see hundreds of grunts, scorpion fish, lobster, eels, silver sides, puffer fish, snappers, juvenile queen angelfish, wrasses, crabs and a number of invertebrates. Hover quietly in one area and allow the fish to become accustomed to your presence before moving on to the next. You’ll be well rewarded for your patience.