Let me ask anither question about this and see if someone answers. Can you swim off the actual island itself, or is that only allowed off the main beach? Again, there is no sense in bringing the mask and fins if there is no place to use them. Thank you for any replies!
We were there in July. The rocks off the island are sharp. I did some snorkeling off the beach. I did find broken dishes and a broken wine bottle which could have easily ruined a vacation. You could snorkel from the beach to the island but I think you'd need to wear some clothes.
I can't speak to snorkeling off Tower Isle, I've only swum around a bit on the lee side (while doing a Trading Places). That would certainly be an option, there's coral and wildlife there. The reef side may depend on current wave and current conditions. I don't know what the official policies are.
You can definitely snorkel off Sunset Beach at CSS if you want to do a Trading Places there. Head out along the rocks etc on the right-hand side for 100 yds or so and you'll reach the main reef, basically the same reef that the dive boat goes to a mile or so away in the middle of the bay. You'll be in about 20 feet of water with coral heads and nice canyons. Obviously you have a swim in afterwards, slightly complicated by the current from the river; either hug the rocks or head to the right of the river heading in (our usual strategy, not sure which is best).
We'll be at CSS Feb 4-11 (ya mon!); any couple showing up with gear will have our attention... we had a nice trip out last year with another couple, followed with Champagne at the SSB bar. Hard to beat. :-)
We have snorkeled off Tower Isle for many years now. As long as the waves are not large, the snorkeling is fairly good. You do have to be careful because the water is quite shallow in places. If you do bring your snorkel equipment, you can also use it for the resort snorkeling trips during the day.
I've asked about swimming off the Isle here, and the consensus seems to be that it is allowed. But, in our two visits (including one in which I *had* intended to take my fins / mask / snorkel out to the Isle) I've not seen anyone actually *swimming.* Going into the water between the Isle and resort and sitting on the sand? Sure, plenty, done it myself. Swimming? Nope.
I think it may be partly, the water on the back of the Isle doesn't get "swimming deep" anywhere close to the Isle. On me, I get 10-15 ft out from the Isle without it getting much more than knee deep. After that, the bottom goes from sandy to rocky, and not barefoot-friendly rocky either. It looks more like the same sort of rock as the Isle itself, which looks like if you walked on it barefoot, would leave with with:
A. Hamburger for feet
B. An emergency (and potentially embarassingly nude) visit to the nurses station (it's not like you'd be *walking* on those feet, and getting dressed would be difficult)
C. A trip to the nearest hospital
D. An abrupt end to your vacation...
Now, as for what there might be to see in the area of the Isle if you do go snorkeling? No idea.
Thanks for the information. We are taking our kids and grandkids to Beaches Ocho Rios in march for 4 nights and moving over to CTI by ourselves after they leave. It is our first visit and I was wondering if bringing the fins and mask was worth the effort. It sounds like it might be, as long as I watch for the rocks and am careful...