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Blue Cobblestone Beach

Blue Cobblestone Beach Snorkel
Excerpted from St. John Off The Beaten Track © 2006 Gerald Singer

The Blue Cobblestone Beach snorkel offers the opportunity to explore an underwater environment that usually occurs further offshore and in deeper waters. Ram Head Point protects the bay from winds and waves leaving the reef in clear, calm water.

Getting There
From the Salt Pond Bay Parking lot, take the short trail down to the bay. Walk to the other end of beach and start out on the Ram Head Trail, which begins as a shoreline walk along the west side of the Ram Head Peninsula and take the trail as far as the Blue Cobblestone Beach..

Snorkeling
Enter the water at the north end of the beach near the large black rocks. The bottom is cobblestone and getting into the water is almost as easy as from a sandy beach.

Begin by snorkeling around the large rocks at the corner of the beach. These rocks are encrusted with the mustard yellow fire coral, which is very attractive but can give snorkelers a mild sting if touched. There are also many colorful sponges and various types of hard coral in this area.

As you continue north around the point, you will start to see underwater channels known as spur and groove systems and the fringing reef along the rocky coast gets larger, deeper and more colorful. At the seaward edge of this reef is a channel of sand about ten yards wide that separates the fringing reef from a neighboring patch reef farther offshore. The patch reef is surrounded by sand and lies in about twenty-five feet of water forming a pinnacle, which rises to a depth of about six feet.

This area is full of life, diverse and colorful. To fully appreciate it, the snorkeler should have the ability to pressurize and dive down in order to explore the lower areas of the reef.

There is a good deal of fire coral encrustation, but true hard coral varieties are also plentiful. Look for pillar, star, staghorn, elkhorn and lettuce corals. Try to identify all the different colors of sponges found here. Gorgonians, such as sea fans, sea whips, sea rods and sea plumes grow on many sections of the reef and sway gracefully with the currents.

This healthy reef community supports a diverse fish population including grazing reef fish like parrotfish and blue tang and fast swimming predators such as Spanish mackerel, yellowtail snapper , blue runners, barracudas and tarpon.

On the fringing reef across the sand channel from the patch reef is an area where the coral forms a ledge a few feet above the sea bottom. Dive down and explore under the ledge to see different species of coral and interesting marine life.