The first time we were in St. Maarten, we did a snorkeling excersuion through the cruiseline. It was quite good, had to snorkel off the boat in a small cove, lots of fish, I was suprised, you may want to check into that through your list of shore excersions. Haven't been to Barbados yet, so hopefully another poster will have some ideas for there, good luck and happy cruising!
The snorkelling in Barbados isn't great because the sand is so fine it suspends in the water, but there is a pretty good site at Folkestone (west coast) that is an underwater park. I think it is called the Folkestone Underwater Park. Barbados is a great island to explore vs. snorkeling if that is an option for you. ...but definitely feel the sand. It is some of the finest I've seen.
In Barbados we took a ship's excursion and it was so im-memorable that I don't know where we even went. Friends did their own thing and went to Folkstone Park and had a ball. I wish we had joined them. Next year we'll be doing our own thing to Folkstone as well.
In St. Maarten I've tried about everywhere but Pinel Island and have not had terrific luck. However, Pinel Island seems to have a good snorkeling reputation from what I've read on these boards. I asked a cab driver what it would cost to do the Pinel Island thing ourselves and it was about half of what the ship charges. Guess where we're going next year?
Take the Champagne Catamaran with lunch excursion. It is top notch! Two snorkeling locations, one with sea turtles, and one off a beautiful beach. We sailed on the Tiami II. They have a wonderful crew, great boat, great food, and an open bar.
Ahhhhh....the memories. I go back in a NY second.
Re: Re: Snorkeling sites in St. Maarten,& Barbados
In St. Martaan I would do Pinel Island on your own.
In Barbados, I highly recommend Cool Runnings which is a catamaran cruise we took outside the ships excursions. Tiami ships were sold out and they recommended Cool Runnings. Captain Robert and his Mates are fun and very informative. Bajan Lunch and drinks fabulous. You must swim with the sea turtles and see the ship wreck.
Cost about $60 for adults --- $32. for kids 12 and under.
Robert and Anika Povey (sp) are owners try Coolrunnings.com . if that doesn't work email me and I will look for address. E