HB and I were so eager to snorkel yesterday, after several weeks of being away from the beach. We loaded up all our stuff and headed to Brewer's around 11:30, hoping to beat the crowds and get a few great hours in at the beach. When we arrived, though, we found that the waves were hitting the beach pretty hard, stirring up lots of silt and drastically reducing the visibility. We still snorkeled for about forty-five minutes, but it wasn't the quality snorkeling we're used to.
If we'd been thinking, we would've checked the surf forecast before we left the house, and maybe decided on a different beach, or not bothered with the snorkeling equipment.
A useful tool for anyone heading to the beach, the surf forecast provides details not only of surfing conditions, but also of tides and wave heights. Whether you want to play in the waves crashing on shore, or float easily in lake-style placid waters, the surf forecast is a great way to help ensure a good day at the beach.
Especially in the BVI, where conditions can differ widely from beach to beach, and where so many beaches are within easy reach, it's always a good move to check the surf forecast and find the beach offering the conditions most conducive to your desired activities before heading out. For snorkelers, ideal conditions include a low surf rating, small wave heights, small wave energies, and tide that is near low, but on its way back in (less silt being dragged out over the reef). Surfers, on the other hand, would look for opposite conditions, and pay more attention to the wave period, which can definitely affect surfing quality.
We like to use http://www.surf-forecast.com/, which provides details for thousands of beaches and surf breaks around the world.