Snorkelling in the sea off Looe is an amazing way to have a close encounter with the marine habitats in the Looe Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA). And getting wet is one of the best ways to get acquainted with some of the wonderful creatures just below the surface!
Locations in Looe
In favourable conditions, there is a choice of locations for snorkelling from the seashore. (Grid references are supplied for key habitats.)
- Hannafore, West Looe: Rocky shore/reef (SX258528 to SX258522).
- East Looe: Rocky seashore at Second Beach (SX259533). Eel Grass Beds (approx SX259531).
• Portnadler Bay is a 15 minute walk west of Hannafore via the coastal path.
• Experienced snorkellers only may explore between Hannafore & Looe Island & around Looe Island.
Parking & Facilities
- Free parking along Marine Drive, Hannafore, West Looe.
- Parking in East Looe near beaches is very restricted.
- Toilets in East Looe on seafront, West Looe near Coastguard station.
- Any time of year. Sea temperature between 8 and 16C but can be 6C in winter.
- All you need is a good quality mask, snorkel & fins! But when snorkelling in water deeper than chest height, an inflatable high visibility buoy on a line is essential and a 5-7mm wetsuit, 3 -5mm gloves, and good quality wetsuit boots are highly recommended!
- Ensure you are physically fit to snorkel and always snorkel within the limits of your training & experience. You should snorkel with a partner.
- Check tide times carefully. Tide tables are also available in local shops.
- Check the weather forecast for the local area.
- Be aware of currents and boat traffic, especially in the harbour area off Hannafore & around Looe Island. Do not snorkel in or around Looe River or the harbour mouth (north of Basket Rock (OS ref SX257528) to avoid boat traffic & anglers off Banjo Pier.
- Always arrange shore cover (someone on shore who can watch over you & summon help if you are in difficulty). Always inform your shore cover when you expect to return & stay within their view at all times.
- Always tow a high visibility buoy behind you so you are easily seen by boat traffic & anyone on shore & as a means of support should you be tired.
- If you are cold stop snorkelling.
- Wear a T-shirt to cover your back – sun cream can pollute the seas.
- Do not touch wildlife & do not approach seals or dolphins, they can be dangerous.
Things to look out for
- Eelgrass beds (cuttlefish nursery), kelp forests, reefs.
- Often seen are ballan & corkwing wrasse, bass, pollack, cuttlefish, flatfish, dogfish, sand gobies, tompot blennies, sea cucumbers, edible crab, velvet swimming crab, spider crabs, hermit crabs, sea anemones, sponges & many species of snails.
- You may also see conger eels & ling.
- Rarely seen are pipefish & even seahorses!