Galley Bay, Antigua

Galley Bay Resort and Spa, Grays’s Farm Main Rd, Antigua and Barbuda.

Coordinates in degrees decimal:  N 17.122066, E -61.891647

Visited in July 2015.


Galley Bay sits on the west coast of Antigua but the, almost one kilometre long, beach faces NNW. Average daily temperatures are lowest, at 25C, between January and February, with maximum average temperature of 28C between June and September. Seawater temperatures are 26C, between January and April, rising to maximum of 29C in September. Rainfall, which could affect visibility, is at a maximum in September to November, with 135mm falling per month.

Strongest winds, apart from hurricane season (generally August to October), can be up to 35knts although generally below 17knts. These winds, however, are from the east, with very little, if any winds, from the east and north east. Despite the sheltered conditions on the west coat of the island, increased wave heights can occur, particularly on the western end of the beach, during the November to April period, due to regionally raised swell conditions.

Although having suffered hurricane damage in the past and with evident effects of sedimentation, this bay has an interesting and varied fauna and flora, with over 110 species recorded during our visit in 2105. New growths of Acropora species suggests improving conditions and coral recovery.

Prepared with the support of the resort.

The western end of the beach has good areas of reef, however, the entry into the water (point 2) in this part of the bay is difficult at times due to its more exposed conditions and greater wave activity. Recommended only for confident snorkellers.

The eastern end of the bay has a small headland (point 4) with a further enclosed bay just past this. The reef off the headland has a good variety of easily accessed snorkelling areas.

The eastern reef is most easily accessed from the main beach just before the reef starts (Point 1). The reef is quite large, extending a good distance off shore. It is easiest to exit on the Galley Bay beach, unless you are confident enough to swim round to the next bay, which also has a gently sloping beach.

The first area of reef, encountered on the right, just after entering the water (point 3), has numerous hollows with sand patches and overhangs.  These are ideal snorkelling conditions, in which you can find many species of fish in and around the reef. The surface of the reef is fairly featureless with a covering of silt over much of it.

Closer to the headland (point 4) the reef surface becomes more varied with impressive growths of the Encrusting White Zoanthid over the rock and covering some of the former Elkhorn coral outcrops. This is the area with the greatest variety of marine life, combined with generally calm conditions.

Four locations mentioned in the text. 1. Eastern entry point. 2. Western entry point. 3. Initial shallow reef area just off entry point 1, and 4. Headland at the eastern end of the beach.

Resort Sealife Photos

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Sargeant Major. Pomacentridae. Abudefduf saxatils. Small size fish, often in small shoals. Found over reefs in midwater but also close to reef.

Intermediate initial phase Slippery Dick. Labridae. Halichoeres bivittatus. Very small to small when fully grown. Found over reef areas and adjacent sand and seagrass.

Two species. Three examples of the distinctive yellow French Grunt. Haemulidae. Haemulon flavolineatum. Small to medium in size, associated with overhangs and small caves on reef arears. One example of the Bluehead. Labridae. Thalassoma bifasciatum. Very small to small when adult. Swims above reefs, sometimes in schools.

Two species in juvenile form. Striped fish are probably French Grunts. Haemulon ?flavoineatum. White with black spot is Lane Snapper. Lutjanidae. Lutjanus synagris. Found in small mixed schools adjacent sand areas over reef.

Yellow Goatfish. Mullidae. Mulloidichthys martinicus. Small to medium sized. Feed over sand and mixed coral debris. Often found in small schools over reef when not feeding.

Juvenile of Beaugregory. Pomacentridae. Stegates leucostitus. Very small to small when adult. Found associated with reef area including dead coral, and coral debris.

Juvenile of Schoolmaster. Lutjanidae. Lutjanus apodus. Small as juvenile, to medium when adult. Found over reef in shallows.

Blue Tang. Acanthuridae. Acanthurus coeruleus. Small to medium in size. Often found solitary but more often in large aggregations with other species, such as Doctorfish, over reef tops.

Intermediate phase French Angelfish. Pomacanthidae. Pomacanthus paru. Small to medium in size. Often found in pairs over reef areas.

Juvenile Dusky Damselfish. Pomacentridae. Stegastes adustus. Juveniles very small with adults small. Territorial species, inhabits shallow reef areas.

Longspine Squirrelfish. Holocentridae. Holocentrus rufus. Small to medium in size. Tend to seek shaded areas on reef .

Juvenile of ? Spotlight Parrotfish. Scaridae. Sparisoma ?viride. Very small as juvenile to medium when adult. This juvenile was found hiding in a gorgonian. Adults are found over the reef.

Intermediate phase Yellowtail Damselfish. Pomacentridae. Microspathodon chrysurus. Juveniles and Intermediate phase individuals have numerous bright blue dots. Small solitary individuals. Territorial over reef top.

Sand Diver. Synodontidae. Synodus intermedius. Small to medium in size. Occur in sand adjacent reef features, occassionally on reef top.

Peacock Flounder. Bothidae. Bothus lunatus. Very well camouflaged individual. Small to medium in size. Found over sand, gravel, coral debris, seagrass, often on, or in the vicinity of, reef features.

?Longfin Damselfish. Pomacentridae. Stegastes ?diencaeus. Very small to small individuals. Fiercely territorial and aggressive in their well defined areas of reef

Goldline Blenny. Labrisomidae. Malacoctenus aurolineatus. Very small individuals. Found in shallow reef areas often where rock-boring urchins are found.

Orangespotted Filefish. Monacanthidae. Cantherhines pullus. Small to medium sized species, often found hiding in holes on reef.

Rock Hind. Serranidae. Epinephelus adscensionis. Small to medium sized individuals. May be found settled on the seabed on shallow rocky reef tops.

Porcupinefish. Diodontidae. Diodon hystrix. Medium to large size. Favours overhangs and caves on edge of reef.

Hairy Blenny (female). Labrisomidae. Labrisomus nuchipinnis. Small individuals, found over the mixed rocky reef and sand areas.

Southern Stingray. Dasyatidae. Dasyatis americana. Large individuals, found over the sand areas adjacent to the reef features.

Initial Phase Spotlight Parrotfish. Scaridae. Sparisoma ?viride. Small to medium when adult. Adults are found over the reef, feeding on rock surfaces.

Shoal of Striped Grunt. Haemulidae. Haemulon striatum. This species is mixed in with French Grunts, Lane Snapper and Yellow Goatfish. Striped Grunts have five yellow stripes. Found in loose aggregations in caves and hollows on reef.

Banded Butterflyfish. Chaetodontidae. Chaetodon striatus. Small fish which tends to be found in pairs, across the top of the reef.

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