Top 10 Snorkeling Spots

While scuba divers have the most freedom to explore underwater, snorkeling is easy enough for children, and exciting enough for any traveler. Snorkeling is an opportunity to truly immerse yourself in nature. To help plan your next snorkeling adventure, I’ve put together 10 of the best places to snorkel around the world. A list of the ten best places ranges from U.S. National Parks to once-in-a-lifetime vacation destinations. Whichever one you end up visiting, you’ll see underwater sights that will make your jaw drop ….  if you weren’t breathing through a snorkel, of course.  If you are looking for the best snorkeling gear, read our snorkeling gear guide.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Home to the largest barrier reef outside of Australia, Belize has many opportunities to get up close and personal with eels, rays, and all kinds of brightly colored fish. There are hundreds of cayes and atolls that dot the Caribbean coastline, filled with colorful coral sunken beneath the turquoise waters. Some of the best options for divers and snorkelers are found off of Ambergris Caye, including the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the self-explanatory shark-ray alley teeming with nurse sharks happy to let you live out your swimming-with-the-sharks fantasies.  Visit our Best Belize Vacations Guide and start planning your luxury Belize Vacation.

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Ilha Grande, Brazil

Off the coast of Brazil, halfway between São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, sits the wilderness wonderland of Ilha Grande. There are hotels on the island, but it manages to feel largely untouched with monkey-filled jungles surrounded by brilliant blue waters teeming with brilliantly colored fish. Dive into the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon (Lagoa Azul) to swim with seahorses, ogle the underwater coves, and follow a turtle or angelfish through a sunken jungle. The waters off of Ilha Grande are also home to dozens of shipwrecks—remnants of the battles between pirates and the Portuguese.  Visit our Ilha Grande Brazil travel guide and start planning your Ilha Grande Brazil vacation.

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The Big Island, Hawaii

The entire Hawaiian archipelago is surrounded by incredible snorkeling spots, but the Big Island has the most to offer. The underwater state park at Kealakekua Bay not only has technicolor coral and colorful fish, but it a good dose of history, too, as it marks the spot where Captain James Cook landed on the island. Hit the water near the Captain Cook Monument to see dolphins, turtles and more. For more underwater adventures, head to the crystal waters of Honaunau Bay to explore its coral gardens alongside dolphins and tropical fish.  Visit our Big Island Hawaii Vacations post and start planning your Big Island Hawaii vacation.

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Palawan, The Philippines

The waters surrounding the 7,000 islands in the archipelago make up a diverse eco-system filled with breathtaking wildlife. There is no shortage of snorkeling opportunities from diving into the Bay of Donsol for the chance to swim with whale sharks or visiting the coral reefs outside Noa Noa Island. The stunning Palawan island offers something for every underwater explorer though. Visit the island’s fish-filled lagoons, dive into Honda Bay, explore Tubbataha reef, and plan a daytrip to meet the underwater inhabitants of Starfish and Cowrie Island.  Visit our Travel Palawan Philippines post and start planning your Palawan Philippines vacation.

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Buck Island, St. Croix, USVI

On Buck Island in the U.S. Virgin Island you’re likely to run into a friendly octopus or two. Snorkel between the elkhorn coral barrier reefs under Buck Island’s brilliant blue waters as you follow a colorful parrot fish along an underwater trail through this sunken national treasure. Three species of sea turtles nest at the park, brain coral abound, and both endangered brown pelicans and threatened least terns call this home. The shallow, gentle waters are ideal for beginning snorkelers.  Visit our St Croix Travel Guide and start planning your St. Croix Vacation.

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Komodo Island, Indonesia

While the giant lizards that call this island home get most of the attention from visitors, Komodo has some fascinating inhabitants under the water, too. Head to Pink Beach to swim with rays, schools of groupers, and hawksbill turtles in the undersea garden that grows there. Alternatively, visit the sea surrounding the Komodo National Park, which offers unmatched underwater exploration with over 1000 species of fish 260 types of coral, and 14 types of endangered whales, dolphins, and giant turtles. If that’s not enough to strap on a snorkel, there are also rays, sharks, and a flourishing coral reef to make for a memorizing journey.  Visit our Komodo Island Indonesia travel guide and start planning your Komodo Island Indonesia vacation.

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The Maldives

The Maldives are one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, but some of the islands’ greatest sights lie beneath the waves.  The tiny islands that make up the archipelago are surrounded by aquamarine water that is home to some 700 species of fish, including tuna wahoos, and butterfly fish. The water holds a multitude of other marine wonders, too, like sharks, turtles, anemones, coral, and perhaps a friendly octopus or two. If someone in your party doesn’t like to snorkel, they can enjoy the undersea gardens and wildlife, too, thanks to the islands’ crystal clear water.  Visit The Maldives Travel Guide and start planning your Maldives Vacation.

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Palau

Only one of the marine lakes that dot Palau is open to snorkeling, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Jellyfish Lake on the uninhabited island of Eil Malk lives up to its name, filled with millions of golden jellyfish that have thrived in the isolated lake for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. For a truly other worldly experience, visitors can snorkel among the floating, gelatinous creatures. While jellyfish are known for their stings, these have a non-poisonous sting, as they eat algae—not other animals—and reportedly, their stings can hardly be felt by humans who take the plunge into their waters.  Visit our Palau Travel Guide and start planning your Palau vacation.

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Great Barrier Reef, Australia

It’s impossible to talk about the world’s best snorkeling spots without mentioning the largest coral reef ecosystem in the world—Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The reef is actually made up of 2,900 individual reefs that stretch over 1,400 miles off the Australian shoreline. Eye-popping coral, brilliant marine life, barracuda, manta rays, and the bones of ships that crashed on the reef all make the Great Barrier Reef a must-visit destination for ocean aficionados. For an easy place to start your exploration, head to the Whitsunday Islands right off the shore of Queensland.  Visit our Visit Cairns Australia travel guide and start planning your Great Barrier Reef vacation.  Cairns is going to be the closet location for hotel accommodations.

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Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Beneath the waves that surround these islands lies a fascinating natural treasure trove. The various islands is home to diverse marine life—sea turtles, dolphins, orcas, humpback whales, Galapagos penguins, fur seals, and sea lions. Brave souls can swim in Devil’s Crown, the sunken cone of a volcano near Floreana Island, to see brilliantly-colored fish, moray eels, and more.

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28 Comments

  1. Anusuya

    Where was I in the past 15 minutes! Not sure, this will be my answer if you ask me that question. Yes, it is true. Believe me I was in heaven enjoying this blog’s write up and images.

    Thank you for building this blog full of wonders. I started at Beliz, continued my journey welcoming the underwater treasures of Brazil, Hawaii and the rest of it landing and watching the magnificent Indonesia.

    Underneath the calm blue water there is beautiful universe, you will not lift your eye off from. Amazing description of each of  these spots makes the blog attractive and keeps engaging. You would feel, I just wish I would be here right now.

    While all the 10 picks are awesome, I loved Indonesia the most. A to-be-married couple I know have planned their honeymoon there. I am so happy for them.

    I never had time for a vacation in my life. This blog created some appetite.

    Awesome blog and I almost guarantee of its massive outreach.

    Thank you for the share and feel lucky crossing my path.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Anusuya 🙂  I am really glad you enjoyed your digital visit to the top 10 snorkeling spots…I agree that Indonesia is my first pick on the list as well.  Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  2. mark kabakov

    This is my participation in the discussion on the Snorkeling Spots. Israel has the pleasure of diving with Nautilus in Eilat too. Anyone wishing to dive into SCUBA, regardless of their experience, can call Nautilus. 

    The club organizes scuba diving for beginners for certified diver-oriented and control dives, PADI courses of all levels in small groups and individual courses. Very personal approach, new and modern equipment, 15 years of experience. Afternoon dive on the territory of the beautiful reef. There are night diving sites, and this is the best part. You can see a dolphin, octopus, lobster and a lot of eels.

    I liked your review very much. Thanks for the interesting content and beautiful views. Mark

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Mark.  Yes, I am covering Scuba diving next.  Thanks for the input!

      Reply
  3. Nicolette Gomez

    hey there! How fun was this article?! I already want to plan my next vacation to a hot spot but definitely will be adding Palau to check out those jellyfish that wont kill you Haha. Off the top of my head, in the beginning of your article I noticed that the first paragraph may have a grammatical error. “To help plan your next snorkeling adventure I’ve [put]” I do believe there needs to be one more word there. Also, the next sentence i would phrase it as “a list of the best 10 places to…” it allows your reader to understand that the rest of the article will be In a list. Not sure if you’d like to have it go by order or just saying that it’s in no particular order or in order of your favorites, etc. Now, at the end of your article, it must drops off. I didnt realize the article had ended, until I saw the comments box. Maybe add a little something at the end, ask a question? Maybe tell people that if they have Instagram to tag you in their favorite snorkeling photo with your specific hashtag or name, something to engage your reader. Not saying I wasnt engaged but to continue it and allow your customer to think of you while planning their next trip. Other than that, this article was beautiful, love the images and it definitely took me to a different place other than my couch. 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks so much Nicolette! I have made the corrections and will add a little something at the end. Thanks for taking the time to let me know!

      Reply
  4. Nkhosingiphile

    Beach travel destinations are really awesome. It is really awesome watching the divers in the beautiful and great Indonesia .Everything is really breath taking here , i would really love to take a visit to all the places but more than everything i would love to be at the great barrier reef in Australia. It really feels nice to be there.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You and me both!  The Great Barrier Reef is just so massively big and awesome.  I am glad you enjoyed your visit to the Top 10 Snorkeling Spots.

      Reply
  5. Dancinscot

    Those photographs are so beautiful and calming! I would love to snorkel again sometime at one of those places.

    You have offered a good selection, all accessible from the Americas, Europe and the south seas.

    It is quite an experience to view undersea creatures at home. Their either oblivious or benign attitude makes things easy for us humans. It’s certainly a great opportunity for children, even quite small ones, to learn first hand about the ocean habitat.

    The warmth, the water, the colors! I’d recommend to anyone, grab your gear and go!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      That is right!  Grad gear and enjoy the amazing life under the water 🙂  Snorkeling is an experience for all, I agree with you.  Thanks for visiting the top 10 snorkeling spots.

      Reply
  6. Kenny Tang

    This was an excellent post. I have a fondness for nature, wildlife and aquatic environments myself. Snorkeling is one of those activities that I placed on my fun things to do list, but I have not had the opportunity to do so. This will change in the future though. All of these locations are absolutely beautiful. The one location that caught my attention was Maldives. The clearness of the water and you mentioned the fact that there were many different species of fish make me want to take a vacation there. That is a sight to behold. 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      The Maldives is an awesome location with or with snorkeling.  But to go there and not snorkel with be a huge disservice to yourself.  It is absolutely breathtaking.  Thanks for the visit Kenny

      Reply
  7. Israel

    Thanks for the informative post about the top 10 Snorkeling Spots in the world! What an interesting read! I didn’t even know that there are such beautiful places around the world to snorkel. This is really amazing. I hope to visit any of these beautiful places soonest!

    What amazes me the most is where you mentioned in your post that I’ll see underwater sights that will make my jaw drop… if I wasn’t breathing through a snorkel. Thanks for the information given about snorkeling! So much enjoyed the reading!

    Israel Olatunji

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes Israel, it will make your jaw drop. Very awe inspiring.  Personally, nothing beats snorkeling when I am on a beach holiday.  It is just a given of one thing that I have to do.  

      Reply
  8. Roopesh

    Hi there.

    I got to admit, I am hooked on your site. After having read your article on the Snorkeling Guide, I decided to check out this one on the Top 10 Snorkeling spots. I was not disappointed, well I lie. I was disappointed from the point that I do not have the money to check out all top 10 spots, LOL. Hopefully in time, I may do it though.

    I would like to start my Snorkeling Journey on the Komodo Islands. I would like to check out the endangered sea life. Visiting the turtles and shark whales sounds like a cool adventure.

    In your opinion, should one look at a certain time of the year to visit this region? Or can one do it at any time? I mean with respect to seasons changes, prices(I prefer off peak times), etc

    Thanks for another awesome article

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am so glad you like my site 🙂 Yes, I would love to be able to visit all locations as well! You have picked out a good place to start, the Komodo Islands! Boy, the time of year really depends on where you go. For instance, the best time to visit the Komodo Islands is between April and December which is there dry season. Each location is going to be unique. I am working on a travel guide for each location which will answer that specific question for one, I will let you know as I complete them 🙂 Thanks for visit the Top 10 Snorkeling Spots.

      Reply
  9. Marios Tofarides

    Hi Leahrae,

    I’m not aware of most of  thr spots you have mentioned – I haven’t traveled to any of these places- besides The Great Coral Reef. Is is as good as it used to be? There are rumors that the coral is being destroyed because of the climate change – and this is sad.

    I’d suggest Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt, as well as Cayo Blanco, an island in the Caribbean, off the coast of Cuba. These are the ones I’ve been to, and I love them. I could stay in the water for hours 🙂

    Marios

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I know that  some coral is being destroyed, but the Great Barrier Reef is still one of those wonders worth visiting.  It is still an amazing site under water.  Oh yes Sharm El Sheikh is a great choice!  I have not heard of Cayo Blanco, but I will be looking that up!  Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  10. Darren

    this is really useful information that you’ve provided here giving us a variety of locations to experience. I have snorkelled many times in the Mediterranean and my best experience was on the island of Rhodes.

    My other veNuevo remember was snorkelling in the Bahamas. 

    The good thing about snorkelling in different places is the different species you can view especially wearing a full faced snorkelling mask I read about in one of your previous posts.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, going to different destinations will bring you a greater variety that you will have seen.  I love looking at the different sea life.  Different areas are going to have marine life that is popular for their area, so experiencing each of these top 10 snorkeling spots, will really provide a wide range of marine life.  Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.com

      Reply
  11. Otis Dube

    Oh yes if if you really like marine life like I do this is it aquariam life there are so so many of them Beneath the waves that surround these islands lies a fascinating natural treasure trove. The various islands is home to diverse marine life—sea

    turtles, dolphins,  humpback whales, Galapagos penguins, fur seals, and sea lions. Brave souls can swim in Devil’s Crown, the sunken cone of a volcano near

    The Maldives are one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, but some of the islands’ greatest sights lie beneath the waves.  The tiny islands that make up the archipelago are surrounded by aquamarine water that is home to some 700 species of fish, including tuna and butterfly fish. The water holds a multitude of other marine wonders, too, like sharks, turtles, anemones, coral, and perhaps a friendly octopus or two. If someone in your party doesn’t like to snorkel, they can enjoy the undersea gardens and wildlife, too, thanks to the clear water.

    And so many we can think of….All the best in goodwill hunting.

    kinds regards

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I couldn’t agree with you more Otis!  Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  12. Kenny

    Hi that’s a great review of some beautiful destinations. I personally have gone snorkelling with my wife in Thailand on an island of krabi. So beautiful, I can definitely see why you would do a review on this. I hope I get to visit other sites you have shown in the future.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I hope so too!  Thanks for stopping by Kenny to visit the Top 10 Snorkeling Spots.

      Reply
  13. Shy

    It sounds like Belize would be quite the adventure.  I would love to try to go diving and see all the fish below the water.  It always looks so awesome to see the coral and the different colored fish, it’s so peaceful and beautiful.

    What an amazing experiance this would be.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Amazing is right!  Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Reply
  14. Daniel

    What an awesome article. I must say that while I was reading this and watching this beautiful pictures, I wanted to be there right now. My favorite is Maldive because I was there 2 years ago and it is truly a heaven. I think that I will go there next year but I would also like to visit other places like Palau.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      The Maldives are wonderful, you are right and to snorkel there is an awesome experience.  Thanks for visiting my top 10 snorkeling spots.

      Reply

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