25 Best Snorkeling Spots in the World
A mask, snorkel and fins, and insight on where to find clear waters and majestic marine species are all you need to enjoy a spectacular snorkeling experience.
25 Best Snorkeling Spots in the World
With so many natural wonders gracing our Earth above the surface in plain sight, it’s easy to overlook the beauty beneath its surface. However, the ocean makes up more than 70 percent of our planet, and the biodiversity bustling within it should not be overlooked.
A mask, snorkel and fins, and valuable insight on where to find crystal-clear, calm waters and a conglomerate of majestic marine species are all you need to enjoy a spectacular snorkeling experience.
Great Barrier Reef
What to expect: A whopping 1,800 species of fish, 5,000 different types of shellfish and 125 species of sharks make the iconic Great Barrier Reef a highly sought after snorkeling destination. Skip entering the reef by way of the popular city of Cairns, and instead choose a boat tour from cities like Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation and Townsville.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Great Barrier Reef
The planet’s largest reef system, the Great Barrier Reef is comprised of 2,900 individual reefs and coral cays spanning 1,400 miles off the Queensland coast. There’s an abundance of shallow reef habitat and sea life, making snorkeling outings on the Great Barrier Reef world class.
Be on the lookout for the green turtle, clown fish, marlin, sea horses and marine crocodiles.
Location: The Caribbean
What to expect: Situated on both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Grenada’s unspoiled natural reefs, supreme visibility and first underwater sculpture park make it a highly sought after snorkeling destination. It’s home to more than 45 beaches, but the top five to visit for snorkeling include: Grand Anse Beach, Levera National Park, Morne Rouge Bay, La Sagesse and Moliniere Bay.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Grenada
Grenada is known for the breathtaking Moliniere Bay Underwater Sculpture Park, the first ever-marine sculpture garden with more than 60 coral-graced cement statues.
Here, tropical fish dance around the world’s first underwater sculpture park with more than 60 statues, including the famous ring of children holding hands.
What to expect: Maui is surrounded by hundreds of destinations for snorkelers, from exploring the island’s beaches and unique lava rocks and coves to venturing out to popular reefs. Sea turtles, technicolor fish and coral formations wow visitors.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Maui
Maui is an ideal snorkeling destination for beginners thanks to its calm waters and amazing water clarity, including the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve.
A few miles offshore, the Molokini Crater entices visitors with its rainbow fish, eagle rays, monk seals and sea turtles within the crater.
Location: French Polynesia
What to expect: The shallow, crystal-clear waters present an abundant array of colorful reef fish, turtles, blacktip reef, and lemon sharks and stingrays. Matira beach offers an easily accessible shallow lagoon that you can paddle or kayak to independently.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Bora Bora
Bora Bora is famous for its overwater bungalows that allow visitors to go from their bed to the water in seconds. The crystal-clear waters reveal friendly stingrays begging for attention.
Some of the best snorkeling in the area can be found at the Aquarium. The vibrant coral garden is only accessible by boat. Expect to spot butterfly fish, parrot fish, puffer fish, Picasso trigger fish, snapper, tang, goat fish, grouper, trumpet fish, zebra unicorn fish, wrasse or Japanese moray eels while snorkeling.
What to expect: Located off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Isla Holbox allows visitors to swim with whale sharks. Come during the summer months when the friendly sharks surface to feed on plankton.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Isla Holbox
A tropical car-free island, Isla Holbox dazzles with white-sand beaches and turquoise waters.
World famous for its whale sharks, the snorkeling destination also allows visitors to witness sea turtles, manta rays and dolphins.
Koh Laoliang Island
What to expect: Consisting of two side-by-side islands, this remote part of the world offers the chance to see sea eagles, kingfishers, swallows, swiftlets and more. Advanced snorkelers will love exploring the seabed between the two islands.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Koh Laoliang Island
Located in the Andaman Sea off the western coast of Southern Thailand, Laoliang is an idyllic paradise for those looking to prioritize adventure.
The low-key, eco-friendly setting features beautiful hard corals, assorted schools of fish and plenty of opportunities not only to snorkel, but also to rock climb, kayak and scuba dive.
The Cayman Islands
Location: The Caribbean
What to expect: The small coves and shallow -water coral reefs make The Caymans Islands ideal for snorkeling. Snorkel Turtle Reef, and encounter parrot fish, filefish, barracuda, grouper, octopus, stingray and turtles.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: The Cayman Islands
The year-round perfect water conditions for underwater sightseeing make The Cayman Islands a popular spot for snorkeling.
Stingray City draws visitors in thanks to its shallow, calm, clear waters and abundant stingray population.
Isla del Cocos
Location: Costa Rica
What to expect: The sparkling emerald waters of the island reveal an array of pelagic species, including manta rays, moray eels, bottlenose dolphins, whale sharks and hammerhead sharks. The island has remained a preserved sanctuary for wildlife, so there are no overnight stays.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Isla del Cocos
A UNESCO World Heritage site, this island is situated 340 miles off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. It’s nicknamed “Treasure Island” for its long -ago hideout for pirates.
Today, the island, situated atop an ancient volcanic mountain, entices with extremely rare animals, extinct volcanic tunnels, caves, coral reefs, 235 breeds of plants and 270 kinds of fish.
What to expect: Emerald green water, caves, islands, coral reefs and a dizzying array of underwater wildlife make for incredible snorkeling opportunities. Go to Bombinhas Beach to find the sunken ship.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Porto Belo
Porto Belo is a seafront town situated at the base of a peninsula where beaches, bays and coves entice. The calm waters make it a haven for snorkeling.
In the nearby Marine Reserve of Arvoredo, warm and cooler waters meet, resulting in a colorful diversity of marine life.
What to expect: A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Baa Atoll is home to bigger marine species such as dolphins. Visit between June and November to encounter the most abundant marine life, including hundreds of manta rays feeding on zooplankton.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Baa Atoll
There are thousands of species of fish in the Maldives.
Baa Atoll is especially popular for snorkeling though, as it’s home to one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean.
Bay of Donsol
Location: The Philippines
What to expect: Snorkel with the whale sharks, the largest living fish, between November and June, when they feed on the rich nutrients coming from the mouth of the river.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Bay of Donsol
The gentle disposition of the massive whale sharks nearing the surface excites visitors to jump in the bay and snorkel alongside them.
The local fishermen are not allowed to feed or capture them. They are strictly regulated to protect them and their natural habitat.
What to expect: Come to this extinct sunken volcanic cone to snorkel alongside shy reef sharks, eagle rays, sea turtles and more.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Devil’s Crown
The Galapagos Islands offer rich biodiversity that brings nature lovers from all over the world. Devil’s Crown, in particular, is a snorkeler’s paradise. Noticeable by its jagged rocks jutting out of the water, the once volcanic crater hosts myriad marine life.
Plan to spot white-and-yellow surgeonfish, colorful parrot fish, king angelfish, a variety of wrasses, blennies and even a hammerhead shark.
Location: Dominican Republic
What to expect: Known to offer plentiful encounters with humpback whales, Silver Bank is a mesmerizing destination for snorkelers. Go between December and April when they migrate here to mate, calve and raise their babies.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Silver Bank
Located 80 miles north of the Dominican Republic, Silver Bank features warm, Caribbean waters with a submerged limestone plateau that attracts the North Atlantic humpback whales.
The whales can be seen breaching, lob-tailing and fin-slapping daily.
Location: South Africa
What to expect: More than 1,200 species of fish can be found on the reefs off the coast of Mabibi, including parrot fish, blue surgeons, moorish idols and manta rays. There’s also schools of bottlenose dolphins, sharks, whale sharks and turtles.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Mabibi
A long, unspoiled stretch of beach with crystal-clear waters and a kaleidoscope of marine life make this one of the most spectacular coastlines in KwaZulu-Natal, a coastal South African province.
Come during February and March to see baby turtles dash into the ocean just moments after hatching from their eggs.
Komodo National Park
What to expect: Along with the mystical Komodo dragon, you can expect to see an abundance of dugongs, manta rays, sharks and over 1,000 species of tropical fish among the reefs.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Komodo National Park
This UNESCO World Heritage site, located along a chain of volcanic islands known as Lesser Sunda, is famous for housing the world’s only population of Komodo dragons.
The park’s Pink Beach is a picturesque slice of heaven, featuring rose-colored sand made by crushed red coral washing ashore.
Location: Palermo, Italy
What to expect: A mediterranean paradise featuring a seabed of black lava stone, Ustica is home to brown groupers, saddled sea bream, corals and more. Divers should check out the Grotta Azzurra, the Grotta Verde and the Grotta delle Barche, where underwater trails with signs reveal marvelous marine life around every corner.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Ustica
The glittering grottos of the island of Ustica reveal technicolor fish eager to show their beauty. As the epicenter of an inward current roaring through the Straits of Gibraltar from the Atlantic Ocean, Ustica’s waters are crystal clear and utterly clean due to the lack of pollution.
The area is home to a rare seaweed called the Poseidonia oceanica. The seaweed is referred to as "the lungs of the sea" because it oxygenates the water.
What to expect: Flamingo tongue snails, Christmas tree worms, Caribbean spiny lobsters and more beckon snorkelers beneath the area’s calm, shallow waters. The famed snorkeling site, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, allow snorkelers to swim with nurse sharks and stingrays.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Ambergris Caye
Part of the greater Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the largest in this hemisphere, Ambergris Caye’s reef is ideally situated just off shore, amid shallow waters offering up-close views of the marine environment.
Hol Chan and Mexico Rocks are the two most popular snorkeling sites off of the caye. At Mexico Rocks, expect to see large schools of fish, even a sea turtle or two.
Location: St. Croix
What to expect: The vibrant, shallow blue waters of Buck Island are home to colorful parrot fish, sunken treasure, three species of sea turtles, endangered brown pelicans and least terns.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Buck Island
Located in USVI, Buck Island Reef National Monument is just one of only two Underwater National Monuments in the country. The monument protects several threatened and endangered species.
Turtle Beach is widely considered one of the prettiest beaches in the world as well as one of the best snorkeling destinations.
Eil Malk Island
What to expect: Eil Malk Island is home to Jellyfish Lake, where millions of golden jellyfish that have inhabited the isolated lake for thousands of years thrive. These particular jellyfish feed on algae as opposed to other animals, making their stings non-poisonous.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: *Eil Malk Island
Snorkelers often describe the feeling of swimming in a lake with thousands of stingless jellyfish as an otherworldly experience.
The two main species in the lake, the moon jellyfish and the golden jellyfish, are only found in this place.
Location: Papua New Guinea
What to expect: Check out the volcanic seamount Planet Rock. Just offshore from Madang, snorkelers can swim alongside barracuda, tuna, snapper and reef sharks.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Madang
Located in the Coral Triangle, Papua New Guinea and its offshore islands provide a remote snorkeling getaway.
Scientists are intrigued by the unique marine environment, with new species found here regularly. The area also has excellent shipwrecks that divers flock to.
San Blas Islands
What to expect: Isla Perro Chico is the most famous snorkeling spot among the San Blas Islands, with its beautiful shipwreck sunk in front of the beach. Also expect to encounter angelfish, groupers, parrotfish, pufferfish and lobsters.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: San Blas Islands
This breathtaking 365-island archipelago resides within the communal lands of the Guna Yala indigenous nation. The islands feature white-sand beaches, shimmering turquoise waters and shallow coral reefs.
Prepare to come across marvelous marine life, including a wild turtle, shark or octopus in the waters around the San Blas Islands.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
What to expect: The variety of exciting marine life makes for a snorkeler’s paradise. You’ll come across everything from manatees and dolphins to parrot fish, sea turtles, barracuda, sharks, octopus, several species of crabs and jellyfish, among so much more. Diving, snorkeling and fishing are all permitted within the sanctuary but with strict guidelines to protect the natural environment.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Designated a marine sanctuary in 1990, this protected area stretches almost 3,000 square nautical miles. Home to more than 6,000 species of marine life, underwater adventures like snorkeling are not to be missed.
Within the boundaries of the sanctuary, vibrant nationally significant marine resources like Florida’s Coral Reef and extensive seagrass beds make for an exquisite underwater experience.
What to expect: The lesser known Church Bay is a local’s favorite for snorkeling. Angel, butterfly and parrot fish fill the typically calm, aquarium-like waters.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Church Bay
Typically uncrowded, the slice of beach known as Church Bay consists of a small cove formed by coral cliffs. The shallow reefs are home to colorful tropical fish and beautiful marine life.
Numerous, large fish come right up to the beach. While a little farther out, the large, complex reef formations entice with their untouched beauty.
What to expect: The freshwater springs on the seabed are home to some of the most magical coral reefs in existence, including the Golden Sponge species.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Makarska Riviera
Shimmering white shores dot the Adriatic coastline of Croatia. Solarc Beach and Garma Bay are known for rich marine life and excellent snorkeling in particular.
Be on the lookout for octopuses, starfish and lots more submarine wildlife. You may even spot a seahorse.
What to expect: For the daring snorkeler willing to brace frigid waters, this Icelandic destination is one of the few chances snorkelers will get to swim through a narrow underwater canyon. The canyon is the result of shifting North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Why It's One of the Best Snorkeling Spots: Silfra Fissure
Will you spot any fish here? No, but snorkeling amid a narrow underwater canyon is what calls adventurers to this breathtaking underwater landscape.
Silfra’s natural filtration system, consisting of melted glacial water flowing through an underground lava field, allows for 328 feet of visibility.