The 57 Best Snorkeling Spots in the World

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best snorkeling spots in the world
The Best Snorkeling Spots in the World. Don’t forget your snorkel gear!

I kind of got sick of reading articles on big media networks like Yahoo! and CNN that listed the Top 10 or 12 snorkeling spots in the world.  I know that from being in the Hawaiian Islands for 2 years now that there had to be more AWESOME spots that we could include on a list like that.  So, I compiled this list.

Notes about this list:

It is not all inclusive. If I’ve missed your favorite spot or you’d like to have a snorkeling spot considered, then please contact me or leave a comment and I’ll do my best to add it.

I have used many references to compile this list.  I have not gone to all of these spots.  If I have missed your reference, then please let me know.  I’m pretty sure I included all of the ones that I used, though.

This list is currently in alphabetical order.  I am awaiting feedback from you in the comments to start rating and moving the listings around.

The list is a starting point for your research and interests.  Obviously, I can’t write everything about everyplace on the list.  Happy snorkeling!

Links and images have been added when and where I could.

Lastly, THIS IS A WORKING LIST.  I will be adding more links and images as the content matures and gets checked for accuracy.

The 57 Top Snorkeling Spots on Earth (last update:  17 October 2015

Aigua Xellida, Spain

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Located near Palafrugell, this narrow cove may be difficult to find but trust that the locals know it well and will direct you.  Mostly sheltered and calm, the water is clear, and while busy the in the mornings the beach tends to clear in the afternoon.

Alligator Reef Lighthouse, Florida Keys

One of the Upper Keys’ largest coral reef systems which is formed around a wreck, the USS Alligator. Reviews mention a great place to take kids and plenty of tropical fish, hard and soft corals, and crystal clear, South Florida waters.

Ao Sane Beach, Thailand

Voted as one of the 10 Best Beaches in Phuket, Thailand’s southwest coast. Best bet to park at the top of the hill and walk down to the beach.  There are NO snorkel rentals on the beach but the marine is said to be abundant and snorkeler’s/diver’s dream.

Bahia de Mujeres Beach, Cancun

Translated as “Bay of Women”, is actually a larger area that is often referenced in Cancun to include the Isla Mujeres, “Island of Women”.  The area is supposed to have awesome snorkeling and spectacular sites.

Banana Beach, Thailand

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Another of Thailand’s best beaches in Phuket.  Good snorkeling, considered a “secret beach” because of the difficulty in finding it.  However, once there it is totally worth the effort. Good snorkeling on a quiet beach without the crowds…pretty good deal.

Bay Islands, Honduras

One of the most diverse and richest reef systems in the Carribean.  The Bay Islands are an awesome place to snorkel. OceanicSociety.org offers expeditions and tours to the location so you know that it has some major awesomeness.

Bimini, Bahamas

A snorkeling paradise only a 30 minute flight from Florida, anyone?  Uhmm…yes, please. Leaving now.  Oh, and don’t forget to play with spotted dolphins.  If you have some extra cash and the time you can actually make this a day trip!

Bligh Water, Fiji

Check for conditions.  A cyclone hit in 2012 and disrupted some of the best snorkeling in the world here.  Still, it’s worth a look because of the high population of diverse sea life in the waters of Fiji.

Blue Lagoon, Bali

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Clean, clear water set to a tropical paradise .  Enter to the far left and you’ll find the live, coral and bountiful marine life right up against the shore.  Food, showers, and restaurants available right there.

Bocas Del Toro, Panama

Admiral Bay, “Bahia de Almirante”, is the place to snorkel in Bocas Del Toro.  The reefs and water are protected resulting in crystal clear, calm water with plenty of fish.

Bonaire

Per Galen and Nicole at Tropicalsnorkeling.com, Bonaire isn’t what it used to be for snorkeling since Mother Nature stepped in and stormed the place up but there’s still great places if you know where to go and still exceptional…

Buck Island, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

No respectable snorkeler would go to the US Virgin Islands without checking out the Buck Reef National Monument.  The beach and the snorkeling are spectacular.

Caja De Muertos, Puerto Rico

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Considered by many to be on of the greatest day trips in the world, snorkeling at Caja De Muertos offers some of the best snorkeling in the PR.  The beaches abound with beautful shells and the marine life is everywhere.

Cane Bay, Virgin Islands

Cane Bay sits against a nice, breezy beach on the Northern part of St. Croix.  Great, tropical fish gazing but also some patches of awesome brain and elkhorn coral.

Captain Cook, Big Island Hawaii

Some of the best snorkeling in the state of Hawaii.  Accessible by boat tour, hike, or kayak trek this is a sweet spot to get to if you’re on the Big Island.Captain Cook Monument snorkeling can be one of the most rewarding snorkeling experiences that you ever have.

Catalina Island, California (Lover’s Cove)

Underwater gardens are the main event at this California snorkeling location.  You’ll see plenty of fish and coral…and it’s great to finally have a California spot finally hit the list.

Cenotes, Cancun

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All along the Mayan Riviera is where the best vacation and snorkeling spots in Cancun are. Checkout this Xtreme Snorkeling Tour for some wow snorkeling experiences.

Champagne Reef, Dominica

The geothermal underwater springs form the multitude of bubbles that make it feel like swimming in a glass of champagne…and hence the name.  Awesome reef, Lobsters.  Parrot fish and plenty of Hawskbill turtles.

Cheeca Rocks, Florida Keys

The Florida Keys hits the list again and according to everything that I’ve researched, this one of the best snorkeling spots in the keys.  It’s a short boat ride but worth trip to the coral reef that’s out there!

Coki Point Beach, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Soft sand and water.  Coki Point Beach is a popular Virgin Islands destination for tourists, groups, cruise ships and even locals.  Great snorkeling but you’ll have to bring in your own snorkel gear as there is not a water sports vendor on the beach.

Corn Islands, Nicaragua

The Corn Islands has a great and diverse coral reef system that you can access right from a beach or boat tour.  Expect to see schools of spinner dolphins and turtles among the usual suspects of fish, rays and live corals.

Crystal River, Florida

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You won’t find a better location to snorkel with and be among the West India Manatee then in Crystal River, Florida.  These gentle giants can be very sociable and the key is to stay calm and move slowly.

Culebra, Puerto Rico

“If you love to Snorkel then the Island of Culebra is calling your name” -Puertoricodaytrips.com Yes, I can hear it call out:  “Ken.  C’mon, Ken”.  There is really some gorgeous shoreline, water, and reef in Culebra.  It’s almost pure coastline everywhere as the island is barely an island at all.

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

“Blue Holes” happen when underwater caves and caverns fall in and create a deep water hole and Deans is thought to be the world’s deepest one!  Great diversity and don’t be surprised to see porpoises and dolphins wander in to the location with turtles and fish.

Dry Tortugas, Florida

A national park with crystal clear water and the home of historic Fort Jefferson.  You’ll need a boat or sea plane to get access to the gorgeous snorkeling out here but the tour is worth the time and money as it is a snorkeling location that not many get to.

Elbow Cay, Bahamas

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Elbow Bay is a six mile long cay and part of the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. There is a lot of fishing done and due to boat and snorkel tour service you can get to many different spots around the cay that aren’t too crowded in order to get your snorkeling fix in a great, relaxed way.

Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Fajardo is a little city and district in Puerto Rico situated on the east area of the island, flanking the Atlantic Ocean, north of Ceiba and east of Luquillo. Snorkelers can find glass like water and an abundance of marine life.

Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas

This island is full of history and charm and it’s a prime vacation destination. Cities and villages here are cultural hot spots for visitors. Dive beneath the water to visit the biggest caves among all.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawai

This is the best (and most popular…so there are crowds!) snorkeling spot of all in the Hawaiian Islands. Hanauma Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. Formed originally in a volcanic cone, today, Hanauma Bay offers a large marine ecosystem for your snorkeling pleasure.

Haulover Bay, St. John, Virgin Islands

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These islands are populated with numerous groves and forested areas. There are a lot of amazing places to hang out on these islands and spots for snorkelers to visit and enjoy for fun.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Belize

Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a marine hold near Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, off the shoreline of Belize. It covers nearly 2.7 square miles of coral reefs, sea grass beds, and mangrove woodland. Hol Chan is Mayan for “little channel.

Honaunau, Big Island Hawaii

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park situated on the west side of the island of Hawaiʻi in the U.S.   I was able to snorkel with my first pod of spinner dolphins at Honaunau.

Jervis Bay, Australia

Jervis Bay is a 39-square-mile maritime inlet on the south bank of New South Wales, Australia and it’s been said to have the whitest sand on the planet. This place has the best resorts for lodging and they’re near all the best snorkel spots in the area.

Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Islands

At more than 3 square miles, Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four main islands of the BVI. Jost Van Dyke lies about 3 miles to the northwest of Tortola and 3 miles to the north of Saint John. It’s easy to lose an entire day snorkeling in the area of blue waters and gorgeous reef fish.

Julian Rocks Marine Reserve, Australia

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The Julian Rocks Nguthungulli Nature Reserve that is situated on the Julian Rocks in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales, in Australia. The 15.65 square mile area includes two little islands, arranged in the Tasman Sea of the South Pacific Ocean

Kaiona Beach Park, Oahu

Campground, barbecue pits and soft, rolling surf (most of the time), Kaiona Beach Park is also known as “Honu Heaven” because of the amount of turtles in the area. The beach also has an old fish pond and is very close to the Magnum PI house of 1980s TV show.

Knuckle Reef Lagoon, Australia

Knuckle reef lagoon is in Australia. Snorkelers can find deep sea spots and many other activities that include diving and swimming in water to go along with great snorkeling and scenery

La Barraca Cove, Spain

Situated in Spain near Madrid (thanks to a reader for pointing out this error!) South Eastern Coast is one great spot to have fun with you family or friends and enjoy top notch snorkeling. It is located near Madrid which has a lot of tourists’ spots.  Snorkelers can enjoy easy access to beaches.

La Paguera, Puerto Rico

A population of more than twenty-five thousand in the surrounding area. Again a place where snorkelers can find exotic life and paradise like scenery.

Laen Singh Beach, Thailand

People usually prefer this place due to its natural beauty and “away from it all” atmosphere, which is something that you can always get at places like Hawaii and the Bahamas

Lord Howe Island, Australia

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Lagoon snorkeling comes with calm waters for the kids and people who want to laze around and see the underwater life.  Beautiful coral and marine life in varying depths of water.  Rental gear available.

Mackerel Islands, Australia

Go on a journey of discovery and beauty as the Mackerel Island snorkeling spots lay out before you in a gorgeous array of aquarium like snorkeling.  Many snorkeling sites and sights away among these gorgeous Australian Islands.

Makaha Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii

Located on west Oahu, Makaha Beach Park is a place to snorkel with turtles during the summer months, but a popular surf spot and NOT suitable for snorkeling during the winter months. A 50 meter swim puts you smack dab in the middle of a natural turtle cleaning station in great depths for diving or chilling out at the surface.

Manus, Papua New Guinea

Manus is Papua New Guinea’s smallest province, both in terms of land mass and population, but has a vast sea area rich with marine life and beautiful coral reefs. The province consists of a group of islands, known as the Admiralty Islands and a scattering of low lying mostly uninhabited atolls, with the northern border reaching the equator.

Menjangan Island, Bali

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Nusa Menjangan is a small island located off the northwest coast of Bali in the Bali Barat National Park. It is very popular with divers and a favourite spot for snorkelers, as there is virtually no current and your boat can pull up on a pristine sandy beach where superb reef snorkeling is easily accessible. The water is usually crystal clear and the abundance of colorful reef fish provides a great spectacle.

Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea

Over the years, Milne Bay Province has been visited by missionaries, miners, traders in pearls, scientists and Japanese and American warships. During the war Milne Bay became a huge naval base through which hundreds of thousands of servicemen passed.

Molokini Crater, Maui, Hawaii

Molokini features flourishing marine life in exceptionally clear water with visibility in excess of 150 feet.Turtle Town is bordered by a vibrant coral reef on lava formations, which is very attractive to sea turtles.

Mona Island, Puerto Rico

The main island has a few good snorkeling spots but the offshore islands of ViequesCulebra,Isla Mona, Caja de Muertos offer the best snorkeling beaches.  Enjoy beaches with shallow and crystal clear waters perfect for children so the whole family can enjoy the snorkeling experience.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

The most talked about beach among snorkelers in Montego Bay is Doctor’s Cave Beach.  Mineral spring water flows into the ocean which helps to amplify the visibility, plus keep the already typically warm waters even warmer.  There are a few small coral beds close to shore where friendly fish frequent.

Ningaloo Reef, Australia

Snorkelling the Ningaloo Reef of Western Australia’s Coral Coast is an absolute must if you’re visiting ExmouthCoral Bay or the oceanside stations north of Carnarvon. Regarded as one of the last great ocean paradises on Earth, you can access this watery wonderland by simply stepping off the beach and into the sea. Why not join a tour and explore the outer coral gardens of this amazing fringing reef, or snorkel with the giants of the deep the whale shark (from late March through to early July)

Pigeon Cay, Honduras

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The snorkeling at Pigeon is without doubt some of the best in the Caribbean. The reef starts 15 to 20 feet from the beach and surrounds the entire cay. The ideal conditions for coral growth found here mean that the coral is very healthy and there is a huge of variety of species.

Plaza Sur, Galapagos

The Galápagos Islands hold many wonders, but few are as charming as the clowns of the sea, the Galápagos sea lions. From the town of Puerto Ayora on the main island ofSanta Cruz, take a boat ride to Plaza Sur, home to over a thousand sea lions. Jump off the boat into the shallow water and you’ll be an instant hit with the juveniles, who like to swim up for a closer look.

Poipu Beach Park, Kauai

Kauai’s alluring southern coastline features a series of unusual reef formations and white sand beaches, each with its own shoreline environment. Swimming, boogie boarding, surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving are all found within a one mile stretch of coastline. Poipu Beach Park is considered among the safest in Hawaii, with a lifeguard on duty seven days a week.
Read more at http://www.poipubeach.org/beaches/#iQe1xbGyrEFhhEV5.99

Prince Philips Steps, Tower Island, Galapagos

Prince Philip’s Steps / El Barranco is located in the southern part of Darwin Bay. There is a 1.5 km trail on volcanic rock and the trek can be done in about 2 hours. This is the youngest area of the island, from a geological point of view. The cliffs located in the south are composed of very fragile lava.

Rock Island, Palau

Most reefs of Palau starts very shallow (1′-3′) which allows non-divers to explore the reef and experience almost the same marine life encounters as our divers do. It is common for us to have divers and non-divers boarding the same boat. We can also offer trips dedicated to non-divers. We provide life jackets and floating devices to all snorkelers for your safety and protection.

Shark’s Cove, Oahu, Hawaii

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Baby Honu. Size of a hub cap.

Voted one of the best shore dives in the world by popular SCUBA magazines, Shark’s Cove (Pupukea Beach Park) on the North Shore of Oahu is excellent snorkeling during the summer months, but leave it alone during the winter as the famous large surf comes in and is very dangerous.

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

The name says it all and there are lots and lots of snorkel tour companies offering to get you out and in the water the majestic stingrays.  You can do this in a lot of places around the world but Stingray City in Grand Cayman just has a more natural feel to it when the waters are not crowded.

Sun Flower Reef, Fiji

unflower Reef is accessible by boat and this reef is the size of three football fields. Barrier reefs in Fiji keep wave action to an either non existent or barely noticed effect. Thus, the water is tremendously clear. Photos taken underwater often look as if they were taken in the air. – See more at: http://www.tropicalsnorkeling.com/fiji-snorkeling-simply-the-best.html#sthash.9l1Yy085.dpuf

 

Special Thanks to the below sites and URLs for providing information on the above list

References:

http://www.papuanewguinea.travel

http://tropicalsnorkeling.com

http://tripadvisor.com

http://griyasari.com/

http://islandsofpuertorico.com/

http://www.payabay.com/

http://www.islands.com

http://galapagos.org

http://fishnfins.com

http://frommers.com

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Snorkel fanatic and water deviant. My snorkel and life partner (Lizzy) and I take to the beaches and bays to use all of the snorkel gear that we can. We try, test and review that gear for you...and we have a lot of fun in the meantime. Other than that, I'm a Soldier, father, bird lover, WoW player and a Boston sports fan.

22 COMMENTS

    • Brian…thanks for reading. I agree with you and the list was originally 100 locations. I’ll look into adding some of those locations when I edit at the New Year. Did you have experience in specific locations in Cuba or the Red Sea that I could look into adding?

      Again..thanks for the feedback.

      Ken

  1. Also Komodo Island (Indonesia) and the Whitsunday Islands in Australia – both are much better than many of the sites you have mentioned. Fakarava island in the South Pacific, plus Deadmans Reef on the Grand Bahama Island…..

    • Mary,

      Awesome input and thanks for stopping by. I’ll look into adding those snorkeling locations when I do update this page. Thanks for helping out.

      Ken

  2. Dahab in Egypt has some of the best snorkelling in the Red Sea.
    The reefs are well populated with a stunning variety of sea life, all very close to the shore, yet as the drop-off is steep pelagic species often visit the reefs.
    The sea is beautifully warm and as it’s surrounded by desert, there are no rivers discharging silt into the water so the waters are crystal clear.
    Importantly, the sea life is protected and there, unlike many other destinations, gloves are banned and visitors are discouraged from feeding the fish and taking actions such as walking out at low tide that would damage the corals.
    One of my favourite things to do there is effortlessly drift from Golden Blocks dive site to Moray Garden dive site, both on sandy beaches.
    Entering at The Bells, which has a dropoff of nearly two kilometres, is fabulously and bizarrely vertigo-inducing! From here you can drift along the reef and exit by swimming across the top of the Blue Hole where freedivers train – and set world records.

  3. Hi, you should add Tonga where you can snorkel with humpback whales between July and November. By far the best experience I had.

  4. Turks and Caicos (Provo) Is along the 3rd largest reef. In front of Coral Gardens on Providenciales there is a Sanctuary filled with Turtles and many fish including sharks. A friendly shark swam right by us and was hanging around the shallow beach for some time.
    Curacao is one of the best places I have been for off shore snorkeling. Curacao is loaded with beautiful beaches that you can snorkel right off the beach. So far that has been my favorite place bc of the ease to walk right out from so many beaches. thanks

    • You know, Turks and Caicos was on the original list prior to me editing it down to 57. I need to make it a point to edit this list in the content with all of the great recommendations that readers have sent me.

  5. I appreciate your efforts to include many more than the usual “10 best” spots (and you’ve included some wonderful locations), but I’d just like to point out that Madrid in Spain is about 350 km from the nearest beach – did you add this one just to check that we’re all awake??

    • LOL no. I actually just went back and looked at that entry. It was supposed to be Cala la Barraca Javea. It was a long post. I probably saw Spain and jumped to “Madrid” because I’m a weirdo. No where near Madrid. Thanks for pointing it out so that I can get it fixed.

      Ken

  6. You mentioned 3 snorkeling locations. All of them are beach snorkeling off of Phuket. There is some decent snorkeling off the beach in Phuket but none of it ranks even close to these sites. Ko tao snorkeling from the beach. Ang thong marine park by samui is day trips only. Similians islands day trips. No hotels on the similian islands. Ko Lipe day trip tours. Coral islands near phuket. All of the locations above have daily snorkeling tours with thousands of visitors each year. There are a few other places that would all rank above the off beach snorkeling around phuket also but the ones I’ve listed above are by far the best snorkeling in thailand.

  7. Peanut Island in West Palm Beach, FL and John Pennekamp park in Key Largo are the two best spots I’ve seen. Maybe we hit it on an off day, but Dry Tortugas/Fort Jeff was a big disappointment.

  8. I’ve been to the Hawaiian islands every year for the past twenty plus years. I’ve had some spotty experience with some of the recommended snorkeling sites on all the islands. But I’m contacting you regarding Hanauma Bay on Oahu. I visited there more than twenty years ago when it was filled with a variety of sea life. Back then you could buy little bags of pellets to feed the fish and that probably had a lot to do with the abundance and variety of schools of fish. My last visit two years ago was vastly different. The bay is more focused on the fish and marine ecosystem because the humans had done a lot of damage. No more fish feeding. As a result there are very few fish to see, and still too many people. (I don’t plan to visit anymore because the area clearly needs to recover). If you would like to see some sea turtles, Waikiki beach has sea turtles that have been feeding there for years and come close to shore. If you don’t bother them they will come close to you.

  9. Hi, nice list! Just an FYI – we chartered a sailboat out of Farjardo in June 2016 and sailed to Culebra and Culebrita. We snorkeled in more than a dozen sites, some which were only accessible by dinghy and somewhat remote, which is where you usually find the best snorkeling. I’m sad to say we were disappointed in the snorkeling around Culebra & Culebrita.

    The reefs were healthy but other than turtles, there is very little swimming marine life, even in the protected marine reserve areas. The areas are so fished out that the normal schools of little fish you see teaming around healthy reefs were almost nonexistent. I think the adult fish have been so overfished, even ones not considered good eating, that there aren’t enough left to lay eggs for the next generations. I suspect there isn’t much enforcement of fishing bans.

    We’ve avid divers & snorkelers who have been lucky enough to visit numerous locations around the globe, so our standards are pretty high. This was a big disappointment because we chose this location partly due to how good we’d read the snorkeling was. Even our 9 & 11-yr.-old kids were disappointed, expecting it to be at least as good as some of the other snorkeling they’d done.

    • That’s awesome, Lee, that you got/get to snorkel in all those areas and that your entire family enjoys it.

      It’s disappointing to hear of the over fishing, population problems around C&C. It’s odd…usually if there’s healthy reef then there are loads of fish. Very sad…

      -Ken & Lizzy

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