Last Updated on June 22, 2023 by Snorkel Ken
If you are planning your next escape and making it a snorkeling holiday, you don’t just want to spend your entire trip on one beach snorkeling around the same reef day after day. The best snorkeling holiday destinations are those with many beaches and many different interesting places to snorkel, all within a close proximity. This means you can spend those precious vacation days seeking new sights above and below the water each and every day without wasting a day for travel alone.
Hawaii is the dream vacation destination of the United States. Located far enough off the mainland to have a beautiful tropical climate, each Hawaii island is as much a paradise as it is a unique adventure. From its largest islands to the tiny specks of land that just barely peek above the waves, Hawaii features a bounty of sights that lurk in those shallows. As it is located smack in the middle of the Pacific, a number of wonderful tropical fish gather along the shallow shores lines in vibrant reefs to live and feed, which has lent to its world-renowned status as a snorkeling Mecca.
Located half a world away from Hawaii sits yet another island archipelago nation that is an attractive holiday destination for snorkelers. Located just off the coast of Kenya, the Seychelles are comprised of over 100 tiny islands that are home to some of the most vibrant reefs in Africa. The secret to the beauty of the Seychelles is that the islands are actually rather quickly slipping below the rising seas due to their low elevation. This makes for unforgettable and near-never-ending above land beachscape, but it also means that the vibrant coral reefs offshore are quickly growing. Skip the high-end resorts and rent a boat for some island hopping, beach camping, and endless snorkeling instead. However, you better hurry, a few more years and there might not even be a Seychelles.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
When most snorkelers imagine a snorkeling holiday, they imagine spending it somewhere in close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. After all, it is the largest barrier reef in the world and hosts some great sights. Unfortunately, tourism is one of the major factors that is killing the reef. Instead, why not visit the second largest barrier reef across the world in Belize. At 185 miles long, those who visit the Belize Barrier Reef are offered endless opportunities to spot eels, rays, and all manner of tropical fish.
The best place to enjoy the reef is the sprawling Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast of the mainland that is not only reef-adjacent, but offers a number of other snorkeling opportunities in the turquoise waves that surround its sandy shores, like swimming with nurse sharks at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
Snorkeling the Red Sea is one of those bucket list snorkeling destinations that most people never end up crossing off. However, for the intrepid vacationers the finally dedicate themselves to seeking out sights in the Red Sea, skip those bustling resort cities and head to Safaga instead. While this Egyptian city is still a resort town, it remains low-key in both its tourism and the crowds at many of the great Red Sea snorkeling beaches they it is close to. It also isn’t a bad bonus that it is only a few hours from other fine Egyptian sites like the pyramids and Great Sphinx in Luxor.
Ilha Grande, Brazil
Located off the coast of the mainland between Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, Ilha Grande is where Brazil’s affluent go for a vacation. While it is a resort island, it keeps its “untouched” feel by having its hotels be largely surrounded by monkey-filled jungle and skirted by beautiful barren blue water. Head to the Blue Lagoon to snorkel with seahorses or stick to more conventional sights in the island’s many serene coves. As the island’s coast is home to a number of shipwrecks, they have created a great snorkeling ecosystem of their own as well, serving as synthetic reefs.
As an archipelago comprised of over 360 islands, San Blas is the land for the explorer. While ownership of the islands is split between Colombia and Panama, you can find gateways to San Blas from either country as well as a small airport on one of the larger islands. While many of the islands are small and those with a boat can poke around them in an hour or so, what makes this area such a beloved snorkeling holiday destination is the crystal clear shallow water around many islands. With small reefs and pristine visibility, this is one of the most underrated snorkeling gems in the Caribbean.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Before it was made famous by Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands were just land, endlessly diverse and beautiful land, but good old land none-the-less. Made up of 19 volcanically-produced islands, the Galapagos Islands seen above the water are home to a number of finches, iguanas, and tortoises. However, what people don’t realize is the diverse sea life that calls the waters surrounding the islands home.
When snorkeling off the shores of the Galapagos Islands, you are privileged to see an array of sea turtles, dolphins, sea lions, and Galapagos penguins flittering around the shallows among the tropical fish. However, because the islands themselves are preserved for future generations, you will have to ferry between Ecuador and the islands each day since overnight stays are not allowed. However, the hour-long boat ride is a small price to pay for this once-in-a-lifetime chance.