Are you planning for your next vacation? If you are a fan of underwater adventures, it’s only fair that you head for a destination that offers some of the best snorkeling in the world.
Why? Because heading for such a destination guarantees you get to enjoy a truly memorable snorkeling experience and also make the most out of your trip.
Fortunately, a lot of amazing snorkeling locations are scattered around the world. So, regardless of what part of the world you are headed, be it Europe or Asia, or within the US, you’ve got some great options.
In this piece, we’ll be looking at remarkable destinations around the world that promise a good time, beautiful scenery, a unique aquatic experience, and memories to last a lifetime.
Are you ready? Let’s dive into our list of fantastic destinations that offer some of the best snorkeling in the world.
The Big Island, Hawaii
Source: Kealakekua Bay Captain Cook Snorkeling Big Island Hawaii
Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, has been a huge attraction for tourists for decades. It’s great to visit regardless of if you are going alone, on a romantic vacation, or with your family. Aside from its many land attractions and activities, Hawaii is also famous for its many exciting underwater activities.
The entire Hawaiian archipelago offers some of the best snorkeling in the world with a variety of incredible snorkeling spots. Some of the best snorkeling can be done in the waters of Kealakekua Bay where you’ll find a variety of shockingly colorful coral and fish.
There’s also Honaunau Bay whose crystal clear waters host interesting marine life that you swim with, such as turtles, tropical fish and dolphins. And don’t forget the remarkable coral gardens just waiting to be explored.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Source: Snorkeling Belize’s Reef – Hol Chan 2016 (High Quality)
If you’ve been to Belize, you’ll agree that it’s where to enjoy some of the best snorkeling in the world. Its waters host the second largest barrier reef in the world which make it a big attraction for snorkeling enthusiasts.
While Belize as a whole is great, Ambergris Caye is where you really want to be if you want the most action. Get in the turquoise waters of Ambergris Caye and you’ll be swimming with schools of brightly colored fish, eels, rays, and more. There are also several atolls with colorful coral for you to explore.
If the movie Jaws hasn’t scarred you for life, be sure to also visit the Hol Chan Marine Reserve for an opportunity to swim with nurse sharks.
Ilha Grande, Brazil
Source: Snorkeling na Ilha Grande
When landlubbers think of Brazil, they picture exciting beaches and gorgeous women. For snorkelers, it’s a diving paradise, and experienced snorkelers know that some of the best snorkeling in the world can be found at Ilha Grande.
Ilha Grande is halfway between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, off the coast of Brazil. Even though it has some great hotels and resorts, most of the island is a pristine wilderness that has maintained most of its wildness. But this is a good thing because its waters and corals are mostly untainted by human activity, which makes it ideal for some of the best snorkeling in the world.
One of the biggest snorkeling attractions at Ilha Grande, especially for fans of pirates, is the opportunity to explore dozens of sunken shipwrecks and see evidence of the historical battles between Portuguese ships and pirates.
Its vibrant blue waters are filled with various fish species of a variety of exciting colors. In Lagoa Azul, also known as the Blue Lagoon, you’ll get to swim with seahorses, angelfish, turtles, and explore magical underwater coves and a sunken jungle.
Source: Snorkeling Amazing West Bay in Roatan Honduras (Tabyana Beach)
If anyone asks, does Roatan have the best diving out of the Bay Islands? It arguably is yes. Roatan is one of the Bay Islands of Honduras and it’s popular for its easy to swim waters, colourful corals and diverse marine life.
Roatan’s diving spots are considered among the best snorkeling in the world. Not just because of their varied and unique marine life but also because of the high visibility of the warm waters. You can swim up to a 100 feet depth and still enjoy clear views underwater all year round.
One of the most famous snorkeling spots in Roatan is Mary’s Place which revolves around a massive crevice that you can explore and make the acquaintance of octopi, lobsters, sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, seahorses and giant sea fans.
Another famous Roatan snorkeler’s paradise is Texas, which is where the brave go to swim with hammerhead sharks. It also has dark crevasses to explore and discover nurse sharks, giant sponges and lionfish.
Palawan, The Philippines
Source: The Best Moment in Coron, Philippines Freediving – GoPro Hero 5 Black
The sea surrounding the 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines’ archipelago make our list of best snorkeling in the world because of the vast and breathtaking flora and fauna that make up its underwater ecosystem.
At the Bay of Donsol, you get to hang out with whale sharks. At Noa Noa Island, there’s a stunning coral reef. But Palawan island is where the real magic lies with its unique assortment of underwater exploration spots which include fish-filled lagoons, Tubbataha reef, and Honda Bay.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Source: Snorkeling Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres makes our list of one of the best snorkeling in the world because it offers a sure thing. Unlike other snorkeling destinations, Isla Mujeres doesn’t depend solely on sea life to deliver an awesome experience. In its waters, regardless when you arrive, you will find underwater statue parks with over 500 life-size sculptures. It’s eerie and makes for a great photo op.
That said, Isla Mujeres waters aren’t dead. Head there between June and August, pick the right tour operator and they will take you 9 miles off the shore of Cancun. What’s out there? An opportunity to swim with whale sharks. This specie, of up to 42 feet in length, is considered the world’s largest fish. That sounds like a worth it trip for snorkeling.
Source: Honduras – Snorkeling at Utila
When the question comes up “does Roatan have the best diving out of the Bay Islands”, you will probably hear the name Utila. Utila is one of Honduras’ three Bay Islands and is a great snorkeling spot in its own right.
Some of the best snorkeling off this island can be found at Chepes Beach. It’s not a commonly visited snorkeling site in Honduras and that’s a good thing because it means you get to see more fish and coral than people.
It also makes for a great snorkeling destination if you are on a budget. If you are not a strong swimmer, that’s okay because beautiful coral, reefs and other sea life can be found just a few feet from the shore.
A bit further out and you will be swimming with spotted trunkfish, dolphins, turtles, yellow stingrays, and maybe a gigantic whale shark if you are lucky.
Buck Island, St. Croix, USVI
Source: 1 hour snorkeling Buck Island, St. Croix
Take a dive off Buck Island and you’ll get a chance to hang out with friendly octopus. The blue waters of this island are also the home of the Elkhorn coral barrier reefs where you’ll find colorful parrot fish, an assortment of sea turtles, and brain coral.
The waters here are gentle, which make them ideal for snorkeling pros and newbies alike.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
Source: KOMODO SNORKELING TRIP | 13th – 22nd September, 2015
Komodo Island might be famous for its dragons, but its waters also have a number of interesting life forms to offer. Dive in at Pink Beach and you’ll get to make the acquaintance of rays and hawksbill turtles in the island’s undersea garden. There are also schools of groupers to look forward to.
If looking for more excitement, head over to the waters around Komodo National Park, which is actually why this destination is on our list of best snorkeling in the world. Here you’ll find underwater more than ten types of endangered whales, over 200 types of coral, thousands of fish species, dolphins, giant turtles, sharks and rays.
There’s also a flourishing coral reef to crown it all making this probably the most engaging snorkeling destination.
Source: Maafushivaru Maldives Snorkeling October 2014
Arriving in the Maldives, its serene beauty will captivate you. But even greater beauty lies beneath its waves. The aquamarine colored waters that surround the islands are teeming with octopus, sharks, turtles, anemones, coral and over 700 species of fish such as butterfly fish and tuna wahoos. It’s a literal feast for your eyes and the islands’ crystal clear water makes sure you see it all.
Eil Malk Island, Palau
Source: Reborn | Jellyfish Lake,Palau 2019
We added this island on our list of best snorkeling in the world for jellyfish lovers. If you are a fan of jellyfish, one place you can definitely enjoy them in the wild is Jellyfish Lake.
The uninhabited island of Eil Malk hides this jellyfish paradise and if you choose to make the trip, you will be rewarded with the view of millions of golden jellyfish going about their daily lives. Best part is this particular specie of jellyfish’s sting can hardly be felt by humans diving in these waters, or so I’ve been told.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Source: The Great Barrier Reef of Australia – Life Underwater Great Barrier Coral Reef (HD)
Talking about locations for best snorkeling in the world without mentioning the Great Barrier Reef would be regrettable. It is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. That’s nothing to pass up.
There are 2,900 individual reefs stretching beyond 1,400 miles off Australia’s coast. In there you’ll find barracuda, manta rays, long forgotten shipwrecks, coral like you wouldn’t believe, and miraculous marine life. If your love for snorkeling is true, this is one snorkeling destination you have to taste at least twice in your life.
Source: The very best of Guanaja Island -Hidden jewel of the Caribbean
Does Roatan have the best diving out of the Bay Islands? Yes. But that doesn’t mean Guanaja, a neighboring Bay Island, doesn’t also have something to offer. Guanaja is called, “the lost island of the Bay Islands”, but I prefer its other title, “the Sweet Water Island”.
Its friendly waters are suitable for anyone who would like to get a firsthand experience of the pristine Mesoamerican Barrier Reef which it shares with its sibling Bay Islands. Underwater, you’ll find a variety of marine life including eels, lobsters, blowfish, other fishes of almost every imaginable vibrant color, snails, fan and brain coral, and more
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Source: What It’s Like to Snorkel in the Galapagos Islands
Like Komodo Island, the Galapagos Islands are famous for their surface flora and fauna. Many are unaware that its underwater world is even more vibrant and enchanting. Take a dive in the waters of this top contender for best snorkeling in the world and you’ll find a fascinating treasure trove of dolphins, humpback whales, orcas, fur seals, sea lions, Galapagos penguins, and other marine life you would have trouble finding elsewhere.
If you are brave enough, be sure to try out the intimidatingly named Devil’s Crown to explore a sunken volcano, moray eels, brilliantly colored fish, and more that reside there.
The Coral Triangle, Asia Pacific
Source: Enter the Coral Triangle
This stretch of underwater paradise extends from Eastern Borneo to the Philippines, Bali, the Solomon Islands, and a huge chunk of Indonesia. Its sheer size alone qualifies it to be on the list of spots for best snorkeling in the world.
It’s a huge playground for divers that offers a plethora of marine life to adore and play with. 75% of the world’s identified coral species can be found here and you don’t have to go deep before you see sea life aplenty which includes more than 2,000 species of reef fish.
Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
Source: Swimming with Whales at the Silver Bank | Go Dominican Republic
I’m going to keep it simple. Do you want guaranteed snorkeling alongside humpback whales between December and April? Then head on over to Silver Bank, a shallow stretch of water situated in the Dominican Republic’s portion of the Caribbean Sea.
If you are lucky, you might even get to watch a humpback whale or the birth of a baby whale.
Whew! That’s our list of spots for best snorkeling around the world! Hope you enjoyed it!
Also, make sure to bear in mind the following cardinal do’s and don’ts of snorkeling:
1. Always check the weather and water conditions before heading out.
2. Pay attention to your environment, especially other divers, boats, sea creatures, and any sudden changes in the waters including the currents.
3. For safety reasons, don’t go snorkeling alone.
4. Use sun screen.
5. Don’t litter in or around the water. Preferably, don’t litter at all.
6. Don’t stand on coral.
7. Don’t touch or chase sea creatures. You might not hurt them but they might hurt you if you get too close.
And the most important don’t is don’t forget to have a great time!