If you love snorkeling then you can’t miss this article. We’re discussing the best places to snorkel in the world. Keep reading to learn more.
Are you planning a beach vacation?
If so, your list of travel adventures no doubt includes some snorkeling. Whether you dream of colorful corals, tropical fish, or magnificent whale sharks, there’s a snorkeling spot that’s perfect for you.
But where exactly can you find the best snorkeling in the world? Some destinations may be across the globe–but others may be in your own backyard.
In this post, we’ll count down the 11 best places to snorkel on Earth. Read on to discover your next dream destination.
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Even if you’ve never set foot near the ocean, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. What makes this reef so special?
For starters, it’s big. Really big. So big, in fact, that it can be seen from outer space. It’s comprised of over 2,900 individual reef systems that stretch over 1,400 miles along the east coast of Australia.
Whether you’re a serious snorkeler or an aspiring rookie, you can’t get more epic than the world’s largest reef. The waters are shallow, warm, and teeming with life, which makes it every snorkeler’s dream.
If you’re planning a snorkeling trip to Australia, though, you’d better do it soon. Half of this beautiful reef has died since 2016, and some experts predict it could disappear entirely by 2050.
2. Key Largo, Florida
You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to find the best places to snorkel. Closer to home, you’ll find some amazing snorkeling opportunities in the Florida Keys.
This chain of tropical islands stretches over 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida. Best of all, you can drive from Key Largo to Key West and explore every island in between.
The warm, clear waters in the Keys are inviting no matter which island you’re on. But one of the best places to snorkel is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park off the coast of Key Largo.
Expect to see nurse sharks, blacktip sharks, loggerhead turtles, and stingrays cruising around the shallow waters. You’ll also have the chance to snorkel above the famous Christ of the Abyss statue, which sits at an attainable depth of 25 feet.
3. Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii
It’s no secret that Hawaii offers some of the best snorkeling beaches in the world. For the best of the best of snorkeling in Hawaii, head to Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island.
The pristine blue waters abound with sea life, from turtles and dolphins to colorful fish and untouched corals. If you’re lucky, you may get to swim alongside a green sea turtle (“honu” to the locals) or a school of bright yellow tang.
Another thing that makes this such a great snorkeling spot? It’s full of history.
On the beach, you’ll find a monument dedicated to famed Britsh explorer James Cook. Why? Because this is the place where he landed back in 1779–and was promptly killed by the natives.
4. Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Even the best places to snorkel can’t guarantee specific animal encounters. But if you’ve ever dreamed of swimming with whale sharks, Isla Mujeres off the coast of Mexico is as close to a sure bet as you can get.
Located 9 miles off the coast of Cancun, you’re almost certain to see whale sharks swarming in the waters between June and August. They come to the area to feed on the spawn of Bonita tuna and are unfazed by the tour boats that come to admire them.
Slide on your Ninja Shark Australia snorkel and get ready to swim with the world’s largest fish. They average 30-40 feet in length but, despite their size, are totally harmless to humans.
When you’re done gawking at the whale sharks, you can also explore the island’s coral reefs and underwater statues parks. Here you’ll find more than 500 life-sized statues submerged in shallow waters for your snorkeling pleasure.
5. Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize
If you enjoy snorkeling in warm, shallow waters, it doesn’t get much warmer (or shallower) than Glovers Reef Atoll in Belize.
With the second largest reef ecosystem in the world, Belize offers some of the best snorkeling beaches around. We love Glovers Reef because the atoll actually becomes partially exposed at low tide.
Wade into the shallow waters and enjoy the sight of bright red, purple, and yellow corals. There’s an abundance of fish and other sea creatures, too, from stingrays to turtles.
For a little variety, head over to nearby Ambergris Caye. Here you’ll find the aptly named Shark Reef Alley, where you can snorkel with hundreds of gentle nurse sharks.
6. The Andaman Sea, Thailand
It’s impossible to choose just one beach or island in the Andaman Sea. This beautiful area off the west coast of Thailand is home to dozens of islands, reefs, and beaches that are any snorkeler’s dream.
Maya Bay on the island of Ko Phi Phi Le has been the backdrop for many movies, and understandably so. Not only is the island itself stunningly beautiful, but its shallow waters are crystal clear and rich in marine life.
If Maya Bay is too crowded for you, head south to the nearby island of Ko Kradan. Here you’ll find untouched coral reefs and bright tropical fish in Hat Chao Mai National Marine Park.
Further north, the Similan Islands are renowned for some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. If you’re lucky, you may get to snorkel beside a whale shark or a giant manta ray.
7. Turks and Caicos Islands
Just hearing the words Turks and Caicos conjures images of swaying palm trees and unspoiled beaches.
These tropical islands are located in the Caribbean Sea, east of Cuba and north of Haiti. Snorkelers flock here to enjoy the incredible water clarity to depths over 100 feet.
As if that’s not incentive enough, the Turks and Caicos also offer a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with migrating humpback whales.
From December through February, countless humpback whales pass through the Columbus Passage between Salt Cay and Grand Turk. En route, they both mate and give birth, allowing snorkelers a rare opportunity to witness these miracles of nature firsthand.
8. Ilha Grande, Brazil
If you want to get away from it all–and enjoy some of the best snorkeling in the world–venture to South America and Brazil’s Ilha Grande.
This isolated island sits offshore about halfway between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Although dotted with a few resorts, the island is largely wild and untouched.
When you enter the water in the Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon), expect to swim with colorful fish amidst hidden underwater coves. Marvel at seahorses, turtles, and angelfish while you paddle around the shallow waters of the lagoon.
Farther out, you’ll find an array of shipwrecks to explore. Most of these wrecks date back to colonial battles between pirates and the early Portuguese settlers.
9. Palawan, The Philippines
The Philippines may not be the first snorkeling destination that comes to your mind. But this Pacific archipelago encompasses more than 7,000 islands, all teeming with incredible reefs and marine life.
For the best snorkeling spot in the Philippines, head to the island of Palawan. There’s no shortage of breathtaking snorkeling opportunities here, from Honda Bay to Tubbatha reef to Cowrie and Starfish Islands.
Other snorkeling opportunities in the Philippines include the stunning reefs off Noa Noa Island or swimming with whale sharks in the Bay of Donsol.
10. The Maldives, Indian Ocean
Looking for a destination with beaches that are as magnificent as the waters below?
Hop a flight to the Maldives, a small collection of islands off the southern coast of India. Isolated and unspoiled, these islands offer pristine reefs and over 700 species of tropical fish.
Wahoo, tuna, butterfly fish, and turtles await your discovery. The coral and anemones in the reef system are among the brightest and healthiest in the world. If you’re lucky, you might even spot an octopus moving between the corals.
Another bonus? The water in the Maldives is so clear and so shallow you don’t even need a snorkel to enjoy its beauty.
11. Eil Malk Island, Palau
The final destination on our list of the world’s best snorkeling spots is the tiny Pacific island of Palau. Here you’ll find one of the most unique aquatic experiences anywhere on Earth.
Imagine swimming in a lake teeming with millions of golden jellyfish. Before you get terrified, let us assure you that these jellyfish are completely harmless to humans.
For this one-of-a-kind experience, head to the uninhabited island of Eil Malk and the appropriately named Jellyfish Lake. It’s worth any effort for this rare chance to swim with the (harmless) jellies.
Ready for the Best Snorkeling in the World?
Whichever travel destination you choose, you’re sure to love exploring the best snorkeling beaches on the planet.
So grab your swimsuit and snorkeling gear and get ready to dive in. The ocean is calling–it’s time to answer!
Did we miss your favorite snorkeling spot? Any questions or comments about this post?
Reach out and drop us a line. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.