Snorkeling is one of the most exciting (and cheapest) ways to discover a destination. You can explore what exists beyond the ocean’s surface with just a few pieces of gear and a strong sense of adventure. We’ve asked ten travel bloggers, where’s the best snorkel spot in the world?
THE CENOTES, MEXICO
The Cenotes in Mexico were fantastic snorkelling spots for two reasons.
First, the visibility in these caves is incredible. I had never snorkeled in waters that clear before. The walls and your sights set the limits: you see almost as well underwater than when you have your head out.
Second, the cenotes offer a very original experience, different from the common snorkel spots full of marine life and corals. While snorkeling in the cenotes, I was very impressed by the rock formations and the beautiful light. That’s what makes the cenotes stuck in my head as one of the best snorkel spots in the world.
As I was staying in Tulum, I got to visit a few cenotes in this area. My favourite one was Gran Cenote: I loved the light and the rock formation, and the cute turtles as a bonus! You can read about the best cenotes for snorkelling in Tulum on my blog.
– Eloise, My Favourite Escapes
SãO MIGUEL ISLAND, THE AZORES
There are tons of great things to do on São Miguel island in the Azores, and one of them is snorkeling in the crater of a submerged volcano at Ilhéu de Vila Franca – a small islet just off the coast and reachable by ferry from the town of Vila Franca do Campo during the summer months. Ilhéu de Vila Franca is a natural reserve, with only 400 people per day allowed to visit and tickets sell out pretty quickly – if you want to go there, you will have to show up very early to bag a spot.
The islet is a lovely place for beginner snorkelers and not-so confident swimmers as it’s sheltered from the waves of the open sea. The level of water in the crater changes quite significantly with the tide, starting from knee-deep in some spots – give it a bit of time and it will get deeper. You can see a few different kinds of fish and spend a lovely day sunbathing here – just remember there’s not much shade, so you might want to bring an umbrella.
– Hélène, Flight to Somewhere
SILFRA FISSURE, ICELAND
Thingvellir National Park is a popular stop on the Golden Circle in Iceland. While many people may stop there to walk some of the paths and see where the first Parliament of Iceland was held, you can actually go snorkeling there as well. The Silfra Fissure is one of the best snorkel spots in the world for two reasons. The first is that the water is super clear, thanks to it being sourced from a nearby glacier and filtered through pours volcanic rock for 30-100 years before it gets to the fissure. Visibility can be up to 150 meters, and you can drink the pure water as you snorkel!
Secondly, when you snorkel in Silfra Fissure, you’re actually snorkeling between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, as they continue to spread apart by around 2cm per year. It’s possible to snorkel at Silfra all year round, as the temperature stays a cool 2-4 degree Celsius. You’re required to wear a drysuit to protect you from the cold, although you can expect your face and hands to go a little numb. It’s worth it though, for this amazing snorkel experience!
– Sonja, Migrating Miss
THE SIMILAN ISLANDS, THAILAND
If you’re looking for the best snorkeling locations in the world, the Similan Islands in Thailand have to feature in your bucket list. Located just off the coast of Southern Thailand the Similan Islands can be visited as a day trip from Phuket, or as an overnight stay for the more keen divers and snorkelers. The journey from mainland Thailand is quite long, starting at 70 minutes by speedboat depending on the weather, but the experience when you get there is well worth it.
With their white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise water, the Similan Islands will fulfill all your expectations of a tropical paradise. The islands are also a protected national park, meaning that you can easily observe an abundance of marine wildlife in their natural habitat. We were lucky enough to see turtles while snorkeling there! The Similan Islands are truly a stunning destination and one of the best snorkeling spots not only in Thailand but also the world.
– Greta, Greta’s Travels
CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA, USA
The Crystal River, Florida (north of Tampa) is the location for one of the most unique snorkeling opportunities in the world – snorkeling with manatees. The springs in this area mean year-round constant temperatures in the water so the manatees show up in the fall and winter for the warmer water. The trips start in the very early morning, you get equipped with a wetsuit and head out in a boat to search for manatees. Once you jump in with the manatees, you are not allowed to touch the them but it’s not uncommon for them to come up to you. In addition to the manatees, if you are lucky, you will get a chance to snorkel in Three Sisters Spring. I’ve never seen water so clear and blue.
– Lisa, The Hot Flashpacker
LA PRAGUERA, PUERTO RICO
The first time I swam in the Caribbean sea was when I was 23. I had never been snorkeling before and figured I’d jump off the deep end (literally and figuratively) during my first solo trip to Puerto Rico. I decided to not only snorkel and explore the coral reefs off the southern coast of the island in La Parguera. I decided to also snorkel in a bioluminescent bay that evening. Both experiences were spectacular.
Before the sun dipped behind the ocean’s edge my snorkeling instructor took me and showed me all the creatures that called the coral reef home. Sea spiders crawled over my arms and sea urchins suctioned themselves onto my legs. But as the waters turned ink black, the wildlife didn’t cease to exist. In the pitch black night, I jumped into what I was sure to be shark-infested waters and the water sparkled green around me. My legs, hair and arms were covered with specks of green, glittering organisms, which appeared to be hugging me. Snatching my snorkeling mask, I could see the small critters glow under the water as the water agitated them. How lucky was I to experience two world-class snorkeling experience in one day.
– Martha, Quirky Globetrotter
Coron has been called by many as the most beautiful island in Palawan and the Philippines. One of its appeals is the abundance of stunninglysnorkeling sites. I’ve never been so in love with the ocean until I’ve visited Coron. The water here is as clear and dreamy as it gets. There are many colorful corals and fishes that will make you gasp in delight. If you are lucky (like I was), you can spot ginormous sea turtles! In addition, you can see several underwater shipwrecks that are remnants from WWII. These ghost ships are hauntingly beautiful and truly unique to visit!
– Viola, The Blessing Bucket
Komodo National Park in Indonesia offers some of the most pristine snorkeling and diving spots in the world. Watch manta rays glide effortlessly past you and sharks bask in the shallows (don’t worry they don’t eat humans!), befriend adorable turtles and spot tiny colorful nudibranch hiding in the corals.
With glistening turquoise waters as far as the eye can see you won’t be able to resist jumping into these tropical waters to explore the amazing aquatic world that lies beneath. If you need a break from the underwater kingdom take a walk on Rinca or Komodo Island to spot the famous Komodo Dragons basking in the sun, or hike up one of the islands for an epic view of the sunset.
– Laura, The Travelling Stomach
APO ISLAND, PHILIPPINES
PUU POA BEACH, KAUAI, HAWAII
I spent my Spring Break with a snorkel mask permanently strapped to my face whilet snorkeling around paradise…in Kauai!
I am an avid snorkeler. There is just something about spending a lazy day floating around, watching fish, and breathing underwater. It is the most relaxing thing ever. In a way, you become one with the ocean. When we went to Kauai, we snorkeled all around the island, and Puu Poa Beach won for the best snorkeling of the trip. The visibility is great. The water is calm. If you wait until a little later in the afternoon, it’s also pretty quiet. You will see tons of tropical fish, huge coral formations with crevices to explore, eels, and you may even find a sea turtle to frolic with. We saw them lying on the beach while we were in Kauai, but we heard from more than a few people that they have gone swimming with them in this area. Another thing that makes this place unique is that the beach is quite close to the Saint Regis Resort. There are lifeguards around there who make you feel safe. Also, there is a freshwater river that flows into the ocean at this beach and you can dip your feet in the cool water and rinse off the saltwater. The beach is also covered with beautiful shady trees to give you a break from the sun when you take a break from snorkeling. Here is a link to the beach location on Google Maps.
– Janelle, My Vacation Pants