Head to the Best Snorkeling Spots in the Caribbean
Snorkeling doesn’t require the gear and bravery needed to tackle scuba diving, which explains why it is such an easy activity to get involved with for those who love to explore underwater.
With a pair of flippers, mask, tube, and life vest, your sense of adventure will be rewarded with amazing views of vibrant tropical fish or the sometimes eerie view of a shipwreck in the otherwise clear and calm waters of the Caribbean.
If you are ready to try snorkeling in some of the most amazing underwater landscapes the Caribbean has to offer, you can take your island vacation to the next level. If you happen to be one of the lucky people looking to snag affordable Caribbean real estate where the best snorkeling in the Caribbean also happens, grab a pen and paper because there are some pretty amazing options.
Turks and Caicos
Providenciales has great snorkeling locations; one of the best shore snorkeling spots, Smith’s Reef, has parrotfish, sea turtles, and butterflyfish. There are also some unexpected creatures like squids, stingrays, and barracudas that you are able to see if you get lucky. Most of the activity at Smith’s Reef happens just before sunset, where a few lucky snorkelers have spotted octopi.
Also, another easily accessible snorkeling spot is Bight Reef. Walk the shoreline and you’ll see the markers for this underwater adventure. A great snorkel trail for first-time snorkelers, it has a clearly marked snorkel trail that guides you along the ocean floor to the coral. Visitors should check the forecast before heading out though, as the winds can throw sand around, making it harder to see underwater.
Beyond the luxury spas and resorts of Providenciales, the shallow clear waters of South Caicos’ Dove Cay are home to lively barrier reefs and marine life. Here, 52 miles from Provo, South Caicos is a nice change of pace with quiet, long stretches of uninhabited beaches and spectacular waterfront communities.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Trunk Bay, located in a national park on the Virgin Islands’ smallest island of St. John, is the place for serious snorkelers. You’ll get to swim a trail that is over 670 feet long, following underwater signs that tell you the species of coral and creatures that are busy living full lives less than 20 feet beneath the surface. It’s a self-guided tour, so it is not exactly for newcomers, but as one of the best snorkeling spots it does attract a lot of tourists.
For those who prefer the trail less traveled, Haulover North, located on the eastern end of St. John, is where you should head. This is where the locals get their snorkeling in.
The U.S. Virgin’s largest island, St. Thomas, is where you can snorkel in search of a bottle of rum as opposed to looking at the coral and colorful fish. This search for Cruzan Rum, known as the Snorkel Booze Hunt, is a weekly tradition that has been in place for over thirty years. It is a snorkeling destination you are sure to enjoy.
Looking for award-winning snorkeling? Bonaire has you covered. A feast for the eyes, you will have non-stop action as angelfish, grunts, and groupers flit by.
As one of the most eco-aware Caribbean islands, Bonaire is home to the Coral Restoration Foundation – a nonprofit volunteer group that restores and builds damaged coral. Since its founding, the volunteer group has transplanted over 8,000 coral fragments and is growing another 9,000 in nurseries.
Providing some of the best shore snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea, snorkelers can wade into the reef directly from the shoreline of most resorts and hotels for a dazzling underwater display.
First-time snorkelers will appreciate Booby Cay, a small island near Negril. Affectionately called Gilligan’s Island by locals, it’s a perfect snorkeling site for those who are not ready for venturing too deep into the water.
Booby Cay’s gorgeous turquoise waters are filled with marine life and a canon and anchor from a shipwreck from long ago. Get a local tour and get a look at rainbow-colored fish darting around the coral reefs and explore some underwater caves.
More shipwrecks with visiting colorful schools of fish await snorkelers in Port Royal, located in Kingston, Treasure Beach on the southeast coast of Montego Bay, along with Marine Park.
If you are feeling particularly courageous, Runaway Bay in St. Ann is where you can snorkel alongside sea urchins and stingrays and a reef at Port Antonio’s public San San Beach has small and large creatures for you to meet.
An empty island, save for fishermen and a few abandoned sheds, Klein Curacao requires a 90-minute trip by catamaran to access. Though it doesn’t offer the amenities found in other places, the crystal-clear waters and underwater sights are truly a marvel.
Here you’ll see a German naval base from the late 1800s and the watery grave of many boats mixed with an unbelievable wonderland of sea turtles and candy-colored fish – quite the spectacle.
If you dare to swim out to the reef, you’ll be treated to purple coral, yellow plants, friendly eagle rays, and tiny striped fish. Grabbing a tour is a good idea as they typically include breakfast and lunch to give you more energy to explore a bit more.
Additionally, another underwater scene worth seeing is in Curacao, too. Tugboat and Director’s Bay, snorkeling spots located on Caracas Bay Peninsula, are where you can see the wreckage from about 25 years ago. Explore on your own to see starfish laze about or swim the warm waters with moray eels and lobsters, or sign up for a tour with a resort.
The Wreck of Cali is one of the best places for snorkeling in the Caribbean when you have adventurous kids with you. Located in Grand Cayman’s capital city, George Town, they can explore freighters and the sea life that has made the wreck their new home. Near shallow water, it is close to the shore and attracts eels, octopus, and sea urchins.
Snorkelers of any age will like Cheeseburger Reef, another snorkeling spot on the northern edge of George Town.
Those who’d rather skip the more populated areas can find secret snorkeling locales on the eastern edge of Grand Cayman.
One of the most popular (and fun) activities to do in the Caribbean, now you’ll know exactly which snorkeling spots to go to when you’re ready to jump into the crystal clear turquoise waters for underwater discoveries.