Hooray! It’s summer! And that means you’ll have holidays on your mind. That sandy beach, bright blue sky, and the crystal clear sea lapping against the shore. It’s almost impossible to ignore the siren call of the sea on a warm summer’s day, and the euphoria of pulling on your mask and flippers to explore somewhere new is hard to beat. However, although we believe that all oceans were created equal, when it comes to snorkeling, there are some spots on this Earth that we believe are absolutely unmissable. So with that in mind, we’ve created our definitive list of the world’s best snorkeling spots, with some tips and tricks in there too, sure to help you plan your next snorkeling adventure.
Our 10 Best Snorkeling Spots
Bermuda holds many treasures in its waters, from underwater caves and coral reefs to spooky shipwrecks. Snorkelers can hope to see colourful Butterfly and Parrot fish, and much more if you take a cruise offshore. The best snorkeling spots can be found in Western Blue Cut which holds no less than three shipwrecks to explore in it’s shallow waters.
Best time to visit: May- October, where water temperatures average 25°C
Typical underwater visibility: 25-30m in Summer, 50-70m in Winter (great for underwater photos!)
9. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
These 19 volcanic islands known for their link to naturalist Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution also make for brilliant snorkeling spots. Its waters hold a great variety of marine life, from dolphins, orcas, seals and penguins, to seals and humpback whales. Of the best snorkeling spots on all the islands, our top pick is Devil’s Crown on Floreana Island, which can be reached by joining an organised cruise. There you will find the crater of a sunken volcano, holding a coral reef and teeming with marine life, including the impressive manta ray.
Best time to visit: All year round, May-November are the cooler months (22°C water temperature) but with more marine life activity. December- May is slightly warmer at an average of 24°C.
Typical underwater visibility: It can range from 10-21m, depending on the weather
8. Ambergris Caye, Belize
Belize is home to the largest barrier reef outside of Australia at 185 miles stretching right along the coast. Ambergris Caye is an island situated less than one mile from the largely unexplored reef. Easily accessible by boat, the waters are shallow and sandy, and absolutely teeming with life. Choosing just one of the best snorkeling spots is tricky in this area, but for an unforgettable experience, our pick is Shark Ray Alley. Home to many nurse sharks and sting-rays, this destination gives you the chance to experience swimming with sharks! An opportunity not to be missed!
Best time to visit: From August to October the average water temperature peaks at 28°C, but generally the water temperature doesn’t drop much below 25°C all year round.
Typical underwater visibility: 15-18m with late Spring having the best visibility.
7. The Philippines
This Southeast Asian nation is surrounded by water and is quickly gaining in popularity with snorkelers and divers alike. Made up of an incredible 7,107 islands, the Philippines has its fair share of coral reefs and marine life, and is becoming particularly well known for its colossal whale sharks. Our top spot is Palawan Island, which has many bays, reefs and lagoons to explore, as well as being an absolutely stunning tropical island to visit.
Best time to visit: April- June has the mildest weather with an average water temperature of 28°C
Typical underwater visibility: In good conditions it can be as much as 40m
6. The Maldives
Located in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a much beloved vacation spot. The underwater world of the Maldives is just as beautiful as it looks from above the water – many would argue more! The water is crystal clear, and the marine life is extremely diverse, with 700 species of fish, sea turtles, sharks, octopi and many more. Most of the resorts have ‘house reefs‘ surrounding them, making it easier than ever to get out there and explore, and all of them offer comparably great snorkeling.
Best time to visit: January to April offers clear skies and seas with an average water temperature of 28°C
Typical underwater visibility: Ranges from 20m to much better, depending on when you visit.
5. Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia
Raja Ampat is one of the least well-known snorkeling spots on this list, being overlooked by most travellers. Although it is already popular with divers and underwater photographers, if you plan on snorkeling, don’t be surprised by how few fellow snorkelers you meet. Gam island offers particularly unique blue water mangrove snorkeling sites which are home to an astonishingly large number of species, just waiting to be found.
Best time to visit: October- April, though the average water temperature only fluctuates between 28-30°C in the entire year.
Typical underwater visibility: 10-30m, dependent upon plankton blooms and weather
4. The Big Island, Hawaii
A ‘best snorkeling spots’ list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the world-famous archipelago that is Hawaii. Of the many options available, our top choice is the Big Island, and in particular, Kealakekua Bay. This bay has a little bit of everything, from the historic Captain Cook monument and ancient religious temples, to the breathtaking marine sanctuary. It is naturally protected from wind and located in a remote, quiet area. Snorkelers can enjoy a veritable rainbow of colours from its native species, such as Lizard fish and Flame angelfish.
Best time to visit: May- September where you will find the warmest water temperatures (average 27°C)
Typical underwater visibility: 10-30m, depending on weather
3. Palau, Micronesia
Located in the Pacific ocean, Palau is an archipelago made up of 26 islands. Surrounded by turquoise sea on all sides it is particularly well known for its Jellyfish Lake on Eil Malk Island. You can get there by speedboat, and the journey will certainly be worth it. It is home to the Moon jellyfish and Golden jellyfish, species which are native only to this island. Due to their diets consisting mainly of algae, their stings are hardly noticeable, leaving you free to take the plunge and swim alongside these peaceful creatures.
Best time to visit: December- April with an average water temperature of 28°C
Typical underwater visibility: Up to 40m during the dry season
2. St. John, US Virgin Islands
A dreamlike place, St John holds miles of coral reefs, an idyllic coastline and excellent water visibility. Saloman Bay is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island, with its wonderful ‘private beach’ feel, due to the fact that you can only access it by a mile-long trail. You could spend just as much time on its white sandy beach admiring the view as you would in the water, meeting its marine residents in the warm, clear Caribbean sea.
Best time to visit: All year round, average water temperatures only vary from 29°C in the summer to 26°C in winter
Typical underwater visibility: 18-30m, depending on weather
1. Whitsunday Islands, Australia
You knew it was coming, yes out of all the best snorkeling spots on this list, our favourite is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, certainly no secret destination, but somewhere we believe everyone should experience snorkeling. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef in the world. Unfortunately, it is now under great threat, (as are many other coral reefs), due to climate change, so taking the opportunity to see it now should be a consideration. When it comes to visiting the reef, we recommend Hook Island which has much to see both from land and in the water. The reef is home to an incredible number of species, from fish to turtles and dugongs, and of course, a great variety of coral species.
Best time to visit: The water is warmest January – April (29°C on average) but you can snorkel all year round.
Typical underwater visibility: An average of 20m in good conditions.
Tips and tricks
There are a few key rules for any snorkeler, and whether you’re new to the pursuit, or an old pro, there are some rules you should abide by, whenever you visit these breathtaking snorkeling spots:
- Stay hydrated (just because you’re in water doesn’t mean you can’t get dehydrated!)
- Stay safe in the sun (shorty wetsuits or surf shirts are perfect for these locations, as well as lots of sunscreens)
- Be respectful to the area (i.e. don’t touch or step on the coral, and be careful around fish and other sea creatures)
- Always bring your best equipment. Most locations will have snorkeling gear to rent, but it will never be as good as your own kit and camera. Investing in high-quality gear will make all the difference when it comes to visiting the best snorkeling sites in the world.
The key to your experience is investing in a great mask, and these days nothing beats the 180° view ones.
Our Full Face Snorkelling Mask has an EasyBreath tubeless system, allowing you to focus totally on the marine life around you, meaning no more feelings of anxiety or claustrophobia in the water. Anti-fog and anti-leak, it offers a crystal clear screen view, and is perfect for beginners and professionals alike to make the most of any snorkeling expedition.