One of the most alluring aspects of a trip to the Caribbean is the abundance of snorkeling opportunities. With vibrant marine life and reef systems, the Caribbean is one of the top destinations in the world for those who like to snorkel.
We’ve put together a list of our top 10 best Caribbean snorkeling spots to help you find your perfect underwater destination.
Turks and Caicos
Popular among tourists for the scenic and fun-filled island of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos is also an excellent snorkeling destination. Home to a huge barrier reef system, the clear waters surrounding Turks and Caicos are teeming with colorful marine life.
If you’re planning on visiting, you may want to take a snorkeling cruise from Providenciales so that you can explore the top areas around the islands.
Some of the best snorkeling in Turks & Caicos can be found at Malcolm’s Road Beach, a fairly remote spot that is popular with more advanced snorkelers; Bight Reef, great for close-shore snorkeling; and Smith’s Reef, home to several gorgeous coral patches.
As the second-largest island in the Dutch Caribbean, Bonaire has lots of space in its surrounding waters to explore the stunning marine life. It boasts one of the healthiest coral reefs in the whole of the Caribbean, and there are plenty of places to access it from the island’s shores.
Underwater you can discover a hugely diverse range of marine life. Some of the best Caribbean snorkeling spots here are narrow strips of coral reefs that are accessible from public beaches.
With a consistently mild climate all year round, you can enjoy snorkeling at any time of year in Bonaire. Top areas include Sorbon Beach / Lac Bay, which provides wonderfully calm days and is good for those who are strong swimmers; 1000 Steps Beach; Andrea II; and Klein Bonaire–arguably the top spot–which is only accessible by boat.
Roatan, an island belonging to Honduras, is one of the best Caribbean snorkeling spots that are close to the U.S. It’s best to visit Roatan when the climate is most temperate and crowds are fewer, from March to May.
The surroundings of this small island are teeming with marine life, including amazing species such as sea turtles, whale sharks, and queen angelfish, and protected by the National Marine Park. You can access the beautiful water from anywhere around the island, but many snorkelers recommend heading to West Bay for some of the best experiences.
It can be a good idea to book a snorkeling cruise here so you can benefit from an expert guide. If you want to explore the waters by yourself, however, some of the top spots to snorkel in Roatan are West Bay, located in front of the Grand Roatan Resort; Half Moon Bay, a protected bay where you can see plenty of fish; and Sandy Bay, a quiet and tranquil location that requires a bit of a longer swim to reach.
One location that boasts great snorkel conditions all year round is Grand Cayman of the Cayman Islands. Many popular snorkel spots around the island have direct beach access, while others are better if you explore them with a tour.
There’s a huge range of snorkel spots in the Cayman Islands, with stunning colorful reefs attracting snorkelers from all around the world. Some of the best spots to include on your itinerary are Stingray City, where you can make friends with lots of stingrays; Smith Cove, where there is plenty of coral against a rocky shoreline; and Eden Rock, which has a convenient central location in George Town.
With 5,800 miles of Mexican coastline to enjoy, there’s no shortage of amazing snorkel spots to choose from, particularly when you know all the best places to look. The Yucatan Peninsula, which sticks out into the Caribbean Sea, is actually home to the second-largest reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef. For some of the best Caribbean snorkeling in Mexico, you’ll want to put places such as Cozumel, the Riviera Maya, and Isla Holbox at the top of your list.
When looking for a snorkeling spot, you’ll want to avoid the glorious sandy beaches in the area. Instead, keep an eye out for rocky, dark shorelines, which indicates a good snorkel spot.
Situated along the Riviera Maya, Puerto Morales offers one of the best reefs and is accessible by a short boat trip. Akumal Bay has long been a popular snorkel spot, due to its abundance of turtles, but the area has become quite overrun in recent years. Cozumel is an island located right on the reef and Isla Holbox is good for seeing whale sharks.
Located in the southern Caribbean near Bonaire, Curacao also offers a variety of snorkel spots. Many of these have beach access, making them easy to access without a long swim or boat trip.
Some of the top snorkeling spots in Curacao are Playa Lagun; Tugboat; and Klein Curacao, a tiny island situated around 6 miles from the main island of Curacao. On the west coast of the island, you can discover sea turtles, schools of vibrant fish, and the famous tugboat wreckage.
Puerto Rico is another of the best Caribbean snorkeling spots that’s close to the U.S. With a brilliant variety of coral and marine life, there are plenty of easily accessible snorkeling sites near some of the beautiful beaches or just a short boat ride away.
A very popular spot for both snorkeling and diving is among the islands off of Fajardo on Puerto Rico’s east coast, Icacos and Cayo Diablo. Many snorkeling fans visit from all around the world for the opportunity to swim with the turtles and see the colorful coral and exciting schools of fish.
The “Spanish Virgin Islands,” Vieques and Culebra, offer up excellent snorkeling as well as some of the prettiest and most secluded beaches, perfect for relaxing once you’ve had your underwater fun!
One of the hottest destinations in the Caribbean (in terms of popularity, not weather!) is Jamaica. So it may come as no surprise to learn that alongside the lively beach parties, tasty food, and interesting culture, the island also offers some fantastic snorkel spots.
If you’re a snorkeling fan traveling to Jamaica, make sure you go to Negril. At this popular beachfront town, you’ll have access to a range of amazing offshore reefs. If you have the opportunity, be sure to hop on a boat and venture off the coast of Seven Mile Beach to explore the coral reef.
In Montego Bay, you can find more good snorkeling from the shore at Doctor’s Cave Beach, which is perfect for those not wanting to take a boat out. If you’re staying in an all-inclusive resort such as a Sandals resort, you can take advantage of organized snorkeling trips to the offshore reefs (included with your rate at Sandals).
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands offer plenty of shore snorkeling options, accessible from the main tourist islands of St. Thomas and St. John, where you can find the Virgin Islands National Park. There are also several smaller islands in the region that feature wonderful snorkeling.
The waters here are full of marine life, including sea turtles, lobsters, and tropical fish. Some of the top snorkel spots in the U.S. Virgin Islands include Christmas Cove, which is a great spot for a fun-filled boat trip; Watermelon Cay on the island of St. John; Secret Harbour on the island of St. Thomas; and Trunk Bay, one of the most photographed beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands and a good spot for first-time snorkelers.
This is a great option for U.S. citizens wanting to travel without a passport.
British Virgin Islands
Located just beside the U.S. Virgin Islands are the British Virgin Islands, which share a lot of the same underwater charm.
Known to offer some of the best cruising and sailing experiences, the British Virgin Islands are also perfect for underwater exploration. Simply drop anchor and dive into the water to discover what lies below!
It’s recommended to hire a boat in order to reach the best snorkel spots in the British Virgin Islands. This way, you get to explore not only the four main islands of Virgin Gorda, Tortola, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, but also the 50 smaller islands and cays scattered around the region.
Some of the top snorkel spots in the British Virgin Islands include The Indians, accessible by boat; The Baths, a world-famous spot with giant boulders; and The Caves.
These are just some of the best Caribbean snorkeling destinations; since the area has some of the best snorkeling in the world, it can be difficult to choose the perfect place to visit. If you’re still struggling to make a decision, reach out to one of our trusted travel advisors via our Contact Us page.