Whether you’ve never snorkeled before or you’re a seasoned pro, the Caribbean is one of the top places to go snorkeling in the world. The best snorkeling in the Caribbean is famous for its colorful marine life, perfect weather, and ideal conditions.
Most of the islands have minimal currents near shore and excellent visibility, so you can often see for 100 feet or more underwater. People who have snorkeled before, of course, already know how excellent Caribbean snorkeling is across all islands and countries, but first-timers are in for a breathtaking experience.
Here are some of the top Caribbean snorkeling sites and what to expect at each one.
De Palm Island, Aruba
If snorkeling is on your agenda in Aruba, head to De Palm Island, a private island resort just off the mainland. While the island resort offers everything from a tropical restaurant to waterslides, the highlight here is the reef just offshore.
It’s crystal clear and has a shallow slope, so first-time snorkelers can see fish in water less than three feet deep. You can snorkel on your own or join along on one of the resort staff’s complimentary daily tours. You can often spot Aruba’s famously colorful parrotfish on the reef around De Palm.
Bonaire National Marine Park, Bonaire
Dedicated scuba divers know that Bonaire is among the best scuba diving locations in the world. Fortunately for snorkelers, this means the island boasts some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, such as the Bonaire National Marine Park. This site covers more than 6,700 thousand acres and is home to more than 340 fish species and healthy populations of endangered sea turtles.
You can enter the water almost anywhere off the island, but you’ll have the best luck spotting sea turtles if you book a boat tour that will take you to some of the best sandy-bottom spots, most of which are just a bit too far offshore to reach by swimming.
Caracas Bay, Curaçao
Just a few hours away from Bonaire is Curaçao, the third island of the three that make up the ABC Islands (Aruba and Bonaire are the other two).
Some of the best snorkeling in Curaçao is found at Caracas Bay. That’s where you’ll find a sunken tugboat covered in colorful coral, fish, and crabs. If you like shipwrecks, you’ll certainly think this is among the best snorkeling in the Caribbean since the tugboat is no more than 15 feet deep—and very well preserved.
Cozumel National Marine Park, Mexico
Cozumel is another highly regarded global destination for snorkelers, scuba divers, and freedivers. There are hundreds of places to get in the water here, but two are especially well-known among snorkelers: The Cozumel National Marine Park and Punta Sur Eco Beach Park.
Head to the marine park if you want an all-day Cozumel snorkeling adventure. Most snorkeling trips travel between sites via catamaran, stopping in different areas known for various rare creatures or schooling fish. The park is huge, so trips that stop at three or more sites usually include a tropical lunch and drinks and snacks throughout the day.
At Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, expect to find crystal-clear snorkeling just off the beach. It’s a top spot for first-time snorkelers as the beach features a sandy bottom, gentle waves, and small schools of fish—you won’t see any sharks here.
It’s also a great spot if you have non-snorkelers with you since the park features Mayan ruins, a spa, a restaurant, and kayak rentals. There’s plenty to do here in between snorkel sessions (though you may find yourself never wanting to come out of the water).
Turtle Bay, Barbados
Is there anything more magical than swimming alongside 100-year-old sea turtles in bright blue water? If that’s your idea of a perfect day, head to Turtle Bay in Barbados, one of the best Caribbean snorkeling sites.
The bay is a feeding area for turtles, so they’re almost always in the area. The water is shallow—feel free to hold your breath and dive in for a chance to swim next to turtles enjoying the plentiful marine grass. Just remember to give them plenty of space so they don’t feel crowded.
Sapphire Beach, St. Thomas
Sapphire Beach in St. Thomas is just as pretty as it sounds, and that goes for both the above and underwater worlds. Not only is it home to some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, but it also has a wide sandy beach, so you can relax in a lounger with a cocktail in hand between snorkel sessions.
While snorkeling, you won’t have to go far to glimpse the underwater world. The reef is just 50 or so feet off the beach, and the large patches of seagrass just a bit further than that tend to attract sea turtles and the occasional baby stingray or nurse shark.
Buck Island, St. Croix
In St. Croix, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, you’ll find excellent snorkeling at Buck Island National Monument. The underwater site is so amazing that it’s protected by the U.S. Park Service.
Here, you can follow an underwater snorkel trail through the reef, where underwater plaques share information about the coral and creatures you’re likely to see. There are also coral grottos, which are formations of huge elkhorn coral that create what looks like underwater canyons.
Creole Rock, St. Maarten
If your vacation plans have you headed to St. Maarten, set aside a day to visit the French side of the island, St. Martin, and Creole Rock. The rocky island is encircled by a fabulous reef, which attracts plenty of baby fish and larger species eager to feed on them.
Though it’s one of the most popular locations for Caribbean snorkeling on the island, the reef is large enough that it’s fairly easy to avoid the crowds.
Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia
St. Lucia is one of the most beautiful islands in the region, so it’s just the icing on the cake that it offers some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, too. For a dream experience, head to Pigeon Island.
Five hundred different fish species have been spotted in the island’s reefs, including everything from rainbow parrotfish to pink-and-yellow Spanish hogfish to the ornate spotted scorpionfish. If there was ever a place to carry a fish ID chart with you in the water, Pigeon Island is it.
Escambrón Marine Park, Puerto Rico
The world-famous Escambrón Marine Park in Puerto Rico offers some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean for people who love taking underwater photos.
Thanks to intentionally sunken statues and columns, there’s a whole “ancient” city underwater here, as well as more than 200 artificial reefs. These provides plenty of places for fish and sea creatures to live, so the park has its own mini-habitat.
Cades Reef, Antigua
Cades Reef is one of Antigua’s best snorkeling spots, partially because the visibility is exceptional. It’s not unusual to be able to see for well over 100 feet underwater, making it ideal for both first-time snorkelers who want to keep an eye on everything around them and seasoned snorkelers on the lookout for rare fish.
Most snorkelers stay on the protected side of this cove in Antigua, where currents and waves are non-existent. There’s plenty to see here—parrotfish, eels, and rays are common, and if you’re lucky, you may even see a small reef shark or two near the ocean floor.
Green Island, Antigua
If you have more time on the island, you’ll want to visit Antigua’s other great spot for Caribbean snorkeling: Green Island. There’s no shortage of incredible beaches on Antigua, but Green Island offers soft sand both above and below the water. Since seagrass grows well on that sandy ocean floor, and green turtles love seagrass, you have a great chance of seeing them here.
You’ll need to take a boat to get to Green Island. It’s a short ride, but it’s not connected to the mainland. The beach is relatively shallow, making it a great place for kids. They can stay just a few feet from the shore and still see marine life, even if they don’t want to go in over their heads.
Grand Anse Beach, Grenada
Grand Anse Beach in Grenada is one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean since it offers the potential for a great reward with little effort. You’ll find the most marine life around rocks and reefs, but just floating over the sand and watching tiny garden eels pop their heads out from the sand is fun, too.
Not only is this one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, but it’s also very close to St. George and the port, and you can get in the water from anywhere along the shore. Grand Anse Beach is lined with both restaurants and rental shops, so you don’t need to bring your own snorkel. Snorkel tours often include gear, snacks, and drinks.
Stingray City, Grand Cayman
If you’re in the mood to swim with some of the most unique creatures on earth, head to Stingray City in Grand Cayman. The stingrays at this snorkel site are very friendly as they’re used to people feeding them. It’s in the open ocean, rather than a contained area, so you don’t need to worry about the stingrays feeling trapped or uncomfortable.
Despite not having many schooling fish at Stingray City, the ability to get near the stingrays makes it one of the best snorkel sites in the Caribbean, especially as it’s very shallow. While you reach it by boat, the water is only three or four feet deep once you arrive at the sandbar. Get a close look at these creatures and be sure to look for the “smiles” on their stomachs when they swim upside-down.
Baths of Virgin Gorda, Tortola
The Virgin Gorda Baths on Tortola are a stunning series of ocean pools separated by huge boulders. Fish like them, too—the underwater rocks and nooks create the perfect homes for marine life.
While snorkeling, you can stay in the large main pools, snorkel between rocks, or get in further down the beach to find small coves tucked between the rocks. Some of the beach here is a little bit rocky, so throw some water shoes in your day pack to make sure you can stroll wherever you’d like.
On a cruise to the Caribbean with Celebrity Cruises, you can visit some of the best places to snorkel in the region while traveling in complete luxury. Spend your days in the water and your evenings indulging in world-class cuisine, stellar accommodations, and exciting entertainment on board.
Browse cruises on our website and book your next snorkeling adventure today.