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Exploring the mysterious underwater world is an exciting adventure while traveling. Snorkeling offers a portal to the rich and diverse life of our seas and oceans. Discover enthralling marine creatures, vibrant coral reefs, and volcanic rock formations as you experience the best snorkeling in the world.

Whether you choose to kick your fins through the turquoise seas of Barbados, swim above a shipwreck in the Bahamas, or venture Down Under to the famed Great Barrier Reef in Australia, a snorkeling adventure is one of the top things to do for water and sea life lovers.

Channel your inner explorer and venture beneath the surface, where you can experience some of the best places to snorkel in the world.

Buck Island, St. Croix

Landscape view of Buck Island

Buck Island, St. Croix

Snorkel through the protected waters of the Buck Island National Monument on the idyllic island of St. Croix. Embark on the well-marked underwater snorkel trail that meanders through the reef.

Man snorkeling in Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix

Snorkeling in Buck Island, St. Croix

As you swim in the waters of one of the best beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, you’ll view coral and marine life, described on the museum-like underwater plaques.

This underwater garden site is host to more than 250 types of fish such as blue tang, trumpet fish, and parrotfish. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and even reef sharks, too.

Venture through the mystical coral grottos, exciting underwater canyons formed by elkhorn coral that any snorkeler will enjoy exploring. Buck Island offers some of the best snorkeling in the world.

Read: Best Things to Do in St. Croix

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Great Barrier Reef, one of the best snorkeling in the world

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Known as one of the top snorkeling and diving destinations in the world, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is to many a bucket list experience. The natural wonder is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a massive reef system, islands, and an astounding array of marine life located off the coast of Queensland.

Couple snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

More than 400 types of coral, a wide array of tropical fish and other interesting marine life can be viewed while snorkeling here.

Venture to the Whitsunday Islands by boat from Airlie Beach and find yourself transported to an underwater wonderland. Many of the beaches here offer access to fabulous snorkeling simply by wading into the water with your gear.

You’ll have the chance to view over 1,500 species of fish, sea turtles, manta rays, and more while swimming through crystal clear waters.

White sands of Fitzroy Island, Australia

Fitzroy Island, Australia

Venture north to tropical Fitzroy Island, accessed by a 45-minute ferry ride from the city of Cairns and another Great Barrier Reef destination known for its beautiful beaches and amazing snorkeling.

People swimming with fishes in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Swim in the calm waters of Welcome Bay, where you can marvel at vividly hued corals and sea creatures such as turtles, cod, grouper, and clownfish. Snorkeling is one of the best ways to explore one of the most beautiful places in Australia and the largest coral reef system in the world.

Baths of Virgin Gorda, BVI

Rock formation and turquoise waters at The Baths

Baths of Virgin Gorda, BVI

For a memorable snorkeling experience against a backdrop of unique geological formations, head to the British Virgin Islands and explore the famous Baths at Virgin Gorda. Located near the island of Tortola, the Baths at Virgin Gorda is the best-known natural attraction in this collection of beautiful islands.

Pick your way through the protected coastline within the national park, filled with natural pools, caves, and white-sand beaches. Giant granite boulders create a rocky playground with a maze-like path that leads you through shallow waters and hidden coves, perfect for snorkeling.

Calm waves of Devil’s Bay

Devil’s Bay, BVI

Devil’s Bay is one of the celebrated spots to swim among marine life in the clear Caribbean Sea. Take in the sights of the underwater realm; marine flora and fauna, coral, and sea creatures such as tarpon, parrotfish, conch, and starfish.

With unusual rock formations and pristine snorkeling conditions, this is one of the most exciting places to explore beneath the surface.

Read: What’s the Best Virgin Island to Visit?

Molokini Crater, Hawaii

Aerial view of Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater, Hawaii

The Aloha State is host to some of the world’s best snorkeling, with ample marine life and ideal conditions for discovering dazzling sea creatures.

Situated off the coast of Maui, Molokini Crater is a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers and is considered an underwater paradise.

The uninhabited island was formed thousands of years ago after a volcanic eruption, leaving behind a crescent-shaped atoll that today teems with marine life and birds.

Many boat tours take curious snorkelers out to discover the rich sea life surrounding the crater. The cove area of the crater is known for having extremely high visibility, up to 100 feet.

Humuhumunukunukuapua’a swimming in Hawaii

Humuhumunukunukuapua’a

Here, you will have the chance to see a wide array of creatures such as more than 250 species of tropical fish, 38 types of coral, as well as octopus, sea turtles, moray eels, and reef sharks.

Keep an eye out for the humuhumunukunukuapua’a too, more prosaically known as a triggerfish, with the status of Hawaii’s state fish.

Bonaire National Marine Park, Bonaire

School of fishes in Bonaire National Marine Park

Bonaire National Marine Park, Bonaire

Visit one of the oldest marine reserves in the world at the Bonaire National Marine Park, established in the late 1970s.

The well-protected area preserves the coral reefs surrounding the western coast of the island of Bonaire, creating an ideal environment for fish and other sea life to thrive.

Snorkeling here is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things to do in Bonaire, so feast your eyes on graceful sea turtles, more than 350 species of tropical fish, rays, and if you can spot them, seahorses, all through clear waters.

Couple snorkeling in Bonaire

Snorkeling in Bonaire

This is a popular area for sea turtles; in fact, you might even get the chance to swim near green sea turtles, loggerheads, and hawksbill turtles. The snorkel spots are found all along the shoreline, marked with yellow stones to alert snorkelers of entry points.

With 17 official snorkeling locations, you don’t have to explore the same area twice. Apart from being a haven for snorkelers, Bonaire is also one of the best diving spots in the world, with coral gardens and a healthy population of marine life.

Devil’s Crown, Galapagos Islands

Devil’s Crown, one of the best snorkeling in the world

Devil’s Crown, Galapagos Islands

Take your mask and flippers to one of South America’s most revered snorkeling spots, the Galapagos Islands. Just offshore from Floreana Island, a crown-shaped collection of rocks is home to a treasure trove of marine life.

The Devil’s Crown was previously a volcanic crater and is now a haven for all kinds of sea creatures. Above the water, popular Galapagos animals such as sea lions bask in the sun on the rocks, occasionally taking a dip in the water.

Marine life in Devil’s Crown, Galapagos Islands

Devil’s Crown, Galapagos Islands

Below the surface, the underwater world will keep you thrilled with schools of parrotfish, king angelfish, surgeonfish, and, if you’re lucky, the black and yellow Moorish idol fish.

Starfish cling to the rocks, and white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, or hammerhead sharks may make an appearance as well.

Although Devil’s Crown is the most popular snorkeling spot in the Galapagos, it’s best for those who consider themselves confident swimmers as the current can sometimes be tricky to navigate.

Champagne Reef, Dominica

Corals in Champagne Reef, Dominica

Champagne Reef, Dominica

Known as the nature island of the Caribbean, it’s no surprise that Dominica is host to one of the best places to snorkel in the world.

Located on the southwestern coast of the South Caribbean island, Champagne Reef offers snorkelers a unique experience due to the bubbling effect in the water, a result of the volcanic thermal springs beneath the ocean floor. Effectively, this means you’ll be swimming above an undersea volcano.

Yellow frogfish swimming

Frogfish

Dominica’s underwater landscape is just as striking as the dramatic terrain above the surface. Plunging cliffs, as well as colorful soft and hard corals, are a delight to snorkel around. You’ll have the chance to spot eels, seahorses, vibrant sponges, octopus, stingrays, frogfish, and hawksbill turtles, to name a few.

Keep an eye out for the remains of an old Spanish shipwreck here too, usually visible to snorkelers in this area. Underwater photography enthusiasts will enjoy capturing this amazing and unique snorkeling experience in Dominica.

Read: Best Things to Do in Dominica

Silfra Fissure, Iceland

Silfra Fissure, one of the best snorkeling in the world

Silfra Fissure, Iceland

Tropical waters aren’t the only amazing places to snorkel in the world. Iceland offers visitors the unusual and bucket-list experience of snorkeling the Silfra Fissure, a space between two tectonic plates.

Located in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland’s western region, snorkelers can swim between the continents of North America and Eurasia—a photo opportunity if ever there was one.

Man snorkeling in Silfra Fissure, Iceland

Silfra Fissure, Iceland

This unbelievable snorkel spot features clear glacial meltwater with astonishing visibility of more than 300 feet, making it one of the most beautiful places in Iceland.

Kitted out in a dry suit (not surprisingly, the water is extremely cold here), you can swim between volcanic basalt rock formations, float over lava, and gaze at algae in jewel-like colors. You’ll even have the opportunity to view underwater rainbows if the sun hits just right.

Snorkeling the arctic waters in the Silfra Fissure will be an unforgettable experience while visiting Iceland.

Caye Caulker, Belize

Beautiful reef in Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, Belize

Snorkeling is one of the top things to do in Belize. Hop aboard a boat to Caye Caulker, a small island off the coast of Belize that’s surrounded by a beautiful reef system. View a spectrum of colorful corals and schools of vibrant tropical fish.

Caye Caulker, one of the best snorkeling in the world

Shark Ray Alley, Belize

Most snorkel trips in Belize also visit the well-known Shark Ray Alley while in Caye Caulker. This marine reserve has shallow, clear waters with fantastic visibility, and is frequented by nurse sharks and rays looking for leftover fish pieces tossed into the water by local fishermen.

This attracts several other fish species looking for a snack as well, making it a great spot to view a lot of sea life at once.

Bora Bora Lagoon, French Polynesia

Beautiful landscape of Bora Bora Lagoon, French Polynesia

Bora Bora Lagoon, French Polynesia

The island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia is known for being one of the most romantic destinations in the world, but it also happens to have some of the best snorkeling in the world. Shades of blue and green delight swimmers and snorkelers in the island’s pristine lagoon.

Head to the inner reef, where black-tipped reef sharks, stingrays, and colorful tropical fish hang out in the shallow waters. The sandy bottom makes this a comfortable place to wade and rest between swimming among the sea life.

Clear waters of The Aquarium in Bora Bora Lagoon, French Polynesia

The Aquarium in Bora Bora Lagoon, French Polynesia

Another hot spot in Bora Bora is “the aquarium”. Take a dip here and you’ll quickly understand how it received this name. The famously clear waters offer an excellent glimpse into the underwater world.

Here, it’s possible to see triggerfish, angelfish, humbug fish, moray eels, clownfish, and parrotfish.

Read: Best South Pacific Islands to Visit

Turtle Beach, Barbados

Sea turtle swimming in clear water

Sea turtle

Sea turtle enthusiasts will enjoy snorkeling off the coast of Barbados, an island known for its large turtle population.

Located on the southwestern shore near St. Lawrence Gap, Turtle Beach is one of the best places to go windsurfing and snorkeling in Barbados. This stretch of sand is a nesting spot for turtles, so in addition to possibly viewing adults, you may even have a chance to see tiny hatchlings.

The island is home to three species of turtles, the green sea turtle, leatherback, and hawksbill turtles. If you’re lucky, you might see all three while swimming in the warm tropical waters that Barbados is known for.

Cozumel National Marine Park, Cozumel

Marine life in Cozumel

Marine life in Cozumel

Surrounding the southern coastal tip of Cozumel, the Cozumel Reefs National Park is a protected area known for having some of the most dazzling coral and sea life in the whole world.

With more than 260 species of fish and over 100 types of coral, it’s a popular destination in Mexico for both snorkelers and scuba divers.

Glide through the warm, clear waters of one of the best places to snorkel in Cozumel, where you’ll have the opportunity to see tropical fish such as snappers, butterflyfish, and blue chromis, as well as sea turtles and lobsters amid the gorgeous coral gardens.

Marine life in Cozumel

Marine life in Cozumel

Experience the sense of swimming through a real-life aquarium while snorkeling in destinations around the globe known for their rich marine life. A luxury cruise is a fantastic way to experience some of the best snorkeling in the world.

From classic Caribbean locations to unique Arctic spots, there’s no shortage of amazing places to explore everything the underwater realm has to offer. Browse itineraries and book your snorkeling adventure today.

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