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The Best Islands to Do a Snorkeling Shore Excursion 

The best islands for snorkeling have high visibility in the water, coral reefs, and exciting sea animals to encounter. A bonus feature of a prime snorkeling island is one you can get to via cruise since it makes it an effortless way to visit. Our cruise ports of call often have several different snorkeling shore excursions, some of which combine snorkeling with beach time, city tours, kayaking, and other adventures.

So which are the best islands for snorkeling you can cruise to? Read on for our top five and learn what you’ll see while snorkeling at each of these gorgeous islands.

Whale Sharks and Coral in Cozumel

Cozumel is a large Mexican island located a short distance off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. It’s a popular port of call on Western Caribbean cruise itineraries; a big reason for that is its surrounding sea.

The salty water around Cozumel is especially famous for the coral and animals that call it home, and while snorkeling in Cozumel you’ll have the opportunity to see these epic underwater sights. The coral formations are vibrant and dazzling while the sea creatures you might see range from colorful fish to sea turtles to even whale sharks.

Snorkel Through an Underwater Park in St. Croix

The island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands is known for its lush greenery on land, but the turquoise water surrounding it also gets accolades from travelers on a Caribbean cruise due to the unique snorkeling experiences you can have while there.

St. Croix has an underwater national park referred to as Buck Island Reef National Monument. It consists of the 176-acre Buck Island and the impressive coral reef ecosystem that surrounds it.

Buck Island is located about 1.5 miles north of St. Croix and cruisers who do a shore excursion there will be taken to the island for some exploration and snorkeling.

The snorkel opportunity in Buck Island Reef National Monument that is an especially huge hit with travelers is the underwater trail. Located on the eastern point of Buck Island Reef National Monument, the underwater trail takes snorkelers on a guided tour of the sea floor sights of the Caribbean with submerged signs you can read to learn more about the underwater world you’re seeing and the history of Buck Island. The trail is suitable for beginner snorkelers, and advanced snorkelers will enjoy it as well due to the interesting information you’ll learn.

Sea Turtles and Craters in Maui

Hawaii is a coveted snorkeling location due to its calm bays and clear water that shimmers in bright blues. It’s not uncommon to see sea turtles swimming around right offshore.

While excellent snorkeling can be found all around the Hawaiian Islands, Maui stands out for its laidback snorkeling adventures to Molokini. During a port of call in Lahaina, Maui, you can head out to sea on a shore excursion that takes you the waters near the Molokini Crater.

While there you’ll encounter colorful reefs, a multitude of fish in various shapes and sizes, sea turtles, and possibly even stingrays and nurse sharks. In addition to the underwater sea animals you’ll see, you’ll also get photo-worthy views of the peaks of Maui framed against the blue Hawaiian sky during your boat ride to and from Molokini Crater. It’s a perfect way to spend the day snorkeling during a Hawaii cruise. Set sail on a cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii or depart from Honolulu.

Snorkel Through the Aqua Lagoon in Bora Bora

The island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia is famous for its lush, exotic scenery that has many honeymooners blissfully lounging on white sand beaches. Bora Bora isn’t only for the recently betrothed, however. The blue lagoon surrounding the island is the stuff dreams of paradise are made of, and cruisers who stop at Bora Bora during a Transpacific cruise are in for a snorkeling treat.

While in Bora Bora, there are a number of different reefs on the perimeter of the lagoon to which you can do a snorkeling shore excursion. Getting there is half the fun since you’ll board a boat that will take you directly over the lagoon water that is a shade of turquoise so vivid you’ll think it was photoshopped right before your eyes.

Once you’re at the snorkel spot, what you’ll see depends on the location. Sea turtles and stingrays make regular appearances around Bora Bora. You also may see gigantic manta rays traveling gracefully through the water. Colorful giant clams that glisten in shades of purple and pink are also located along the bottom of the lagoon. Even shark encounters are possible while snorkeling in Bora Bora. Whichever location you choose to snorkel at, you’re sure to have a memorable time in Bora Bora – and you also won’t want to forget to bring a waterproof camera.

Best Islands for Snorkeling on Your Cruise if Short on Time

If you want to visit one of the best islands for snorkeling on a cruise, but don’t have a ton of vacation time, the Bahamas are a great choice. You can book a Bahamas cruise from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, both of which are easy to get to from most major cities.

Plus, the cities are so close that it gives you two airport options regardless of which port you’re sailing out of, meaning you can search for air deals flying in to both airports and possibly save money. Flights by Celebrity can also help you find the best flight for your needs thanks to our Lowest Airfare Guarantee and the other perks of booking through Flights by Celebrity.

Once you’re in the Bahamas, you can explore the reefs around the islands on one of the many snorkeling shore excursions offered out of Nassau, Bahamas, which is where your ship will dock while you’re in port.

Plan Your Cruise to One of the Best Islands for Snorkeling Today!

A cruise to one of these best islands for snorkeling is an idyllic way to go about the activity. After your snorkel excursion is done you can explore the port some more or head back to your comfortable stateroom and freshen up before an exciting night on the ship dining, dancing, and taking in one of the high caliber theater shows. Not sure at which island port of call you most want to do some snorkeling? Browse our cruise itineraries to see the other ports visited along with the above islands and choose the one the gets you most excited – you’ll likely find there are multiple ports of call for each itinerary that you can snorkel in if you so choose.

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