A vacation to the Bahamas promises pristine, white-sand beaches, crystalline waters, a rich culture, and incredible snorkeling experiences. Snorkeling in Nassau and the surrounding area is abundant, with prime locations to explore the underwater world both on the island of New Providence and on islands nearby.
In and around Nassau, you’ll find the third-largest coral reef in the world, stunning ocean cliffs, marines caves that were featured in Hollywood movies, and a bounty of underwater treasures you won’t soon forget.
The sunny year-round weather in the Bahamas means that you’ll be able to go snorkeling any month of the year. Thanks to its crystal-clear waters, beginners and advanced snorkelers alike will find it easy to spot marine life including blue marlins, sea turtles, barracudas, eels, and even nurse sharks.
If you’re planning on going snorkeling in Nassau, here are some of the best spots to dive in.
Only a few miles west of Nassau Harbour you’ll find Cable Beach, a pristine two-and-a-half-mile stretch of white sand and crystal-clear waters. It’s one of Nassau’s most popular beaches with large hotels and resorts lining its shores, so get there early if you want to find a good spot on the sand.
Cable Beach’s calm waters make it an ideal place for beginner snorkelers that want to paddle around in tranquil and transparent ocean water. If you’re looking to spot more exotic marine animals, you’re likely to see more action farther off-shore.
While snorkeling at Cable Beach, chances are high that you’ll be able to swim around with green sea turtles, which are often spotted close to the shore. Other snorkeling enthusiasts have seen eagle rays, Southern stingrays, starfish, and colorful schools of fish.
Blue Lagoon Island, also known as Salt Cay among local Bahamians, is three miles from Nassau. The island is surrounded by lush vegetation, shady coconut palm trees, hidden coves, and stunning coral reefs.
The island’s main draw is Dolphin Encounters, a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you can swim and interact with dolphins and sea lions within their natural habitat. You can also embark on snorkeling tours, during which you can spot coral reefs teeming with native fish species and other colorful marine wildlife.
Most day packages at Blue Lagoon include a grilled lunch and access to the island’s aqua park, where kids can spend hours bouncing on the inflatable structures. After your snorkeling adventure, you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, underwater scooters, and water bikes.
Green Turtle Cay
Swim with green sea turtles at Green Turtle Cay, an island named after the many green turtles that inhabit it. Part of the long chain of Abacos Islands, Green Turtle Cay is not only known for its swimming excursions with turtles, but it’s also one of the few places where you can swim with Bahamian pigs and splash in the ocean next to these cute mammals.
Snorkelers will also be happy to learn that Green Turtle Cay has excellent snorkeling spots, with a variety of reefs around the small island, where you’re sure to spot stingrays and other tropical fish.
Paradise Island Atlantis Resort
What isn’t there to do during a visit to the Atlantis Resort at Paradise Island? This resort hotel has it all: a large water park with thrilling slides, lazy river tubing, 11 pools, seaside golf courses, miles of white-sand beaches, an open-air aquarium with over 50,000 marine animals, and excellent snorkeling opportunities.
Dive into the enclosed Ruins Lagoon, where you’ll swim among sunken treasures and find yourself surrounded by over 20,000 reef fish and spotted rays. Take a dip in the crystalline waters of Paradise Lagoon, a seven-acre water lagoon perfect for beginner snorkelers and kids. Or grab your mask and fins and paddle in the turquoise waters off of Cove Beach, where schools of fish and other tropical species await.
A visit to Pearl Island and its sparkling white-sand beaches will make you feel like you’re in heaven on earth. The big draw of Pearl Island is its abundant coral reefs less than 50 feet from the shore.
On a guided tour, swim around colorful corals and native fish species such as sand divers, porcupine fish, trumpet fish, moray eels, shrimp, lionfish, and more.
Experience the best of the island by renting a private cabana after your snorkeling session. Indulge in a barbecue lunch, breathe in the salty air under the shade, order a tropical cocktail, or simply marvel at the breathtaking view in front of you.
The blissful private beach resort of Balmoral Island is located just 30 minutes away from Nassau via ferry. This stunning secluded beach resort boasts powder white sand, beautiful turquoise waters, and white shady umbrellas and lounge chairs perfect for unwinding on the beach.
During a visit to Balmoral Island, you can swim with dolphins, encounter stingrays, and rent snorkeling equipment. Swim with your mask and fins around Balmoral Island’s transparent waters at your own leisurely pace and see if you can find lobsters, snappers, and other small tropical fish along the way.
Once you’re done snorkeling, fuel up at the island’s beach club, which offers food, drinks, and snacks for guests of the island. If you’re craving caffeine, it also happens to be the only private island to have its own Starbucks.
Rose Island Reef
From Nassau Harbor, hop on a boat and head to Rose Island Reef, one of the best places to snorkel near Nassau thanks to its optimum visibility conditions. Rose Island Reef is teeming with fish and underwater species and has two famous shipwrecks to discover: the Mahoney and the Alcora.
The Mahoney is a 212-foot-long freighter ship that sank in 1929, while the Alcora spans over 130 feet and was sunk by the Bahamian government in 1983 after it was caught being used for drug smuggling. The two ships are home to thousands of colorful fish and one snorkeling destination that never disappoints.
Goulding Cay Reef
Perhaps the best option for snorkeling near Nassau for kids and beginning snorkelers is Goulding Cay Reef off the west coast of New Providence. At Goulding Cay Reef, explore elkhorn coral and get up close with the many colorful fish inhabitants who live there.
Andros Barrier Reef
Spanning over 190 miles long along the coast of the island of Andros, the Andros Barrier Reef is the third-largest barrier reef in the world. It’s suitable for both beginner and advanced snorkelers and divers, since its depth dramatically changes depending on the area. On the island side, it drops down to eight feet, while near the ocean side it extends to 6,000 feet underwater.
At Andros Barrier Reef, you’ll face the Tongue of the Ocean, a vast ocean trench that divides the islands of Andros and New Providence. Even within the shallower areas of Andros, you’ll find plenty of excitement too, with over 150 species of fish that call the reef home including Nassau groupers, marlins, moray eels, stingrays, rock lobsters, and more.
Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park
As the first land and sea park in the world, Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park has long been an underwater haven for all sorts of marine wildlife. Spanning over 176 square miles, this national park hosts the second-largest coral barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.
As a no-take reserve, which means that absolutely no type of fishing is allowed, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park has created a thriving population of queen conch, Nassau grouper, and spiny lobsters. During most snorkeling sessions, you’re also likely to see any number of sea turtles, starfish, and a wide variety of fish in all sizes and colors.
The majority of the reefs in the park are shallow, making it an ideal place for rookie snorkelers to get acquainted with the water. More experienced snorkelers will find plenty of areas to explore as well, including fresh water holes, sea cliffs, and marine caves, such as the Thunderball Grotto, which once served as the backdrop for a couple of James Bond movies.
For a unique snorkeling experience, head to Nari Nari, located off the west coast of New Providence. This shallow reef is home to a sculpture garden, where you’ll find works of art and statues sculpted by local Bahamian artists.
During your snorkel expedition around Nari Nari, you’ll also be able to spot a sunken Cessna airplane, which was used as a set piece for a Hollywood movie.
Explore Nassau in luxury on a Bahamas cruise with Celebrity Cruises. Go snorkeling in Nassau during your day in port, then indulge in world-class dining, luxurious accommodations, and unparalleled service on board.
Browse Nassau cruise itineraries on our website and book an unforgettable vacation to the Bahamas today.