Snorkeling in the Bahamas offers visitors the chance to experience first-hand the remarkable marine life and coral reefs that flourish here, including dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and tropical fish.
This archipelago of 700 coral islands and over 2,000 cays, scattered in the western Atlantic Ocean, is a world-beating snorkeling destination. The islands are home to the 190-mile long Andros Barrier Reef, the world’s third-largest fringing barrier reef, which hosts a spectacular landscape of marine life.
From the wondrous Clifton Heritage Park with its hauntingly beautiful underwater sculpture park to dazzling CocoCay, there’s a wealth of activity below water.
Atlantis Resort, Nassau
One of the most famous spots to enjoy snorkeling in the Bahamas is at the Atlantis Resort, Nassau. Here, you can join an exhilarating 60-minute program that involves diving to the sunken ruins of “Atlantis”, through Ruins Lagoon, and alongside a plethora of tropical fish.
It might not be the real Atlantis, but it’s captivating and magical, nonetheless, with artifacts inspired by the legend of the ancient city of Atlantis in the underwater depths.
It is home to some 20,000 deep-reef and pelagic fish, including spiny lobster, snappers, and jacks. The array of colorful marine life includes lionfish, seahorse, clownfish, eels, manta rays, angelfish, and the endangered smalltooth sawfish.
Atlantis also offers travelers the chance to view coral formations, artifacts and aquatic life through a transparent 100-foot underwater tunnel within the lagoon.
Pearl Island, Nassau
A tiny speck of an island a short distance northwest of Nassau, Pearl Island is a fantastic destination to snorkel around Nassau.
Pearl Island’s certified snorkel guides lead enthusiasts to some of the best snorkeling spots with the island’s coral reefs lying just 50 feet offshore.
Trumpet fish, Bahamas grunts, porcupine fish, sand divers, queen triggerfish, grouper, lionfish, moray eels, Bahamas shrimp, and parrot fish are just some of the species lurking underwater.
Take in the vivid blues and greens of the reef before returning to shore and enjoy a walk to Pearl Island’s pretty white and pastel-hued lighthouse.
Junkanoo Beach, Nassau
Sandwiched between Western Esplanade Beach and Prince George Wharf, buzzy Junkanoo Beach is one of the Bahamas’ best snorkeling destinations close to the center of Nassau.
While there are certainly better reefs in other spots in the Bahamas, Junkanoo offers the chance for visitors to explore downtown Nassau, relax on the white sand beach, and snorkel in the ocean all in one day.
It’s as easy as putting on your snorkel mask and wading into the gin-clear waters.
Reward your underwater adventures with fresh coconut and fried conch from a shack on the beach.
Blue Lagoon Island, Nassau
Also known as Salt Cay, Blue Lagoon lies just three miles northeast of Nassau.
The lagoon was once a salt marsh and a buccaneers’ hangout with pirates using the salt to preserve food. Now, however, it’s now a wonderful, paradise-like island where travelers are met with talc-white sand, shimmering, cyan-colored water, and rich island vegetation filled with birdlife.
It’s also a haven for snorkeling in the Bahamas. Swim into the lagoon from the shore to see the island’s show-stopping coral reefs, populated with a variety of tropical fish.
Travelers can take their own or rent snorkeling equipment, along with watersports gear, on the island and go in search of blue starfish among the coral and groupers, snappers, parrotfish, and butterflyfish.
Honeymoon Harbor Beach, Gun Cay
Lying around halfway between Miami and Nassau, just south of Bimini on Gun Cay, Honeymoon Harbor Beach is a blissful and remote spot to go snorkeling in the Bahamas.
You’ll need to join a boat trip from Bimini to reach this off-grid island. When you arrive, relax into the calm, sun-warmed water. You might spot sea turtles, stingrays, and sharks.
Further out, typically from December through April, you may get the chance to see one of the ocean’s most unusual-looking predators, the great hammerhead shark.
There are few amenities on Honeymoon Harbor Beach, which is very much part of its charm. Pack all of the essentials you might need for a fun day of snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing.
CocoCay has two superlative snorkeling spots, Chill Island Beach to the east and South Beach on the south of the island.
The well-equipped Chill Island offers snorkel equipment for hire at the Snorkel Shack. Dip beneath the water’s surface and you might find an array of colorful fish including sergeant majors, clownfish, parrotfish, butterfly fish, and tangs.
After a thrilling underwater adventure, indulge in the beach’s tasty barbecue offering at Chill Grill. Chill Island Beach also offers jet ski rental and luxury cabanas allowing visitors to build a soul-stirring day on the shore and in the sea.
South Beach is an equally tranquil spot, with swaying palms, plush cabanas, and alluring, aquamarine water.
Clifton Heritage National Park, New Providence
Clifton Heritage National Park’s coral reefs on the west coast of New Providence offers some of the best snorkeling in the Bahamas.
Clifton’s waters are home to the extraordinary Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden, featuring a collection of eerie sunken statues that have formed an artificial reef. Travelers can choose from a self-guided or guided underwater tour to explore this underwater museum.
Among the underwater statues is Ocean Atlas by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor. The piece was commissioned by BREEF (Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation), along with works of local artists Willicey Tynes and Andret John, to draw travelers to this artificial reef.
The 66-ton, 18-foot Ocean Atlas sculpture features a crouching girl with her arms lifted, seemingly holding the weight of the ocean above her. Lying just 16 feet underwater, the sculpture is accessible to both scuba divers and snorkelers and is an evocative, bucket-list experience.
Clifton Heritage National Park’s reef thrives, with sea sponges and coral clinging to the statues, while sea turtles and other marine life swim in the water.
Serving as more than just an artistic benefit, the underwater sculpture park is a vibrant reef ecosystem, with the statues continually evolving, shaped by sea and marine life that grows here.
Love Beach, Nassau
This romantic beach, scattered with conch and coconut shells, is a short drive from downtown Nassau on New Providence.
This tranquil spot offers a diverse marine ecosystem with snorkeling possible over the reef that’s just offshore, where visitors can swim and paddle among spiny lobster and barracuda.
Love Beach is a peaceful spot, quite the contrast to much busier Cable Beach, which is part of its charm. You can rent parasols and loungers here, but there’s little else going on.
Goulding Cay Reef
This small and peaceful island close to the west coast of New Providence treats visitors to a coral reef in the shallows of the water, making it a perfect spot for snorkelers of all ages and levels to explore.
Goulding Cay Reef is home to plenty of elkhorn coral, named after the antlers of an elk that the coral resembles, along with snapper, eagle rays, and moray eels.
Reach Goulding Cay Reef via a boat trip from Nassau, with the breezy trip taking around 30 minutes.
Jaws Beach, New Providence
Within the boundary of Clifton Heritage National Park, Jaws Beach—named after the movie franchise that was shot here—lies on the western tip of New Providence.
This wild spot is home to a pearly-white beach and a scattering of pine trees, while just offshore there is plenty of marine life, much more benign than that depicted in the world of Hollywood.
Explore the underwater scenery, including shipwrecks, reefs, and sharks. You could also hire an entirely transparent kayak to enjoy time on the water, too. The ocean is as clear as the kayaks, with excellent viewing of the Bahamas’ marine life.
Cable Beach, Nassau
This 2.5-mile beach is a heavenly spot for snorkeling in the Bahamas thanks to its pristine shore and clear water.
The shallow shoreline means it’s a great spot for snorkelers with less experience. Explore the water and you might meet some of the Bahamas’ famous marine residents, such as stingrays, green sea turtles, and starfish.
This buzzy beach in Nassau also offers jet ski rental, boat charter, and scuba diving excursions.
Rose Island Reef, near Nassau
To the east of New Providence, a short boat ride from Nassau, lies the uninhabited slither of Rose Island and its glorious nature-filled reef.
A big draw for adventurers are the two shipwrecks that lie within the reef. The Mahoney was a cargo steamer that sank here in 1929 and the Alcora was deliberately sunk by the Bahamian government in 1983 after it was found being used as a drug-smuggling vessel. Both wrecks now teem with marine life, with sea turtles, stingrays, grouper, parrotfish, and sharks often spotted.
You might even encounter nature of a different kind. The island’s docile, resident pigs enjoy a dip in the cooling water and will often wander down to the beach for a swim.
Sapona Shipwreck, Bimini
The freight steamer SS Sapona ran aground in 1926 near Bimini, with the wreck still visible above water almost a century later.
Sitting in just 15 feet of water, SS Sapona has formed an artificial reef, making it a top snorkeling spot accessible by a quick boat trip from Bimini.
History buffs love this Bahamas snorkel site. The vessel was commissioned by the former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson as a means of transporting troops serving in World War I. The ship was built of concrete and said to be designed by Henry Ford, of the Ford Motor Company, built in Wilmington, North Carolina.
SS Sapona never made it to Europe to support the Allied war effort, with the ship eventually sold to Bruce Bethall in 1924 who used it as an offshore liquor warehouse during the Prohibition period. The ship ran aground during a 1926 hurricane and was damaged beyond repair.
Following this, the ship was used as a bomb target during World War II. Now, it’s a magnet for marine life and you’ll see plenty of the region’s famous tropical fish snorkeling the eerie site.
Bimini Beach, Bimini
Bimini Beach is another contender for some of the best snorkeling in the Bahamas thanks to its crystal clear water. The ocean here is calm and warm, and the beach soft and spacious.
Snorkel offshore in search of the region’s notoriously curious stingrays and schools of colorful tropical fish.
Food shacks are scattered close by the beach if you want to try authentic Bahamian food and sun loungers and parasols are available for hire. Pack your snorkel gear and enjoy the blissful surroundings of this laid-back Bahamas beach.
With 95 percent of its territory underwater, the Bahamas offers travelers some of the world’s best snorkeling opportunities on reefs and wreck sites. If you’re tempted by this dreamy nation of islands with its silky shores, rhythmic beach shacks, and tropical climate, explore Celebrity’s luxury cruises to the Bahamas and book your next escape to the sunshine.