Are you heading to the islands and looking for the best snorkeling in the Caribbean? At first, I never thought I would enjoy snorkeling, it actually kind of scared me. I love being in the water but the thought of seeing the underwater world kind of scared me. After snorkeling in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, I am hooked. What a great way to explore the beautiful life underwater.
Besides the places I have snorkeled in the Caribbean, I have asked some fellow travel bloggers for some of their recommendations for the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. If you are traveling to any of these locations make sure to grab your snorkel and fins to explore the underwater sea world.
Snorkeling Locations in the Caribbean
Snorkeling in Antigua
Jodie of Alajode
Antigua and Barbuda might be better known for its luxurious resorts and 365 beaches – on for every day of the year! – but that’s not all you’ll find there. There are plenty of fun and adventurous things to do in Antigua, and one of the best new experiences you could try is scooter snorkeling.
Scooter snorkeling is, essentially, high-powered snorkeling. Hold onto an electric motor (or “sea scooter”), you can move around much more easily and cover more ground while you’re in the water. That means you can see much more and focus on marine life around you, without worrying about getting out of breath. You can also dive a little further down because you have the motor to help you push down through the water and find your way back to the surface again.
Of course, you can also enjoy regular snorkeling here too and there are plenty of spots to try it. If spending time in the sea is your priority, I recommend staying at The Verandah Resort on the eastern side of the island. An affordable all-inclusive option, it has its own private beach and watersports facilities so you can experience the sea without leaving the all you can buffet behind.
Snorkeling in Aruba
Rai of A Rai of Light Travels
Snorkeling in Aruba allows you to discover many beautiful treasures of the Caribbean Sea. The beaches comprise white powder sand and the water is shallow, with marine life that is plentiful. Not to mention, the island is home to the region’s largest shipwreck. The Antilla shipwreck, a German freighter, rests in 18 meters of water and is a good option to search the ocean for an interesting find.
What is great about this part of the world is that the coastal waters have an average temperature of 80°F, and visibility ranges from 18m. Some of my favorite and recommended spots to snorkel are Malmok beach, Baby beach reef, and Aruba Flamingo beach. You can generally expect good visibility, a variety of fish, secluded bays, and pretty coral.
One thing to note is that Aruba can get really windy at times which can affect the water and make snorkeling dangerous during those times. Care needs to be taken. It can also be difficult to get to the more off-beat places on the island on public transport. Having a car will allow you to explore the best parts without the crowds.
Snorkeling in Barbados
Laura & Charlie of The Travelling Stomach
Carlisle Bay is one of the most iconic spots on the Caribbean island of Barbados. At one end of the bay you will find the island’s capital, Bridgetown, and then the sweeping beach as it runs for several kilometers along. The beach is super convenient for those of you who want to just come and chill, with shallow warm waters and beautiful golden sand. However, if you are also looking for a great snorkeling spot, this is the perfect place to come.
The bay has been designated a marine park by the island, with multiple purposes sunk wrecks to support marine life and, of course, provide a great diving and snorkeling destination. With an array of colorful fish and growing coral life in the vicinity, you’ll be wowed by the sights you can see below the water.
This brings us on perfectly to the other famous thing to see and do in Carlisle Bay – snorkeling with turtles. The bay is well known for its healthy numbers of both green and leatherback turtles which you can spot when you’re in the water. There are many different ways that you can see them: swim out yourself with a snorkel, jump in from a yacht or join one of the dedicated tours which are run by several operators in the area.
Snorkeling in Belize
Stephanie Craig of History Fangirl
If you want to have a thrill, head to Belize’s Shark Ray Alley! Along with Hol Chan, Shark Ray Alley is the most popular diving and snorkeling site in Belize. Famous for the Southern Sting Rays and Nurse Sharks that swarm here, it’s a fabulous opportunity to see multiple sharks and rays interacting with each other.
If you’re frightened by the idea of snorkeling with sharks, don’t worry! The Nurse Shark is considered safe to swim near, and they very rarely are even interested in the humans swimming nearby.
If you’re looking to book a trip, I can’t recommend the Belize Pro Dive Center enough! They had all the gear to rent, and I was even able to rent a GoPro camera to film my snorkeling experience. If you don’t want to share other people’s equipment, you can get your own snorkel mask and fins to bring with you to Belize! However, you’ll still want to visit Shark Ray Alley with a reputable dive and snorkel company.
You can opt to stay on either Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker. Ambergris Caye has a more luxury travel atmosphere, while Caye Caulker is more popular with young travelers and the backpacker crowds. However, both islands are fabulous, so you really can’t go wrong!
Snorkeling in Cuba
Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers
Snorkeling in Bay of Pigs should definitely be on your bucket list of things to do in Cuba. Close to Playa Girón and Playa Larga is where the US invasion of Cuba failed in 1967. There are some shipwrecks you can go scuba diving to, but the snorkeling is all straight off the beach. When I say straight off the beach, I mean it’s just to put on your flippers and grab your mask and snorkel and dive in.
There are corals and colorful fish in abundance, and as of clear water, the turquoise Caribbean Sea makes for excellent visibility. The best time to go is from November to June to avoid hurricanes.
You can find numerous Casas Particulares (private rooms for rent in Cuban families’ homes) in both Girón and Playa Larga. I can recommend staying with Silvia & Homero in Playa Larga. They are a lovely couple and have a clean house and large rooms. They even pick up WiFi signals from the park up on their roof terrace, which is an uncommon treat in Cuba.
No matter where you chose to stay, you will be able to book your snorkel trip straight from your Casa Particular. They charge for the whole day including bus and snorkel gear.
Snorkeling in Grenada
Michele Peterson of A Taste for Travel
Situated at the southern tip of the Windward Islands in the eastern Caribbean, the mountainous island of Grenada (and its sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique) are best known for their natural beauty, calm waters and outdoor attractions. One of the top ways to immerse yourself in Grenada’s natural wonders is to take a snorkeling tour of the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park near St. George’s capital city. Created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, this underwater museum features over 100 statues installed in the Molinere Beausejour Marine Protected Area.
It was originally designed to assist the island’s coral reefs to regenerate after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. However, this innovative eco-art project has developed to become a top attraction for snorkellers. The sculptures are located at a depth of 5 meters or 16 feet close to shore which makes it easy to access. Even beginners can have the opportunity to see stingrays, spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, damselfish, squid and many other types of marine life.
Beyond the Underwater Sculpture Park, other top snorkeling spots in Grenada include Magazine Beach ( near Aquarium Restaurant), Pink Gin Beach and BBC Beach (also known as Morne Rouge). One of the best places to stay is Silversands Grenada, a luxury hotel featuring 43 suites and nine residential villas, set on the azure waters of Grand Anse Beach near St. George’s.
Snorkeling in Ochos Rios, Jamaica
Dan from of Layer Culture
When looking for the best snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean be sure to check out the island of Jamaica. Home to much rare fish and sea life waiting to be discovered. One spot where you can snorkel to your heart’s content is in Ocho Rios. There are places in Ocho Rios where you’ll find great snorkeling right off the beach with little effort.
Amongst the glistening colors, you can see everything from coral reefs to butterflyfish, eels, electric rays, manta rays and much more. If you are feeling adventurous and eager to jump into the turquoise colored waters, you can take a fun and friendly boat tour organized by the local travel guides. If traveling to Ocho Rios from Montego Bay you can take public transport, or get one of the many shuttles that offer a direct service from your hotel.
Snorkeling in Cozumel, Mexico
Jessica of Bring The Kids
When it comes to snorkeling, our family is incredibly picky. We’d been spoiled by living on the shores of the Red Sea for several years, so finding a snorkeling destination that meets our expectations in terms of reef quality, marine life, and family accessibility, is no easy task.
However, when it comes to snorkeling in the Caribbean, our favorite destination is Cozumel Mexico. While Cozumel is well known as a cruise ship port, it’s got so much to offer that when we were traveling in Mexico, we ended up staying an entire month in Cozumel because we liked the snorkeling so much.
By far the best reefs in Cozumel are the Palancar and Columbia Reefs, which are both accessible by boat. The marine life is the absolute best there and these reefs are great for both snorkeling and scuba diving.
For snorkeling straight from the shore, head north of town, until you feel like you’re leaving everything behind. On the north end, you’ll find a few oceanside restaurants that will let you snorkel straight from their beaches, for just the price of your food. Our favorite shore snorkeling spots were at Buccanos and Playa Azul.
Snorkeling in Akumal Bay, Mexico
Hannah & Adam Lukaszewicz of Getting Stamped
The typical boat ride includes all your snorkel gear, a visit to Dunns River Falls and the chance to snorkel in an exclusive location where you’ll see other types of tropical fish. The boat rides are usually a full-day excursion so be prepared. A party usually starts on the journey back from snorkeling, so you can relax, eat, drink and dance after a couple of hours of snorkeling in the water.
If you’re looking for a unique snorkeling excursion in the Carribean, we highly recommend heading to Akumal Bay to snorkel and swim with sea turtles! Just 30 minutes north of Tulum, the protected, shallow waters make it the ideal spot for swimming with these magical creatures. And, the best part about this snorkeling experience is that it’s free, besides 50 pesos for parking if you choose to drive. Bring your own snorkel gear or rent some at the beach and off exploring you go!
We suggest staying at the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya, as the hotel is only a 10-minute boat ride away from the beach. We like visiting by boat because it avoids the hassle of parking and renting gear at the beach. If you stay at the Grand Palladium, they will provide the gear for you and get you swimming with the sea turtles in no time.
And don’t worry about not seeing sea turtles when you go. We’ve been to Akumal several times at different times during the year and have always seen them. All in all, swimming next to these creatures will be one of the most amazing things you can do in the Carribean!
Snorkeling at Isla Holbox/Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Bret Love of Green Global Travel
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula was the site of the largest gathering of whale sharks ever recorded, with more than 400 spotted feeding on spawn from the little tunny (a type of tuna) off the coast of Isla Mujeres in 2011. Swimming with these gentle giants easily ranks among the greatest snorkeling experiences in the Caribbean, if not the entire world. And you’re quite likely to see manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life along the way.
The average whale shark measures around 35 feet long and weighs approximately 20,000 pounds. So it can feel overwhelming to swim with an animal the width of a Volkswagen Beetle and the length of a school bus, with its mouth gaping open to filter-feed on krill and plankton near the water’s surface. It should be obvious why this is considered one of the world’s most adventurous animal encounters.
Thankfully, Mexico’s tourism industry is getting better about educating travelers on how to swim with whale sharks responsibly. Touching them is a no-no, and riding them is strictly forbidden. These behemoths aren’t aggressive, but they are strong, and an unpredictable tail swish could hurt. So swim beside, rather than behind them, for the best experience.
Once you’ve strapped into your life preserver, mask, snorkel, and fins, each person gets three chances to swim with the whale sharks. They move much faster than you think: The first one passed me by before I even had a chance to start kicking. But on the third attempt, I got to spend about five minutes swimming in lazy circles, hearing pumping wildly in my chest the entire time. Needless to say, it’s an incredible adventure every animal lover should experience at least once in their lifetime.
Best Snorkelling in St John, USVI
Aaron Salyer – The Dharma Trails
St John in the US Virgin Islands is one of the best snorkeling spots in the Caribbean due to its huge marine park. Around 70% of the island is a national park (and marine park) which makes conditions pristine and full of life.
Whether you want rocky outcrops covered in large forests of colorful fan coral or flat, sandy beaches with seagrass and turtles, St John has great options for all those interested in snorkeling.
If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to swim with wild dolphins around Hanson Bay (which is also where you can get a drink at the famous, floating bar, Lime Out). There are lots of amazing things to do in St John, but the variety of snorkeling opportunities is sure to keep you busy.
Make sure you hire a car for the trip (4WD is recommended) as getting around the island by bicycle is not really an option. There is a tourist shuttle bus, but it is very limited in where it goes.
If you prefer white sandy beaches with turtles and eagle rays, the north side of the island is perfect (stay in Cruz bay – Airbnb’s are a good option). Or if you’re more into the rugged, rocky edges with an abundance of marine life, the southern side of the island is more for you (stay in Coral Bay – there’s lots of great Airbnb’s to choose from).
Best Snorkeling in St. Lucia
Christina Dwiggins of Our Sweet Adventures
St. Lucia is a beautiful island full of fun activities and luxurious resorts. During your stay, one of the best activities to enjoy in St. Lucia is snorkeling. Moreover, St. Lucia is one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean if not the world! Though the entire island has great snorkeling spots, the best area to snorkel is near the beautiful resort, Anse Chastanet. Anse Chastanet is the perfect haven for snorkelers to see the amazing sea life because there’s a designated snorkeling area that is buoyed off for safety and preservation – no boats are allowed in the area.
Visitors travel from all over the island just to snorkel at this delightful site near Anse Chastanet. Moreover, you can book a snorkel excursion with St. Lucia snorkeling and visit a nearby site called Devil’s Hole. The Devil’s Hole might have a scary name but it is truly heaven with a variety of sea life to discover. This excursion is also a special treat because you can sail near the famous Gros Piton mountains. Lastly, you will probably work up an appetite after hours of snorkeling, but luckily the tour also includes rum punch cocktails, ceviche, and more!
With all of that being said, why not stay at the five-star resort, Anse Chastanet, and snorkel at these world-class spots every day! You can also stay at the sister property, Jade Mountain – voted the best hotel in the Caribbean. Both resorts offer incredible all-inclusive plans to enjoy delicious food, boozy drinks, and of course fun activities like snorkeling.
Best Snorkeling in Turks and Caicos
Nikki of She Saves She Travels
Some of the best snorkeling you’ll find in the Caribbean is in Turks and Caicos. It’s no secret Turks and Caicos has amazing beaches. But you’ll also find incredible snorkeling and diving.
The most popular island in the chain is Providenciales, although it’s not crowded with tourists. For top-notch snorkeling right off the coast, you have two options, the reef at Bight Beach or the beach at Smith’s Reef. Both offer phenomenal snorkeling without an excursion.
Here’s what you’ll get at each.
Bight Beach is busier yet has more amenities. You’ll find restaurants, restrooms and even vendors selling trinkets.
The sand is ultra-soft so to go snorkeling at Bight Beach, so all you’ll need is a snorkeling mask, and fins if you want them. Oh, and don’t forget the reef-safe sunblock.
Underwater, you’ll find a gorgeous, vibrant reef with tons to see, including stingrays.
Your other option for snorkeling right off the coast is Smith’s Reef. (It was actually my favorite) The beach at Smith’s Reef is less crowded and I saw more fish.
Set up your beach towel for the day. Time to experience some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean! Smith’s Reef is made up of reef clusters so it’s fun to swim from spot to spot catching fish along the way.
Entering the water at Smith’s Reef can be a bit more challenging because the spot where the waves hit the shore is made of large slippery rock. Water shoes are highly recommended. If you’re using snorkeling fins you’ll want to put them on when you’re about waist-deep in the water for safety. Snorkeling Turks and Caicos is definitely one of the best spots in the Caribbean.
Best Places to Snorkel in The Caribbean Conclusion
There are so many great snorkeling recommendations for the Caribbean as well as many that have not been mentioned. I hope this list has inspired you to snorkel on your next island getaway.
Do you have a favorite place to snorkel?
If you are looking for some more travel inspiration, check out:
- The Best Beaches in Turks and Caicos
- The Luxury Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada
- Best Montego Bay Excursions
- Best Things to Do at Atlantis, Bahamas
- Things to do in Exuma, Bahamas
- Traditional Food in Jamaica
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