Why Try Snorkeling?
Snorkeling is an amazing activity to try while renting a boat or enjoying a boat cruise. Whether you’re trying it in your local area or putting on your mask and snorkel during a trip abroad, you’ll get a glimpse of the amazing world that lives beneath the surface of the waves.
Snorkeling is a wonderful activity for travelers of all ages, from young kids to the elderly. In calm waters with the right flotation equipment, you can spend hours floating on the surface, seeing fish swim below you in coral reefs and underwater foliage. Snorkeling tours on catamarans or motor yachts are a popular choice for travelers all over the world.
What to Bring on a Snorkeling Trip
While most boat cruise operators who offer snorkeling will provide you with a mask, snorkel, fins, and a lifejacket, always double-check to see what is included when you book. Don’t forget to bring sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen, protective clothing, and plenty of water to stay hydrated. Make sure you charge your GoPro or camera batteries beforehand, and it’s a good idea to have a dry change of clothes.
Snorkeling Gear 101
If snorkeling is something you LOVE to do, it’s a good idea to invest in your own equipment. You can buy the perfect mask for your face, some fins that fit your feet comfortably and have the peace of mind that your mouth is the only mouth going on your snorkel. You can find scuba shops all around the world with knowledgeable staff who can help you find the perfect gear to fit your face and feet.
Best Snorkeling Destinations in the World
In addition to snorkeling in beloved places like Hawaii in the blue lagoons around Oahu, there are tons of amazing destinations around the world to enjoy a snorkeling tour. Here are a few ideas on places to pencil in a snorkeling excursion on your next adventures.
It’s a popular vacation escape for North American travelers, as well as visitors from Europe and increasingly from all over the world. The Caribbean is home to rich cultures, warm weather, sunny skies, and beautiful boating and snorkeling opportunities. Here are some of the top destinations in the Caribbean for a snorkeling experience:
Grand Cayman & Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman & the Cayman Islands are undoubtedly the top destination in the Caribbean for a snorkeling excursion. With crystal-clear turquoise waters, warm temperatures, and calm surface conditions, jumping in with your mask and snorkel will take you on adventures of seeing stingrays, fish, and other marine life. Many snorkeling tours in Grand Cayman leave from the capital George Town.
Stingray Cay is a popular destination in the Cayman Islands for visitors to check out for hours of fun snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing while on vacation. Rent a boat in the Cayman Islands for a private snorkeling excursion, or book yourself on a group boat tour. On a boat cruise or charter, you can enjoy a stop at a sandbar, and drinks and food.
Aruba is a fantastic destination to go snorkeling, with a variety of hot spots for diving and snorkeling around the island. The best stop for snorkelers on Aruba is Mangel Halto, which is accessible on a boat tour or even from shore. Other sites for scuba diving and snorkeling around Aruba include Arashi Beach, Catalina Cove, Puerto Chiquito, and Antilla Wreck. Boat tours for snorkeling leave from Oranjestad and Barcadera. The barrier islands and marine reserves are home to schools of fish, marine animals, and lots of beautiful coral reefs. Underwater photographers love the ABC islands for all the amazing wildlife they can see under the waves.
US Virgin Islands
The main destinations in the US Virgin Islands for vacationers are St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. Vacationers looking to snorkel during their trip to USVI will be pleased to learn there are snorkeling trails and wonderful protected areas where they can find and identify gorgeous species of fish while swimming in the calm waters of the Caribbean. Watermelon Cay in St. John is a popular snorkeling spot, it’s home to a reef with lots of turtles, rays, and fish.
St. Thomas has some great underwater attractions for snorkelers - including shipwrecks and gardens. See octopus, colorful fish, turtles, and eels swimming about in the rocks and corals of St. Thomas on a snorkeling trip. The US Virgin Islands are a wonderful family vacation destination, and snorkeling is an activity you can enjoy with your kids - who will love seeing fish and swimming in the sea.
On the Gulf side of Mexico, Islas Mujeres stands out as an exceptional snorkeling destination. Not only do you have the guarantee of warm, clear waters and schools of fish, but there’s a good chance that you’ll be swimming amongst the largest fish in the sea. Whale sharks are commonly spotted around Islas Mujeres, and on a boat tour with snorkel stops you’ll have the opportunity to swim with these gentle giants.
Would you rather see a shipwreck, coral reef, sunken sculpture park, or an underwater volcano on a snorkeling trip? Well, in Grenada, you don’t have to choose. This tiny island nation in the Caribbean has it all - it’s a paradise for scuba diving and snorkeling experiences. Go snorkeling from shore with your mask and fins or book a boat tour to explore around the island and stop at the best spots in Grenada. A snorkeling tour can take you to the sculpture park, a fascinating and eerie snorkeling spot near Moliniere Point. Swim around statues and see fish that inhabit the various spots around Grenada for an unforgettable snorkeling experience.
The Indian Ocean offers some incredible marine life, coral reefs, and snorkeling opportunities. If you're traveling around Asia on a backpacking trip or visiting specific countries and destinations on the coast, make sure you get out on the water at least once. Add a snorkeling excursion on to your vacation in Asia to have an unforgettable day seeing turtles, fish, and many underwater attractions.
Bali is an affordable destination to try a snorkeling excursion. If you’re traveling with a small group, you can even get a great deal on a private boat tour with a captain to take you out for a day of cruising and stopping at snorkel spots. Explore the reefs and popular spots with turtles, underwater sculpture gardens, and lagoons full of fish and marine life. Book a boat charter in Bali for the perfect activity and way to enjoy your vacation.
It’s no secret that Thailand is a popular destination in Asia for scuba diving, and snorkeling follows the same logic. There are beautiful things under the sea in Thailand, and snorkeling excursions are a fantastic way to experience them. Snorkel in Krabi and the Phi Phi Islands, Ko Samui, Ko Tao, and Phuket are some of the best places in Thailand to strap on your snorkel gear and hit the water. The Andaman Sea is home to incredible fish species, rocky reefs, manta rays, stunning corals, and more. Book a boat cruise in Thailand to head out snorkeling and explore more of what this beautiful country has to offer.
A gorgeous part of Indonesia, Komodo Island National Park has some unbelievable snorkeling, teeming with marine life unlike anywhere else in the world. Get up close and personal with the magnificent reefs of the islands that comprise this marine protected area. Indonesia has some remarkable natural beauty, where you can swim with giant manta rays, photograph sparkling fish, and enjoy it all in warm waters year-round.
Comprised of hundreds of islands, the Philippines is home to some excellent snorkeling. With hidden bays and lagoons, stunning beaches, and transparent waters, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy snorkeling during your travels. Book a boat tour in the Philippines from popular snorkeling destinations like Cebu, Palawan, or Coron. The Philippines is a wonderful destination to enjoy by boat, so don’t hesitate to go cruising while you’re there. A popular choice for travelers to the Philippines is a whale shark snorkeling tour, most leaving from Oslob near Cebu. See whale sharks in person and have an incredible experience in the Philippines.
Heading to the land down under? Australia is home to some incredible snorkeling opportunities - so be sure to bring your gear.
Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tours
It’s no question that the Great Barrier Reef is a major attraction for anyone making the trip to Australia. If you aren’t a scuba diver, you must at least try a snorkeling tour while you’re here, to see the beautiful reef and all the marine life that inhabits it. Snorkeling tours of the Great Barrier Reef often leave from Cairns, or you can explore it on a Whitsunday Island’s tour from Airlie Beach. Scuba diving and snorkeling are experiences you must have while traveling around the east coast of Australia.
Ningaloo Reef Snorkeling
On Australia’s West Coast is one of the best-kept secrets of the entire country and that is the Ningaloo Reef. While it’s difficult to reach, being a day’s drive from the major west coast city of Perth if you have the time and the desire for adventure, make your way to Exmouth for snorkeling and scuba diving. You can see whale sharks, untouched marine habitats, and countless fish while snorkeling in Exmouth on the Ningaloo Reef.
Staying Safe While Snorkeling
Safety is always a priority while on the water, no matter where you are or what activities you’re enjoying. Here are some of our top tips to stay safe:
- Always snorkel with a buddy; even if you’re out with a big group, make sure you verbally agree to stick with at least one person for the duration of the experience.
- Wear the appropriate flotation devices for the water conditions and your swimming abilities
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water before jumping in.
- Wear sunscreen! In tropical destinations where the sun is strong, you can end up with some pretty bad burns on your backside if you don’t protect yourself while snorkeling
- Stay close to the shore or boat. Don’t wander too far off from safety - rip currents, strong waves, or a sudden change in weather could pose serious risks, and make it difficult for others to find you.
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