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Top 10 Places to Snorkel in the World

Updated on November 16, 2014

Scuba Diving isn't for everyone...but Snorkeling most definitely is!

If you can swim and are comfortable in water deeper than you can touch, you can snorkel. Most people are hooked from the first time that they see the underwater world and can't believe that this whole world existed that they knew nothing about. Snorkeling requires minimal equipment and you can do it off the beach at most resort islands around the world, so it's basically free. The best part about it is that you can see just about anything, depending on where you go and your luck. Turtles, sharks, manta rays, it's all possible! Check out my choices for the top snorkeling destinations in the world. Plan your next Tropical Vacation around one of these places and I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

sulawesi-snorkeling.jpg
sulawesi-snorkeling.jpg

#1: Bunaken National Marine Park, Indonesia

Indonesia is home to the greatest variety of marine species anywhere in the world. This phenomenal snorkeling paradise is located in Northern Sulawesi in a park consisting of 97% water. The park contains more than 2500 species of fish and the coral are spectacular, due to the efforts of the local communities and the park to protect it.

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snorkel-great-barrier-reef.jpg

#2: The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is a must-see for any scuba diver or snorkeler. It is massive, stretching 1400 miles and covering an area the size of California. Most companies run day-trips from the mainland, but there are a few islands you can stay on that offer fantastic snorkeling right off the beach. You'll see rays, turtles, nudibranches, fish, and of course spectacular coral.

Speedo Snorkeling Set

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surin-islands.jpg

#3: The Surin Islands, Thailand

The Surin Islands are a beautiful group of islands, that slope gradually away from the shore and surrounded by spectacular coral and marine life. They make an ideal spot for snorkeling. They can be accessed by day-trips from either Phuket, or Khao Lak or you can camp overnight on the island and enjoy a 3-day, or even longer adventure. Think of floating the day away on a hammock, interspersed with a little snorkeling in between.

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sipadan.jpg

#4: Sipadan, Malaysian Borneo

This site is often considered the top scuba diving spot in the world and the snorkeling is world-class as well. You'll see stunning coral, a massive number of fish, sharks and more turtles than you can count. Nearby Mabul and Kapalai also have snorkeling that is well-worth a visit. You can access the sites by 1-hour speedboat from Semporna, or you can stay on nearby Mabul in one of the resorts.

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caribbean-snorkeling.jpg

#5: The Caribbean

There are many amazing snorkeling spots in the Caribbean, if you know where to look. Some of the best ones are:

-Nicaragua's Big Corn Island that features stingrays, morays and plenty of weird and wacky fish to keep you entertained.

-Culebra, Flamenco Beach, and Jost Van Dyke are also fabulous snorkeling spots with turtles, squid, eagle rays. These sites have the bonus of being far away from the crowds.

The Caribbean is conducive to island-hopping, so check out a few while you're there. It's an easy flight from almost anywhere in North America, and the food and entertainment choices are top-notch.

Are you a snorkeler or scuba diver?

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galapagos-snorkeling.jpg

#6: The Galapagos Islands

Made famous by Charles Darwin, as the basis for his theories of evolution the Galapagos Islands are a world-class snorkeling destination. The waters are quite shallow, making it an easy place to spot turtles, huge schools of fish, seals and if you're lucky hammerheads or sharks.

On land, there is stunning scenery and the famous giant tortoise and lizards. Most people visit on small cruise ships, which offer some beach and snorkel time.

#7: The Maldives

The Maldives are an archipelago of 1200 islands, but visitors are restricted to about 90 resort islands. The resorts are upscale, appealing to those who want a vacation with white-sand beaches, fine food, top-notch diving and surfing. Each resort has a "house-reef" which is perfect for snorkelers who want to check out the huge array of colorful tropical fish.

belize-snorkeling.jpg
belize-snorkeling.jpg

#8: Belize

Located just South of Mexico, this tropical destination is only a 1/2 day's flight from major airport hubs in the USA. It has a massive amount of coral reefs, which offer excellent snorkeling. Don't forget to check out the famous "Blue-Hole" which offers a few shallow spots for snorkelers. There is plenty to do on land as well and you'll enjoy checking out the villages and meeting some of the locals.

bali-snorkeling.jpg
bali-snorkeling.jpg

#9: Bali, Indonesia

One of the most famous island resorts in the world, this island will be everything you love about tourism as well as everything you hate. There is a little bit of something here for everyone, including local culture, world-class restaurants and resorts, backpacker accommodation, and a very active nightlife.

However, many people come for the snorkeling and diving, which is phenomenal. Indonesia is home to greatest diversity of marine life on Earth, so you won't be disappointed checking out some of the stunning coral reefs.

bonaire-snorkeling.jpg
bonaire-snorkeling.jpg

#10: Bonaire

This island in the Caribbean is a diver and snorkeler's paradise: it even says so on the local's license plates! Snorkeling can be compared to being dropped off in an aquarium of tropical fish. There are a few other attractions including mountain biking, other watersports and secluded beaches, but most people come for what's underwater.

Where's your next Snorkeling Destination?

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    • rasgriz profile image

      rasgriz 3 years ago

      maldives is the best.. but i can recommend you to snorkel in ambon indonesia

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Maldives is the best!

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 4 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      I can't snorkel anymore as I have a couple of medical conditions which make it difficult for me. Hpwever I was lucky enough to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays long ago. An unforgettable experience. I also snorkelled in the Greek islands, where my usband saw a lion fish. My husband has done a fair bit of diving and once (under supervision) stroked a grey nurse shark. I would love to be able to scuba dive.

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 4 years ago

      Awesome lens. Some of these sites i wish I would have had a chance to dive them. I did most of my snorkels and dives around Oahu. One place in particular was "Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve - Hawaii Kai - Honolulu, HI" that you didn't mention in your Best 10 Sites. If you get a chance you should try a dive there and you would agree. Beautiful dive. Also did some snorkels and dives around the other chain Islands; snorkeled Midway, Guam, Philippines, Japan, Australia and Taiwan. Saw a lot of beautiful sea life. Always wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Oh well...maybe in another life.

      Thank You for visiting my The Apocalypse or Doomsday December 21, 2012 lens and giving it a "thumbs up" as I appreciate it.

    • Bercton1 profile image

      Bercton1 6 years ago

      Fascinating diving sites! nice lens! Have you heard of Speyside in the Caribbean one of the most popular site for the largest brain coral in the world?

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I love the water but I prefer to do my breathing naturally so I don't scuba dive. Wonderful diving choices though for those who do enjoy this fascinating sport.

    • AQuintinSmith profile image

      AQuintinSmith 6 years ago from Paradise on Earth

      I love the British Virgin Islands and would like to go back. Nice lens, great pictures.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've snorkeled some in the Caribbean and also in the Red Sea, which was incredible. But I always have to remind myself not to let my mouth hang open -- to keep it ON the snorkel -- because what I see on those reefs just amazes me. Great top ten lens. *Blessed