Snorkeling Around the Globe: 15 Best Underwater Locations

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Stephanie is a cherished member of the Sampling America writing team, dedicated to crafting captivating narratives that transport readers to thrilling adventures across the country and beyond.

For many people who need more time or athleticism to get scuba dive certified, snorkeling is a fantastic activity without all the red tape.

All over the planet, travelers can experience unique reefs, colorful sea life, and entire ecosystems from snorkeling just below the ocean’s surface. Spending time in the ocean is the perfect opportunity to experience entirely new worlds. 

Follow our list of the 15 best snorkeling locations worldwide for your next family vacation.

San Cristóbal, Galápagos

San Cristobal Galapagos
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One of the most fun things about visiting the Galápagos islands is the fact that the wildlife is extremely friendly due to the lack of predators. 

You can get ultra close to marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and sea lions. When snorkeling, you’ll see a bevy of colorful wildlife in crystal clear water and vibrant reefs. 

Loreto, Mexico

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Known as the “world’s aquarium,” the biodiversity in the waters of Loreto is unlike any other on the globe.

Visit the Loreto Bay National Marine Park, which comprises five separate islands. Alone on these islands, you can dip your feet in and see different types of mobula rays, bottlenose dolphins, seals, and even sea turtles.

If you’re lucky, you can even hear the songs of humpback whales underwater while snorkeling at Danzante Island.


Image Credit: Depositphotos.

Curaçao is the sister island to Aruba and Bonaire in the Caribbean Sea; it’s part of the ABC islands and remains a Dutch colony.

Here, you can visit more than 30 beaches on this island. At the Curaçao Underwater Park, you can swim through several shallow shipwrecks from real pirates while seeing the tube sponges, coral, and sea turtles.


Bonaire 1
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As one of the world’s leading coral conservation areas, Bonaire has some of the most thriving coral reefs in the world.

You’ll only need to pay $40 to visit the Bonaire National Marine Park, which covers the entire coastline of the Caribbean island. You’ll see parrot fish, staghorn corals, and even pink flamingos when snorkeling.

Rangiroa, Tahiti

Rangiroa Tahiti
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Known for the best beaches and clearest water, Tahiti should be on any sealife enthusiast’s bucket list. When snorkeling and swimming in the waters of Rangiroa, you’ll experience some of the friendliest dolphins in the world. 

Visit the Blue Lagoon to see fish swarm right around your feet. You’ll also see baby shark nurseries near shore and black-tip reef sharks.

Mikura-jima, Japan

Beach in Japan
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To get to this stunning snorkeling location in Japan, you’ll need to take an eight-hour overnight ferry to get there. Many say it’s worth the journey.

South of Tokyo, this is one of the only places where you can snorkel with Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. The waters here can be pretty rough, so you’ll need to experience this activity with trained guides.

Cayman Islands 

Cayman Islands
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At Grand Cayman Island, you can snorkel at Stingray City to see a fleet of more than 50 unique stingrays.

Visitors are actually given stingray treats to feed these exciting sea creatures. The waters are only five feet deep, making for an extremely easy snorkeling and swimming experience. Even those less experienced can have an excellent time swimming and exploring here.

Turks & Caicos

Turks Caicos
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At this tiny Caribbean island, the White House Reef Snorkel Trail is a marked area for tourists looking to see barracuda, spiny lobster, and small sharks.

You can also consider taking a boat cruise to the small island of Salt Cay to swim with humpback whales and other large sea life.

Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai Hawaii 2
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On this small Hawaiian Island, visitors can expect to swim with giant sea turtles next to a lush jungle.

On most beaches on the island, you can explore on your own to see unique and colorful fish. For bigger areas with reefs, you might need a guide to ensure you’re staying safe next to strong currents.

Whitsunday Islands, Australia 

Whitsunday Islands Australia
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To see one of the most unique reefs in the world, head to Bait Reef on the Whitsunday Islands in Australia.

There are about 20 unique reefs; they rise from a depth of about 80 feet and are covered with striking coral. Between these flat-topped reefs, you’ll see an array of colorful tropical fish that swarm through the formations.

Moorea, French Polynesia

Moorea French Polynesia
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While most people will opt to visit Tahiti or Bora Bora, French Polynesia is a beautiful vacation destination.

However, Moorea is a relatively non-busy area for snorkelers to visit, and some herald it as one of the last undiscovered vacation spots.

You can either go on your snorkel vacation to see black-tip reef sharks or take a tour guide through deeper waters to see many different types of sea life.

The Seychelles

The Seychelles
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Just off the West coast of Africa sits the Seychelles, a nation of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. Although extraordinarily remote and relatively difficult to get to, some islands only recently upgraded from small wooden boats to transport tourists; the islands have some of the best beaches in the world.

These unique islands offer Bengal snappers, parrotfish, sea turtles, and surgeonfish. You can even book a private island escape on one of the North Islands.

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Phi Phi Islands Thailand
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Touring the tropical jungles and beaches in Southeast Asia is incomplete without visiting the giant cliffs surrounding snorkeling and scuba diving in Thailand’s clear waters.

You’ll need to take long boats from the mainland to Pi Leh Bay to experience this unique experience. 

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Vieques Puerto Rico
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Vieques is off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico and remains an undeveloped area. The remote beach hosts a bevy of marine life.

Bring everything that you’ll need for the day, as this island doesn’t offer amenities or rentals. This area might be challenging to access, but it’s worth the trip.

Palawan, Philippines

Palawan Philippines
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Known as one of the best tropical islands in Asia, Palawan is a fantastic mixture of tropical jungle and coral reefs.

About an hour’s flight from Manila, the snorkeling here will impress anyone well-versed in exploring marine life.

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Apostle Islands
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Olympic National Park Hoh Rainforest
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