On your next Caribbean vacation, that beautiful water will beg you to dive in -- so heed that call. A Caribbean escape is complete only after you've had the fins swishing on your feet, water enveloping your body, and a mask covering -- and truly opening -- your eyes. As part of the "Perfect Caribbean" guide that appears in the November 2009 issue of ISLANDS magazine, readers and editors point to these Caribbean snorkel spots as their favorites.
Bahamas: Nassau Even just sailing from Miami toward the well-traveled waters of Nassau, reader Mary Harbocian found terrific snorkeling. "We crept into small coves and watched dolphins jump and play in our wake. It was all slow and sensuous. But I think my favorite time was when the captain threw over the anchor in about 30 feet of water with no land in sight. I put on goggles and slipped into this warm, clear bath. It was white sand and hundreds of starfish as far as I could see, like an upside-down night sky."
Bonaire: Leeward Shore Bonaire's sites are known for the yellow stones that mark spots on the leeward side. "We scheduled dives for the morning, then found ourselves snorkeling all afternoon in many of the spots, most of which are accessible by land," says Robert Otrupchak of New Jersey. "We've since tried other heralded sites and still attest that Bonaire offers the best in the Caribbean."
USVI: Almost Anywhere Readers especially love snorkeling in the waters weaving through the U.S. Virgin Islands. Judy Shook will never forget the two huge eagle rays that circled her at Haulover Bay. Dane Lesser claims Waterlemon Cay is the best of all. And Buck Island "can't be beat," says Christina St. Pierre, though Kurt Barbuscio says the same of Coki Beach.
More Favorite Snorkel Spots Readers couldn't come to a consensus, but there are fans of Aruba's Boca Catalina, Grand Cayman's Rum Point, the Bahamas' San Salvador, the Turks & Caicos' Princess Alexandra Land and Sea National Park, as well as the Grenadines' Mustique Island ("Better than the Great Barrier Reef," says Betsy Cairns of New Mexico). And wherever the perfect snorkeling is in the Caribbean, reader Debbra Dunning Brouillette says, "I love that every Caribbean island has its own personality and unique qualities, even underwater. Whether diving a shallow reef, exploring a wreck, or spotting an eagle ray or nurse shark, there is really never a dull day on a Caribbean reef."