Ever wish you could roll out of bed and head straight into the sea to explore the reefs? We’ve rounded up the eight best Caribbean resorts for snorkeling, where the underwater attractions are so close by, you just may decide to sleep in your fins.
There’s ample snorkeling surrounding this private-island resort in the British Virgin Islands, but the best is off White Bay Beach. Descend the steep hill from your room and find yourself amid a sea of fish within just a few feet of shore. Venture deeper into the sea — and watch for dive-bombing pelicans while you’re at it — where you will find low-profile spur-and-groove reefs begging to be explored.
Glover’s Atoll Resort & Island Lodge
Campsites, rustic dorms and overwater thatch cabins punctuate this pristine, 9-acre cay in Belize’s Glover’s Marine Reserve. The lagoon’s widespread patch reefs provide endless shallow wanderings and are surrounded by 50 miles of sheer drop-offs, which lure an array of marine life. On the eastern and northern sides of the cay, underwater canyons begin at depths of 25 feet and plunge to the thousands, while spires line the southern side, and stacked layers of reef descend on the west.
Accommodations don’t get much more snorkel- and dive-friendly than those actually built over the water, like the bungalows and cabanas at CocoView in Roatan, Honduras. Guests have 24-hour access to the resort’s undersea “front yard,” including the famed CocoView Wall, where coral rises to within 5 feet of the surface. With plenty of octopus and other critters in the shallows, this is also a wonderful place for night snorkeling.
The Landings St. Lucia
Explore one of the Caribbean’s most scenic underwater settings at Saint Lucia’s The Landings, a Rock Resort property. Tropical fish and marine life — including flounder, blue tang, parrot fish, squirrel fish, spiny lobster, arrow crabs and octopus — are just a few of the underwater surprises that await, in addition to a wide range of coral life.
A giant rock formation divides the swank St. Thomas resort’s duo of white-sand beaches, and you can explore the reef that branches out from the wall by simply wading in. Elkhorn coral and yellow sea fans provide a backdrop for silvery baitfish and the predators they attract — jacks, snappers and barracudas. Check in with the on-site dive center for night snorkel excursions and sailing/snorkeling cruises to neighboring reefs.
Just beyond the stretch of Grace Bay Beach that fringesProvo’s boutique Coral Gardens resort, you’ll find Bight Reef and its scenic snorkeling trail featuring thriving coral. Submerged placards in three to 16 feet of crystalline water introduce snorkelers to the reef’s inhabitants — multiple species of tropical fish, crustaceans and invertebrates.
Tucked away from the Seven Mile Beach traffic in a quiet area just one mile south of George Town, Grand Cayman, Sunset House offers great snorkeling beginning about 20 yards from the pool and bar. The resort’s dive shop has a site map that will guide you to the wreck of the <em>Nicholson</em> as well as to Amphrite, a 9-foot-tall bronze mermaid — or you can simply glide amid the resident turtles, eels and rays.
The reef beckons from the water’s edge at the south end of Anse Chastanet Beach, a popular swath of salt-and-pepper sand on Saint Lucia’s southwestern coast. The resort itself exudes a laid-back eco vibe, but still offers all of the top-notch amenities you’d expect to find in a luxury property. In the water, watch for peacock flounders, needlefish and turtles in the shallow areas. Lucky snorkelers may even spot an octopus. Deeper offshore, the reef teems with marine life around dense coral.