Best Islands for Snorkeling

See which spots you’ve already visited for snorkeling and scuba diving, and which spots you want to see next.

Something happens as soon as we immerse ourselves into the sea: Our breathing slows, but our pulse quickens, as we are submerged in a world vastly different from our own. Along a vibrant reef, colors run rampant, and shapes seem gleaned from surreal imagination. The ocean depths are teeming with life unseen—we’re no longer in Kansas.

Plain and simple, you are surrounded by life that survives, lives and thrives in drastically, completely different ways than its above-sea level counterparts. These are the mysterious joys and wonders you can experience when snorkeling the best spots in the world.

As with almost everything, there are some locations that are better to snorkel at than others. Whether you’re keen on snorkeling in the Caribbean or want to go further west for snorkeling in Hawaii, here’s our list of the best islands for snorkeling.

Snorkeling in the Caribbean

From swimming with whale sharks and dolphins to snorkeling off the coasts of an uninhabited island, snorkeling in the Caribbean is an experience comparable to none. Step out of the Rockhouse Hotel in Jamaica, and dive into aquarium-like conditions. Fancy an encounter with sea turtles? Cayo Diablo National Park in Puerto Rico is the place to be. Other top snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean include the USVI, Grand Cayman and Bonaire. 

Snorkeling in Hawaii

Thinking of a Hawaiian vacation without considering the water is like going to the DMV and thinking there won’t be a line: It’s just not possible. And there’s a good reason for that. 

Hawaii is among the world’s best places to go snorkeling because of the protected marine areas around each island. Snorkeling in Hawaii offers opportunities to see a variety of sea life and to explore each island and their respective attractions. While each island technically helps make up all of Hawaii, each one is unique from the other. 

Try snorkeling in Maui, and explore its beaches. Or watch sea turtles “bathe” while snorkeling in Oahu. Enjoy sunbathing? Check out Nukoli Beach Park after snorkeling in Kauai. And if you’re a beginner, Kahaluu Beach Park is a great place to go snorkeling on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Snorkeling in the South Pacific

You’ll have countless snorkeling options if you ever find yourself in the South Pacific. From Fiji to the French Polynesia, including the islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea, snorkeling is a must when in the region.