About 71% of the earth’s surface is water, so there’s no shortage of flora and fauna waiting to be discovered in the oceans. These amazing dive sites are great places to plan a scuba or snorkel trip to remember!
1. Buck Island, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Looking for a tropical location to try your hand at snorkeling? Buck Island – located off the coast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands – is the perfect place for diving and snorkeling beginners to get their feet wet. (And the rest of themselves too!)
Swim with tropical fish along the coral barrier reefs, and keep your eyes peeled for the three different species of sea turtle that inhabit the island. The azure, gentle waters of Buck Island are perfect for all ages and experience levels to take an awe-inspiring dunk. Just grab some gear and dive in right in – the water’s fine!
2. The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Tourists who want to see a true diversity of wildlife flock to the Galápagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago located off the Pacific coast of South America.
Apart from their obvious volcanic activity, these islands are most famous for one of their most prominent guests. Charles Darwin was inspired by the species of finches he observed during a visit in 1835; his discoveries prompted him to develop his theory of evolution.
The Galápagos is the best place to encounter larger marine animals such as whales, dolphins, turtles, and sharks, and these creatures are extremely friendly. You can even meet a sea lion or a group of penguins on land if you want to take a break from snorkeling.
3. The Big Island, Hawaii
What better place to take a dive than the paradise of Hawaii? With its picturesque beaches, swaying palms, and friendly people, the Big Island is the perfect place to explore all the Pacific Ocean has to offer. From dolphins to green sea turtles, it’s a tantalizing stop for scuba divers and snorkelers alike.
Pay a visit to the underwater state park at Kealakekua Bay, where you can swim among fluorescent, multi-colored fish, dolphins, and turtles, check out the Captain James Cook Monument, or head over to Honaunau Bay to watch tropical fish swim among the vibrant coral gardens.
The Aloha State is the place to be when it comes to observing the most magnificent marine life.
4. Palau, Micronesia
The archipelago of Palau – southeast of the Philippines – is made up of over 500 islands. It’s a pretty remote vacation destination, but it is filled with plenty of water activities for the entire family.
Palau’s most renowned snorkeling spot is Jellyfish Lake, an isolated body of water containing millions of jellyfish that are completely harmless. This once-in-a-lifetime dive doesn’t include the risk of being stung, making it safe for even the most timid diver. It only takes a boat ride and a brief hike to reach Jellyfish Lake, but if you would rather do something more low-key you can always swim the reefs along the coast. It shouldn’t take long before you make some underwater friends!
5. Palawan, The Philippines
Comprising of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines really is a diver’s dream. This Southeast Asian nation has plenty of coastlines to explore, and the province of Palawan is home to a ton of exciting and exotic oceanic life. Snorkel in the Bay of Donsol and swim above 20-foot whale sharks, or explore the stunning coral reefs of Noa Noa Island. There’s no shortage of lagoons filled with ostentatious starfish if you feel like keeping your dive simple.
6. Solomon Islands
This dreamy paradise is home to a portion of the Coral Triangle. This area is the final resting place for countless warships, including those sunk during World War II. Although the sunken warships are best seen by deep-sea dive, this is also a premier location for snorkelers. Mary Island and Uepi Island are two pristine snorkeling spots where you don’t have to travel far offshore to marvel at the coral reef or see batfish and sharks in their natural habitat. Experienced divers, or those simply trying on their snorkel mask are welcome.
7. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef needs no introduction. Located off the northeastern coast of Australia, this reef has likely existed in one form or another for 500,000 years. It’s not one reef per se; it’s about 2,900 individual reefs stretching across more than 1,600 miles. It’s so massive that you can see it from outer space. This enormous eco-system is bustling with all different kinds of marine life. Turtles, sharks, dolphins, and endless tropical fish inhabit the area, which is made up of 600 different types of soft and hard coral. Start your snorkel at Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland for the easiest way to observe the reef and all of its ocean residents.
8. Isla Holbox, Mexico
Isla Holbox is a sleepy island off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with a very eco-conscious mindset. There isn’t a single car on Holbox, its residents opting to get around by golf cart instead. It will come as no surprise that this little island is one of the best places to swim with whale sharks. Despite their fearsome name, these massive beasts are extremely friendly with humans, and they can often be found snacking on plankton near the surface of the water. Plan your snorkeling trip during the summer to increase your chances of encountering one of these magnificent creatures.
To read more about Mexico, check out 15 Beautiful & Bizarre Things To Discover In Mexico.
9. The Maldives
Located literally in the middle of the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka, The Maldives are famous for its epic coastlines. Covered in sandy beaches this collection of more than 200 inhabited islands is, set in the clearest, warmest water.
Take a look below the surface of this tropical water nation and you’ll catch a glimpse of over 700 species of fish. Explore the coral, or find yourself face-to-face with an octopus or shark. Unsure if you are ready to dive just yet? No worries. The water is so perfectly seethrough you don’t even have to submerge to see what’s going on in the Indian Ocean.
But if you do decide to spend time snorkeling, you definitely will not be disappointed.
10. Coral Gardens, Belize
Coral Gardens is a great spot for those who want an easy place to explore the Caribbean — especially for those just learning how to snorkel who aren’t yet comfortable out of shallow water. Splash around and admire the colorful coral without having to go too deep; the water here is shallow and the current is not nearly as strong as it is on the outside of the reef. Observe swarms of tropical fish without harsh waves or murky water.
Getting up close and personal with marine life in their underwater eco-system is a vacation memory you will cherish forever. Time to grab your mask and dive in!