The Getaway
The Best Snorkelling Destinations Worldwide

Imagine yourself on vacation. You're surrounded by bright blue ocean with the sun kissing your shoulders warmth. You peer at the technicolor fish swimming just below. This is paradise for sure.

Snorkeling is a great hobby or travel activity that people of all ages enjoy. It doesn't require you to get a special certification or training like scuba diving. And it's very affordable compared to many other getaway activities. All you need for snorkeling is a mask, a snorkel, and a body of water. Well, and maybe a swimsuit.


01 Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville

Find one of the world's best spots for snorkeling off the southern coast of Florida. The Great Florida Reef is the only barrier reef in the US, and it's the third-largest in the world. Large coral formations and thousands of sea animals thrive in the warm waters surrounding the islands of the Florida Keys. Take advantage of the calm, shallow coastline waters. You'll be able to snap amazing underwater photos as the seas here remain mostly clear yearlong.

Woman snorkeling underwater with a Jesus Christ statue in the Coral reef of Florida Keys. Florida. USA. Artur Debat / Getty Images

02 The aquarium of the world

Snorkel the crystal-clear Gulf of California. It sits between the beautiful beaches of the Baja California Peninsula and Mexico. The protected waters are full of sea lions, dolphins, turtles, sharks, and rays. It's the best place in the world to swim with larger ocean animals. Take one of the many snorkeling charter boats into open waters. It's possible the world's largest animal, the Blue Whale, will make an appearance.

Espiritu Santos Island Stuart Westmorland / Getty Images

03 South of the shores of Ambergris Caye

Your Belize vacation starts with this morning trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve. A very affordable guide boats you from the town of San Pedro. First, you visit Shark Ray Alley. The rays and nurse sharks are used to visitors, and the rays open their mouths expecting a handout. You snap some amazing close-up photos while they swim toward you.

On the way back to land, you snorkel at Hol Chan Cut. The cut is bursting with schools of shimmering barracuda, Red Grouper, and Yellowfin. By the afternoon, you're relaxing back at your hotel, enjoying a drink under the palm trees.

Tourist snorkeling with a nurse shark, Hol Chan marine reserve, Ambergris Caye, Belize Matteo Colombo / Getty Images

04 This sprawling reef off the coast of Australia

Put the Great Barrier Reef on your travel bucket list ASAP. Experts think the largest reef system in the world will die by 2050. So, if you want to experience the colorful coral at its brightest, you should go soon.

Plan your visit during June through October to avoid jellyfish season. If you only make time for one day of snorkeling, spend it at Agincourt Reef. The location has miles of swim and dive sites ideal for seeing the best of the Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef With Sea Life RomoloTavani / Getty Images

05 A remote island in Palau

You reach the quiet village of Eil Malk to experience one of the coolest snorkeling spots in the world. This time you won't be swimming off a beachy coastline to see corals. Instead, you walk along a steep forest path to reach Jellyfish Lake.

Snorkeling under the typically sunny skies of Palau, thousands of stingless golden and moon jellyfish surround you. The jellyfish thrive without predators and with plenty of algae to eat.  You read that right. It's safe to snorkel with these jellyfish, and you'll be completely unharmed with an amazing story to share.

Female diver in Palau, with the iconic Rock island Arch in the background Global_Pics / Getty Images

06 Swim a freshwater canyon in Iceland

Snorkeler swimming in the glacier cold fissure in Silfra Thingvellir National park in Iceland between two tectonic plates with transparent crystal clear blue water

Snorkeling in the icy waters of the Silfra Fissure, you float between two continents. The glacial waters are too cold for most animals. But the rock formations below the surface create a breathtaking landscape to explore. Melting ice flows through an underwater lava field, leaving the water crystal clear. So, you can see hundreds of feet in front of you. The filtration leaves the water so clean that you can safely drink it!


07 This British Territory in the Caribbean

Instead of battling crowds of vacationers at the main Caribbean tourist traps, head for the island of Anguilla. The beaches are pristine and somewhat private since Anguilla sees fewer visitors.

Local snorkel enthusiasts love Anguilla's Crocus Bay. Wade into the quiet paradise of Crocus Bay directly from its sandy beach. Visit with the schools of fish and observe the corals growing on the small dock that extends from the shore. Then, follow the Limestone cliffs along the west end of Crocus Bay, where spiny lobsters hide. Back on the beach, there's a lovely oceanfront restaurant to grab a meal between swims.

above view at family of two snorkeling at anguilla enjoying caribbean sea, active lifestyle concept noblige / Getty Images

08 Snorkel with an endangered species

Manatee eating vegetables in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Swim with Florida Manatees at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. The endangered sea mammals live in warm, protected waters year-round. These so-called "sea cows" graze on underwater vegetation. Gathered in groups, they look like herds of cattle munching grass. Although you shouldn't initiate touching the manatees, the gentle giants often snuggle up to snorkelers. You may even see a new calf nursing from its mother.


09 Riviera Maya's underground world

Cancun, Mexico's Riviera Maya, transports you to another world. Take an excursion through the jungle to Rio Secreto. The underground river connects a system of caves and sinkholes formed over millions of years. You snorkel some of the way through dark pools of blue water lit only by a headlamp. It's eerily quiet, but schools of catfish glide below the still surface. You spend the other part of the trek on foot, weaving through the Limestone towers. They extend as tall as a person from above. And grow from the rippled stone floor. The best guides will show you the secret places on the cavern walls where Ancient Mayans drew.

Cenote scuba diving, underwater cave in Mexico Jenhung Huang / Getty Images

10 The universe inside an ancient volcano

Hanauma Bay in O'ahu, Hawaii, formed from an ancient volcano. The hole left by the volcano now houses a world of aquatic wildlife. Years of fishing and tourist traffic took its toll on the natural ecosystem. Now, Hanauma Bay is a protected park dedicated to snorkeling. You'll see the local sea turtle population returning. The bay supports a flourishing coral reef and thousands of species of fish. There's also a snack bar at Hanauma Bay, so you don't need to leave the beach to fuel up.

USA, Hawaii, Oahu, Hanauma Bay, snorkelling over coral reef John Seaton Callahan / Getty Images

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