Best places to snorkel in the Caribbean

The Caribbean could just be the most perfectly beautiful place on earth thanks to its crystal-clear aquamarine waters, powdery pure sand, and underwater worlds of wonder. Snorkeling in the Caribbean is one of the main reasons that people come to vacation to the islands. You can count on seeing periodic shipwrecks, tropical fish colored like a box of crayons, and exotic sea life such as stingrays, lobsters, and of course sharks. If you interested in what the 10 ten best places to snorkel in the Caribbean are, read on!

Cuba

Cuba is certainly one of the most exciting locations in the Caribbean thanks to its exciting culture, and on top of the unique culture, it is famous for its superb snorkeling places too such as The Bay of Pigs. This former invasion plot site today is an awe-inspiring spot in Cuba in the nation’s southern portion, three hours from party capital Havana.

Cuba - Playa Larga snorkeling
Cuba – Playa Larga

This park provides a wealth of biodiversity only several meters off the beach. You will encounter coral and hundreds of individual fish. Two of the most enduring snorkeling spots at the bay are Caleta Buena and Playa Larga, that are easily Cuba best snorkeling spots. Caleta Buena is a paradise in turquoise waters complete with underwater caves and huge gorgonians. There are restaurants here on the beach offering an incredible buffet lunch, making the day even more memorable.

Mexico

Quintana Roo, the Caribbean coast of Mexico is certainly a first-class snorkeling destination. No matter you stay at one of the wonderful resorts in Cozumel, Cancun or choose a laid-back hotel in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, excellent snorkeling places will be just a stone throw away.

Snorkeling Eden cenote - Mexico
Eden Cenote – Mexico

Missing out exploring the famous Tulum Cenotes would be definitely a mistake, but swimming with turtles in Akumal or discovering the underwater statues in the Cancun Underwater Museum while snorkeling in Punta Nizuc are also unforgettable adventures!

Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe has a wide variety of beautiful snorkeling spots sprinkled throughout this French island. The best might be the famous Cousteau Underwater Park, clearly the island’s best known and primary snorkeling and diving spot. It is named for the giant of the oceanographic world who loved diving here. Another great spot to snorkel is found at the offshore island Les Saintes where visitors can observe underwater trees. You can also go out to Marie-Galante to see colorful reefs.

St Anne beach - Guadeloupe
St Anne Beach

Cayman Islands

If it comes to snorkeling in the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands’ clear and warm waters provide superb conditions for some underwater exploration all year round. The Cayman Islands main base for tourists is Grand Cayman’s capital, George Town. Snorkelers are sure to love the Wreck of the Cali that appeals especially to children who love looking at old freighters and the accompanying resident tropical fish. Fortunately, the wreck lies in shallow waters and counts octopus, eels, and sea urchins among its more permanent residents.

Nurse shark in Grand Cayman
Nurse shark in Grand Cayman

For sea turtles, butterflyfish, and snappers you can visit other Grand Cayman snorkeling places like the Cheeseburger Reef which lies only 150 yards off the beach at George Town’s northern end. All ages and skill levels of snorkelers can enjoy this sandy entrance to the underwater world where a wide variety of sea creatures are waiting including harmless nurse sharks. Visitors can also sign up for a Stingray City tour here to snorkel with stingrays.

Aruba

Aruba boasts incredibly shallow waters and a wealth of underwater treasures to take in on snorkeling expeditions. The island’s most impressive snorkeling spot is the 400 feet long Antilla shipwreck from the Second World War. It is in only 60 feet deep water where snorkelers will also be able to take in the resident moray eels, octopus, groupers, and schools of tropical fish.

Malmok beach - Aruba, Caribbean
Malmok Beach

There are many superb snorkeling beaches in Aruba thanks to the calm, shallow waters which are ideal for beginners and also for little children. The most popular spots are Baby Beach, Boca Catalina, Arashi and Malmok with breathtaking sponges, coral, and tropical colored fish.

Belize

Belize boasts the world’s second-largest barrier coral reef that is hands down one of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean. Ambergris Caye holds the reputation as the headquarters for snorkeling in this tiny Central American nation. Belize is justifiably renowned for its legendary dive sites, crystal clear waters, and a wide variety of marine animals. There are plenty of fine resorts near the Belize Barrier reef, making it easy to stay and play longer.

Ambergis cay - Belize
Ambergis Cay

St John, US Virgin Islands

One of the most beautiful and unspoiled places in the world today is St. John Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. A not-to-miss our snorkeling spot is the world-leading beach, Trunk Bay that is a 673-foot-long paradise with self-guided snorkeling trails. There are even submerged signs that depict the different kinds of coral and animals that play in a mere 20 feet underwater depth.

White sandy beaches in St John Usvi
White sandy beaches in St John Usvi

A more hidden gem beloved by the locals exists on the east end of St. John in Haulover North. This spot that abuts the Virgin Islands National Park is the locals’ best recommendation. As an added bonus when you visit St. John, you have nearby St. Thomas the larger of the two sister islands with its strangely shaped coral reef and brightly colored fish. You can even participate in the Cruzan Rum Snorkel Booze Hunt at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort for a unique snorkeling meet treasure hunt experience in the U.S. Virgin Islands. These rum bottles are produced right there in the neighboring sister island St. Croix.

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is a whole nation that is the ultimate beach paradise and easily among the best snorkeling in the eastern Caribbean. The majority of their 365 individual beaches are perfect and open right out onto calm and clear waters that are inhabited by rainbow-colored tropical fish. The marine life here is dense, featuring bright sea anemones, brain corals and elkhorn corals. The top snorkeling spots on Antigua are Cades Reef and Bird Island.

The clear waters of Antigua Barbuda
Antigua Barbuda

St. John’s the capital lies on the island’s opposite side from Cades Reef, which is a two-mile stretch of barrier reef that is chocked full of submarine wonders. Reef sharks put in appearances here along the beautiful pink colored coral alongside nurse sharks, parrotfish, moray eels, spiny lobsters, and barracuda. Snorkelers of all skill sets will find the spot easy to navigate and explore thanks to the lack of current. Underwater visibility here provides vistas of up to 140-feet distance. You can pay to go on a tour led expedition such as the Cades Reef Cruise courtesy of Tropical Adventures or get one that comes with lunch from Island Routes.

Roatan

For a free snorkeling kingpin location off the coast of Honduras, Roatan offers its West Bay with world-leading snorkel opportunities that are easily among the best snorkeling in te Western Caribbean. This is where the world-famous yearly Freediving Competitions occur. Thanks to the clear and calm water, the reef is easy to reach at a few yards from the beach. Snorkeling is protected as the boating traffic stays further off of the coast. Because the site is renowned as one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean, you should expect to have plenty of company any day you come.

Roatan coral reef
Roatan coral reef

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent is justifiably famous as the Critter Capital of all the Caribbean. It helps that the main island is naturally ringed in by a nearly contiguous reef that hosts squid, eels, sea horses, and many other exotic underwater sea life. The most unique dive and snorkel site here is the Bat Cave, home to literally hundreds of bats in this half-submerged cave which is often mentioned among the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean.

Over in the Grenadines, there are 35 individual diving and snorkeling sites all a 15 minute or less boat ride from the biggest of the Grenadine Islands Bequia. You can snorkel the wreck of the 1918 British warship Purini off the coast of Mayreau which lies in a mere 40 feet of clear water. Tobago Cays is a group of five uninhabited sister islands where the majority of boat day trips will take tourists.

But let’s be honest, pretty much every Grenadine island provides fantastic snorkeling opportunities directly from the almost otherworldly looking white sandy beaches. Canouan Island reef extends for over a mile and offers waters teeming with brain coral and stunningly colorful fish. Snorkeling is also world-class over at Petit St. Vincent and Palm Island.

Tip: Was this not enough and looking for more places to snorkel in the Caribbean? Check out our Tobago snorkeling article!

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Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

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