There’s no shortage of areas of outstanding natural beauty for travelers to explore abroad, but as any experienced snorkeler will tell you, many of them keep their secrets hidden underwater. Snorkeling is a fantastic way to relax and enjoy the wonders of the ocean without having to go through the rigmarole of setting up a scuba diving expedition. It’s great fun for both children and adults, and can return even the most jaded adventurer to a state of childlike wonderment. Whether you’re just checking out the local coral formations or looking to get up close and personal with the non-man eating varieties of shark species, snorkeling provides into countless other worlds. Here are some of the very best destinations for top of the range snorkeling opportunities where you can literally immerse yourself in the ocean’s secret beauty.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The lands that inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands remain a stunning reminder of the beauty and majesty of nature. There’s a real sense of biodiversity on land that is mirrored by the contents of the surrounding waters that offer a lot more to enjoy that just fish: dolphins, sea lions, turtles, seals, penguins and even whales abound in this location, and many of the larger species are friendly in the presence of humans. It’s stunning surroundings for some of the best snorkeling to be had anywhere on the planet, and hardier adventures owe it to themselves to take a trip to Devil’s Crown near Floreana Island, the sunken cone of a dead volcano that has the most colourful sea life in the islands.
READ MORE : Traveling Tips That Will Make Your Life Easier
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Ambergris Caye lays claim to having the largest formation of barrier reef anywhere outside of Australia, with a whopping 185 miles worth to be explored. There’s a massive and varied abundance of sea life to investigate including rays, eels and a myriad of brightly coloured fish. The cayes themselves are small, sandy islands, each one with the potential to be your own private desert island. You’ll also find many atolls formed from the coral that hold beautiful and intricate formations just waiting to be explored. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is one of the areas highlights, where you’ll be able to swim amongst the many swarms of nurse sharks that have no problem swimming in peace with humans.
Ilha Grande, Brazil
Halfway down the coastline of Brazil between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo lies the beguiling island wilderness of Ilha Grande. Despite the presence of some hotel complexes, the island manages to feel remarkably uncontaminated by human civilisation. The jungles that cover much of the island’s surface are teeming with monkeys and other land-based wildlife, but the waters here are no less stunning for nature lovers to experience. Full to the brim with spectacularly colourful fish, the perfectly temperate waters of Lagoa Azul contain exceptional snorkeling opportunities where swimmers will be able to mingle with sea horses, scope out the winding underwater rock formations and paddle among the turtles and angelfish that call this submerged jungle their home. History buffs should also keep an eye out for the wreckages of dozens of ships sunken centuries ago during skirmishes between seafaring pirates and the Portuguese navy.
The Big Island, Hawaii
You would be hard-pressed to find anywhere on the Hawaiian archipelago that didn’t offer great snorkeling locations, but the Big Island takes the crown. Kealakekua Bay’s underwater state park features brightly coloured fish and shimmering coral formations, and is historically significant for being the site of Captain Cook’s first disembarkation on the island. Swim in the vicinity of the Captain Cook Monument and there’s no way you’ll be able to leave without seeing turtles, dolphins and so much more. If that doesn’t sate your appetite for adventure, head along to the perfect waters of Honaunau Bay and snorkel amongst the enchanting tangles of coral gardens.
READ MORE : How To Choose the Correct Wakeboard Size
Roughly 7,000 islands comprise this country’s archipelago, and many of them teem with an incredible diversity of wildlife. The Bay of Donsol is a fantastic spot for snorkeling with whale sharks, and the coral reefs surrounding Noa Noa Island are some of the country’s most beautiful. Pawan Island is the jewel amongst the Philippines diving offerings, though: its lagoons are brimming with fish, while Honda Bay, Tubbataha reef and Starfish and Cowrie Island are all must-sees for intrepid underwater visitors.
Buck Island, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
National parks usually conjure images of high mountains and deep forests, but on the US Virgin Island of Buck Island the stars of the show are all to be found in the ocean. There’s octopuses to eyeball and different species sea turtles nesting amongst massive formations of brain and elkhorn coral, in a setting that favours rookie snorkelers as much as seasoned veterans. Bird watchers can also get in on the action, with plenty of opportunities to catch a glimpse of threatened species like least terns and brown pelicans.
Key Largo, Florida
Although it was in close proximity to Hurricane Irma in 2017, Key Largo’s reefs managed to escape much of the damage thanks to staying in the eye of the storm for the majority of time. This is especially good news for snorkelers, as the delights on offer here more than justify spending time amongst marine attractions like the Molasses Reef, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Coral Reef State Park. The waters are full of stingrays and nurse sharks, plus a wide variety of sea turtle species including loggerheads, hawksbills and greens.
The Coral Triangle
Reaching from Bali to Eastern Borneo, Indonesia, the Philippines and Solomon Islands, the Coral Triangle has more than earned its name, as it counts a full 75% of known coral types within the 647 million hectares of sea and land that comprise it. Despite its magnitude, its famously friendly to amateur snorkelers who get to enjoy the thousands of different reef fish species that linger just below the water’s surface, and for turtle lovers, the area is home to all by one of the planet’s marine turtle species.
Comprised of a series of atolls and islands located in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives has long been regarded as one of the finest diving destinations in the world. Predominantly known for the incredible scuba diving opportunities on offer, the Maldives proves to be a fantastic snorkeling spot nonetheless. As well as more than 700 species of fish, you can expect to be greeted by sharks, turtles and octopi as well, all visible from a great distance thanks to the crystal clear waters all around. Sadly, these islands are disappearing from the face of the Earth due to erosion and climate change, so take advantage of the chance to witness their magnificence whilst you still can.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The largest formation of coral reef anywhere in the world makes up Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which is in fact comprised of 2,900 individual reefs that combine to cover more than 1,400 miles of structure just off Australia’s shoreline. Snorkelers will be spoilt for entertainment in water crammed with rays, barracudas, shipwrecks and fish of every colour in the rainbow. Again, sadly, this is another natural wonder threatened by climate change due to a rise in temperatures, and could disappear from the face of the Earth as soon as 2050.
My name is William Benetton. I am a traveler and writer. I love writing on many kinds of sport and tourism. For the last few months I’m passionate about web design and here you can see one of my best design projects. I can’t imagine my life without sport, traveling and morning coffee.