6 Fantastic Snorkeling Places for Your Bucket List

Snorkeling is an easy and inexpensive way to see some of the many beautiful creatures the sea has to offer. Although you can do it virtually anywhere there is water, there are some places you should have on your bucket list.

If, like me, you were born without the athletic gene, you may find that many sports are simply not an ideal choice for you. Snorkeling, thankfully, doesn’t fall into that category and even someone as clumsy as I am can get out and enjoy a day snorkeling.

As an added benefit, it’s fairly inexpensive. All you need is fins, a mask, and a snorkeling pipe to breathe through. Oh, and water you wish to explore is necessary too.

Although any body of water will work, the world has some phenomenal reefs that are teeming with beautiful tropical fish, corals, and other animals. The colours are incredibly vivid and the diversity can be overwhelming.

Depending on where you snorkel you may also get to interact with sharks, turtles, sea lions, dolphins, whale sharks, and even humpback whales. Because you carry less equipment than you would if you were diving, you can often get much closer to the animals and interact more.

It is important to take your swimming ability into account and to be honest about your skills when joining a group. You don’t have to be a super swimmer to snorkel but some bodies of water are rougher than others and should be avoided if you aren’t a great swimmer.

Some are gentle enough that you can just float and enjoy. Always follow your guide’s directions and be safe. Seeing beautiful is all very fine but you don’t want to end up out there with them forever.

If you have never been snorkeling before and enjoy swimming and see ocean life, I would urge you to give it a try. Those who have been snorkeling before and enjoyed it should take a look at these sites that are known for some of the best snorkeling in the world.

If you have a bucket list of places to go, these should be on it.

1. Rurutu, Austral Islands (off Tahiti)


This is not snorkeling in the traditional sense that most people think of it but it is a unique experience that you likely won’t experience anywhere else.

Rurutu is about 350 km south of Tahiti. It is a favourite stop for humpback whales during their breeding season. Tour operators will bring you out and you can snorkel with the humpbacks and their calves.

You need to be careful not to interfere with the whales but it is a once in a lifetime experience that should be on any whale lovers agenda.

2. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil


This is a National Marine Reserve that is located just south of the equator on the Atlantic side. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there was a prison on the island at one time.

Although you pay a bit more to visit it because of its world heritage site status, it is worth every penny. You can see exactly where the money goes as you swim in the clear waters in an area where everything is beautifully maintained.

Visibility is so good you can often see 50 meters down. It’s a popular location for spinner dolphins that like to show off for the boats. While snorkeling you can see sea turtles, dolphins, and hundreds of different species of fish.

3. Ningaloo, Australia


When you say snorkeling and Australia in the same sentence, most people will immediately jump to the Great Barrier Reef but there are many other great, though less popular finds, in Australia. Ningaloo is one of them.

It’s located about 1,200 km north of Perth and it’s about 250 km in length. It is one of the world’s largest fringing coral reefs and is home to more than 200 species of coral as well as tons of tropical fish. It is also a routine stop for whale sharks from mid-March to mid-May.

At up to forty feet in length, swimming with these gentle giants is a bucket list item for many animal lovers. Other common sites include manta rays, sea snakes, and turtles and everything tends to be close to shore.

4. Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Laughing Bird Cay, Belize


Belize has some beautiful reefs for snorkeling. I intend to explore a few of them in a few weeks time in August.

Two of the best snorkeling spots are the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Laughing Bird Cay, which is named for the myriad of laughing gulls that inhabit the area.

Laughing Bird Cay is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are rangers on site to explain its unique ecology for those who would like to know what they are looking at.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is the world’s second largest after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It extends down past several Central American countries.

Apart from a great variety of fish and coral species, you can also see sea turtles, dolphins and manatees.

5. Bay of Naples, Italy


Okay, so Naples does not immediately spring to mind when you contemplate snorkeling but hear me out as it offers something relatively unique. In the Bay of Naples are a number of ancient Roman ruins including temples, shrines and villas.

It’s a protected park and you can snorkel your way through the underwater museum of artefacts. I suspect there are fish there too but the real attraction here is the ruins.

6. The Red Sea & Rah Muhammad National Park, Egypt


A number of bodies of water converge in and around Egypt offering some unique animals and lots of diversity. The waters tend to be extremely clear and, like Ningaloo, this is another fringing reef so many of the sites are very close to shore.

There are over 220 species of coral that make their home here along with a variety of fish including lion fish, puffer fish, eagle rays, clown fish and thousands of other species as well as turtles. As a bonus, there are many great historical sites on land so you can combine your land and water pursuits for a truly complete vacation.

There are many, many places to snorkel. You’ll note I didn’t mention Hawaii, the Great Barrier Reef, the Bahamas, Indonesia, the Maldives, or Palau in Micronesia. All of them offer some incredible snorkeling.

If you go to Plaza Sur in the Galapagos you can play with the sea lions as you snorkel. Uepi, in the Solomon Islands, has chambered nautilus in their natural habitat. The world is full of amazing places to visit and animals to see.

If you are intent on seeing certain migratory species such as whales or whale sharks, make sure you check to ensure your vacation will coincide with when they pass through. Regardless of where you go, don your mask and flippers and see how they live under the sea.

About the author

Heather B

Heather is an avid traveller, lover of dogs, and baker supreme. She lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada where she raises German Shorthaired Pointers with her family. An explorer at heart, she travels whenever she can, wherever she can.

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