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Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in Articles, Nature | 25 comments

Best snorkeling in the world by 11 travel writers

Best snorkeling in the world by 11 travel writers

The best snorkeling in the world, from Europe to Asia. Ready for the ride?

From the Cenotes of Mexico to the Andaman islands of India or the Whale sharks of the Philippines and Isla Mujeres;  11 amazing travel writers shared their adventures and spots for the best snorkeling in the world.

With a raising awareness on marine conservation and the protection of Ecosystems, snorkeling and diving, will bring people closer to free animals in their natural habitat, instead of an artificial interaction at marine shows where animals live miserable lives in captivity.


The best snorkeling in the world



Diving with sharks in Oahu, Hawaii


If you love encounters with the ocean’s amazing sea life seeing a shark has to be on your bucket list. Fear not, you can enjoy wild sharks in their natural environment by snorkeling inside the safety of a cage. On Oahu’s North Shore there are several companies with daily tours headed out to the open ocean for shark encounters.



Best snorkeling in the world

No baiting or chumming of the water is needed, the sharks are always in the same place! If you can handle the rough waves and avoid sea-sickness you’ll enjoy every one of the 20 minutes of time inside the cage – surrounded by large sharks!


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Most reliably seen are Galapagos and Sandbar sharks. A rare and lucky few might get to glimpse the Tiger shark.

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Koh Nang Yuan is one of the best snorkelling points in Thailand for amateurs and experienced divers. It is perfect size for a day trip because it is a short distance off the north-west coast of Koh Tao.


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I have seen plenty of photos of this place before arriving in Thailand. It is made up of three little islands connected by a massive sandbar, shallow white sand beaches are surrounded by crystal clear turquoise blue waters and the scene is unbelievably stunning. The shallow reefs are surrounded with soft and hard corals and fish of all colors. The island is a part of unspoiled and untouched marine reserve and it presents an unique opportunity to see a lot of tropical species of fauna and flora in their natural habitat.

After whole day of snorkelling I walked up to a viewpoint on the top of the island and the enchanting view you get is a vista that graces postcards across the country and could also be the most beautiful view your eyes have ever seen. Koh Nang Yuan simply takes your breath away and it is one of the world’s most beautiful islands. This is my own personal paradise and being there felt like being on a distant planet where the real world would never find me. I am going back in January and I am so excited.


“With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.”

— Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer


Snorkeling in Cozumel, Mexico


The Chankanaab Park is on the south end of the island of Cozumel, Mexico. Located inside the Cozumel National Marine Park, this is a great place for snorkeling, learning to scuba dive or just relax on the beach under a palm tree with a cerveza.


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The shallow reef has lots of fish from Spanish Hogfish and Parrotfish to small lobsters. In the sandy shallows, there are several underwater statues to explore. Chankanaab Park also offers the opportunity to learn to scuba diva on the reef. While Cozumel is known for drift diving with the brisk northward current, however, Chankanaab is relatively protected by the shallow reef and curving coastline, making it a great place to learn to dive.

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I try to swim every damn day I can, and I’ve learned to scuba dive and snorkel.

Nina Simone




Snorkeling in the Philippines



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One of my favorite snorkel experiences was in Apo Island in the Philippines. It’s a very small volcanic island in Negros Oriental, south of Cebu. There is a reef right off the beach and you can just walk in, snorkel and discover giant turtles. The underwater life is amazing, lots of colorful corals and fish. I’ve seen at least 10 turtles within an hour, they’re incredibly beautiful and calm animals, one turtle was swimming with me for an hour. It was such an unforgettable day. Generally, the underwater life is superb in the Philippines, if you’re a diver or you love snorkeling, don’t miss the Philippines.

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Snorkeling in Maui

If you can resist the urge to stop at any of the beautiful beaches and coves along the highway, heading south through Kihei and Makena; you will make it to a place that on land is a monotone of lava but under water is a splendour of fish, coral and turtles.


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Ahihi Kinau is very easy to find, just as the road enters the lava flow area, there is an ocean conservation office, parking lot and port-a-potties clearly visible on the road’s edge. Follow the trail down to the first black rock beach and slip into the water on the far left via a spit of sand that will dump you on top of a fantastic coral reef. You will see blue Ulua, angel, trumpet and parrot fish, green sea turtles and more as soon as you go under. Don’t bother going down the trail to other slip in spots, get in the water at one of Maui’s best snorkelling spots, Ahihi Kinau.

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This life is like a swimming pool. You dive into the water, but you can’t see how deep it is.

Dennis Rodman




Snorkeling in French Polynesia


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The Tuamotus are an island group of ring-shaped atolls in French Polynesia, where protected inner lagoons offer clear waters and some of the most spectacular snorkeling and diving in the world. Water flows through a narrow passes from the ocean to inner lagoons, providing a current for snorkelers and divers to ride as the scenery unfolds around them.

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We spent a week in Fakarava atoll, where the south pass provides a mesmerizing ride across stunning marine life. Drifting over beautiful soft and hard corals, we saw a wide variety of marine life, from shaggy bêche-de-mer with their soft spines to parrotfish in a rainbow of colors and the surprisingly large Napolean wrasse. Schools of baitfish cluster in impossibly large numbers, and dozens of sharks rest quietly at the bottom of the channel. It’s unnerving if you haven’t encountered sharks before, but don’t worry, they’re not at all interested in you!
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Snorkeling in Turkey



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Fethiye is a very popular city in Turkey’s Mediterranean coast known for its world-famous scuba diving based around exploring shipwrecks. But hey did you know that during certain times of the year you can actually snorkel with sea turtles?

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In September, sea turtles come to the region to lay their eggs and if you’re lucky you can spot them while cruising around Fethiye’s 12 Islands. True, the underwater life might not be that good but swimming right next to this majestic creature? Yes please!

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Snorkeling in Belize

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A favorite snorkeling experience of mine was at the Hol Chan Marine reserve in Belize. We departed from Caye Caulker – the baby sister island to Ambergris Caye and went with Carlos tours – who doesn’t have a website and gets business from word of mouth. Truthfully, that’s all is needed because the snorkeling was very impressive and we were swept away at the amount of marine life.

At three stops, we were able to see schools of colorful fish and called nurse sharks with chum from the boat. Be prepared to swim with curious sea turtles as they float up from the sand. We even caught a glimpse of a giant king crab scuttling across the ocean floor and lobsters peeking out from the reefs. A couple angelic manta rays also made their appearance by silently gliding past us. Tip: Don’t forget your GoPro and don’t touch the corral!

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Snorkeling in Isla Mujeres

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Isla Mujeres is a tiny, quiet island a ½ hour ferry ride from Cancun, Mexico.  I was lucky enough to swim with Whale Sharks twice during my stay on the island.  There were hundreds of these gentle giants….. so many that it’s overwhelming which is what prompted me to go a 2nd time.  Also be sure to make time to explore the Underwater Sculptures created by Jason deCaires Taylor.


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I kept wishing for a dolphin to find me, but I was not that lucky.  A close second had to be seeing many cuddlefish as they seem to fly through the water.  I’m not a fan of traveling to the same place twice, but I intend to break that rule many times over for Isla.

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Snorkelign in Ningaloo Reef


The Great Barrier Reef gets all of the credit when it comes to phenomenal underwater life in Australia. However, there’s Ningaloo Reef, a pristine, 260 kilometer long untouched reef located on the lonely coastline of Western Australia that deserves time in the limelight as well.


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Ningaloo Reef is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, hosting over 500 species of fish and 300 species of corals.



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On my visit this year, I was awed at being able to swim with iridescent schools of fish, turtles, and even an orange manta ray with electric blue polka dots. Divers and snorkelers even have a chance to explore shipwrecks left behind as relics from WWII. Isn’t this the best snorkeling in the world?



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Due to land around the area being mostly undeveloped, you’ll get to spend some quality alone time with nesting sea turtles, whale sharks, dugongs, and manta rays that call this massive reef home.

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Snorkeling in India

When I took a 3 day ship ride to visit the extremely remote and isolated Andaman islands archipelago, I was not aware I would find one of the most dramatic and unspoiled snorkeling spots in the world. India offers the best snorkeling in the world.



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When I think of India, snorkeling is not really on my mind But the Andaman were a pleasant surprise. Both Havelock and Neil, offered an incredible underwater scenery.  Swimming alongside huge turtles and fish in Havelock or exploring the dramatic and complex underwater canyons and cliff were the highlights of my Indian snorkeling experience. The waters are crystal clear and warm enough not to need a wet suit.


For more info on Marine ecology and articles on the human impact and conservation, check out some wonderful National Geographic articles.

Hope these 11 travelers helped you decide your next holidays and find the best snorkeling in the world!


Want to know my favorite snorkeling spot in the world? Check out the Andaman Islands Archipelago for all the info!


  1. Yara, thanks so much for including my Tuamotus experience in this article- I love learning about these places to add to my “must snorkel” list! You know, we’d actually been thinking we would sail on by the Andamans when we head to Sri Lanka from Malaysia in a few months…suddenly I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. Will read more about your experience there and think on it!

    • My pleasure, It was great to read about your experience. I’m definitely adding a few new destinations to my wish list now.

  2. beautiful photos, they all sounds like amazing places….

  3. These all look great! Did Isla Mujeres years ago and loved it. We would suggest Buck Island off of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands and The Great Barrier Reef in Australia too.

  4. Thank you so much for including my experience in Belize! I never would have thought India had such a great snorkeling area as well.

    • THANK YOU Amy, for sharing your experiences! Yes, India has a few amazing spots for diving and snorkeling!

  5. Where there is snorkeling, there is diving! We dive, but snorkel as well. I would add the Solomon Islands to your list. They aren’t a big tourist destination, but that is the beauty.

  6. I am just heading to Koh Tao tomorrow to try snorkeling for the first time in my life. I can’t even put it in words how excited I am!!! Thanks for this awesome guide!

    • I didn`t care for snorkelling in Koh Tao

  7. I’ve heard a lot about Ningaloo reef, the Great Barrier Reef is so crowded, it sounds like a great alternative. Thank-you for the tips! I love snorkeling too. :)

  8. Thanks for including us! There are some really amazing destinations here.

    • My pleasure Lance, thank you for being part of it!

  9. when to go snorkelling in the Philipines and what is the best time of the year

  10. Very interested!! I will definetely travel to all these magic places!! Only FYI, we went to Sipadan and we consider this oceanic island also fantastic, check!

  11. Has anyone snorkelled in the Caymans? What was it like?

    • Went to Little Cayman a few months back, and didn’t find it to be a snorkeling place. Better for diving, but even then, it was just okay. If you are staying in the Caribbean, I found St. John’s to be great for snorkeling, and Bonaire is the best for diving. I haven’t been to the Corn Islands yet however. In hindsight, I’d rather save my money and head to Indonesia.

  12. In the Caribean I loved snorkelling in Belize, one of the bestI have ever experienced

  13. Wow, great guide! I’m actually putting something similar together on my site and I’d love to send the snorkeling guide over for you to take a look when it’s complete. Thanks for your post though, Shared and liked :)

  14. This is a great post. Didn’t know that India was such a good snorkeling destination. Probably there will be fewer people at Havelock and Neil too, so the marine life will be undisturbed. Thanks for sharing.


  1. Best Spots for Snorkeling in Belize - Travel Belize Now - […] wildlife and spectacular underwater views and is worth the minor inconvenience of having to share. Travel writer Amy ‘don’t…

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