Best Snorkeling in the Caribbean| Top 10 Spots

The magnetic appeal of a Caribbean vacation is strong, attracting people all around the world to its clear waters and sunshine-filled days. If you’re planning a trip yourself and wondering which Caribbean island has the best snorkeling, then look no further.  

The Caribbean epitomizes a tropical island getaway, complete with the promise of countless snorkeling adventures. There are so many idyllic spots with vibrant marine life that it can be quite challenging to decide where to begin. 

TOP 10 SNORKELER RATED SPOTS

To help make your choice a little bit easier, we polled some of the most experienced snorkelers in the world to get their picks for the best snorkeling in the Caribbean and then hit the water to rank the best spots.

If you’re looking for great Caribbean resorts with easily accessible reefs, we’ve put together a list of the Best Snorkeling Resorts in the Caribbean. Make sure to check it out HERE!


10.  TURKS & CAICOS

underwater view of coral and fish at Turks and Caicos Marine Park

Known mostly for the bustling island Providenciales, Turks and Caicos a barrier reef offers some of the most interesting snorkeling spots in the Caribbean with incredibly clear and calm waters. Taking a snorkeling cruise from Providenciales is a great start, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Turks & Caicos offers some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean from the beach.

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in Turks & Caicos:


9.  PUERTO RICO

Drone shot of beach and boats on Icacos Island

It would be a sin not to add Puerto Rico to the list of best snorkeling Caribbean islands. The pristine beaches and serene waters make for the ultimate Puerto Rico snorkeling adventure. The colorful marine life and lively coral can be enjoyed by some of the beaches, or accessed by a short boat ride. 

The islands off the coast of Fajardo on the East Coast, are an especially popular spot for both snorkeling and diving. People visit from all around the world to swim with the turtles, enjoy the colorful corals and be surrounded by schools of fish.

Not only are the “Spanish Virgin Islands”(Vieques and Culebra) some of the best snorkeling spots in Puerto Rico, but they also offer some of the prettiest and most secluded beaches.

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in Puerto Rico:

  • Vieques – gorgeous secluded beaches with shore snorkeling access
  • Culebra– there are several great spots located within the Marine Reserve, namely Carlos Rosario Beach and Playa Tamarindo, among others.
  • Small Islands off the Coast of Fajardo including Icacos Island and Cayo Diablo

Read More: Guide to the Best Snorkeling in Puerto Rico


8.  JAMAICA

Coral and fish at Montego bay reef Jamaica

If you plan a snorkeling trip to Jamaica, then make sure that Negril is your top spot to visit where you’ll have access to an array of nice reefs off shore and interesting topography along the cliffs to the south of seven mile beach.

If you have access to a boat, then you can also venture off of the coast of Seven Mile Beach in Negril and explore the coral reef. Many all inclusive resorts like Sandals Resorts in Jamaica offer snorkeling trips out to the off shore reefs as well.

In Montego Bay, some of the best snorkeling spots in Jamaica can be reached from shore at Doctor’s Cave Beach making it a top spot for those not wanting to take a boat trip out to the reef.

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in Jamaica:

  • Negril – explore the Cliffs or take a boat trip out to Booby Cay
  • Montego Bay – Doctor’s Cave Beach offers easy access to one of the best reefs in the area
  • Ocho Rios – a top choice for those visiting on cruise ships

Read More: Guide to the Best Snorkeling in Jamaica


7.  MEXICO

starfish at el cielo near cozumel mexico

Snorkeling in Mexico can be fantastic if you know where to look. The Yucatan Peninsula sits along the second largest reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef.

The 5,800 miles of Mexican coastline means that you’ll have no shortage of spots to choose from. But to get you started, you’ll want to pay attention to Cozumel, Isla Holbox, and the Riviera Maya. 

Cozumel is a spot where you can go snorkeling by day and sip tequila by night. The majority of the best spots are on the western coast and include spots such as Secrets Cozumel, Palancar, Columbia Reef and The Money Bar. The current on the east side of the island can be quite dangerous and should not be tested.

The best snorkeling spots aren’t synonymous with white sandy beaches. Instead, rocky and dark shore is a good indication of snorkeling potential. With this in mind, you may want to pack some snorkeling booties. 

Along the Riviera Maya, Puerto Morales has one of the best reefs and is reached by a short boat trip. Akumal Bay is famous for it’s turtles, but sadly has become a bit overrun with tourists. The areas around Tulum aren’t the best spots, but there’s still some decent underwater life to explore along with the gorgeous beaches, ruins, and cenotes.

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in Mexico:

  • Cozumel – island on the reef, and one of the best snorkel spots in Mexico
  • Puerto Morales- one of the best reefs just off the mainland
  • Isla Holbox – a top spot for Whale Shark snorkel trips

6.  VIRGIN ISLANDS

fish at coral at Sapphire Bay St Thomas

Both the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) offer unforgettable Caribbean snorkeling experiences. The main deciding factor between the areas is the type of snorkeling spots you’re looking for. 

The US Virgin Islands offer plenty of shore snorkeling options from the main tourist islands of St. Thomas and the gorgeous island of St. John containing the Virgin Islands National Park. The British Virgin Islands, appeal to those seeking a more exclusive escape as most of the best snorkeling spots will require a boat to access them.

United States Virgin Islands

If you’re looking for a magical place to snorkel in the Caribbean, the USVI has a variety of options to choose from. Most of the bays around the islands offer great shore access to snorkeling. The waters are home to an abundance of life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and lobsters. 

The three main US Virgin Islands include Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas. But there are several minor islands offering unbeatable snorkeling experiences

Read More: Guide to the Best Snorkeling in St. Thomas HERE.

If you have time to experience one of these spots, then push Trunk Bay on St. John to the top of your list. Not only is it one of the most photographed beaches in the USVI, but the underwater snorkeling trail is perfect for first-timers, kids, and adults.  However, if you don’t mind a bit of a walk, Waterlemon Cay is one of the best spots on the island to snorkel.

Read More: Guide to the Best Snorkeling in St. John HERE.

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in the USVI:

The British Virgin Islands

The BVI are known to offer some of the best sailing and cruising experiences, where passengers can throw anchor and dip below the surface to explore what lies beneath. In fact, the majority of the best snorkeling spots are only accessible by boat. Which is why we’d recommend getting out on a boat to explore the area.

The four larger islands include Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost van Dyke. But there are 50 smaller islands and cays waiting to be explored. Whether you’re enjoying the resident Whitespotted Filefish at Carvel Rock on Cooper Island, or rays hiding in the boulders at The Baths, Virgin Gorda, you’re in for a treat. 

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in the USVI:

  • The Indians – rocky outcroppings requiring a boat trip
  • The Caves– caves to explore on Normal Island
  • The Baths– World famous spot with giant boulders

5.  GRAND CAYMAN

underwater photo of coral and fish at rum point in grand cayman

If you’re on the hunt for the best snorkeling in Caribbean waters throughout the year, then the Grand Cayman is worth consideration. A fair number of the spots have beach access, while others, such as Stingray City, are best experienced with a tour. 

The most difficult part of snorkeling in the Cayman Islands will be choosing which of the many spots to include on your itinerary. The brightly colored coral reef shines through the crystal clear waters and attracts snorkelers from around the world. 

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in Grand Cayman:

  • Stingray City– offshore spot full of docile stingrays
  • Eden Rock – centrally located in George Town
  • Smith Cove – coral heads and rocky shoreline

4.  BELIZE

cabins on the water at Tobacco Cay in Belize

The Belize barrier reef offers unrivaled coral reef snorkeling experiences, boasting an abundance of tropical fish to discover. The clear, turquoise water and choice of hundreds of cayes make Belize one of the best Caribbean snorkeling destinations.  

While it’s possible to snorkel off of the beaches on the mainland, the best snorkeling is experienced at the many cays and atolls.

The dry season, which runs from November to May, is considered to be the best time to visit as the visibility is best. With that being said, the snorkeling is unmatched all year around. Some of the unique marine life that you can expect to encounter include the West Indian Manatee, sea turtles, and whale sharks. 

You can also push out further than the reefs off the mainland, and adventure to the various marine reserves and atolls to discover more.  Glover’s Reef Atoll is our favorite spot in Belize. It’s a world away from everything with hundreds of patch reefs to explore.

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in Belize:


3.  CURACAO

Woman snorkeling with ball of fish- Westpunt Curacao

Our experience snorkeling in Curacao, located in the southern Caribbean, was both relaxing and exhilarating. The a lot of the snorkeling spots have beach entry, meaning easy accessibility and less organization needed. 

The west coast of the island is best for underwater adventures, showcasing sea turtles, brightly colored fish, and the iconic tugboat wreck. Curacao is home to not only fantastic snorkeling, but also gorgeous beaches, which is a combo that’s often hard to find.

The entire island is an adventure waiting to happen, and worth booking a desert tour and snorkel combo experience.

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in Curacao:

  • Playa Lagun- great cliff and reef snorkeling with a beach
  • Tugboat – shallow tugboat wreck along the reef
  • Klein Curacao – a small island approximately six miles from Curacao

Read More: Guide to the Best Snorkeling in Curacao


2.  ROATAN

aerial view of island off the coast of roatan with view of reef around it

Located approximately 20 miles off the coast of mainland Honduras, Roatán is a haven for marine life and a dream for snorkelers. Dipping your head below the surface will bring you up close with queen angelfish, sea turtles, and even whale sharks.  The crystal clear waters give a clear vision of soft coral all around the island but are best enjoyed at West Bay. 

March, April, and May are considered the best months to visit Roatán, when the climate is most temperate and the island least crowded.  If you’re looking for a local to guide you on a snorkeling trip, then you can always book a Roatán snorkeling adventure.

The Island of Roatan is off the coast of Honduras and within the Bay Islands National Marine Park, which works to protect and conserve the amazing reef system in the area.

Top Three Snorkeling Spots in Roatan:

  • West Bay – best spot is in front of the Grand Roatan Resort
  • Half Moon Bay- protected bay with lots of fish
  • Sandy Bay- quieter location with a longer swim

 1. BONAIRE

Coral and fish at 1000 steps

Bonaire is the second-largest island in the Dutch Caribbean, boasting a plethora of ocean life to enjoy. Bonaire’s coral reef is envied as one of the healthiest in the Caribbean with tons of places to access from shore. 

The immense biodiversity of marine life found in the reefs of Bonaire makes it one of the best Caribbean islands for snorkeling. Just east to Aruba and Curacao, the most notable snorkeling is found on the west coast which is protected from the winds. 

The majority of the snorkeling spots are narrow strips of coral reef and can be easily accessed from the shoreline. These snorkeling spots accessible by the beach are free and noticeably marked. 

The climate in Bonaire is consistent all year-round, making snorkeling a suitable activity whenever you visit. However, if you want more of the reef to yourself, then low-season (May to October) is best.

Top Four(we couldn’t narrow it any more) Snorkeling Spots in Bonaire:

  • Klein Bonaire – only accessed by boat
  • Andrea II- combines well with a drift snorkel from Petries Pillar
  • 1000 Steps – access is via a small staircase and beach
  • Sorobon Beach/ Lac Bay – great spot for calm days and strong swimmers

Read More: Guide to the Best Snorkeling in Bonaire


FINAL THOUGHTS: BEST PLACES TO SNORKEL IN THE CARIBBEAN

The Caribbean has some of the best snorkeling spots in the world, making it a difficult job in choosing where to go first. This list has narrowed down some of the most exquisite options with lively coral reefs and underwater life. So grab your snorkel mask and head out to explore some of the best the Caribbean has to offer!

Looking for more snorkeling tips?? Check out all of our Snorkeling Posts HERE.

Check out all of our Destination Guides HERE.

About the author
Kristin Young