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Best Places to Snorkel in the Caribbean

April 25, 2024 | Britnie Turner

Some of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean Sea offer clear waters, tropical fish, and stunning coral reefs. This makes the Caribbean a haven for snorkeling enthusiasts looking to explore some of the best snorkeling destinations in the world.

Many Caribbean beaches offer a unique underwater world of shipwrecks, sculptures, and coral formations. If you are considering taking a trip to the Caribbean islands and want to see its vast marine life up close, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and map out your itinerary before you go.

The Bahamas

1. The Bahamas

The Bahamas are a tourist favorite and a top Caribbean island destination. This beautiful region is located within the Lucayan Archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. The Bahamas consist of around 700 islands and cays, making this an ideal spot for snorkeling. The Bahamas are also excellent for scuba divers because of their crystal clear waters and calm, tranquil seas. 

Whether you are looking to scuba dive or snorkel, you can head over to explore the ruins of Atlantis in Nassau, which are filled with manta rays, sharks, and a kaleidoscope of marine life. Tourists looking for a laugh and an adventure can head out to swim with pigs in Exuma or snorkel with sea turtles while exploring Rose Island Reef.

British Virgin Islands

2. British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands are a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Famous islands in the BVI include Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, which all offer underwater adventures for scuba divers and snorkelers alike. When scuba diving in the BVI, visitors can swim through various wrecks in Virgin Gorda, including the RMS Rhone Wreck. This top snorkeling destination offers the chance to see a 310-foot-long British packet ship that sank off Salt Island in the British Virgin Islands on October 29, 1867.

Loblolly Bay in Anegada is another must-visit destination and is considered an excellent shore-entry snorkeling spot. If you’re looking for a more off-the-grid experience, consider exploring a private island such as The Aerial, BVI. The Aerial, BVI is our luxury all-inclusive wellness resort that offers an unparalleled experience for visitors looking to discover the magic of the Caribbean Sea far away from the crowds.


3. Barbados

Barbados is a country in the Lesser Antilles. This Caribbean island country is unique because it is a coral limestone island formed almost entirely by coral reefs. Due to its unique terrain and the fact that it is a coral island rather than volcanic, Barbados offers a diverse underwater ecosystem full of wonder. 

One of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean waters of Barbados is Carlisle Bay Marine Park. This thrilling marine park features six shipwrecks and more than 350 species of flora and fauna. It is a prime snorkeling destination for observing marine creatures like sea turtles, manta rays, and a variety of tropical fish. After a day of exploring enchanting snorkeling sites, travelers can unwind on the golden sand of Barbados’ breathtaking shores.


4. Belize

Belize is located in Central America, east of Guatemala and west of the Caribbean Sea. Because of its historical similarities to English-speaking Caribbean countries, Belize is sometimes considered a Caribbean country

Belize is a hotspot for guided snorkeling tours, boat trips, and pristine beaches. There are plenty of good snorkeling sites at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, where snorkelers can expect to witness colorful fish and curious sea animals. This impressive marine reserve comprises 18 km² of spectacular coral reefs, seagrass beds, and lush mangrove forests. In Belize, many snorkeling sites are preserved and intact, making this vibrant country one of the best snorkeling spots in the Caribbean Sea.

Cayman Islands

5. Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands lie 480 miles southwest of Miami and are located in the Greater Antilles and the Western Caribbean geographical zone. Tourists flock to the Cayman Islands every year to discover some of the best snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean Sea. 

Underwater delights include visiting the USS Kittiwake off the coast of Grand Cayman or swimming in the middle of the ocean on a shallow sandbar with stingrays. When the sun goes down, snorkelers and swimmers can take a short boat ride to see plankton glow in the water at Grand Cayman’s bioluminescent bay.


6. Jamaica

Jamaica is one of the liveliest Caribbean islands and is famous for its reggae music and warm hospitality. It also offers some of the best snorkeling spots in the Caribbean Sea. 

  • Tourists looking for an accessible, reasonably priced, and gorgeous snorkeling adventure can check out Montego Bay off Doctor’s Cave Beach. Here, you can expect to see schools of tropical fish, beautiful coral formations, and abundant marine life that will undoubtedly leave an impression. 
  • The Negril area of Jamaica is another hot snorkeling spot to check out that includes Seven Mile Beach, Booby Cay Island, and the Throne Room. Seven Mile Beach is excellent for experienced snorkelers but can get a bit crowded. Booby Cay Island is more remote and is considered one of the best snorkeling spots for newbies.
Turks and Caicos Islands

7. Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands are a charming tropical archipelago located south of The Bahamas. These picturesque islands are known for their turquoise waters and white sand beaches, which make them home to some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. Bight Reef at Coral Gardens offers an array of diverse marine life; among them are cute sea turtles that might approach you. Nearby is Smith’s Reef, which boasts an extensive coral reef extending 350 feet (107 meters) from the beach. Lucky visitors may even spot a few calm and slow-moving nurse sharks.

US Virgin Islands

8. US Virgin Islands

The US Virgin Islands are located east of Puerto Rico. There are three main islands in the USVI: St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas. The islands boast approximately 50 smaller islets and cays bustling with diverse marine life. One of the top snorkeling destinations worth visiting in the USVI is Leinster Bay (St. John), situated adjacent to Waterlemon Cay. This beautiful snorkeling spot is easy to access via a sandy beach, and snorkelers can expect to see an array of marine life including conch, starfish, and sea turtles. 

Coki Point Beach in St. Thomas is an ideal snorkeling spot for families due to its calm water and friendly fish. Tranquil Maho Bay in St. John also has clear, calm waters, making it a perfect destination for families and first-time snorkelers. Advanced snorkeling spots can be found on the island of St. Croix at Cane Bay, where the most colorful portion of the reef starts at around 20 feet deep.

Honorable Mentions

It’s challenging to narrow down a list of the Caribbean’s best snorkeling spots, considering there is so much underwater terrain to discover in this region. Along with the snorkeling spots mentioned above, here are some honorable mentions for where to snorkel while visiting the Caribbean islands:

  1. Aruba: Aruba offers excellent shallow reefs that are ideal for beginner snorkelers. Many of its coral reefs are only 12 feet deep, making it relaxing and easy to view coral formations and tropical fish.
  2. Bonaire: Bonaire has some of the best snorkeling spots due to moderate currents that can propel a snorkeler across the water. This act is known as “drift snorkeling” as it allows snorkelers to move with the ocean. Snorkelers drifting in Bonaire’s waters can witness beautiful underwater coral formations and stunning fish species like butterfly fish.
  3. Curaçao: The Curaçao Underwater Marine Park features well-known snorkeling sites along the southern coastline. Visitors to this snorkeling site can witness sunken ships and vibrant marine gardens and experience underwater encounters with turtles.

Dive into a World of Tropical Fish and Coral Reefs

When snorkeling in the Caribbean, you can expect to see spectacular sights such as sea turtles, manta rays, and stunning coral reefs. Before heading out to any snorkeling destination in the Caribbean islands, make sure you check the weather conditions. Finding a guide can also help ensure a safe and memorable experience. 

Once you’re ready to dive in, get ready to be blown away by a natural underwater aquarium full of life. The Caribbean islands are indeed snorkeling paradise.