The 6 Best Snorkeling Locations In The World (An Insiders Guide)

Most of us tend to admire the ocean from a dry place – be it a vessel, the beach, or a lookout point. However, if you really want to get a glimpse into the underwater world, you’ll need to go, well… underwater.

Snorkeling allows you to do exactly that: experience wildlife in their natural habitat while still being able to breathe! We’ve compiled the “best of” snorkeling tours that are well worth your time and money! Let’s jump right in!


Maui is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world, thanks to its pristine beaches and overall relaxed atmosphere. Thanks to its surrounding volcanos, coral, and clear waters, you will be able to see incredible wildlife up close!

What’s also great about snorkeling in Maui, is that there are plenty of spots perfect for any experience or comfort level. The left side of the beach is known to be very calm and full of rich marine life, creating a very satisfying experience for those who are new to the sport. Further out, there’s even more to see for those more advanced.

With a Maui & Molokini snorkel tour, they’ll take care of everything for you. They are experts in dealing with different experience levels, ensuring everyone is safe and comfortable with what they’re doing.

How to Get There:

It all depends on where in Maui you’re going snorkeling. For example, Kahekili Beach and Olowalu are super easy to just enter through the water/beach. For Honolua Bay, you’ll just need to follow the rocks out from the west end of the bay, to Kalaepiha Point. However, with Molokini you’ll need to get there by boat!

Local Wildlife:

  • Peacock Groupers
  • Butterflyfish
  • Yellow Tang
  • Moorish Idols
  • Manta Ray
  • Octopus
  • Turtles

maui snorkeling


Much like Maui, Oahu is known for its long stretches of white sand beaches, clear blue waters full of marine life, and vacation-perfect weather. Known as “The Gathering Place”, it’s the most visited Hawaiian island. No matter how experienced you are with snorkeling, there’s something for you here.

While it’s known worldwide for being a surfing mecca, it’s also one of the best places in the world to go snorkeling with sting rays and tropical fish. You may even catch sight of sharks, turtles, and dolphins!

As far as natural landscapes go, there are plenty of stunning hiking trails leading to gorgeous waterfalls, caves, beautiful reefs, and so much more. If you sign up for one of these Oahu snorkel tours, your snorkeling gear, fins, snacks, etc. are all taken care of!

How to Get There: Hanauma Bay and Ko Olina lagoons are the best places to go for beginner snorkeling (or snorkeling with children). Both are very calm, with easy access from the beach, and lifeguards watching. Turtle Canyon is perfect for seeing turtles, but it’s best accessed by catamaran or sailing tour.

Local Wildlife:

  • Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
  • Spinner Dolphins
  • Humpback Whales
  • Fish
  • Monk Seals
  • Manta Rays

Big Island

Big Island is appropriately-named, considering it’s the largest island in the US Hawaiian archipelago. With that larger span of land, you have a generally more diverse landscape; from colored-sand beaches to flourishing rainforests. The western side features various sheltered volcanic bays full It’s also known to hold some of the best snorkeling sites of all of the Hawaiian islands.

Containing 5 of the state’s 11 Marine Life Conservation Districts, there’s a lot to see, and many different snorkeling spots to choose from. However, for the best experience possible, we recommend taking one of the top-rated Big Island snorkel tours. Each one has its own unique features, but all have professional guides to show you the way.

How to Get There:

Kahalu’u Beach Park is super easy to access, and perfect for newbies. Kealakekua Bay is also relatively easy – simply drive around 13 miles south from Kona on Highway 11, following the Nāpō’opo’o Road to the very end. If you want to try the Capt. Cook monument snorkel, be prepared for around a 2-mile hike.

Local Wildlife:

  • Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins
  • Hawaiian Monk Seals
  • Humpback Whales
  • Tiger Sharks
  • Reef Manta Rays
  • Moray Eels
  • Jellyfish
  • Green Sea Turtles


Cancun snorkeling

Cancun is a paradise for just about anybody, but especially those who love an outdoor adventure. Home to the Great Mayan Reef, the coastal waters of Cancun are some of the best for snorkeling on the entire planet. Cancun’s clear, turquoise water is warm pretty much all year-round, with wide, white sand beaches and a wide array of options for every skill level of snorkeler.

Depending on which of these Cancun snorkeling tours you take, you’ll be able to see different reefs, and even check out Isla Mujeres or Playa del Carmen.  Colorful fish, shipwrecks, underwater art installations, and all kinds of other diverse marine life await you, whether you’re a complete beginner or seasoned pro.

How to Get There:

Another reason why Cancun snorkeling is so popular, is because it’s just so accessible. There are literally spots where you can step out of your hotel and just dip into the water. Punta Nizuc and Chitales Reef are located just a few minutes from the mainland, so if you’re staying in the Zona Hotelera, they’re right there.

If you want to check out shipwreck snorkel tours, you’re usually going to have to take a boat to get there.

Local Wildlife:

  • Coral
  • Manta Ray
  • Sea Turtle
  • Starfish
  • Whale Shark
  • Angelfish
  • Barracuda
  • Parrotfish


Known for being the top snorkeling spot in all of Mexico, Cozumel is known for its crystal-clear azul waters, with over 100 types of coral and almost 300 different types of fish! Its vibrant reefs make it a lot of fun for snorkelers of any experience level.

Just like with Cancun, the majority of Cozumel’s popular snorkeling spots are very accessible from the shore. Plenty of people come here to vacation, with the relaxed lifestyle, beautiful wildlife trails, and tons of natural beauty. Not only that, but Cozumel has some of the best underwater visibility in all of the Caribbean – up to 100 feet on sunny days!

How to Get There:

Palancar Reef is one of the most popular, but can only be reached by boat. Paradise Reef is just south of San Miguel, and the first reef inside the protected marine park. The shallow area can be accessed by boat. Dzul Ha Reef can be accessed right from the beach or from a boat. All of the Cozumel snorkeling tours include all transportation, so you don’t have to worry about any of that!

St Thomas VI

St Thomas has some of the most spectacular in the world, where do we start? Here are some of the most popular spots for the St Thomas snorkel tours.

  • Coki Point Beach: A popular and lively beach with a rocky reef near the shore that attracts many fish and crabs. The fish are friendly and will come close to you.
  • Secret Harbor Beach: This beautiful beach has calm waters and a protected bay that is part of the St Thomas East End Reserve. You can snorkel along the rocky coastline. The seagrass meadows are a great place to see octopus, squid, turtles and rays.
  • Sapphire Beach: This beautiful beach with white sand and turquoise water is popular with the tours with its stunning views of St John. You can snorkel along the rocky point on the right side of the beach. Here you see colorful coral, fish, lobster and moray eels.
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