It’s the Caribbean’s most precious resource. It’s right there. It’s beckoning you. You’re on the beach, taking in the sun, and you’re fascinated by what’s going on in the vast blue world right in front of you. It’s why so many people always pick up a mask and fins and decided to snorkel on their Caribbean getaways — it’s a great, easy way to explore, to discover the sea. These are the best Caribbean snorkeling islands — the places where the snorkeling itself is worth making the trip!
This is obviously a top Caribbean diving destination,and that means that great snorkeling abounds, too, with dozens of terrific snorkeling spots, from the yellow tails at Eden Rock to the Wreck of the Gamma, an old freighter that’s more than 30 years old. Of course there’s Stingray City, too. (And for some extra adventure, hop over to Cayman Brac and Cayman).
The things that make this one of the Caribbean’s great diving destinations also make it a terrific snorkeling destination. With a world-class marine park surrounding the island, you can find immaculate reefs right offshore. And if you want to take a quick water trip, there’s also great snorkeling off the coast of the nearby islet of Klein Bonaire.
It’s located right on the Western Hemisphere’s longest reef system, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System and that means superb spots for snorkeling, from the coast of Ambergris Caye to Lighthouse Reef.
The island’s Champagne Reef, whose subterranean geothermal activity causes bubbles to fill the sea (hence the “Champagne”), is one of the Caribbean’s great snorkeling experiences. And Dominica is full of exotic sights, from underwater volcanic craters to batfish and electric rays.
This might be the best environmentally protected island in all of the region, and that extends below the sea, particularly in Trunk Bay, which is home to the region’s most famous underwater snorkeling trail.
Saint Lucia’s most famous for its towering Pitons; but the wonder of the Pitons extends below sea level to the Anse Piton Marine Reserve, home to fascinating obsidian-hued water full of vibrant sea life. But perhaps the island’s most recognized snorkeling site is the Anse Chastanet Reef (above), which 150 different fish species call home.
Grenada is full of great natural snorkeling sites, but a can’t miss snorkeling spot is its Underwater Sculpture Park led by famous underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, a stone marvel just below the surface.
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
The producers of the James Bond film Thunderball brought 007 here to film the snorkeling scenes, and now you can follow in his footsteps at the Thunderball Grotto, an underwater cave experience. And for a different experience, try the reef at Harbour Buoy Portside.
There are a host of great snorkeling sites in Virgin Gorda (North Sound is full of them), but for a snorkeling experience you can’t get anywhere in the Caribbean, the unique geological formation known as The Baths provides an incomparable underwater backdrop.
When it comes to snorkeling the island of St Croix, it’s actually about another island: nearby Buck Island and the Buck Island Reef National Monument. It’s part of the US National Park Service, meaning it’s home to a crystal-clear, untouched Elkhorn-coral barrier reef.
Those in the know venture out to Culebra, the still largely undiscovered island off the coast of Puerto Rico and its Cayo Luis Peña reserve just off the coast. And just off mainland Puerto Rico is the private Palomino Island that belongs to the El Conquistador resort, making it one of the hotel destinations for Caribbean snorkelers.
Water doesn’t really get any clearer than in the Bahamas, and that’s particularly true of this tiny chain just 50 miles off the coast of Miami. It’s full of crystal clear snorkeling spots, from wrecks to spotted dolphin encounters. And using the wonderful Bimini Undersea is a must.
Much of the Western Caribbean remains uncharted by mass tourism, meaning you can find your own secret snorkeling spots in abundance. And like Belize, Roatan is located on the second largest barrier reef on earth.
This was the original underwater sculpture park in the Caribbean, the brainchild of the aforementioned Jason deCaires Taylor. It’s called MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte), and now includes more than 500 sculptures.