16 Best Places to Snorkel in the Caribbean in 2023

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If you’re looking for the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve got all the info you need on where to go and what to expect. So dive in and explore some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world!

Best Caribbean Snorkeling: Central America

Snorkeling in Mexico

If you’re looking for the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean, look no further than Mexico. With its pristine turquoise waters and diverse marine life, Mexico offers some of the very best snorkeling in the region. From Cancun to Playa del Carmen to Isla Mujeres, there are plenty of great spots to explore. So if you’re itching to get your feet wet, read on for our top picks!

MUSA underwater museum In Isla Mujeres

Photo Courtesy of Chris Fry, The Aquarius Traveller

Contributed by Isabella Biava from Let’s travel to Mexico

Among all the spectacular snorkeling spots the Caribbean sea can offer, the MUSA underwater museum located between Cancun and Isla Mujeres in the Mexican Caribbean water is definitely one of the most unique places to visit. 

The project started in 2009 when the Mexican government understood the urge to preserve the coral reef and the entire underwater world from the inevitable impact of the constantly increasing massive tourism and scatter tourists through more different attractions. 

Mexico called upon the award-winning sculptor, environmentalist, and professional underwater photographer, Jason deCaires Taylor, asking for help in finding a solution. 

And he did. He created a huge underwater museum comprehensive of 400  sculptures with the purpose to create a habitat for marine life whilst creating awareness about the fragile underwater world and its relationship with humans.

And the miracle happened. In just a few months the statues, representing human beings and everyday objects ( including a VW Beetle, were covered in algae, and corals became a natural habitat for all sorts of sea life. 

It has become one of the top attractions in the area and definitely one of the unmissable things to do in Cancun. You can either snorkel or do a shallow dive, available also for non-certified divers. 

An unforgettable experience that’s available all year round, although in summer the water is warmer and more pleasant. 

Boat Tours are organized from Cancun as you cannot reach the MUSA museum from the shore. 

BONUS: Watch this incredible video of the MUSA underwater museum, from The Aquarius Traveler!


Snorkeling in Cozumel Mexico

Contributed by Allison Sicking, from Viva La Travelista

Known for its incredible coral reefs, the island of Cozumel offers some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. This Mexican island is not only home to amazing coral reefs but offers crystal clear turquoise waters and abundant marine life. Plus, the island’s year-round tropical climate makes it a great place to visit any time of year. 

As part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, Cozumel is situated along the second longest barrier reef system in the world–only second to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities in Cozumel, and there are many different snorkeling locations around the island whether you want to snorkel right off the beach or take a boat tour to some of the more impressive snorkeling spots.  

One of the best places to snorkel in Cozumel is at El Cielo (“Heaven” in Spanish), which is a shallow sandbar known for its abundance of giant starfish and can only be reached by boat. The clear turquoise waters at El Cielo are truly impressive!  

Other popular snorkeling spots in Cozumel are the Columbia and Palancar reefs, which offer visitors the opportunity to see colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, stingrays, and other marine life.  No matter where you decide to snorkel in Cozumel, the island offers an unforgettable snorkeling experience for those that want to get an up-close view of the underwater world. 

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Manatee in the Caribbean

Contributed by Daria, from The Discovery Nut

Located in Mexico’s Caribbean, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a perfect place to escape touristy places in the region and spend time snorkeling and wildlife watching. 

Encompassing 528,000 hectares, Sian Ka’an is the second-largest biosphere in Mexico. 

A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the biggest protected habitats in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Sian Ka’an is translated as “Entrance to the Sky” from the Mayan language. Sian Ka’an is home to dolphins, monkeys, manatees, manta rays, and many species of birds and fish. 

Visiting Sian Ka’an is possible only with a guided tour. You can take a tour from Tulum or Playa Del Carmen, some of the most popular destinations in Mexico’s Rivera Maya, or take a dirt road from Tulum to Punta Allen, a small town near Sian Ka’an from where you can catch a boat tour with one of the local operators. 

The best time of the year to visit Sian Ka’an is from December through April, if you are looking for nice sunny weather. November and May are perfect shoulder months when prices on tours are lower and it’s not as busy. 

Sian Ka’an is located near the second-largest barrier reef in the world, and snorkeling here is an incredible experience. During your trip, you will get to see a lot of wildlife and enjoy the amazing turquoise waters of the Caribbean. 

Snorkeling in Belize

Belize is a great place to snorkel because of its Barrier Reef system. The reef protects the coast from large waves, making the water calmer and clearer. There are also many different types of coral and fish that can be found in Belize’s waters. Plus, the beaches are beautiful and there is plenty to do when you’re not snorkeling! If you’re looking for an amazing snorkeling experience, Belize should be your top destination.

Caye Caulker

Contributed by Joanna from, World in My Pocket

Caye Caulker is a laid-back island just off the coast of Belize. The motto of Caye Caulker is “go slow” and it couldn’t fit better, as there are no cars on this small island. To get to Caye Caulker you need to take a speed boat from Belize City, for around one hour.

To experience the best snorkeling in Caye Caulker you need to go on a tour. There are two types of tours, depending on how much you want to spend in the water: half a day or a full day. The tours go to different places, so it’s good to know beforehand what you want to see before heading on the trip. Also, make sure you are choosing an ethical company, as many of the snorkeling operators in Caye Caulker are feeding the fish.

The marine life just off Caye Caulker is incredible. You can see so many different fish here, as well as sting and manta rays, reef sharks, manatees, and turtles. Usually, the guide will go with you in the water and point out the different types of fish or eels. The corals in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, where most tours will go, are pretty special. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest coral reef in the world after the Great Barrier in Australia, so there is plenty to see here, besides the fish.

Belize is also home to the famous Blue Hole, which you can go to from Caye Caulker. However, snorkeling there is not advised because it’s too deep to see anything. The Blue Hole is best experienced through diving or flying above it.

Snorkeling in Colombia

Snorkeling is a great way to explore the underwater world. And if you’re looking for some good places to snorkel, Colombia should be at the top of your list. With its stunning coastal scenery, warm tropical waters, and diverse marine life, Colombia offers something for everyone who loves snorkeling. So if you’re looking for an amazing snorkeling experience, be sure to add Colombia to your travel itinerary. You won’t regret it!

San Andreas

Contributed By Dan & George from Backpacking Latin America

San Andrés, Colombia is an island in the Caribbean, and whilst the beaches of Spratt Bight and Playa de San Luis are good options, we recommend to instead head to the small islet of Johnny Caye. To get here you’ll need to take a small boat out, which takes around 20 minutes from San Andrés. This islet is one of the best overall places you can snorkel in San Andrés and see aquatic life.

Near the coast, you’ll find tons of exotic fishes, starfish, and manta rays. From here you can also easily get to the mangroves, where you’ll find even more striped and glittering fish, not to mention a few small sharks too. The best time to visit San Andrés for snorkeling is between the months of January and May. These months are the best for spotting the largest variety of marine wildlife. This time is also still within the dry season, meaning you’ll dry off quickly after your time in the sea. Be sure to take pictures on the island of Johnny Cay too, where wild iguanas roam free on the beaches!

Snorkeling in Panama

Contributed by Pamela, The Directionally Challenged Traveller

One of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean is a set of islands that most people have never heard of – the San Blas Islands. Located off the coast of Panama, the San Blas Islands are located far away from the crowds. They’re an ideal hidden gem because of their remoteness. There are 365 islands here, with a few being inhabited, and none of them being crowded.

It’s easy to visit the San Blas Islands from Panama City. They’re located in the autonomous Kuna region of the country. Many tour companies can help you get from the capital city to the islands. 

Snorkeling allows you to see hundreds of different types of fish, starfish, lobsters, and turtles! Many of the accommodations in San Blas offer day trips to other islands for a modest fee (usually between $2-$5). Some islands have boat wreck tours while others are full of gorgeous coral reefs. Starfish “island” is more of a sand bar that has dozens of starfish in the water that you can get up close to – but don’t take them out of the water it’s not good for the animals. 

Visiting San Blás Islands also gives you an opportunity to learn about the Kuna people and traditions while seeing wildlife in the water. The area is near the equator, so almost any time of the year is a great time to visit. Even in the rainy season, the daytime is often clear with rain coming in at night. 

Best Snorkeling: Caribbean Islands

The Caribbean is a great place to snorkel. Whether you’re looking for quiet coves with crystal-clear waters or lively reefs teeming with colorful fish, the Caribbean has something to offer everyone who loves to snorkel. Here are some of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean.

Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs), Cuba

Contributed by Sarah Carter, of Cubas Best

Cuba has some of the clearest water in the Caribbean and it has an amazing history too.  When you snorkel the beaches off Playa Larga and Playa Giron and you’ll be seeing history too.   

The beaches offshore from Playa Giron are particularly good for snorkeling.  There’s an abundance of fish and shallow depths until you encounter a great wall that you can see some more fish from (you’ll have to dive to see more), and there’s an amazing sense of history here too.

This area, the Bay of Pigs, is the location of the failed US invasion of Cuba in 1967.  Playa Giron is also home to the museum of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs and is around 3 hours southeast of Havana. You can walk into the water here at Playa Giron, or join the daily dive bus which goes to local snorkel and dive sites – a different one each day – for about US$3, including snorkeling equipment. 

 It’s a fabulous experience, diving, and snorkeling here.  It won’t break the bank, the water is clear, the folks are friendly and diving into history is an experience in itself!  There’s a variety of fish and coral here, and invasive as it might be, a lionfish is still pretty amazing to see!


Snorkeling in Curacao

Contributed by Lara Hartog, Writer, and Editor of The Best Travel Gifts

One of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean is the island of Curaçao, one of the Dutch Antilles Islands. 

There are various great places for snorkeling around the island. And the best thing about snorkeling in Curaçao is the fact you don’t need a boat to go anywhere. You can simply walk straight from the beach and you will find mesmerizing underwater life right where you are. 

Curaçao can get quite windy, so the best snorkeling spots are those which are protected from the wind, usually on the North and southwest side of the island. 

Some of the best beaches include Playa Lagun, Grote Knip, Kleine Knip, Tugboat beach (where you can actually snorkel around a sunken tugboat), and Playa Forti.  

Marine life is quite diverse around Curaçao, from stunning coral to snappers, butterflyfish, parrotfish, and sea turtles. The best place to see sea turtles is at Playa Lagun where fishermen clean their freshly caught fish and attract turtles. 

As with many Caribbean islands, the temperature of the ocean is a pleasant 79F (26C) degrees year-round, meaning that you don’t need a wet or drysuit to go snorkeling in Curaçao. 

And lastly, one thing to keep in mind before booking your flight to Curaçao is the relatively short and mild (but still very present) rainy season that affects the island from October to December.

Culebra Island, Puerto Rico

Contributed by Candice, CS Ginger

One of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is snorkeling on Culebra Island. Culebra is a small island off the east coast of the main island of Puerto Rico. This island is most famous for Flamenco Beach, a beach commonly listed as one of the best beaches in the world.

Flamenco Beach and the other islands on Culebra are great waters for snorkeling. You can easily get to some beautiful reefs from the shore. Flamenco Beach has snorkel rentals available if you don’t have your own, but rentals are only available during business hours. If you are snorkeling outside of those hours, you will want to bring your own mask and fins.

Shark Cages is the most popular place to snorkel at Flamenco Beach. You can find it on the right side of the beach where the rocks start.

Tamarindo Beach is another great place to snorkel on Culebra Island. You can see turtles, stingrays, and Caribbean fish in the water.

Snorkeling is a great activity year-round however the calmer waters are present from April through August.

De Palm Island Aruba

Best Caribbean Snorkeling

Contributed by Marianne from, Pasta Pretzels & Passports

Often referred to as ‘One Happy Island,’ Aruba is home to some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. The gorgeous white-sand beaches, excellent weather, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and fantastic sea life, make the island a bucket-list-worthy destination for snorkelers.

Because Aruba is south of the Caribbean’s hurricane belt, the island is the perfect destination for year-round snorkeling. This means that no matter when you plan to visit the island, chances are, you will see plenty of marine life and experience warm, sunny weather.

If you are traveling with younger children and want to introduce them to snorkeling, head over to De Palm Private Island. With all equipment and instruction provided, this private Island’s all-inclusive experience is perfect for families.

De Palm Island’s offshore reef is one of Aruba’s most spectacular snorkel sites. There, you will find two protected, man-made coves that are the perfect place to spot fish.

The coves are shallow in many places, perfect for kids to try out snorkeling for the first time. And although the water is shallow, there are still plenty of opportunities to spot some incredible sea life, like the gorgeous blue parrot fish that are native to Aruba. Grab some fish food from the staff, and the parrot fish will practically eat out of your hand!

Of course, for those with a little more experienced, you can snorkel outside the coves where you will find some incredible reefs to explore. Complimentary snorkel tours of the reef are offered twice daily.

And if you want to kick your snorkeling experience up a notch, De Palm Island also offers SNUBA – a combination of scuba and snorkeling. With SNUBA, you can breathe easily underwater without wearing heavy, restrictive dive gear, and without requiring dive certification.

SNUBA is a unique, family-friendly experience that is easy to learn. De Palm Island’s professionally trained SNUBA guides even provide underwater tours of the incredible reefs, making it the perfect family experience


Contributed by Sarah Carter, ASocialNomad

Antigua has so many beaches, one, it’s said for every day of the year, and so many of them are good for snorkeling that it’s hard to pick just one.  But if you must, then the white crescent of sand surrounding the turquoise water that is Half Moon Bay is glorious.  

This picture-perfect Caribbean Bay is pretty spectacular to snorkel in under the right conditions.

The bay is a 40-minute drive from the capital of the island, St John’s. The right-hand side bay is popular with windsurfers, but it’s at the calm edges of the bay that you’ll find great snorkeling spots.  The best spots for snorkeling will be found at the top left of the bay where it’s the calmest.

There’s not much coral here, but you will find fish, in amongst the grass that grows at the edges of the bay.  One of the things that makes this a great area for snorkeling is that there is hardly anyone that comes here, so you’ll likely have this part of the bay and the water to yourself.  What you’re likely to spot here are Barracuda and Cuttlefish.


Contributed by Lora Pope, from Explore with Lora

If you’re looking to swim with sea turtles while snorkeling in the Caribbean, Barbados is one of the best places for it!

You can find sea turtles in Barbados on the south and west coast of the island, where the calmest water and best beaches are. Carlisle Bay is the most popular place to go, as you are almost guaranteed to see sea turtles here. Along with shipwreck, tropical fish, rays, and sea horses!

Many day tours can take you there from your hotel, or another great option is to go with Boatyard beach club. They sell day passes for the club, which includes a snorkeling trip to Carlise Bay to go snorkeling with the turtles.

Another place to see the turtles is Freights Bay, one of the best places to surf in Barbados. It’s not a great place to go snorkeling as the currents can be strong,  but if you’re out for a surf watching the turtles is a great way to pass the time while you’re waiting for the next wave!

The turtles are around Barbados year-round. Most hawksbill and green turtles nest between mid-May to October, while the leatherback turtles nest between February and July.

Best Snorkeling: Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos are known for their pristine beaches and crystal-clear water, making it a popular destination for snorkeling. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced swimmer, there are plenty of spots to explore on these islands. Here are some of the best places to snorkel in Turks and Caicos.

Salt Cay

Contributed by By Lindsey Puls of Have Clothes, Will Travel

The tiny island of Salt Cay in Turks and Caicos is just 2.6 square miles in size and has a population of just around 100 people. Despite its small size, Salt Cay offers a variety of fantastic snorkeling experiences!

If you’re looking to snorkel right off the shore, head to the Northwest Point of the island. This area is sheltered from rough ocean swells and the underwater visibility is incredible!

Another good option, if you’re looking to snorkel off the shore, is Little Bluff Lookout. Here you can see a variety of marine life such as blue tangs, French grunts, and bluehead wrasse.

However, one of the coolest things to do in Turks and Caicos is to snorkel with humpback whales! And the place to do this is Salt Cay. You will need to hire a captain to take you out for this snorkeling experience, but it is hands down one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done. (I also recommend booking with Salt Cay Divers for your whale snorkeling experience.) The best time of year to snorkel with whales in Salt Cay is January – March.

Are you visiting the Caribbean on a cruise? You’ll want to grab this Caribbean Cruise Packing list!

Smith Reef

Contributed by Nina from Where in the World is Nina

If you’re looking for a snorkeling spot in Turks and Caicos, you won’t have to look too far. The island of Providenciales (or “Provo” as the locals call it) is home to tons of places to get in the water and swim with the fishies! Some spots are simply right off the beach, which is great since you can walk right in and snorkel instead of booking a tour and spending money (this country isn’t cheap!)

Smith Reef is one of those spots where you can don your snorkel and swim for free right off the beach. Hop in the refreshing and stunningly blue waters and you’ll see an array of colorful fish and reefs, turtles wading about, and even massive eagle rays floating by!

Smith Reef is a safe place to snorkel and is well marked so snorkelers know where to go and boaters know where to avoid. February through July are the best months to visit.

If you’re wondering where to stay in Turks and Caicos, you may want to stay between Smith Reef and Sunset Beach. Grace Bay Beach is smack in between these two spots and is ideally located, but Smith Reef and Sunset Beach both have right-off-the-beach snorkeling spots.

TIP: Bring your own snorkel! Not only is there no place to rent one on this beach, but it’s also better to bring your own so you can spontaneously snorkel around the island without paying crazy rental fees (or even having to hunt down a spot to rent from.)

Best Places to Snorkel: Virgin Islands

Do you want to see what lies beneath the crystal-clear waters of the Virgin Islands? If so, then you need to go snorkeling! Snorkeling is a great way to explore the amazing marine life that calls these islands home.

And with so many wonderful places to choose from, you’re sure to find a spot that’s perfect for you. Be sure and pay a visit to Virgin Island National Park while you are in St John!

The US Virgin Islands

Coki Beach Snorkeling

Contributed by Brodi of Our Offbeat Life

The US Virgin Islands, especially St. Thomas and St. John, is an excellent place for snorkeling in the Caribbean. You don’t even have to take a boat or an excursion to do it. There are a number of beaches with great snorkeling within swimming distance of shore. 

The best beaches for snorkeling on St. Thomas are Coki Beach and Sapphire Beach. Both spots have huts on the beach where you can rent snorkel equipment for a reasonable price. Or, you can also bring your own. 

The waters surrounding St. Thomas are filled with coral, schools of fish, reef sharks, dolphins, and turtles. You can see a wide variety of sea life when snorkeling there!

The best time to snorkel the U.S. Virgin Islands is between April and June when the weather is mild and there is very little rainfall. However, the peak season in USVI is from December to March, when the temperature ranges from the mid-70s to the high 80s.

The British Virgin Islands

Contributed by Catherine Xu, of Nomadicated

Come see for yourself the muse for Robert Louis Stevenson’s iconic novel “Treasure Island,” inspired by the beautiful Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands. Its crystal clear waters hold one of the territory’s most famous snorkel sites – The Caves.

Although Norman Island is one of the closest to the main island of Tortola, the only way to arrive ashore is via private boat. As there are no public ferries, only those on a BVI sailing excursion or those who book a tour can explore the underwater wonders here.

Around the bend from the famed Willi-T’s floating bar, three open caves recess into darkness on the island’s western edge. Abundant marine life darts along the walls and larger fish can be seen hiding in the ravines waiting for prey to swim within their reach. Sea turtles may also leisurely swim right by you.

Bring a flashlight to best experience the caves, which may throw you into total darkness up to 70 feet into its belly. In the caves, scan through the nooks and crannies to spot the eyes of a moray eel staring back at you. 

In high season, The Caves tend to be very popular due to their relatively easy accessibility from the capital Road Town, so arrive early or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Although the water visibility may not be as impressive, seeing the sunset from within the caves is a beautiful sight to behold. 

While visiting the British Virgin Islands, be sure and explore the Virgin Gorda Baths!

Snorkeling Tips

Snorkeling is a great way to get up close and personal with the underwater world, but it’s important to be safe and responsible while doing it. Here are a few tips to help you have a great experience while snorkeling in the Caribbean:

  • First, always check with the local authorities to make sure it is safe to snorkel in a particular area. There may be currents or other hazards that you are not aware of.
  • Second, always use a life jacket or some other flotation device when snorkeling. This will help you stay safe if you get tired or run into any trouble while in the water.
  • Third, be sure to practice good safety habits while snorkeling. This means not touching anything or getting too close to any animals. Remember that you are in their environment and should respect their space.
  • Lastly, always wear only reef-safe sunscreen to protect the coral and marine life. Apply sunscreen a while before your snorkeling time to limit the amount of oil and perfumes in the water. Even better than reef-safe sunscreen, is wearing a rash guard to limit the amount of sunscreen you have to put on!

By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience while snorkeling in the Caribbean.

Snorkeling in the Caribbean

Snorkeling is a popular activity for people who love the Caribbean because of the amazing marine life that can be found in its waters. Whether you are looking for coral reefs, shipwrecks, or sea turtles, there is something for everyone when it comes to snorkeling in this region.

If you’re looking for a snorkeling adventure, the Caribbean is definitely the place to be. With crystal-clear waters and an abundance of marine life, you’re sure to have a memorable experience. Have you had a chance to check out any of these amazing spots? Let us know in the comments what your favorite snorkeling destination is. We can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

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