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Snorkeling and scuba diving rank high among the common activities in the Caribbean for good reasons. The islands in the region have some of the most inviting waters with tons of underwater adventures. Imagine a place with literally hundreds of islands, each having a special charm.
Picture a region where the sea stays warm throughout the year, and the crystal-clear waters provide up to 100-feet of visibility so you can easily access the abundant marine life. These and more make the Caribbean an excellent snorkeling destination.
Here are the must-see snorkeling locations every snorkeler should visit while in the Caribbean. You will also learn a few things about the varied marine life you can expect in each of these spots.
1. Trunk Bay
Trunk Bay, located in St. John, is a National Park and an excellent beach for snorkeling! Trunk Bay is great for first-timers, kids and older adults. It is a popular spot so you’ll run into a lot of other tourists, however it’s one of the best spots in St John and a must-see.
Snorkel the 650 foot underwater snorkeling trail and you’ll be able to see tons of fish and coral, all within the first 20 feet of water, which is why it’s a great beginner spot. The best area at Trunk Bay is on the Western side of the beach, which provides protection from caves and is home to much more coral and fish than the Eastern side.
If you’re a more experienced snorkeler, diving down you’ll be able to see smaller marine life and corals. Keep an eye out for Arrow Crabs, Juvenile Spotted Drum and Blue Bell Tunicate corals.
2. The British Virgin Islands (The Indians & The Caves)
The Indians, located just off the Norman Island, is a popular spot for both snorkelers and charterers – if you plan on visiting, get there early to reserve a spot. There are four main (and beautiful) rock formations that are just as remarkable underwater as they are above water. Reaching depths of 50-60 feet, The Indians is a great option for more advanced snorkelers and offer narrow underwater passages with a variety of coral, reef fish, and underwater life.
Another B.V.I hot-spot is the world-famous Caves, located off of Treasure Point. The Caves offer a ton of hidden passageways, which are amazing, but be sure to bring a flashlight. In addition to the wonderful coral clusters and marine population, it is also a protected snorkeling site once used by pirates – be on the look out for some hidden treasure and you might leave B.V.I with more money than you came there with!
3. Buck Island (St. Croix, U.S.V.I.)
Buck Island is a small, uninhabited, 176 acre island about 1.5 miles North of the coast of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. With a 4,500-acre long reef and an underwater marked trial, there is plenty to explore and experience for any snorkeler. Buck Island receives around 50,000 visitors a year, so be prepared for a lot of tourists visiting the area.
It has more than 250 species of fish, as well as a variety of sponges, corals, and crustaceans. Although the reef is strictly protected by the U.S. National Park Service but it is open to snorkelers and divers.
4. Coki Beach
Coki Beach is one of the best spots for snorkeling on St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands). The water here is usually very calm and clear, and the depth only reaches only reaches 55 feet, which makes it a great spot for any type of snorkeler, especially beginners. Comparable to the beaches in St. John’s, you’ll be able to view a variety of reef fish and coral reef here. Due to its popularity, Coki does get pretty busy, so be sure to get there very early if you want to get a good spot and enjoy the snorkeling.
If you’re planning on visiting with your family, then Coki Beach is a solid option – it also offers the Coral Beach Ocean Park, a 5 acre park with exotic aquariums, outdoor pools and trails. Great for young children!
5. Curaçao (Curacao Underwater Marine Park)
Curacao, the Dutch-owned part of the Caribbean, is a beautiful tropical paradise dotted with lots of gorgeous beaches. This is the perfect snorkeling destination for the less experienced snorkeler. Although a large part of the southern coast is the protected Curacao Underwater Marine Park, there are fewer larger fish here.
The beautiful sandy beaches make it easy to enter and exit the waters. Tugboat is one of the most visited snorkeling spots in Curacao. It is located in the shallow waters at Spanish Water. You can get there by boat tour, but you don’t have to spend money to access this popular spot (unless you enjoy boat trips). You can get to the tugboat by car. There are areas that reach 190 feet down, so if you’re an advanced snorkeler, Curacao is a great spot.
Little Knip Beach offers good snorkeling, where you can explore the live coral reef and swim with a variety of fish. You might even be lucky to find baby sea turtles, a school of squid, or see octopus in their hideouts.
Another great snorkeling spot is the small island of Klein Curacao, off the southeast of the main island. Access to Klein is by boat trips, but it is worth it because you will get to explore soft and hard corals and plenty of other marine life.
6. Guadeloupe (Plage du Pain de Sucre, Maledure & Sec Pate)
If you are an avid snorkeler, you won’t want to miss the chance to visit Guadeloupe because some of the most vibrant snorkeling spots in the Caribbean are found here. There is a wide variety of destinations suitable for every skill level, and there is no shortage of marine adventures to wow you in Guadeloupe.
About six miles south of the main island is Saintes archipelago, home to many famous snorkeling spots. If you are heading to this area, you will want to check out Plage du Pain de Sucre, a truly beautiful small beach lined with coconut palms. Beneath the surface is an animated reef packed with sponges, sea fans, and a wide variety of Caribbean fish species.
Another snorkeling hotspot is the Maledure beach in the Bouillante region on the west coast of Basse Terre. Here, you will have the opportunity to swim with green sea turtles that often come to feed on the seagrass meadows.
If you are an advanced snorkeler or diver, check out the legendary Sec Pate site reserved for more experienced swimmers. The huge turtles, varied fish types, and coral-covered pinnacle are things you would enjoy exploring.
Apart from the hurricane season that may hinder swimming and sailing for a few days in May through November, the weather in Guadeloupe is excellent for snorkeling all year.
Here’s something to keep in mind. The national language here is French, so you might need to find a translator or an English-speaking guide if you don’t speak French.
7. Puerto Rico (Culebra & La Parguera Nature Reserve)
Tranquil waters with diverse marine life make Puerto Rico one of the must-see snorkeling locations in the Caribbean. Some of the reefs are accessible through boat rides or catamarans, but many are easily accessible by swimming from the shore.
East of Puerto Rico is a small island, Culebra, that attract many snorkelers because of their unique colorful underwater world. Get a chance to explore these waters in the company of pufferfish, spotted eagle rays, turtles, manatees, dolphins, and on some occasions, nurse sharks. Majority of the dive sites at Culebra are shallow, reaching between 20 and 50 feet, making it a perfect spot for beginners and children.
La Parguera Nature Reserve on the south of the island is a notable snorkeling spot. The turquoise water, shallow peaceful channels, small mangrove laden coves, and bioluminescent bay are among the things that make this area famous. Operators here offer daytime and sunset snorkeling in the reefs, bio bay, and coves. Although there are much deeper dive spots, the clearest are between 10 and 25 feet.
The Escambron beach near the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan is another popular snorkeling destination, mainly because of the calm waters and shallow dive spots (around 25 feet for best visibility). The rock formations protect the beach from the rough surf of the Atlantic Ocean. You can get very close to the fish here because they are used to people.
Outdoors, I’m in my element, especially in the water. I know the importance of being geared up for anything. I do the deep digital dive, researching gear, boats and knowhow and love keeping my readership at the helm of their passions.