One of the most enjoyable ways to things to do on a seaside holiday destination is taking to the waters, equipped with a mask and snorkel. An easygoing sport that pleases young and old alike, it’s a fabulous way to witness what is going on under the waves. Catch glimpses of vibrant pristine coral, a rainbow of tropical fish, regal sea turtles, graceful rays and perhaps even a shark fin (from a distance!) at these incredible snorkeling spots across the world’s oceans and seas.
Virtually entirely surrounded by a coral reef, the stunning Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is a fantastic destination for snorkelling. There are many places to snorkel on the island, however, a good place to start is at Blue Bay Marina Park in the southeast of the island. You can snorkel right off the beach through crystal waters full of a range of colorful fish like parrotfish, clownfish, vibrant coral and other aquatic life. Families might prefer the pretty Trou aux Biches with its tranquil, shallow waters. In the north, Pointe aux Piments has an protected coral reef that is easy to access and which is a popular spot for sea turtles. Alternatively, another great place is the spectacular Ile aux Cerfs, with its white sandbars, turquoise lagoon, colorful fish and brilliant coral.
Where to Stay in Mauritius.
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
There are many fabulous places to snorkel in the Caribbean, among the top is this chic island of the Turks and Caicos.
“The archipelago has the third largest barrier reef in the world,” details Laura Blair of In Villa Veritas. “The water is the most lovely turquoise and the spectacular reef is teeming with a fabulous array of fish and coral life.”
You can snorkel right from the beach on Providenciales, another great draw for snorkeling lovers. The best place for this is at the north coast’s Bight Reef and Smith’s Reef. Over these two reefs you can often spot barracudas, trumpetfish, stingrays, turtles and lobsters. To go a little further afield, In Villa Veritas can arrange snorkeling boat trips for their guests so you can swim above the most exceptional areas of the reef’s rainbow coral.
Where to Stay in the Turks and Caicos.
Northern Lau Group, Fiji
Described as “one of the world’s most beautiful places” and “Like No Where Else,” the pristine waters of the Southern Pacific Ocean are just one of the reasons this area is such a spectacular and naturally amazing place for snorkeling. Discerning travellers looking for a luxurious and conscientious experience of the Fijian waters can find this at Kaibu and Vatuvara Islands.
“The islands boast some of the planet’s most unspoiled surrounding reefs with an abundant marine life and multiple varieties of hard and soft coral,” explains Jacqui Reyes of Vatuvara Private Islands. “With the island beaches as significant nesting sites for endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles, there’s great chance of seeing these incredible creatures while snorkeling in the water.”
Vatuvara Private Islands accepts their responsibility as stewards of our natural environment and has joined together with the Vatuvara Foundation in protecting marine life with ridge to reef conservation. Whether delighted with snorkelling just off the island or traveling a bit further and deeper, scuba diving off one of the island’s three Marina boats, there is plenty to explore.
Where to Stay in Fiji.
The lovely Caribbean island of St Barthélemy offers some great snorkeling. According to our local expert Peg Walsh of St Barth Properties, the best place is off Colombier Beach, although you can only reach it by goat path or boat. The path starts very close to St Barth Properties’ Villa Les Embruns and Villa Brume to Mer and the hike takes around 20 minutes. Peg suggests spending the day there and bringing along a picnic lunch, a cooler filled with cold drinks, snorkeling gear. St Barth Properties can also organize renting a catamaran or private boat half or full day excursions to the bring which include drinks, lunch, snorkeling equipment and towels.
Where to Stay in Saint Barthélemy.
Harbour Island, The Bahamas
Of the thousands of islands of The Bahamas, one of the best places for snorkeling and diving is Harbour Island, located two miles off the north coast of Eleuthera. Made famous by Jacques Cousteau and National Geographic, the waters off this idyllic small island include impressive ridges and coral canyons full of alluring sea life. As such, this is an excellent spot for those who love underwater photography.
“On the whole, snorkeling and diving are much better during the rainy season, May to November, when the water is warmer and clearer,” recommends our local villa expert Pamela H. Murdock. “However, in the dry season, with the cold water, there is an abundance of rays and very rich plankton fill the water creating a lot of action. Snorkelers hoping to swim with sea turtles should come June through November. Whereas you can catch giant manta rays and other rays from January to March and sharks from May to November.”
For guests of her villas, Pamela can arrange excursions with the best boatman on the island who knows the best places to snorkel and observe the seasonal sea life.
Where to Stay in Harbour Island.
Offbeat and beautiful Sri Lanka is a great year-round snorkeling destination where you’ll be able to observe a huge range of tropical fish, coral and marine life, plus its warm waters are relatively shark free. The three-mile Bar Reef on the west coast at Kalpitiya is the largest in the country and the stunning waters around Pigeon Island, north of Trincomalee on the east coast, are ideal for snorkeling. If you’re looking for some intrigue other than fish, head to the southern and eastern coasts to discover some captivating ship wrecks around Trincomalee, Arugam Bay, Tangalle, Hikkuduwa, Weligama and Kirinda.
Where to Stay in Sri Lanka.
The crystalline waters and long stretches of beautiful beaches will always impress visitors coming to beautiful Barbados, it’s no wonder that snorkeling is a favourite pastime of most holidaymakers.
“The calming depths remain picturesque and absolutely breathtaking,” describes Betty Cathrow of Blue Sky Luxury. “There are some amazing spots on the island for snorkeling as well as the popular Carlisle Bay wrecks.”
The bay is home to six shipwrecks through which swim schools of tropical fish, sea horses, rays, octopi, turtles and eels. These wrecks range in depth from 12ft to 55ft so you may also want to do some diving.
Avid snorkelers can swim with turtles and enjoy sightings of unique marine life of the Caribbean Sea all just a few steps to your door at the gorgeous Leamington Pavilion, one of the best beachfront holiday retreats in Barbados and available through Blue Sky Luxury. Travel virtually to this exquisite villa in this video tour here.
Where to Stay in Barbados.
Riviera Maya, Yucatan, Mexico
Home to the world’s second largest reef, the 450 miles (724 km) Riviera Maya coastline is one of the world’s top snorkeling destinations. While it may be a busy at times, Akumal is an incredible place for snorkeling, especially for swimming with sea turtles. You may also catch a glimspe of some of its other 150+ species of reef fish and nearly 100 varieties of coral. Akumal is a popular spot for night snorkeling during which you can marvel at a “Wall of Fish,” thousands of silver fish that swim in a dense school. More advanced snorkelers will appreciate the challenge at Yalku-ito, where freshwater flows into the ocean creating a mixture of freshwater over the heavier saltwater which attracts unique schools of fish. You can also snorkel in the cenotes sinkhole though these are best explored by scuba diving.
Where to Stay on the Riviera Maya.
Mahé, The Seychelles
Comprised of 115 stunning islands, the Seychelles is an fantastic place for snorkeling in the Indian Ocean. While many of the smaller islands offer excellent snorkeling, the archipelago’s main island of Mahé features a number of destinations to suit all levels. You can snorkel all year round in its warm waters, plus the reef is abundant in well preserved coral and marine life, especially angelfish, parrotfish and sea turtles. Beginners may prefer to get their feet wet in picturesque Baie Lazare or Anse Royale, due to their shallow lagoons and reef located close to the shore. The long and lovely Anse Soleil beach has some breathtaking aquamarine waters and pristine coral, whereas Anse Major requires a little more effort since it’s reachable by an hour long hike through the forest of Morne Seychellois National Park. Nonetheless, the coral is stunning and it’s a great place to admire the Seychelle’s beauty both above and below the water.
Where to Stay in Mahé.
The north of Brazil has some excellent snorkeling destinations, however, if you’re looking for an easy seaside getaway close to Rio de Janeiro, consider the luxury resort of Búzios, found only a two hour drive north. This stretch of coastline features 21 beaches and 26 hidden coves fringed with gorgeous turquoise waters and filled with exceptional marine life. The picturesque peninsula was once the hideaway of French pirates, therefore, you there are a number of shipwrecks which you can explore. You can also take a boat ride out to nearby Ilha Feia for some exceptional snorkeling. You won’t be short of other activities and entertainment during a holiday here at one of the area’s beautiful luxury villas.
Where to Stay in Brazil.