Best Caribbean Islands For Snorkeling And Diving

Come face to face with reef sharks, explore a 16th century galleon resting peacefully on the ocean floor, or glide weightlessly among the coral, gazing at the splendor that is the underwater world of the Caribbean. The real beauty of the islands lies beneath the waves.

Where: Bonaire

Bonaire's pristine reefs and diverse sea life are renowned in the Caribbean, primarily because a government-protected marine park ensures that diving Bonaire is like diving the Caribbean the way it used to be -- untouched and unspoiled. With inviting warm water 78 to 84°F year round and unsurpassed visibility, Bonaire is also a favorite among underwater photographers.

Where: Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

HMS Rhone was one of the first iron ships ever built and in the years since she sank off Salt Island near Virgin Gorda in 1867, her resting place has become one of the most exalted dive sites in world, home to spectacular corals and sponges and teaming with schools of tropical fish. Gorda is the stepping off point for dozens of celebrated dive sites and snorkeling enthusiasts will find an exhaustive selection of caves, reefs, and accessible pools for underwater discovery.

Where: Cayman Islands

The three islands of the Caymans are the exposed top of an underwater mountain, with steep underwater walls as close as a few hundred yards from shore, providing extraordinary dive locations. The Islands are often considered the birthplace of recreational diving in the Caribbean. With more than 40 dive operators, 200 dive sites (including several historic shipwrecks), warm calm waters, 100 feet plus visibility, and an intense variety of marine life, it is difficult to find a better diving location in the region.

Where: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

So many dive sites, so little time. Try the renowned Buck Island, Cane Bay or the 12,000 foot drop at Davis Bay. Salt River Canyon East Wall, with its 1,000 foot drop, is an underwater Garden of Eden of coral and sponges and considered the "fishiest" dive in St. Croix. The West Wall with its sheer drop off is home to giant stingrays and is also known as "The Pinnacles," for its geological formation with a maze of swim-throughs, ledges and recesses. With most sites located in the north and the west, underwater treasures are accessible from the beach or by boat and are open to everyone from novices to pros.

Where: Saba

Saba is only five square miles with most dive sites located within 15 minutes of the harbor. With 28 official dive sites and some of the richest marine life, Saba is one of the premier diving locations in the Caribbean. Dive without the crowds in a protected marine environment known for its dramatic drop offs, famous pinnacles, spectacular coral formations and volcanic lava tunnels. From shallow patch reefs to deep water seamounts, Saba offers diving for every diver's experience level.