The 10 Best Caribbean Snorkeling Spots
By Christiana Mecca
Ready to jump into the clear turquoise water of the Caribbean? Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities among the Caribbean. We give you everything you need to know about 10 great, must-see snorkel spots. Dive on in.
Trunk Bay (St. John, U.S.V.I.)
Trunk Bay's self-guided 205m-long (673-ft.) trail has large underwater signs that identify species of coral and other items of interest. The beach has showers, changing rooms, equipment rentals, and a lifeguard.
Buck Island (St. Croix, U.S.V.I.)
More than 250 species of fish, as well as a variety of sponges, corals, and crustaceans, have been found at this 340-hectare (840-acre) island and reef system, 3km (2 miles) off St. Croix's north shore. The reef is strictly protected by the U.S. National Park Service but it is open to snorkelers and divers.
Stingray City (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands)
Stingray City is an easy 4m (13-ft.) diving site that can also be seen while snorkeling. It's an extraordinary experience to meet the dozens of tame, gentle stingrays that glide around you in the warm, crystal-clear waters.
Curaçao Underwater Marine Park (Curaçao)
In contrast to Curaçao's arid terrain, the marine life that rings the island is rich and spectacular. The best-known snorkeling sites, in the Curaçao Underwater Marine Park, stretch for 20km (12 miles) along Curaçao's southern coastline, and there are many other highly desirable sites as well. Sunken ships, gardens of hard and soft coral, and millions of fish are a snorkeler's treat.
The best snorkeling on the island lies on the French side, where the government religiously protects the calm waters, which are populated with schools of brilliantly colored fish. Find a tiny cove and explore the shallow reefs along its shores, especially in the northeastern underwater nature reserve.
Bonaire Marine Park (Bonaire)
All the attributes that make Bonaire a world-class diving destination apply to its snorkeling, too. Snorkelers can wade from the shores off their hotels to the reefs and view an array of coral and colorful fish. In particular, the reefs just off Klein Bonaire receive rave reviews.
Every island here offers great snorkeling possibilities right off magnificent white-sand beaches. In most places you'll have the waters to yourself. One of the best is the reef stretching for 1.5km (1 mile) along the island of Canouan, where waters are filled with beautiful brain coral and vibrant fish. The snorkeling is also good at Palm Island and Petit St. Vincent.
Haulover Bay (St. John)
Haulover Bay (St. John): A favorite with locals, this small bay is rougher than Leinster and often deserted. The snorkeling is dramatic, with ledges, walls, nooks, and sandy areas set close together. At this spot, only about 180m (591 ft.) of land separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea.
This is a snorkeler's dream. Most of its lovely beaches open onto clear, calm waters populated by rainbow-hued tropical fish. The marine life offshore is particularly dense, including colorful sea anemones. The rich types of different elk and brain coral make snorkeling particularly rewarding. There are 360 relaxing beaches on Antigua to choose from but some of the best snorkeling on Bird Island and Cades Reef.
Cane Bay (St. Croix)
One of the best diving and snorkeling sites on St. Croix is off this breezy north-shore beach. On a clear day, you can swim out 140m (459 ft.) and see the Cane Bay Wall that drops off dramatically to deep waters below. Multicolored fish, elkhorn, and brain coral abound.