There are many top snorkeling destinations to cover in an online review, but the best snorkel spots in the world all have a few things in common.
The world's best snorkeling destinations (e.g. for underwater environments) share 5 common factors. This section is a worldwide guide and review comparing the top spots for snorkelers.
This guide references some of the best snorkeling sites that you can find - listed in no particular order or personal choice.
As a rule, the top snorkeling destinations will all have:
The Australasian continent is blessed with many thousands of kilometres of pristine shallow coastline. There are hundreds of small archipelagos and nearby islands.
In fact, there is an abundance of diverse marine life varieties and coral reefs close to shorelines around the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).
Furthermore, the Great Barrier Reef in eastern Australia offers some of the most exhilarating snorkeling and diving destinations. It combines well with a huge majority of the best snorkel spots in the world.
Western Australia is not without some very popular spots for snorkelers too. It includes unrivaled favourites such as Ningaloo Reef and Rottnest Island. Swimmers will often see humpback whales, turtles, manta rays, and whale sharks in these areas.
The Virgin Islands offer an abundance of particularly outstanding snorkeling sites. But, there are many Caribbean island escapes also blessed with great shallow spots.
Many are only a short distance from the shoreline. As a result, Antigua and Bonaire rate high on this list. Hence, they boast turquoise warm water and thriving marine creatures.
Stingray City in the Cayman Islands will be more familiar to scuba divers with certifications than with snorkelers. Divers can get close up encounters with 'people-friendly' stingrays gliding around them.
Even so, swimmers and snorkelers can also appreciate this extraordinary experience. They can do so in crystal clear azure blue water.
Without doubt, the coral reefs and underwater attractions found near the Bahamas qualify as some of the prime snorkeling spots of all the Caribbean islands.
There are more than seven hundred (700) exotic islands from which to choose.
As a result, finding the best snorkeling in the Bahamas needs a little research - especially if you're a beginner.
Of course, the full list of popular Bahamas destinations is not easy to cover in one simple article.
But, this is a great place to get some professional insight into some amazing snorkeling and scuba diving adventures around the Caribbean.
Abacos is one of the most impressive of the Out Islands of the Bahamas. It is best to consider the Abacos as a long island chain stretching close to twenty miles in length that nestles within the greater Bahamas archipelago.
You will find an underwater world that includes abundant coral formations, caves, and a rich collection of swim-through arches.
For example, the destination known as 'Smuggler's Rest' contains an upright plane wreck and there is a sunken galleon (complete with a few cannonballs) to be found at 'Spanish Cannon'.
We consider average water temperatures (around the mid 80s Fahrenheit) and the clean waters lapping at white sandy beaches as being the top reasons to snorkel at Abacos in the Bahamas.
Note: It is important to note that Hurricane Dorian hit these particular islands in August 2019. Stay tuned for further updates when the resorts and tourism venues reopen.
You can explore at least a dozen exciting locations if you go snorkeling at Eleuthera – including 'Pineapple Dock' and 'Glass Window Bridge' shipwrecks.
Among the diverse sea life found here are spotted eagle rays, turtles, southern stingrays, and reef sharks. Venture to a little deeper water and you would be unlucky not to see larger fishes, such as barracudas and tarpons.
The Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea fight for dominance in this area - so knowing how to handle strong currents can be tricky for novices. Hence, connecting with one of the local guides is sensible and highly recommended.
So, what can you find while snorkeling at the Southern Bahamian islands? The simple answer is blue holes, colourful coral gardens, sea fans, and a handful of undersea caves to explore.
Furthermore, Stocking Island nestles a short distance from the main harbour of George Town. This is a long, narrow barrier that stretches out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Visitors can access the white sand beach by water taxi and the shallow pristine water at Exumas rates right up there with the best snorkeling in the Bahamas.
This area is well known for sightings of large resident stingrays. Look out for turtles and schools of reef fishes tucked around the corals and barrel sponges.
You should always follow the Green Fins snorkeling practices, but any experience for snorkelers with rays in shallow water tends to be a friendly one.
Despite being a popular destination for water-sport enthusiasts, Long Island is one that charms tourists with its shallow bays and golden sandy beaches.
At a whopping 663-feet deep, Dean's Blue Hole is rated as one of the deepest blue holes around the world. Of course, the site doesn’t draw snorkelers to this particular area.
But, you might want to discover the difference between snorkeling and scuba diving to appreciate its appeal.
If you're searching for a calm environment to snorkel in the Bahamas - try San Salvador. It is an ideal spot for inexperienced snorkelers with kids and for beach lovers.
The key snorkeling sites at San Salvador Bahamas include:
Grotto Bay is another favourite for visitors to this archipelago. It boasts an immaculate curve of beach and dazzling aqua blue water.
Sharp-eyed snorkelers will also enjoy spotting various sea life creatures, such as queen triggers, stoplight parrotfish, and white-spotted filefish.
The most well-known of the best snorkeling spots in the world could be in Hawaii.
It would be a travesty to miss out on snorkeling at the Hawaiian Islands if you ever get the chance! Add it to your bucket list if you ever have the chance to visit this group of beautiful archipelagos in the Pacific Ocean.
Beneath the surface awaits a world teeming with underwater sea life. You can see large fishes, dolphins, stingrays, sea turtles, and eels – some of them in water that's only waist deep.
There are species of reef fish that are only common in Hawaiian waters. Snorkelers with more experience often head out through the coral formation boundaries to the coves and other outer reef areas.
Are you searching for a perfect getaway full of adventure and superb snorkeling sites? Then you must consider the islands of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.
Offering unrivaled tropical scenery, the Maldives is one of the best locations to try snorkeling around its shallow atolls and sand bar islands.
Prepare yourself for a greeting made by whale sharks, huge parrot fish, and snappers. There are rays, sharks, and thousands of small tropical reef fish.
Generally the best season for Maldivian water sports is December to March. Nonetheless, you can get another peak season in this area from June through to October.
Pro Tip: Another section contains information about which beach is best for snorkeling in Andamans and what kind of fishes you can see swimming around the coral reefs.
One of the frequently asked questions about snorkeling sent to us on a regular basis is "where are the best places for snorkeling in Thailand?"
We suggest you head over to the west coast holiday beach resort destinations if you want to swim with sea turtles and see tropical reef fishes in clear blue water.
It is wise to research the best months to snorkel Thailand. Also, reviewing the predominant flora and fauna of each tourist hot spot will help you choose the most stunning topographical location for swimming.
Well, the foremost time of year to visit this tropical region in Southeast Asia varies. In most cases, you will want to avoid the months that experience the worst of the monsoon weather.
For some holidaymakers, the choice is an easy one. The best place to snorkel in Thailand could be an easy paddle off the beach. Swimming in waist high water, spotting tiny reef fishes, is not too exerting.
Whereas, others prefer a challenging deep-water drift snorkel. As a result, this would be the best chance of swimming with the lesser spotted whale shark.
We base this review of Thailand snorkeling destinations on those parameters. The guide will help you find the best snorkeling in Thailand and some desirable spots to snorkel – especially when you are snorkeling with children.
Most snorkelers in Thailand search for tropical fish and shallow clear water. Hence, the best coral reefs for snorkeling will include some of the recognised holiday resorts.
Without doubt, you should head to the west coast holiday beach resorts if you want to swim with turtles.
Even so, there is a lot more marine and ocean life to see at Phuket Island, the stunning Phi Phi Islands, and the waters near to Krabi Ao Nang Province.
All these Thai snorkel spots have very different seasonal weather conditions and tourist influxes. As a result, timing your holiday for Thailand snorkeling activities should be a prime consideration.
The top destinations for unsurpassed snorkeling in Thailand will depend on three primary factors:
Note: Check out the Thailand scuba diving holiday guide for more information about the culture and visa requirements.
Phuket Snorkeling: Ko Phi Phi Snorkel Sites
Phuket is Thailand's largest island with a lion’s share of the best swimming sites in the Andaman Sea. It is an unforgettable haven for scuba divers and snorkelers alike. Hence, there is no shortage of colourful fishes and vivid coral formations.
But, there is one major advantage of skin diving or snorkeling at Phuket Islands. The easy access to many shoreline house reefs is clear. A shallow calm house reef is the ideal spot to try the best snorkeling Thailand has to offer. You will find one at most of the top beachfront holiday resorts and 5 star hotel chains.
Take a short boat trip to some of the best snorkeling islands nearby. You cannot fail to find stunning marine diversity at its best. The list of natural wonders that thrive in the warm clear water around Phuket is huge. It includes pelagic sharks, rays, seahorses, mantas, and so much more.
Thailand's south-west monsoon rains usually arrive around July. They deteriorate on a monthly basis until the end of November. Thus, it is better to visit Phuket during the hot and dry months through the winter - December to March.
Strong opinion given out by Private Scuba's local expert guides suggests that the best snorkeling in Phuket takes place at the Phi Phi Islands. Phuket to Phi Phi Islands is easy to reach and takes around two hours by boat.
Most snorkelers rate the Phi Phi islands as the best in class. As such, few world class snorkeling sites match it for water clarity, aquatic life, and ease of access.
You can also add the amazing top side scenery to any holiday review. The limestone cliffs and tiny exotic pinnacle sandy shorelines surround you. It may be a travesty to miss Ko Phi Phi off a Phuket snorkeling itinerary. It cannot fail to amaze all serious swimmers and Thailand divers.
Pattaya Islands Snorkeling Sites
Most tourists accept Pattaya as the top entertainment beach resort of Thailand. Even so, travellers will find a variety of water sports, such as snorkeling at Pattaya Islands, to excite and amuse them.
Pattaya’s weather is less extreme than many other vacation attractions in Thailand. That is one reason why tourists flock to the eastern seaboard throughout the whole year.
The best month to visit Pattaya for snorkeling or Private Scuba diving tours is from November until May. Pattaya weather conditions tend to be the wettest in October. Furthermore, April is usually the hottest and most humid month.
Koh Chang Island is a favoured spot about four hour’s drive south of Pattaya. The underwater topography is typical of the Gulf of Thailand. It boasts isolated hard coral formations and fringing soft corals. You will find sea fans, feather stars, sea whips, and an occasional large barrel sponge.
Small darting damselfish, sergeant major fish, and puffer fish are commonplace. You would be unlucky not to see schools of snappers and yellowtail fusiliers. The best of the large species includes sharks, morays, groupers, cuttlefish, and barracuda.
Note: Another section contains a list of Pattaya tourist attractions with further information about shopping and sightseeing in this popular coastal resort.
Similan Islands: Best Snorkeling in Thailand
You can reach the Similan Islands snorkeling destinations to the north of Phuket. Snorkeling in Andaman at the Similans offers spectacular snorkel tours. Swim close to unspoiled and dramatic granite rock islands and white powder beaches.
The Similans is an area reviewed most for scuba diving activities. But, snorkelers can also expect to see fantastic fish life. Look for manta rays, eagle rays, whale sharks, triggerfish, angelfish, and mesmerising octopus species.
Large schools and shoals thrive in the Andaman Sea west coast at certain times of the year – January to April. These are the sunny and dry winter months. Try to add snorkeling Similan Islands, near Khao Lak, to your bucket list. Many rank it among the most desirable snorkeling destinations in Thailand.
Koh Tao Snorkeling Spots
Koh Samui’s nearby islands of Ko Tao and Koh Nang Yuan offer stunning coral reefs. Black tip reef sharks, parrotfish, sweet lips, barracuda, and angelfish swim the channels. You will see colourful butterflyfishes, sponges, and other hard coral formations.
There is a ‘best season’ for aquatic sports in the Gulf of Thailand and snorkeling at Koh Tao. The season differs from that on the west side. Heavy monsoon rains strike Koh Samui and the neighbouring islands from late October. The wet and windy weather generally continues until February.
These are the traditional 'cool' winter months in the southern Bay of Bangkok. Thus, Koh Tao snorkeling spots, and watersports in the Gulf of Thailand are better in other months of the year.
Best Place to Snorkel in Krabi
Snorkeling in Krabi is amazing. There is more than 150 kilometres of coastline. What’s more, this area also partners the emerald waters of the Andaman Sea.
The surrounding islands include Krabi Ao Nang. They offer more than 30 different snorkeling and diving sites. But, the best islands in Krabi for beaches with the clearest water and whitest sand lay close to Ao Nang.
You will be unlucky not to see turtles and dolphins when you go snorkeling in Krabi. Check them out around the nearby pinnacles. The shallow Krabi snorkeling sites are ideal for novice swimmers too. These are the best snorkel sites to absorb the rich marine environment in the area.
This area deserves its rightful spot as the best place for snorkeling in Thailand off the beach. Even non-snorkelers would find it difficult to disagree. Krabi Aonang is also a popular destination for a range of diverse water sport activities, including kayaking and water skiing.
Thailand Snorkeling Holidays for Families
A family snorkeling holiday conjures up an image of tremendous fun and excitement. They are usually filled with great memories for families with kids of all ages – including grown up kids!
The benefits of snorkeling and diving vacations abroad or swimming around thriving coral reefs are clear. They often have therapeutic and educational gains for all the family.
Imagine a relaxing experience floating around in warm clear shallow water. Add a portion of light swimming exercise. This is usually a welcome and adventurous relief from the usual holiday activities of sightseeing and shopping.
Full day or half day organised island tour packages are typical of family snorkeling holiday destinations in Asia.
The day normally starts with a short boat trip to the shallow reefs. You get to enjoy a light breakfast on board during the journey. The boat anchors near to the island’s sandy shore and the guide cleans and prepares the snorkeling gear and accessories.
Masks, snorkels, and fins get handed out to everyone. A short safety briefing follows and the whole family jumps into the warm azure blue water.
Not sure how to snorkel? You face down in the water, breathe slowly through the snorkel, and drift on the surface in the shallows. You are above the fish and aquatic life. Generally, the only noise you hear is from your own inhalation and exhalation.
There are no phones and no traffic! The peaceful surroundings of a deserted tropical island in the sun and the multi coloured sea life below is all you will find.
We are confident that doctors would prescribe this tranquillity to anyone searching for a day away from the typical stresses of modern life in the city.
Fresh air, warming sunshine, and the wonders of Mother Nature. It sounds like an ideal family snorkeling holiday and sightseeing trip to us. Book your family snorkeling holiday trip in Thailand with our team of PADI professionals and we can offer you it all at an unbeatable value price.
Note: This is our attempt at finding some of the top snorkeling spots in the world to blog about. We hope the research of the best places to snorkel helps you enjoy a family snorkeling holiday.