The 15 Best Snorkeling Beaches to See Incredible Wildlife

Green sea turtle Chelonia mydas, resting on the sand with snorkelers swimming above, Akumal Bay, Riviera Maya, Mexico
© Polly Dawson/Shutterstock.com

Written by Alanna Davis

Published: May 10, 2024

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Those who love to immerse themselves in nature are sure to fall head over heels for snorkeling. This activity is eay to get into, affordable, and it helps educate people about the fascinating world of marine animals. Each country throughout the world offers different snorkeling experiences, but some are worth visiting over others. Let’s explore 15 of the most beautiful beaches in the world that are perfect for snorkeling!

1. Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

Aerial View of Hanauma Bay in Oahu, Hawaii

©Joshua ten Brink/Shutterstock.com

Hanauma Bay is hands down one of the most beautiful snorkeling destinations in the world. This location offers an abundance of unique fish and colorful reefs, however, it’s also wildly popular, and booking a ticket may be a bit of a challenge.

2. Roatan, Honduras

Panoramic at Sunset of West End Beach, Roatan Island. Honduras

©Unai Huizi Photography/Shutterstock.com

Snorkeling enthusiasts far and wide agree that Roatan is one of the most ideal destinations for this activity. This location is known far and wide for its natural, untouched beauty and accessibility. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome here, and guided tours for both beginners and experts are available.

3. Taveuni Island, Fiji

colorful coral reef (rainbow reef, Fiji)

©Bobby Vogt/Shutterstock.com

Although many coral reefs have been eroded throughout the years, Taveuni Island is home to Rainbow Reef, which is still rife with activity. According to the Oceanic Society, this location has more than 25 sites where visitors are able to snorkel!

4. Playa Santu Pretu, CuraƧao

Small Curacao Island famous for day trips and snorkeling tours on white beaches blue clear ocean, Curacao Island in the Caribbean sea. a couple of men and woman on the beach during a vacation holiday

©fokke baarssen/Shutterstock.com

Although this location is somewhat off the beaten track, that just makes it all the better for untouched snorkeling. Playa Santu Pretu in Curacao is famous for its beautiful beaches, quiet atmosphere, and abundant wildlife.

5. Bloody Bay Wall, Little Cayman

A school of fish can be seen through a break in the coral structures on the top of Bloody Bay Wall in Little Cayman

©Drew McArthur/Shutterstock.com

Some people describe Bloody Bay Wall as one of the most breathtaking snorkeling destinations in the world. In fact, some people have gone as far as to say it’s a paradise for those passionate about this activity. This location is famous for its abundance of beautiful fish and coral reefs.

6. Akumal, Mexico

Green sea turtle Chelonia mydas, resting on the sand with snorkelers swimming above, Akumal Bay, Riviera Maya, Mexico

©Polly Dawson/Shutterstock.com

Mexico has many wonderful snorkeling destinations, but Akumal offers some of the most breathtaking views of all. These reefs are closely monitored and protected by the local wildlife authorities. Because of this, they have maintained much of their natural beauty and biodiversity.

7. Ypao Beach, Guam

Underwater at Ypao Beach Park, Tumon bay, Guam island

©EarthScape ImageGraphy/Shutterstock.com

Guam is home to several beaches where snorkeling conditions are ideal. However, Ypao Beach seems to offer the best of everything. This destination is known for its crystal-clear water, clean beaches, easy accessibility, and of course, gorgeous reefs and marine animals.

8. Hideaway Island, Vanuatu

Hideaway Island--Beautiful tropical island in Vanuatu, South Pacific

©Juancat/Shutterstock.com

Visiting Hideaway Island in Vanuatu is truly a bucket list experience. Snorkeling here is very affordable, and many guided tours start at as little as $20. However, you might need more than one day out in the water if you want to see everything as the reefs are expansive.

9. Kapalua Bay, Hawaii

Kapalua Bay - Maui, Hawaii

©Andrew Allen Media LLC/Shutterstock.com

Snorkelers of all skill levels will love Kapalua Bay. Unlike other destinations we’ve covered today, snorkeling here is beginner-friendly and easy. Those just getting their bearings will appreciate this location, however, experienced snorkelers won’t be bored either. This destination strikes the perfect balance!

10. Baa Atoll, Maldives

School of bigeye snappers in Maldives

©J.S. Lamy/Shutterstock.com

Baa Atoll is not only home to sprawling coral reefs, but also a variety of marine animals such as fish, manta rays, turtles, and dolphins. This location is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserve. According to the Conservation of Migratory Species, “World Biosphere Reserves are places where conservation, research and development successfully interconnect.”

11. San Cristobal, Galapagos

Beach on the island of San Cristobal in Galapagos Island - Ecuador, Aerial shot

©Ppito00/Shutterstock.com

The Galapagos Islands are famous across the globe for their abundance of biodiversity. That being said, snorkeling here is an absolute must for those dedicated to this activity. Snorkelers in the Galapagos can enjoy observing sharks, sea turtles, sea lions, and manta rays.

12. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

snorkeling group in clear water at perhentian island, terengganu malaysia

©sydeen/Shutterstock.com

If you’re traveling to Malaysia anytime soon, the Perhentian Islands are an absolute must-see destination. However, try to avoid traveling here during the winter months as the weather can prevent visitors from snorkeling.

13. Matas Beach, French Polynesia

Bora Bora is an atoll belonging to the group of Society Islands in French Polynesia. Bora Bora is considered one of the most exclusive and luxurious holiday resorts.

©sadman/Shutterstock.com

Located in Bora Bora, Matas Beach is rife with pictuesque beauty. These waters are clear, blue, and packed with a variety of marine life, which is perfect for those who love to snorkel.

14. Ao Nang Bay, Thailand

Aerial view Phra Nang Cave Beach with traditional long tail boat on Ao Phra Nang Beach, Ecosystem and healthy environment concepts and background, Railay Bay, Krabi, Thailand.

©Avigator Fortuner/Shutterstock.com

People from around the world agree that Ao Nang Bay is the perfect location for snorkeling in Thailand. Because this destination is so affordable and popular, crowds can begin forming early in the day. It’s best to set out during the morning for the best snorkeling experience possible.

15. Lady Elliott Island, Australia

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

©iStock.com/chameleonseye

A list of the world’s best snorkeling beaches would not be complete without mention of the Great Barrier Reef. Although this location has experienced some environmental turbulence in recent years, Lady Elliott Island is still home to a beautiful reef that’s teeming with life.


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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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