One of the most enjoyable ways to spend a vacation is snorkeling. It allows you to enjoy the natural beauty of the water and all of the undersea life. It is an amazing way to spend some time, and the workout it provides helps travelers to avoid putting on any weight while they are on vacation. Here is a guide for travelers to the top ten places for snorkeling around the world.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
At the top of the list is Raja Ampat, or Four Kings, located in Indonesia’s West Papua province. Experts say it’s hard to find anywhere else in the world that compares, given it’s got the world’s greatest concentration of marine life for a region of its size and 75% of all known coral species in the world. A marine oasis with more than 1,000 different species of fish, sea turtles, sharks and manta rays, snorkeling here means largely having the place to yourself as the isolated islands are scarce of people. Snorkelers come face to face with fish and coral in every direction while swimming the waters of this archipelago, which is made up of 50,000 square kilometers of islands and water. “Each day you get to experience something different,” says marine biologist and snorkeling guide Lee Goldman of Coral Triangle Adventures.
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Unlike most spots on this list, snorkeling in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands doesn’t revolve around colorful coral and tropical fish. This is the place to see big marine life – we’re talking sea lions, sharks, dolphins, turtles and even penguins. Being the basis of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the Galapagos Islands offer snorkelers fascinating and unique mammals both on land and beneath the sea. The islands’ remote location means that underwater wildlife are friendly and approachable – mainly because they don’t encounter humans all that often.
If you love encounters with the ocean’s amazing sea life seeing a shark has to be on your bucket list. Fear not, you can enjoy wild sharks in their natural environment by snorkeling inside the safety of a cage. On Oahu’s North Shore there are several companies with daily tours headed out to the open ocean for shark encounters.
No baiting or chumming of the water is needed, the sharks are always in the same place! If you can handle the rough waves and avoid sea-sickness you’ll enjoy every one of the 20 minutes of time inside the cage – surrounded by large sharks! Most reliably seen are Galapagos and Sandbar sharks. A rare and lucky few might get to glimpse the Tiger shark.
The Chankanaab Park is on the south end of the island of Cozumel, Mexico. Located inside the Cozumel National Marine Park, this is a great place for snorkeling, learning to scuba dive or just relax on the beach under a palm tree with a cerveza.
The shallow reef has lots of fish from Spanish Hogfish and Parrotfish to small lobsters. In the sandy shallows, there are several underwater statues to explore. Chankanaab Park also offers the opportunity to learn to scuba diva on the reef. While Cozumel is known for drift diving with the brisk northward current, however, Chankanaab is relatively protected by the shallow reef and curving coastline, making it a great place to learn to dive.
Norman Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is widely considered to be the ultimate snorkeling destination in the world. Norman Reef is perhaps the most spectacular part of the entire expanse of the Great Barrier Reef. It is full of the most beautiful tropical fish as well as giant clams.
Most snorkelers have a visit to the Red Sea on their bucket lists. There are lots of great places to snorkel in the Red Sea, but none is any better than Safaga. This is one of the least crowded resort areas with good snorkeling along coast of the Red Sea. As an added bonus, it is only a few hours’ drive from Safaga to Luxor, which is the home of the most famous pyramids in Egypt as well as the Great Sphinx.
The Coral Triangle, Asia Pacific
Stretching from Eastern Borneo all the way across Bali, the Philippines, most of Indonesia and the Solomon Islands, the Coral Triangle is the center of the world’s marine biodiversity. It’s home to 75% of all known coral species in the world and encompasses 647 million hectares of land and sea.
What makes it so awesome for snorkelers is that you don’t have to go deep to check out the region’s 2,000 species of reef fish, which hang out just below the surface. The region also nurtures six of the world’s seven marine turtle species.
Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
Silver Bank is one of only a few places in the world where humans can swim and snorkel alongside humpback whales. It’s in a relatively shallow stretch of the Caribbean Sea, making it off limits to large ships. This makes it a safe haven for the North Atlantic humpback whale population to mate and give birth. Snorkelers can catch up with the humpback whales between December and April, when they pass through the area.
Ever want to swim with jellyfish without having to worry about getting a nasty sting by one of them? Palau’s Jellyfish Lake is the place to go. A boat ride and short hike will take you to this unusual and isolated lake, inhabited by millions of harmless jellyfish. But it’s more than jellies that make this Micronesia island a top snorkeling destination. Palau’s shallow and healthy reefs are home to a diverse range of habitat. Visitors can encounter marine life such as turtles, tropical fish, manta rays and sharks.
Occupying the eastern tip of the Coral Triangle, the Solomon Islands are a popular destination for scuba divers. Part of their fame stems from the presence of so many sunken warships – some of World War II’s most bitter South Pacific battles took place here. But the Solomon Islands are a great destination for snorkelers, too. In places like Uepi Island and Mary Island you can wade off shore to find beautiful reefs filled with sea life such as giant eagle rays, sharks, barracuda and batfish.