We unveil the top 10 destinations for the best snorkeling in the world. From crystal-clear turquoise waters to pristine coral reefs teeming with marine life, these world class snorkel spots promise unforgettable experiences for snorkelers.
10. Sipadan, Malaysia
Sipadan is a renowned diving and snorkeling destination located in the Celebes Sea of Malaysia. It is widely regarded as one of the top diving spots in the world due to its exceptional marine biodiversity and stunning underwater landscapes.
One of the highlights of snorkeling in Sipadan is the chance to see larger marine creatures. Hawksbill and green turtles are a common sight, as Sipadan is an important nesting site for these majestic creatures. You might also come across sharks, barracudas, giant groupers, and schools of jacks cruising through the waters.
The marine ecosystem of Sipadan is well-preserved and protected as it is part of a marine protected area. Snorkelers can access the reefs of Sipadan by joining dive boats, which often offer snorkeling trips as well.
9. The Devils Crown, Galapagos
Located off of Floreana Island, the Devil's Crown is a ring of jagged rocks that jut out of the water not too far from shore. Nicknamed the ‘devils crown’ due to their circular positioning and sharp edges, this formidable site was once a volcanic crater.
Although relatively protected, there are parts of the ring which can be treacherous, as a swift current runs close to the rocks. If you manage to hang on long enough you might get to see something amazing.
The Devils Crown is tailored towards the more experienced snorkeler due to its challenging conditions, but nonetheless it is still one of the best places to snorkel in the world!
8. Apo Island, Philippines
Apo Island is a marine protected sanctuary, that was established in 1985 making it one of the Philippines top places for diving. However, the shallow reefs which skirt around the island offer up some excellent snorkeling opportunities too!
Snorkeling around Apo Island allows you to explore stunning coral gardens and encounter a wide range of marine species. Colorful fish species such as clownfish, butterflyfish, and angelfish can be spotted among the corals. The waters of Apo Island are also home to sea turtles, and swimming alongside these graceful creatures is a truly magical experience.
With its protected marine sanctuary, Apo Island offers a chance to witness the underwater world in its natural state.
7. Siladen Island, Bunaken National Park
Siladen Island, located within Indonesia's oldest marine protected areas (Bunaken National Park), is a hidden gem for snorkelers. Its reef-fringed shores offer excellent snorkeling opportunities, especially if you enjoy seeing a wide variety of coral species.
Bunaken National Park, including Siladen Island, is home to some of the most adorable marine life species. Snorkelers can encounter tiny blue and yellow boxfish, which are charming in appearance, as well as unique and colorful nudibranchs that grace the waters with their presence.
Moreover, if you're a sea turtle lover, Bunaken National Park is the place to be, as it offers abundant opportunities to witness these magnificent creatures.
6. Dahab, Egypt
The Blue Hole in Dahab provides excellent visibility and calm conditions throughout the year, making it an ideal spot for snorkelers. The vibrant reefs in this area are teeming with colorful corals and swarms of tiny fish, creating a mesmerizing underwater spectacle.
For a unique snorkeling experience, make sure to explore the famous "Canyon," located just 1 kilometer south of the Blue Hole. This underwater cave, formed by an earthquake, is surrounded by gorgeous reefs and can be easily accessed from the shore. Snorkelers will have the opportunity to admire the beauty of the underwater landscape as they swim through the canyon.
While snorkeling in Dahab, you can expect to encounter a variety of marine life. Keep an eye out for different types of rays gracefully gliding through the waters, fascinating octopuses showcasing their camouflage skills, and pufferfish with their distinctive inflated bodies.
5. Hatta Island, Bandas
Pulau Hatta is nestled within the tiny archipelago of the Banda islands in Maluku, Indonesia. Perhaps better known as the Spice Islands, these little beauties are well and truly off-the-beaten path.
If all you want to do is snorkel-chill-repeat then Hatta Island is the perfect destination. You can indulge in pristine shore snorkeling right from the idyllic Indonesian beaches that surround the island.
The Banda Islands owe their rich marine biodiversity to Gunung Api, the volcano that erupted in 1988. The lava spill from the eruption facilitated rapid reef growth by providing essential nutrients to the surrounding waters.
If you're fortunate, you may even encounter some rare octopus species like the blue-ringed octopus and even hammerhead sharks.
4. German Channel, Palau
The German Channel, located in Palau, is a renowned and captivating snorkeling spot. It is a natural channel that was created during World War II when German engineers dredged a passage for ships.
The channel is famous for its abundance of marine life, particularly large numbers of manta rays. These graceful creatures frequent the area, making it a popular destination for manta ray encounters.
Snorkeling in the German Channel allows you to witness the mesmerizing dance of these gentle giants as they glide effortlessly through the crystal-clear waters. The channel's calm currents and excellent visibility provide an ideal environment for observing and swimming alongside these majestic creatures.
Apart from manta rays, the German Channel is also home to an array of colorful coral reefs and diverse marine species. Snorkelers can expect to encounter schools of tropical fish, vibrant coral formations, and other fascinating marine creatures.
3. South Ari Atoll, Maldives
South Ari Atoll in the Maldives is a breathtaking destination known for its stunning and accessible beach snorkeling opportunities. Located in the central part of the Maldives, the atoll offers a paradise for snorkelers with its crystal-clear turquoise waters and vibrant marine life.
One of the highlights of snorkeling in South Ari Atoll is the chance to encounter majestic whale sharks. These gentle giants, known as the largest fish in the world, frequent the area. Snorkelers have the incredible opportunity to swim alongside these magnificent creatures and observe them in their natural habitat.
In addition to whale sharks, South Ari Atoll boasts vibrant coral reefs teeming with an abundance of marine species. Snorkelers can explore the colorful coral gardens and encounter a variety of tropical fish, such as colorful reef fish, angelfish, parrotfish, and butterflyfish.
2. Batu Bolong, Komodo National Park
In the middle of the vast waters of Komodo National Park, is a tiny rock called Batu Bolong. For scuba divers, this is an absolute must-do dive site, but what are the possibilities for snorkelers?
First off, it is not for the faint-hearted. Often refered to as a washing machine, Batu Balong’s signature is its manic up and down currents. However, the current is what keeps this reef alive and kicking, and absolutely pumping with fish.
Its strong currents, which bring nutrient-rich waters and attract larger marine species give snorkelers a chance to encounter turtles, reef sharks, and even manta rays as they glide past the reef.
It’s not advised to visit Batu Bolong without an experienced guide - in order to experience it safely you must arrive when the tide is just right, or you may get swept away.
Without a doubt, Batu Bolong has everything you could want from a snorkel spot, vibrant coral and immense fish action, just make sure you pack quality snorkeling gear, especially a strong pair of fins.
1. Tamaku Reef, Raja Ampat
As part of the Raja Ampat archipelago, Tamaku Reef is nestled within a marine protected area, ensuring its conservation and sustainability. It serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting our oceans and preserving their natural wonders for future generations.
Raja Ampat is known to be the most biodiverse marine environment on the planet, making it one of the best places to snorkel in the world! Although there are many incredible reefs for snorkeling in Raja Ampat, Tamuku Reef is certainly up there as one of the best.
As you enter the turquoise waters of Tamaku Reef, you will be greeted by an explosion of colors and life. The reef is teeming with an incredible variety of coral species, ranging from vibrant hard corals to delicate soft corals. The reef formations create a mesmerizing underwater landscape, providing a visual feast for snorkelers.
Keep a close eye on the black and white-tip sharks which patrol the reefs outer edges, and freedivers with a very keen eye can try to spot the satomi's pygmy seahorse – the smallest seahorse in the world.