Caribbean places to snorkel

10 of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean

Updated March 8th, 2021. Original: March 5th, 2016, Posted by travelwith2ofus

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Many of the Caribbean islands are surrounded by beautiful beaches with turquoise water and an abundance of unique marine life. Including the many tropical fish found only in the coral reefs of the region.

The Caribbean has so much to celebrate, its pulsating music, its exotic and spicy cuisine, it's tasty cocktails, and its countless miles of beautiful beaches, bays, and coral reefs.

On many occasions, we said we were going to try snorkeling. We have had many opportunities, but it was only back in 2014 that we finally did it.

We were on our first cruise and docked in Aruba. We spent the day at De Palm Island, an all-inclusive resort located in Oranjestad.

It was a beautiful resort with many activities, some decent food, and a notably great atmosphere. After taking part in a couple of activities, we decided to give snorkeling a try.

Buccoo Reef Tobago

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We were geared up and ready to give snorkeling a try. We got into some shallow water and tried it out. After about twenty minutes, we decided that this is more difficult than it seems, so we quit.

Nikki is such a determined person that she said we should give it another try. And that is what we did. On the second attempt, we finally got the hang of it, and it was one of the best experiences we have had since traveling. Well, I said one of the best.

Some of the others included diving underwater using individual mini-submarine underwater scooters in the Bahamas; trust me, that was awesome! Another one was our first-time zip-lining in St Lucia and riding the Leap of Faith and the Abyss water slides in Atlantis, Bahamas.

Here are some of the best spots to enjoying snorkeling in the Caribbean.

Buccoo Reef Tobago

Photo Credit - The Buccoo Reef Trust.
Buccoo Reef Tobago Besides being a naturally beautiful island, Tobago can be easily considered one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean. Buccoo reef is one of the major attractions on the island, it is the largest coral reef in Tobago and has over one hundred and nineteen fish species, including Creole wrasse, parrotfish, butterfly fish, blue Chromis, toadfish, and angelfish.

While some of the types of coral are star and Elkhorn, brain and starlet coral are found at greater depths.

Stingray City Cayman Islands

Photo Credit - Stingray City Cayman Islands.
Stingray City Cayman IslandsSome time back in the 90s I traveled to the Cayman Islands and one of the places I really wanted to visit was Stingray City, but as faith would have it I dropped the ball on that one, but not this time. 

Honesty, I wouldn't even have to convince Nikks because she likes to interact with Dolphins, hold snakes and swim with sea lions, so I know she would jump at the opportunity to mingle with the rays. Besides Stingrays there are many different species of fish within the barrier reef, which surrounds the island of Grand Cayman. If you're looking for a totally different experience you can try bioluminescent or night diving in Grand Cayman as well.

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Brighton Beach Barbados

Underwater dive Barbados
Underwater dive BarbadosThe last time we visited Barbados was in 2013. We have been to the island on many occasions and love the many beautiful beaches, food and the friendly folks. One of the things we did while we were there was a submarine dive. It was really amazing, the marine flora, fauna and many types of tropical fish made it a worthwhile experience.  However, it is not as exciting as snorkeling, so we decided we would add this to our list of places we want to snorkel in the Caribbean.

Brighton Beach is one of most popular beaches in Barbados, due to its proximity to the cruise ship terminal and one of the many places you can snorkel in Barbados. It is located on the South West Coast of the island and beneath the calm, clear water you will find coral reefs, sea turtles and many species of tropical fish.


Check out these gear for snorkeling

National Marine Park Bonaire

Photo Credit - Tourism Corporation Bonaire
National Marine Park BonaireWe are really excited to put Bonaire on this list, simply because we have never visited. We have been to the other two ABC islands, Curacao and Aruba and we figure we owe it to the travel gods to complete the circle. Just in case you missed it the ABC islands are Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

So, we would probably spend a week or two in Bonaire to get to know the place and of course get our snorkel on. 

We have learned that most of the snorkeling spots in Bonaire can be easily accessed from the shore. However, we have decided that we would jump in the water at the Bonaire National Marine Park. Our reason is that we like the work the organization is doing to help conserve and preserve the coral reef. There is a fee, but we don't mind paying this at all. The park is located at Barcadera z/n, Kralendijk.


Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park Bahamas

Photo Credit - Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park.
Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park BahamasIf I am not mistaken, I think our first real underwater adventure was in The Bahamas. We went below the surface using individual mini Submarines. So it is only fitting that we go back to The Bahamas to experience the snorkeling there.

I got really excited about Exumas Cays because, not only does it have an abundance of coral life, limestone reefs and tropical fish, it is also a favorite spot for snorkelers, but because parts of two James Bond movies, Thunderball and Never Say Never Again, were shot there.  And yes I am a James Bond fan. Shaken please, not stirred.

Fourchue Island Saint Bartholomew (St Barts)

Photo Credit - Nature Reserves of Saint Bartholomew.
Fourchue Island Saint Bartholomew (St Barts)We have never been to St Barts and we think it is about time that we go meet the friendly folks down there. Fourchue Island is the destination of choice. You will have to book a half-day or full day tour to the island.

The water surrounding Fourchue forms part of the Nature Reserves of Saint Bartholomew and is said to have over 40 coral species as well as some 165 species of fish.


Catalina Cove Aruba

Photo Credit - Aruba Tourism Authority.
Snorkeling in ArubaCatalina Cove is our choice in Aruba because unlike Mangel Halto this is suited for beginners. Mangel Halto by the way, is probably the best snorkeling spot on the island. Catalina Cove is easily accessible from the shore or by using a tour boat.

Some of the fish you will encounter include Squirrel fish, Butterfly fish, Basslet, Chromis and Trunk fish. Some types of coral include starlet, finger, Mustard Hill and Blue Crust. You may also see Zoanthid, squid and urchin.

The Bight Reef Turks and Caicos

Photo Credit - Visit Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Bight Reef Turks and CaicosYet another one of the islands we have not visited. We chose The Bight Reef in Providenciales because it is easily accessible from the shore, and it is one of the most popular snorkeling sites.

It is also beginner friendly and that suits us fine. While there are many fish, larger marine inhabitants like stingrays, turtles and barracudas are less common.

Champagne Beach Dominica

Photo Credit - Champagne Reef.
Champagne Beach Dominica We chose Champagne because the water actually bubbles like Champagne in a glass hence the name.

Voted as one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean, you will most likely be swimming with seahorses, Frog fish, Parrot fish and lobsters.

Another reason Champagne is the most popular spot for snorkeling on the island is because it is easily accessible and no boat is required to reach the best snorkeling spots.

Mullet Bay St Martin

Mullet Bay St Martin
Mullet Bay St MartinSt. Martin is divided between Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin. In St Martin we chose Mullet Bay because it is easily accessible and recommended for amateur snorkelers like us. While there are not many corals in Mullet Bay, you will find many tropical fish, octopus, sea urchins and crabs. 

Other locations recommended for beginners include Cupecoy and Beach Bay Rouge.  David’s Hole is the main attraction at Beach Bay Rouge.

Coral reefs are filled with some of the most beautiful and amazing marine creatures, but because of the recklessness and exploitation of man, many of the best reefs are either partially or totally destroyed. While there are many efforts to save these natural marvels, is it too little too late.

Here are a few tips to remember when you go out to snorkel.

  1. 1. Do not take shells or coral
  2. 2. Do not touch fish or coral
  3. 3. Try not to brush coral with your fins and gear
  4. 4. Don’t heavily coat yourself with sunscreen or other lotions before snorkeling. Always use biodegradable lotion.

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