Best Beach Snorkeling Destinations In Caribbean?

by Russ Fleenor
(Roanoke, Virginia USA)

Looking for a place to take teenage boys in the Caribbean where there is good beach snorkeling (no boat required). Also other activities and fishing to keep them busy would be great.

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Jul 01, 2011
Caribbean Beach Snorkeling Spots?
by: Galen & Nicole

Most of the Caribbean that we have snorkeled so far has required boats, except for Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. Bonaire has some great snorkeling from shore if you know where to go, which we tell you all about in our Bonaire Snorkeling Guide eBook. But, it really cannot be considered beach snorkeling. There are very few sandy beaches on the island.

Curacao on the other hand has a lot of sandy beaches to snorkel from, and some of them have good or great snorkeling. Find the best spots in our Curacao Snorkeling Guide eBook.

Aruba has a few beaches with good snorkeling, but not enough for a multi-week trip. And the best spots are not for beginners.

All of the good snorkeling in Belize and the Florida Keys requires boat trips. And we have seen enough reports of the hurricane damage to the shallow reefs in Cozumel that we have put off a trip there.

A number of folks have left differing reviews of the beach snorkeling in Turks & Caicos you may find useful to read.

Reviews of beach snorkeling in St. Maarten do not bode well for a good destination.

It sounds like the islands off Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques, have good beach snorkeling. Read the comments on this post.

I bet some other folks can give you some more location suggestions.

Jul 01, 2011
Beach Snorkeling Caribbean
by: Gordon Kirkland

The best we've seen was at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas. The bay is a marine preserve and full of fish. We had a friendly school of reef squid stay with us for a long time one morning. We saw eagle rays, southern sting rays, and the biggest barracuda I have ever seen swam by to see if we were dropping any food. The bay is teaming with a huge variety of other fish such as gray angels, and every color you can imagine. The water is quite clear with good visability to 50 or 60 feet. Close by are charter yachts that take you to very secluded lagoons.

Jul 01, 2011
I vote for Grand Cayman
by: Anonymous

I would highly recommend Grand Cayman. There is so much snorkeling from the beach, you will never get it all in. I have posts about Grand Cayman snorkeling on this site. I would go there and read them. You will be able to wear out two teenage boys snorkeling in Grand Cayman.

Jul 01, 2011
Virgin Islands
by: Anonymous

Oh, man, Gordon, I wish I had talked to you before our trip. That would have been great.

Russ, we went to the Virgin Islands also. St. Thomas was fun. We went to a place named Koki Beach and although it's not great for the ecosystem (which I didn't know at the time) they feed the fish which attracts them. Koki park has an excursion called sea trekking and they put a big helmet that blows air in and you go down into the water about 10 feet and walk through holding on to a chain. It's really a rush and I'm older so it would be for teens I'm sure. Look it up online. It's also a park with all kinds of neat attractions.

We then went to Virgin Gorda on the British side to a place named The Baths. Look that up also. It's a natural group rock formation that you can climb and swim through and a great bay to snorkel in. You can climb through to another bay and snorkeling there is good too. You may not see a lot of really unusual stuff but there's some beautiful fish there. We also went out on a boat but we had a great time at these places.

So, there's my report on my experience. We also went to Turks Caicos and I wasn't real impressed even though Grace Bay was reputed to be great.

Jul 02, 2011
Beach snorkeling
by: Anonymous

We are scuba divers, but with our very young child we have started snorkeling. The best beach snorkeling is in St John, Virgin Islands. It is easy to get to the island with a child, and it is very easy to drive around the island to the many beaches. We have seen eagle rays, turtles, reef sharks, and the corals are healthy. We haven't been to Bonaire, but we will soon!

Jul 05, 2011
Great right from the beach
by: Joan

Snorkeling is great off the beach in Akumal Mexico. There are also all inclusive resorts so you don't have to worry about buying meals.

Aug 02, 2011
Caribbean Shore Snorkeling Spots
by: Reeftraveler

Hi Russ. I have found a few great shore snorkeling spots in the Caribbean.

1)St. John - Caneel Bay Resort has perhaps the best shore snorkeling in the Caribbean, IMO. Many other St. John beaches have excellent snorkeling.

2)Roatan, Honduras - Simply incredible shore snorkeling around the island. The most popular area is West Bay Beach, which has fine white sand and clear turquoise water. The snorkeling is close to shore and the reef is teeming with life.

3)St. Thomas, USVI - Sapphire Beach and Secret Harbour have very good shore snorkeling. It's not quite on the level of St. John, but it is still impressive.

4) Provo, Turks and Caicos - Bight Reef on Grace Bay and Smith Reef have decent shore snorkeling. It's not in the league as the above, but many people find it more than satisfactory. We recently stayed at Coral Gardens, which is directly in front of Bight Reef.

Good luck!

Apr 08, 2012
by: Been there, snorkeled that!

The Caribbean has just a TON of beach snorkeling places. I've not been to an island where there aren't great places to snorkel from the beach.

Tops for me is Bonaire. Amazing snorkeling virtually anywhere you go, all from shore. No boat trip ever needed on Bonaire.

Curacao has 80 sites to snorkel, all from the beach, no boat required. (You will need a rental car though, as this island has many many coves and beaches along a long and diverse coastline). If you like to scuba, Curacao has tons of shore dives. (That's right - scuba without having to go out on a boat!). It's a close second to Bonaire for me. Check out especially the south end of the Royal Sea Aquarium beach, through the channel, and off to the right - HUGE elk horn coral, tons of fish, and LOTS AND LOTS of moray eels.

Cayman Islands - another terrific shore snorkel. 7 mile beach is world renowned for having some of the best snorkeling. Just walk in anywhere and be amazed. Also - Eden Point right downtown is remarkable to swim with tarpons, a large fish that swims in schools. (It is pricey though - but you can do it on the cheap if you eat "locally"). If you want something to make your heart beat really fast, do go to Barracuda Point - swimming with several hundred barracuda will get your heart pumping!

Aruba - a rather developed island, but lots and lots of shore snorkeling. Do check out Malmok Beach - great for turtle sighting. And go to Baby Beach, but head to the north end, not the channel where everyone else goes. If you are a strong swimmer, Mangel Halto is absolutely stunning.

St. Maarten - some of the best shore snorkeling is on the French side but the protected Pinel Island is fantastic, but make sure it's a calmer day. Try Friars Bay for some spectacular stuff - LOTS of octopus... And lots of turtles too!

Belize - truly remarkable. One of the most amazing places to snorkel from just about any beach. Stay on Ambergris Cay and be AMAZED at the reef system. Truly remarkable.

Playa del Carmen area - Mexican Riviera - really great stuff. While the shore dives are pretty good, you WILL want to take a boat trip and snorkel with the whale sharks - a trip you will never forget. I like to stay on Cozumel too - and that's a great place for shore snorkeling.

Providenciales - Turks and Caicos - amazing shore snorkeling again. It's an expensive island, but you can eat cheaply by eating "locally" - getting harder though. Grace Bay Beach is considered one of the top beaches in the world. They have the 3rd largest reef system in the world - and the fish you can see is really amazing. First place I swam with sharks (reef and nurse) and felt safe too.

There are tons of other places - but start with any of these to experience snorkeling from the beach!

Nov 27, 2014
Good Snorkeling
by: Denise

We've snorkeled all over the Caribbean. Here is where we think the best snorkeling is:
  • Curacao - drive anywhere and snorkel right off the beaches.

  • St. Lucia - excellent snorkeling, but not easy to get around the island if you drive.

  • St John, USVI - Leinster Bay - excellent, but a long trek to get there. Trunk Bay - good.

Here is a spot to avoid:
  • Antigua - Cades Reef is not a good place to snorkel any more. 75% of the reef was destroyed years ago by a bad storm, and the water is a bit rough.

We are looking forward to going to Buck Island next month in St. Croix and Bonaire next year.

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