Best Shore Snorkeling in the World

By Aj

I wanted to share some tips on my finds for the best shore snorkeling in the world for everyone since that is all I do these days. I love the isolation of setting up shop on one reef for a week and never leaving. It’s more work to find only shore snorkeling accommodations but I think the value is worth it for having a kitchen and bed literally next door. These are typically locations where only that accommodation is on the island.

I also only pick locations these days that are relatively easy to get to by plane. For example, there is great shore snorkeling in Tonga, Vanuatu, and the Grenadines but it is a lot of work to get there.

French Polynesia – Best Location for Shore Snorkeling

In my opinion, French Polynesia is still the best location in the world for shore snorkeling hands down. And the islands are stunning. Both island resorts and rental houses have reefs right out the door on nearly any island. Moorea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, Tikahau, Huahine, and their motus are my favorites but there are many many more islands.

You could go to a different island and an adjacent motu in French Polynesia for the rest of your life and never shore snorkel every location. I have been to French Polynesia more times than I can count and it is still heaven on Earth especially for a snorkeler.

More Great Shore Snorkeling Locations

Another wonderful location for shore snorkeling in Utila if you rent a house directly on a reef.

Cook Islands also has good shore snorkeling.

The Yasawa and Mamanuca island chains are still a great choice in Fiji and the Fiji resorts on their own island (Qamea, Royal Davui, etc.).

Another location I would recommend is Molokai in Hawaii. Reefs are a little farther out but still accessible.

All Virgin Islands are still the easiest shore snorkeling around but I understand reefs are not what they once were.

More About French Polynesia

All that said, now that I am getting up there in years I will spend every waking minute of the rest of my life traveling in French Polynesia. No need to go anywhere else. It checks every box for what a snorkeling, food, and accommodation vacation should be. If anyone needs advice on French Polynesia feel free to ask.

General advice if you go. Rent a house on Tahiti, rent a house on Moorea, rent an overwater accommodation in Bora Bora motu, rent a house on Tahaa and stay on a motu, stay at any reef accommodation on Tikahau, rent a house on Huahine, and for the adventurous, stay in a hut on Maupiti.

Remember beaches in French Polynesia are private so if you want to shore snorkel an amazing reef you have to stay at a private accommodation on that exact reef.

Stay safe everyone and keep snorkeling!!

I originally wrote this post nine years ago about the best snorkeling places I had been.


  1. I spent a month in French Polynesia last year. On Moorea, Temae Beach (next to the Sofitel) is not only public and very accessible, but was easily the most beautiful beach on the four islands I visited (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and Raiatea). Coral there is beautiful; I’ve never seen more lovely shades of purple.
    If you can snorkel only one place, this should be it.

    The motus in Raiatea also have nice reefs, but unless you are a super strong swimmer, you need a boat to reach them.

  2. The best time for snorkeling French Polynesia from a weather standpoint is to go in summer June – September. In the winter (February) the heat and humidity increases and the rain increases. However, winter also has significantly lower accommodation rates due to these issues.

    But any time in French Polynesia is good. Humidity is relative there. It’s not anything like the oppressive heat and humidity in a place like Florida in the summer. Personally my favorite time to go is end of May. It is still winter rates at most hotels but the weather feels like summer.

    Agreed that Raiatea is not ideal for any type of snorkeling which is why I did not include it on my initial list. But it is a stunning island to drive around if visited. But Raiatea is how you get to Tahaa which has some of the finest shore and boat snorkeling anywhere in the world and in my opinion the most enjoyable snorkeling in all of French Polynesia. So most people will visit Raiatea at some point even just to get to Tahaa.


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