Best Caribbean Snorkeling – Where to Go?

Are you looking for a Caribbean snorkeling destination? We have been to a number of places in the Caribbean for snorkeling and are happy to share with you our recommendations for where to go.

Caribbean Snorkeling – Where We’ve Been and Recommend

Of the six destinations we have snorkeled in the Caribbean, Curacao is our number one recommendation.

Schools of fish around Elkhorn Coral Curacao
Caribbean Snorkeling – Reef Scene in Curacao

Curacao – We enjoy snorkeling Curacao. It has many shore snorkeling spots you can reach with your rental car. Many spots have sandy beaches to enter from and there is a good amount of sea life to see. Every beach and shore snorkel spot is described in our eBook snorkeling guide.

More Caribbean Snorkeling Destinations

Snappers over soft coral reef St John USVI
St John USVI Soft Coral and Snappers

Here are the other five Caribbean snorkeling destinations we have been along with overviews of what they are like.

Bonaire – This island in the southern Caribbean is well known by divers. The waters are famously protected by a national marine park. There are a small number of good snorkeling spots on the island, but they can be challenging to access for various reasons. You can read more on our page at the link.

St John, USVI – After our visit to St John in 2015, we realized that it was the best Caribbean snorkeling we had yet experienced. Unfortunately in 2017 two massive hurricanes caused significant damage to the island and some of the reefs. Because of that we can no longer officially say it is our favorite in the Caribbean because we have not been back to see what it is like after the storms. But, much of the island’s waters are protected by a national park which preserves more sea life to see. Nearly all the many snorkel spots are reached from shore by driving around in your rental vehicle. We have an eBook snorkeling guide for this island too.

Belize Outer Atoll Reef and Fish

Belize – While we have not visited Belize in over a decade, we have heard many reports about the state of the reefs. We now recommend you plan your trip to visit an outer atoll or charter a boat to explore the barrier reef islands instead of taking short boat rides out of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. There are some resorts on Turneffe Atoll and Glover’s Reef Atoll, which are a great option. Our trips partner offers resort-based and liveaboard trips to Turneffe and Glover’s Reef Atolls.

Aruba – This island has a handful of Caribbean snorkeling spots. A couple of them have great sea life, but are for the more experienced snorkeler. All of them can be accessed from shore by driving your rental car around.

St Lucia – There are a couple of very good snorkel spots on this island and a few other good ones. There are a few that are accessible from shore and the rest are reached by boat. One of the very good spots is the house reef of a resort if you want to stay in one spot.

If we visit a new Caribbean snorkeling destination, we will share all about it in our newsletter. Get yours.

Not Quite Caribbean Snorkeling, But Close By

Colorful Bermuda Coral Reef and Fish

We have been to two other snorkeling destinations that are not technically in the Caribbean, but have much of the same sea life. Bermuda is out farther north in the Atlantic, but because of currents, has good reefs and sea life. The Florida Keys are just north of the Caribbean Sea and have a nice barrier reef for snorkeling.

Bermuda – For us the snorkeling in Bermuda is seasonal. Because it is farther north, the water gets cold in the winter months, which means you need a wetsuit. It is not really tropical snorkeling. But, the reefs are quite alive with corals and fish. Most spots are accessible from shore, but you do want to take a boat out to the outer reefs to have the full experience. You can self-guide with our Bermuda Snorkeling Guide eBook.

Florida Keys – The water gets a bit colder in the winter months in the Keys too, but not as cold as Bermuda. The best snorkeling here is on the barrier reef which is 1-8 miles offshore, so requires a boat to access. The reefs are quite alive and there are a good amount of fish to see.

Caribbean Snorkeling Ideas From Community Posts

Our snorkeling community has shared posts of their own, or asked questions and gotten useful answers, about Caribbean destinations we have yet to visit. The stand-out places are Roatan, Honduras, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Turks and Caicos. You can see all Caribbean community posts here.

Guided Caribbean Snorkeling Travel

We have partnered with a snorkeling tour company and they offer a number of Caribbean snorkeling trips to places like Belize and Cuba.

Unique Things You Can See While Snorkeling in the Caribbean

There are some unique things you can see when you snorkel the Caribbean. While the Indo-Pacific has many more varieties of fish, corals and other creatures, you can still see some fun things only in the Caribbean. Here are a few of the highlights for us:

Soft Corals: Sea Fans, Sea Rods, Sea Plumes, and Sea Whips. While there are soft corals in the Indo-Pacific they are quite different looking than those of the Caribbean. They waft in any current or waves and the sea fans can present a beautiful purple color. You can see them in a couple of the pictures above.

Elkhorn Coral: While staghorn type corals are also in the Indo-Pacific, the stately and impressive Elkhorn Coral is only in the Caribbean. And what a treat it is to see a stand of them!

Elkhorn Coral Reef Caribbean Snorkeling
Stand of Elkhorn Coral found while snorkeling in the Caribbean

Pillar Coral: This fantastic coral is always a joy to see jutting up from a Caribbean reef. It is only present there.

Pillar Coral Caribbean Snorkeling
Unique Pillar Coral jutting up out of a reef in the Caribbean

Colorful Sponges: In many Caribbean destinations there is a variety of colorful sponges of different shapes and sizes.

Four images of colorful Caribbean sponges together
Collection of colorful Caribbean sponges

Fish: There are many cool fish to see in the Caribbean. Some of the ones that you will only see there are the numerous Hamlets, the fantastic Queen Triggerfish, and the wonderful Spotted Drum.

Indigo Hamlet fish
Indigo Hamlet – a unique and beautiful Caribbean fish
Queen Triggerfish
The gorgeous Queen Triggerfish you can see while snorkeling in the Caribbean
Spotted Drum fish
Spotted Drum – a one-of-a-kind Caribbean fish

Much More Snorkeling Information