Should you pursue a hobby or enjoy an adventurous experience while staying in the best vacation place? I am sure you will love this! And that is snorkeling of course. Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities sought after by millions of tourists around the globe. It’s design for individuals who want to glimpse the life beneath the water’s surface without diving into it.
The Caribbean is home to some of the best snorkeling spots in the entire planet. This is due to two main factors. Firstly, there are a lot of island nations in the Caribbean, and as a result, there is a wide variety of different destinations to pick from. Secondly, there are also a lot of coral reefs surrounding these islands, providing an ideal habitat for fish. We will base our discussion today on – Best Places To Snorkel Caribbean. But, other resources which you can find on our website include some frequently asked questions such as: best snorkeling in the caribbean 2022 and best snorkeling caribbean tripadvisor
Best Places To Snorkel Caribbean
A tropical getaway to the Caribbean is one of the best ways to escape the winter chill. While you’re enjoying your time on the beach, don’t forget to hit the water for some snorkeling! There are so many beautiful sights to see underwater that you’ll want to take advantage of every minute you have in the ocean.
If you’re searching for the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean, look no further than these top spots:
1) Cozumel, Mexico
2) Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
3) Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
4) St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
5) Aruba, Caribbean Netherlands (Saba)
6) Vieques Island, Puerto Rico (United States)
7) St. John’s Island (St. John), United States Virgin Islands (United States)
8) Saba Island (Caribbean Netherlands), Netherlands Antilles
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Best time to snorkel in Caribbean
The best time to snorkel in the Caribbean is between November and May. During this time, there are fewer tourists and warmer water temperatures, which makes for better visibility.
If you’re interested in seeing the most colorful coral reefs and fish, plan your trip between March and October.
Snorkeling Destinations in the Caribbean
Bloody Bay Marine Park, Little Cayman
Little Cayman is just ten miles long and a mile wide but offers one of the premier snorkeling diving locations in the world. Its tiny population of less than 200, along with scant development, mean virtually no human-caused damage to its reefs, while its marine park status ensures continued protection of one of the earth’s most magnificent underwater attractions, Bloody Bay, regarded as the most breathtaking drop-off in the Caribbean. Snorkelers here have the rare opportunity to swim over a coral cliff, experiencing one of the most amazing undersea panoramas on the planet. While floating in the translucent waters at Three Fathom Wall, you’ll see numerous fish swimming about the bottom, roughly 18 feet below, and you may also notice many sets of curious eyes observing your journey, including the ever-fascinating hawksbill turtle. The walls of Bloody Bay are teeming with healthy creatures, including tangles of rope sponges, gigantic barrel sponges, and webs of soft corals.
Cayo Diablo National Park – Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Cayo Diablo straddles the border of the Atlantic and Caribbean, located just a 20-minute boat ride from the shores of Fajardo, in the eastern region of Puerto Rico. Many snorkelers and divers come here for the sea turtles that are almost always found lounging in the shallow waters, though you’ll also see stands of elkhorn and staghorn coral that are home to countless tropical fish. This may be the very best spot for a close encounter with turtles, including hawksbill and green turtles that are often calm enough that you can swim right alongside them.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish, but they aren’t anything like the star of the “Jaws” films, in fact, some say these fish that can get up to 60 feet in length, are equivalent to the “puppy dogs of the sea.” Isla Mujeres, located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is known as one of the best places on earth to snorkel with these gentle giants that congregate in the surrounding waters from June to August in order to gulp up the local fish spawn. You’ll also have a chance to glimpse dolphins and manta rays here.
Tobago Cays, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The Tobago Cays in the Grenadines showcase a variety of colorful hard and soft corals, fans and whips as well as being home to green turtles, nurse sharks and eagle rays that swim in the calm, azure-hued waters. Horseshoe Reef, frequently described as a kaleidoscope of colors, protects four of the five uninhabited islands that are all part of Tobago Cays Marine Park. This treasured area remains under the watchful eye of rangers who ensure the coral-reef system continues to thrive, with lots of tropical fish found in waters only five to 12-feet deep. If you’ve got your heart set on turtles, the protected grassy area right outside the beach of Baradel is the place to go.
Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia
Anse Chastanet is not only one of the best resorts in St. Lucia, but it’s a famous snorkeling spot too. It is made up of nearly 500 feet of dark, silvery sands, and is dotted with palms and surrounded by steep, forested hillsides, with a coral reef teeming with fish just offshore. The reef runs anywhere from five to 20-feet deep on the shallow end, and up to 150-feet deep on the far end. In shallow waters look for octopus, needlefish, peacock flounders and turtles, or go down a bit deeper over dense coral growth to see moray eels, parrot fish, puffers and even sea horses.
Champagne Reef, Dominica
Champagne Reef is a unique spot in Dominica, one of the Caribbean’s most spectacularly beautiful islands filled with unspoiled natural beauty, including a multitude of waterfalls and hot springs. Dominica’s subterranean geothermal activity pushes up through tiny cracks on the sea floor, filling the water with small, warm bubbles, giving the reef its name. Here, you’ll feel as if you’re swimming in your own giant bottle of bubbly as you snorkel with seahorses, frogfish, parrotfish and lobsters among the brilliant gardens of hard and soft coral.
Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Bahamas
This collection of tiny cays, surrounded by coral reefs sitting in luminous blue waters is the oldest land-and-sea park on the planet, established back in 1959. In 1986, the 176-square-mile sanctuary was declared a no-take zone, resulting in conch populations that are 31 times higher than in the surrounding area, becoming a model for other refuges worldwide. You’ll see a host of marine life on the reefs, including coral, tropical fish, lobster, stingrays, barracuda and the occasional shark. The park is only accessible by boat, with unique Bahamian wildlife species like the Hutia, the only terrestrial mammal native to the Bahamas, freely wandering around. Iguanas scurry about while sea turtles and seabirds lay their eggs on the beaches.
Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, Belize
Glover’s Reef lies roughly 30 miles off the coast of Belize, forming a large, protected link in the massive Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. The reserve encompasses the entire atoll, with its 80-square-mile lagoon inside home to some 700 coral patch reefs that offer endless snorkeling opportunities with common sightings of rays, sharks and turtles. Stay at Glover’s Atoll Resort, with accommodations including everything from campsites to thatch cabins over the water, for the chance to spend your days swimming and snorkeling right from the beach.
The Baths, Virgin Gorda
The Baths – Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands is made up of a collection of smaller islands, each with its own unique topography and island vibe, including Virgin Gorda, most famous for the Baths, a unique national park on the island’s southwest coast. The area is unlike anything else in the Caribbean, with some of the best beaches in the Virgin Islands, framed by gigantic granite boulders. The pools and grottoes created by these ginormous boulders make it the most photogenic spot in the region. Snorkelers should follow the rocky trail to nearby Devil’s Bay, particularly in the caves on the south side, where cup corals and multicolored sponges can be seen in fairly shallow depths of 12 to 15 feet.
You may have heard that Bonaire, located off Venezuela’s northern coast, is a premier diving destination, but that also holds true when it comes to snorkeling, in fact, the Caribbean Journal once named the island as one of the Top 10 Snorkel Destinations. Here, you don’t have to choose just one spot, you can practically walk anywhere to the water, jump in and find yourself in a beautiful underwater world with shallow terraces teeming with colorful fish.
Los Roques Archipelago National Park, Venezuela
Los Roques Archipelago National Park is made up of some 50 islands atop crystal-clear blue waters roughly 90 miles east of Bonaire. The isles are ringed with reefs, softened by massive coral-sand flats and turtle-grass beds overflowing with bonefish. Snorkelers can head out on a small boat with local guides to explore the islands and their practically virgin reefs, known as some of the healthiest and most bio-diverse in the Caribbean. Most of the island’s beaches offer outstanding snorkeling if you want to hit the waters right from the shore.
Pigeon Cay – Roatan, Honduras
Pigeon Cay is a miniature, picture-postcard uninhabited island, reached via a 45-minute boat ride from Roatan. It is the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands and dotted with beautiful luxury resorts, though you may feel as if you’ve stepped onto a number planet once you get there. One side of the tiny isle features a beautiful white sand beach, and on the other, coconut trees provide shade and shelter. But the island isn’t the best part – jump into its surrounding waters to enjoy some of the most amazing snorkeling in the entire the Caribbean, if not the world. The reef starts 15 to 20 feet from the beach, surrounding the entire cay. Ideal conditions for coral growth can be found here, which means you’ll find a wide variety of species, with the bleached ivory sand bottom punctuated by Elkhorn coral as well as an extensive array of tropical fish like parrot fish and iridescent damsels.
Best places to snorkel caribbean
Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities to do for travelers in the Caribbean due to its calm seas, beautiful clear water and excellent weather around the year.
There are many places you can go snorkeling in the Caribbean, but some of the best spots are on Saint Martin, Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saba.
Snorkeling is a great way to explore underwater life without getting wet! It’s an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Snorkeling requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere there is water.
The best places to snorkel in the Carribean are:
Sosúa, in the province of Puerto Plata, it’s known for the immense beach that bears the same name, protected by a large coral reef.
To enjoy this amazing northern paradise, named by locals the Atlantic’s Bride, you can buy an excursion starting at US$ 59 with sun chairs, snorkeling guide and equipment included.
Bayahibe Beach is just 20 minutes from La Romana Airport, and has about 600 meters of white sand and beautiful turquoise waters wrapped by giant coconut trees. This beach stands out for not having waves and crystal-clear water, being ideal for snorkeling.
To access the coral reef area, you can rent a boat in the Bayahibe marina or book a tour to snorkel in the area. Starting at US$ 45, you can have the equipment and the assistance of a snorkeling instructor included.
Also located off the coast of Bayahibe, this “picture perfect” island stands out for its calm crystalline waters, which makes it an ideal destination for snorkeling and diving due to its high visibility underwater.
The Island stands out for its white sand, shallow and warm turquoise waters; Making it, in recent years, one of the preferred areas by tourists and locals alike. To visit the island, you will find a wide range of excursions starting at US$ 60 per person. We always recommend reading in detail what’s included in each Tour and to ask about their safety measures so that your trip to Saona Island, and any other area, becomes a safe and memorable experience.
Located just 2 kilometers from La Romana, more specifically from Bayahibe Beach, is a beautiful island with clear water beaches, ideal to practice snorkeling and scuba diving. Named the best zone to practice snorkeling in the area, is a paradise full of marine life.
The best way to visit the Catalina Island is to buy a Snorkeling Trip Package. You can find such excursions starting at US$ 60 per person with transportation and lunch included.
In Grand Cayman’s capital city of George Town, the Wreck of the Cali is eye-candy for kids who like to explore old freighters and the fish that live in the wreck. During the 1940s, the hull sprung a leak while carrying 30,000 bags of rice, which caused the rice inside to expand, blowing the boat in half. Today the freighter rests in shallow water close to shore where sea urchins, eels and octopus romp among the rusty ruins. Cheeseburger Reef – 150 yards offshore from the north edge of George Town – is teeming with sea turtles, snapper and butterfly fish swimming in 10 feet of water close to shore. With a sandy walk-in, it’s easy for snorkelers of all ages to frolic with the undersea critters who are seemingly not scared of their two-legged human admirers. Crazy busy with tourists but worth a visit, Stingray City in Grand Cayman is easy snorkeling along a shallow sandbar. People-friendly stingrays glide through the warm waters posing for snaps and foraging for food. A 15-minute walk from the cruise ship terminal and adjacent to Devil’s Grotto where marine creatures hide in the underwater tunnels, Don Foster’s Dive Cayman often operates a boat to Stingray City on Sundays. For those curious about secretive snorkeling sites, check out the less-touristy east end of Grand Cayman where the reefs host conch, sea fans, tarpon and lobster.
It is a paradise! With more than 50 kilometers of incredible white sand and turquoise water beaches, surrounded by coconut palm trees. Famous for amazing all-inclusive resorts, golf courses and night life.
You can visit Punta Cana any time of the year and enjoy an amazing time. Here are some two places you shouldn’t miss if you love to practice Snorkeling.
Bávaro and Punta Cana Beach are the most popular and recognized beaches of the Dominican Republic. Classified within the most beautiful ones in the world. To live an unforgettable experience don’t miss snorkeling on the longest reef in the country. If you want to enjoy a full snorkeling experience in Bavaro beach, the Catalonia Bavaro hotel offers all the best services of a 5 star resort.
Caribbean snorkeling Guide
Snorkeling is a great activity for families, couples on vacation, or just about anyone who wants to experience the beauty of the underwater world without getting wet. It’s also great for people who want to see marine life up close without scuba gear—and it can be done from shore!
There are a few things you need to know before heading out on your first snorkeling trip, so let’s get started.
First off, make sure your mask fits properly. If it doesn’t fit right, you won’t be able to see anything underwater—and that defeats the whole purpose of snorkeling! You should also consider wearing fins if you’re planning on swimming long distances or going deep into open water; otherwise, your feet will be fatigued by the end of your trip. Also remember that snorkels come in different sizes depending on how deep and far away from shore they’ll be used; be sure to choose one that matches your needs before buying!
Caribbean snorkeling is a great way to explore the sea. The Caribbean islands are known for their beautiful waters and coral reefs. If you’re looking to swim with fish and explore the ocean, then Caribbean snorkeling is perfect for you! Here’s everything you need to know about Caribbean snorkeling.
What is Caribbean Snorkeling?
Caribbean snorkeling is exactly what it sounds like: swimming around in the Caribbean Ocean while wearing a mask, fins, and snorkel. Most people do this as part of a tour or excursion, but it’s also possible to rent or buy your own equipment from a local shop or online store (like [company name]).
Why Should I Go Snorkeling?
Snorkeling is a fun activity for all ages! It’s an opportunity to see how other people live on other islands, learn about their culture and traditions through the food they eat or activities they enjoy doing together as families or groups of friends. It can also be an opportunity to learn more about local wildlife, since there will likely be some species that aren’t common back home where you live (if they exist at all).
Best family snorkeling Caribbean
Snorkeling is a great way to explore a destination and get to know the water-breathing locals. With safety top of mind for families and the deep-ocean-averse, these nine resorts offer protected snorkeling spots without ever having to leave the property.
From a coral reef off your private beach to an underwater viewing room, these resorts let you slip into their waters without worry.
Here are the tropical destinations that practically guarantee a great Caribbean vacation for everyone in the family.
British Virgin Islands
Sailors love the British Virgin Islands for the ease of “line-of-sight” sailing (read: you can navigate visually because everything is within eyesight). Whether you choose to go the bareboat route or charter a catamaran with a captain from a company like The Moorings for the ultimate island-hopping itinerary, the British Virgin Islands make for idyllic Caribbean vacations.
My kids’ favorite place to snorkel is in Grand Cayman. You’ll have lots of options, from snorkeling right off your resort on Seven Mile Beach, to renting snorkel equipment at Rum Point. During our trip, we also did an excursion to Stingray City, which included a snorkeling stop.
For a special snorkeling experience that is especially great for kids, I’d recommend a visit to the Cayman Turtle Farm. This tourist attraction also offers a lagoon filled with fish and turtles that is easy to snorkel. My kids absolutely loved it and my son still begs to go back.
Beaches Turks and Caicos
Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos is a fantastic family all-inclusive resort located in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. Activities are included in your stay, including snorkeling.
If you are a certified diver, PADI® Certified Scuba Diving is also offered at no additional cost. The gorgeous turquoise waters of the Turks and Caicos islands are absolutely gorgeous, so if you haven’t been, you’ll definitely want to see it. Some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean can be done in Turks and Caicos.
When you aren’t snorkeling, you’ll be able to enjoy a fun water park, family activities, swimming (both in the Caribbean and in the many on-property pools), and so much more.
Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort
Want to see sea turtles? My turtle-loving son couldn’t wait to see them at the Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort, located in the Mayan Riviera. Akumal is known as a haven for turtles, and our resort was located right on the waterfront.
Resort employees recommended going into the water early for the best chance to see a turtle, and that is exactly when my son saw the turtle above. While you are able to rent some equipment, I’d suggest bringing your own so you always have it available.
Atlantis Paradise Island
Visitors to the popular Atlantis Bahamas Resort have a number of opportunities to snorkel at the resort. We saw fish right from the shore while swimming. But, you can also book a separate excursion – several are offered. Scuba and snuba is also available. While you are there, don’t miss spending at least one day at the gorgeous Atlantis Aquaventure water park.
Best coral reef in Caribbean
If you’re looking for the best coral reef in the Caribbean, look no further than St. Thomas.
Its famous powdery white sand beaches are only a short drive from the island’s main town, Charlotte Amalie, where you can find everything from dining to shopping to nightlife.
And if you’re looking for something more adventurous, head over to Coral World Ocean Park and watch as sharks swim overhead or take a swim with the stingrays at Stingray City.
But if all that sun and sand isn’t enough to get your heart racing, there’s always something exciting happening on St. Thomas—from street festivals to parades and more!
Tortugas Reef in Playa Del Carmen. Why Is One Of The Best Caribbean Coral Reefs?
Tortugas (which means Turtles in Spanish) is the most popular coral reef in Playa del Carmen and one of the most famous Caribbean Coral Reefs. The huge amount of turtles you can find there is the reason. In fact, it is a unique dive site where you can spot three of the most common Caribbean sea turtles during the same dive. Hawksbill turtles, Green turtles, and the huge Loggerhead turtles enjoy together this perfect habitat.
Tortugas Reef ( 18 meters / 60 feet ) is cataloged as a “carpet” reef, which means the reef is quite flat, and wide. In addition to the turtles you can find in this Caribbean reef, there is a huge barrel sponge. And if all this was not enough, here you can also enjoy interesting marine life, full of moray eels, nurse sharks, rays…Finally, some peculiar Caribbean fish (which are not so easy to find in other reefs) can be your dive buddies as well. For example, the Orange Filefish, the Batfish, or the Bluespotted Cornetfish.
We cannot forget those amazing animals you can find only on specific seasons. During the warm months of the year (usually between June-September) is common to find a huge school of Tarpons at the end of the reef. Believe us, It is amazing to swim between them! During the cold months, when the water gets a bit cooler, it is common to see the eagle rays swimming around and, occasionally, you can also find the breathtaking bull sharks, mainly from November till early March.
The current is usually medium, but it can be quite strong some days. You just need to let yourself go with the current and enjoy all the amazing marine life that this dive site offers. We do it from all our Riviera Maya locations, and it is a must for every diver in the area. Do not miss it!
Palancar: The Star Of The Caribbean Coral Reefs In Cozumel
Cozumel’s coral reefs are part of the second greatest reef barriers in the world. For this reason, Cozumel has been renamed as one of the Caribbean’s top diving destinations for more than 40 years. Probably, among the huge offers of scuba diving spots, you can find in Cozumel, Palancar Reef is the most amazing one.
The reason is Palancar Reef keeps a secret. This Caribbean coral reef is placed on the western shore of the Mexican Island. There, the steady oceanic currents bring the nutrients which marine life needs to thrive. Well-nourished, sea turtles, rays, nurse sharks, barracudas, moray eels, lobsters, crabs, and a kaleidoscope of colorful fish make Palancar their home.
Palancar is formed by four separated Caribbean coral reefs. The shallow formations more nearby to the coast, allow both -snorkelers and beginners scuba divers- to get in on the action. A good example are Palancar Gardens and Palancar Horseshoe. Meanwhile advanced scuba divers have a whole adventure world waiting for them in Palancar Bricks and Palancar Caves. There, they will find tunnels, caves, and large caverns that sit along the edge of a sloping wall.
Gardens Of The Queen In Cuba, A Wonder Discovered By Cristopher Columbus
This coral reef was named by Christopher Columbus as “Jardines de la Reina” (“Gardens Of The Queen” in Spanish) to honor Queen Isabel the Catholic.
It was in the 1990s when the Gardens Of The Queen was declared a marine sanctuary by Fidel Castro. This coral reef is another good example of those Caribbean coral reefs which are considered a natural protected zone. The gardens are open for limited dive tourism. If you are one of the few privileged ones who can scuba dive there, you will do it in a world of coral draped in fish, home of sleek sharks, and American crocodiles.
The Protected Natural Park Cotubama
The Bayahibe diving excursions are a tourist attraction that gathers visitors from all over the world. Of course, this is one of those scuba diving spots which fame is more than justified.
Bayahibe reef is located at the northwestern limit of Parque Natural Del Este, 800 m away from the shore, on top of a submerged terrace 18 m deep. It has a well-developed spur and groove system, where its large variety of colorful corals is remarkable.
It is also noteworthy Catalina reef, which is part of the protected Parque Natural Del Este too. This place is famous because of its wall. It descends more than 100 meters deep and there are numerous coral reefs and tropical fish.
And If all this was not enough, it is also one of the places where wreck diving is most practiced. Saint George puts the icing on the cake in an awesome destination for scuba diving lovers, with a touch of mystery under the sea.
Hol Chan Cut In Belize, An Example Of Conservationist Success Among The Best Caribbean Coral Reefs
We cannot avoid talking about Hol Chan Cut in this list of the best Caribbean Coral reefs. In fact, this Belizean reef is part of a marine reserve since 1987. It can only be visited during organized excursions accompanied by a guide. This marine reserve is near Ambergris Caye and Caulker Cay, opposite the coast of Belize.
The reserve’s size is approximately 18 km², full of coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests. It is divided into several zones according to the marine habitat. Hol Chan is the most popular zone. Thankfully, since the establishment of this sanctuary, the return of all species of fish has been going quite well, producing a colorful and varied fish spectacle for divers and snorkelers. Nurse sharks, southern stingrays, and green turtles, among others, will be your dive buddies there.
Devil’s Reef: One Of The Best Caribbean Coral Reefs In Jamaica
An amazing underwater world, vibrant of life, makes this Jamaican reef one of the most amazing Caribbean Coral reefs you will enjoy scuba diving. Scorpionfish, lettuce sea slugs, and a huge variety of colorful coral species are some of its appeals. In addition, the scuba diving lovers can explore its dozens of tunnels and caverns, and visit the nurse sharks that live there. Staghorn corals and black-ball sponges hide all kinds of moray eels. Meanwhile, barracudas, spadefish, and snappers swim sorting its crevices and nooks.
The Devil’s Reef is, in fact, an underwater ridge. Therefore, it is indicated for all kind of scuba divers. The upper reaches (about a half-mile offshore slopes down to about 65 ft / 20 m) delight to less expert scuba divers, while the deeper parts (the wall drops down until 130ft 40/m) can be dived only by Advanced Open Water certificated divers.
Klein Bonaire Reef: A Little Island With a Great Coral Reef
Yet again, we encountered a protected area among the best Caribbean coral reefs in Bonaire. In fact, the entire island is surrounded by a marine park. Despite the fact Bonaire is famous for its shore diving, the big pearl of the treasure is Klein Bonaire.
Klein Bonaire (from the Dutch “Little Bonaire”) is a small uninhabited island, and it is separated from the main island by about a half-mile of the open sea. So you will have to do a short boat ride to start your scuba dive. There, you will find healthy corals and many wonderful sponges. Although Bonaire is not typically known for its larger creatures, there is enough marine life to keep your camera occupied taking pictures. Bellow its waves, you will see a large variety of fish, and schools. In addition, it is also a good place to dive alongside turtles, because of its tortoise hatchery.
There are multiple dive sites on Klein Bonaire. Therefore, the number of dives you can do in one day only depends on your energy and the time you will spend in surface intervals.
We hope you find the best place to snorkel in the Caribbean!
If you are looking for a great place to snorkel, look no further than the Caribbean. There are many beautiful places that offer great snorkeling opportunities. If you want to go on a cruise, some of the best places to go include Cozumel and Grand Cayman Islands. But if you want to explore more on land, there are plenty of options as well. The most popular spots include Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.
If you are traveling with children or someone who isn’t comfortable swimming in open water, then it may be better to visit one of these islands where they have pools or lagoon areas where snorkeling can take place without having to worry about currents or sharks lurking around (although we don’t recommend swimming with sharks).
The Best Snorkeling In The Caribbean For An Exceptional Underwater Adventure!
By Kylie Morrow
The islands of the Caribbean are recognized as some of the best vacation destinations in the world. Each island has its very own natural wonders, customs, and culture, which creates a unique experience for anyone who visits them. This is why every year thousands of visitors flock to the Caribbean from the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries around the world.
Many of the attractions and adventures in the Caribbean involve the natural habitat of the islands. Snorkeling is no different and many of the beaches offer a unique underwater world with a thriving fish population and coral formations that enhance the experience for snorkelers. During a dive in the Caribbean, you’re likely to come across tropical fish like parrotfish, butterfly fish, grout, snapper, and grouper for starters. You might also see sea turtles, seahorses, moray eels, eagle rays, lobster, stingrays, lots of different types of coral reefs and sponges, and even shipwrecks.
If you want to find out more about the best snorkeling locations in the Caribbean, keep reading as we’ve listed some of the most incredible spots!
This island in the northern Caribbean is the third largest in the region. Jamaica is one of the five islands that make up the archipelago of the Greater Antilles and, as part of its topography, it comprises a few major mountain ranges including the Blue Mountain Range, the Port Royal Mountains, and the John Crow Mountains.
Photo credit: Debbie Ann Powell/Shutterstock.com
However, despite these impressive features, the island is better known for its rich culture, beautiful beaches, and scenic landscape. What’s even better is the 600 miles of coastline and vibrant coral reefs in its midst that make Jamaica the ideal location for beginner and more advanced snorkelers. Here are some of the best snorkeling locations in Jamaica:
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Jamaica:
Traveling along Jamaica’s northern coast will take you to Runaway Bay, which is a sunny beach just off Ocho Rios. Runaway Bay is regarded as one of the island’s best snorkeling destinations with an active coral reef filled with marine life including sea urchins, creole wrasse, stingrays, and parrotfish. There are a few all-inclusive resorts in the Runaway Bay area that you can stay in during your visit to Jamaica, making snorkeling here super convenient.
Booby Cay (Negril)
Just off the shores of Negril, Jamaica lies the island of Booby Cay. Though it may be quite small, beachgoers can have picnics, go sunbathing, swim, snorkel, and scuba dive along its many coral reefs. Many hotels provide tours of Booby Cay, which can include a fresh serving of fish and drinks and all the snorkeling equipment you’ll need.
Doctor’s Cave Beach (Montego Bay)
If you plan on spending time in Montego Bay while in Jamaica, then a visit to Doctor’s Cave Beach is a must This is a small beach off the north coast of Jamaica with shallow waters and fantastic views. Snorkeling in Montego Bay, particularly on Doctor’s Cave Beach, is so much easier due to the calmness of the water. There are plenty of coral formations just offshore that snorkelers can explore. At Doctor’s Cave Beach, you can immerse yourself in the potential healing powers of these waters while swimming among sea urchins, parrotfish, and even stingrays.
11. U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI)
Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas are among the group of 50 islands that make up the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Lesser Antilles. Snorkelers have many options to choose from in this region as coral reefs are found around each of the main islands and near most of the other islets. These include patch reefs, deep reefs, and groove formations.
Photo credit: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock.com
Each of the main islands offers snorkelers a different experience. Saint Croix, which is the largest of the aforementioned islands, has the best-developed barrier reefs. Meanwhile, the day boats in Saint Thomas take visitors to reefs offshore, while the remote Saint John allows snorkelers to swim among the marine life. This includes trumpet fish, sea turtles and so much more.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in the U.S. Virgin Islands:
Leinster Bay (Saint John)
Leinster Bay, also called Watermelon Cay, is one of the best snorkeling sites on the island of Saint John. It has a diverse marine life that snorkelers will appreciate, thanks to the schools of fish like blue tang, barracuda, and grunts and the presence of seagrass beds and coral. Conch, sea turtles, and stingrays are also plentiful here. Access to snorkeling is simple in this area, either you can pass through the beach or use the cobblestone area nearby.
Buck Island (Saint Croix)
Buck Island is a national park in Saint Croix that spans 167 acres. This area consists of an underwater park and a trail. If you want to visit while in Saint Croix, you’ll have to book a tour with one of the snorkeling companies, granting you access to the wonders of the park and all its monuments that you are then free to discover by yourself. Keep an eye out for needlefish, blue tangs, parrotfish, eagle rays, and hawksbill turtles that have made this park their home.
Trunk Bay (Saint John)
Trunk Bay is a protected beach area in the Virgin Islands National Park. It is well-loved by locals and visitors alike. The underwater snorkel trail at Trunk Bay is enjoyable and interesting and lets you see the variety of sea life present here including stunning coral, exotic fish, crabs, and spotted drums. Snorkeling here is a good start for beginners.
10. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a tropical, Caribbean island that can be found to the east of the Dominican Republic and to the west of the Virgin Islands. Similar to The Bahamas, this archipelago is made up of smaller cays such as Old San Juan, Culebra, and Vieques, with the previous two being the most popular ones. Although Puerto Rico is most known for its tropical climate, language, and music, it has so much more to offer, like diving.
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Puerto Rico certainly is the place to be for snorkelers and scuba divers, no doubt due to its extensive coastline, clear waters, and the distinct marine world that contains a little bit of everything – mangroves, coral formations, seabeds, and tropical fish. Puerto Rico is indeed a snorkeler’s dream.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Puerto Rico:
Seven Seas Beach (Fajardo)
Seven Seas Beach is calm and tranquil, and it is located in the eastern town of Fajardo, Puerto Rico. It is well equipped with bathrooms and showers and even picnic benches for a fun day out. The warm, shallow waters here are welcoming to sea bathers, and snorkelers in particular will appreciate the view of the coral reefs and sea life. If you choose to go snorkeling here, you might spot some interesting sea creatures among the coral and rock formations on the beach.
Steps Beach (Rincón)
Steps Beach is located in the town of Rincón along the west coast of Puerto Rico. This town is a popular spot for surfing during the winter, but when the tide slows down, the waters at Steps Beach are calm enough for snorkelers to explore. Snorkelers would be interested in the diversity of the underworld here where tropical fish, various sponges, sea turtles, and the Elkhorn Coral Forest can be found.
Escambrón Beach (San Juan)
Escambrón is a charming beach in the northeastern town of San Juan in Puerto Rico. It is lined with palm trees that provide adequate shade while the coral reef formations protect the beach itself. Snorkeling at Escambrón is sure to be rewarding and snorkelers can choose between the calm waters of Playa 8, the main beach, and Playa 9 called Bateria El Escambron.
9. Saint Martin / Sint Maarten
This small island is further divided into two cultural hubs: namely Saint Martin, which is part of the French Republic, and Sint Maarten, which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The influence of both of these territories undoubtedly contributes to a unique culture on the island and its language, customs, and rituals.
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The diversity of this dual island can be seen in the variety of adventures visitors can participate in. Snorkeling is one such activity with the best spots being easily accessible. This is a plus for those looking to venture off on their own while enjoying a dive vacation here.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Saint Martin // Sint Maarten:
Mullet Bay (Sint Maarten)
Mullet Beach in southern Sint Maarten is a calm beach that is popular among locals looking to enjoy some swimming, surfing, or snorkeling. The wide variety of marine life here makes snorkeling very rewarding. Sightings can include octopus, puffer fish, angelfish, and wrasse. There are lots of fish by the rocks at Mullet Bay, but you may want to be careful because the waters tend to be a bit rough.
Baie Rouge (Saint Martin)
Baie Rouge is located in Saint Martin, which is the French-speaking side of the island. This beach is a beautiful one, with pink sands and turquoise waters. It is relatively remote, giving visitors privacy and alone time. Snorkelers will appreciate the eastern side of the beach, particularly because of the vibrant reefs where you’re likely to see fishes like snapper and blue tang.
Little Bay Beach (Sint Maarten)
Between Simpson Bay and Philipsburg lies Little Bay Beach, a picturesque and slightly secluded spot with gentle waters and white sands. Snorkelers will enjoy a dive experience here that can come with lots of pleasant surprises. The best area to snorkel here is near the Tiki Hut on the left side of the bay. There you’ll find wrecks from helicopters and submarines where marine animals now live.
Antigua belongs to a chain of islands in the Caribbean Sea and measures only 108 square miles. Barbuda and Redonda are two other islands in the chain, and they are significantly smaller. Antigua has a rugged coastline and together with Barbuda has several beautiful beaches — 365 to be exact. This welcome reality gives beachgoers plenty of options to choose from to suit whichever experience they seek.
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Antigua is almost completely enclosed by coral reefs, with the majority of the fringing corals to the east of the island. The north and south coast are surrounded as well, while the west coast has more sandy areas. All of this means that regardless of which part of the island you choose to stay in, you can snorkel at just about any location.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Antigua:
Deep Bay Beach
Deep Bay Beach is located near Saint John’s, the capital of Antigua. The waters of this west coast beach are calm and transparent making it ideal for snorkeling or scuba diving in Antigua. There are a variety of fish there as well as sea turtles you might come across. You’ll also be able to check out some of the shipwrecks that these creatures live in from above, such as the “Wreck of the Andes” that sank decades ago.
Stingray City is true to its name as it is indeed filled with stingrays. These gentle creatures are accustomed to human contact and love to be pampered by snorkelers. To get to this special city while in Antigua, you’ll need to book a boat trip with a local company. The trip will be worth it though, and you’ll love all the marine animals and friendly stingrays you get to see while snorkeling.
Darkwood Beach is another beach on the west coast of Antigua that is known for great snorkeling. Since it is such a quiet beach, you can have a peaceful experience here that includes sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. The coral reef off the coast of this beach is interesting to explore, and while snorkeling here you might come across barracuda, sea turtles, and other marine animals.
Expert tip: If you’re not sure where to stay for your Antigua trip, consider one of the all-inclusive resorts in Antigua where snorkeling is included!
Grenada is an English-speaking island located in the southern Caribbean. Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago can be found south of this island, and Saint Vincent can be found to the north. Grenada has two sister isles, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, both smaller islands. There are also many other islets to the north of Grenada that form part of the Grenadines.
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This island is relatively untouched in comparison to other Caribbean territories, allowing it to retain much of its natural beauty and awe. Grenada has a rich marine life with plenty of coral reefs that are preserved and healthy. All of these factors add up to quite the incredible snorkeling experience!
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Grenada:
Grand Anse Beach
Grand Anse Beach stretches for two miles and quite a few hotels and resorts in Grenada are located near this beach. Grand Anse Beach is located near the capital of Saint George’s and thus is easy to access. No matter your skill level, you’re likely to find a good place to snorkel on this beach. The best time to snorkel here is early in the morning to avoid the crowds. During a snorkeling session at Grand Anse Beach, you’re likely to come across lobster, squid, shrimp, and lots of colorful fishes.
Molinere Bay (Underwater Sculpture Park)
In 2006, the Molinere Bay Underwater Sculpture Park was installed in Grenada after it was designed by British artist Jason De Caires Taylor. Eight hundred square meters of space was used to accommodate the 75 sculptures. Today, there are guided tours to the sculptures, and scuba divers and snorkelers can enjoy admiring this work of art and the marine animals that frequent this space.
Levera Beach is part of the 450-acre Levera National Park in northeastern Grenada. This is one of the best snorkeling locations on the island and it gives snorkelers an up close and personal view of coral reefs, mangroves, swamps, and seagrass beds. The influence of the Atlantic means that this beach may be a bit rough, so snorkelers should stick to the swimming areas that have been designated.
Expert tip: Staying at an all-inclusive resort in Grenada can make it easy to have that exceptional underwater adventure you’re looking for. Check out this Sandals Grenada review, which will tell you everything you need to know about what guests love at this resort.
6. Turks & Caicos
The Turks & Caicos is a tropical archipelago of about 40 islands and cays found in the Atlantic Ocean. Only about eight of the islands are inhabited. These include Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, South Caicos, Grand Turk, Salt Cay, Parrot Cay, Pine Cay, and Ambergris Cay. These islands are quite popular with the snorkeling crowd as there’s quite a bit of marine life to see there regularly.
One of the best places to snorkel in Turks & Caicos is around the Turks & Caicos Barrier Reef. This barrier reef is the second largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and it is home to about 60 coral species and 250 fish species. Other than the Turks & Caicos Barrier Reef, there are other interesting places to snorkel in this region as well.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Turks & Caicos
Bight Reef (Coral Gardens)
One of the most famous snorkeling sites in the Turks and Caicos Islands would definitely be Bight Reef (Coral Gardens) in Providenciales/Provo, which is one of the more populous islands. This reef extends about 107 miles (350 feet) from the shore, and it is filled with radiant corals. Marine animals such as butterfly fish, snapper, green turtles, grouper, stingrays, and many others can be found here at Bight Reef.
Paying a visit to this barrier reef, located near Turtle Cove in Providenciales, is guaranteed to be one of the most amazing snorkeling experiences you will have. Upon arrival at the beach, you can dive into the water to explore the different coral reef systems, seagrass, and seabeds and swim among fishes such as the revered queen angelfish, barracuda, green turtles and so much more.
Northwest Point Marine National Park
This national park has many different snorkeling sites to choose from, including barrier reefs, sea sponges, caves, and seagrass beds. To fully enjoy a snorkeling trip to this park, you should book a tour with a tour guide that will take you to the best spots and enhance the experience. Be sure to take in the rugged landscape, the wetlands, and the bird life whilst you’re at it.
5. The Bahamas
The Bahamas comprises more than 700 islands and cays. Only about 30 of them are inhabited, but visitors can enjoy so many wonderful and exciting adventures on them. These include day trips to islands like Exuma, historical tours, trips to the beach, and even rum tasting. Snorkeling is also on the list of popular things to do in The Bahamas.
A snorkeling trip can be especially thrilling in The Bahamas. Some of the locations you simply must explore include the Andros Barrier Reef, which is one of the longest coral reefs in the world at 190 miles. It is also the third-largest living organism in the world with more than 164 varieties of coral and fish. We’ve listed below three other snorkeling spots we love in The Bahamas.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in The Bahamas:
Stocking Island (The Exumas)
Stocking Island is an excellent snorkeling destination that is well known for its beautiful coral gardens and lively underwater world. In the waters around this island, you’ll find lots of undersea caves, blue holes, and marine life. All it’ll take to get to Stocking Island is a short boat ride from Great Exuma. Aside from snorkeling, the peaceful nature of Stocking Island makes it a great location for a picnic or just to relax.
Rose Island Reef (Nassau)
A 30-minute boat trip from Paradise Island or a 25-minute boat trip from Nassau will take you to the Rose Island Reef. This is a shallow formation where you’ll get to see lots of tropical fish, sea turtles, barracuda, and stingrays right before your eyes. You can book day trips to Rose Island that typically include lunch, snacks, drinks, and snorkeling. When you’re done with the Rose Island Reef, Nassau snorkeling is worth experiencing as well.
Exuma Cays Land And Sea Park (Exumas)
The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park stretches more than 176 square miles. It is a marine reserve and the first of its kind in The Bahamas. The land and sea park consist of a wide expanse of reef, cays, and sea, and it is only accessible by private boat or charter. All wildlife within this area is protected, and fishing is prohibited. These protections have, over the years, helped the various species of marine life here to thrive, which can make for the most fulfilling snorkeling experience.
Expert tip: The Bahamas is one of the best dive destinations in the Caribbean. If you want the ultimate snorkeling experience on these islands, consider staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts in the Bahamas where snorkeling and scuba diving (up to two tanks per day) can be included in your stay.
Barbados is a Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles that measures only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. Despite its small size, this island is more developed than some of the other Caribbean islands and has a booming tourism sector. The luxury resorts (see this Sandals Barbados review), white-sand beaches, shopping centers, and other attractions make Barbados the ideal place to spend your vacation.
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Barbados offers a unique experience for snorkelers. As a coral limestone island, Barbados has several coral formations and has been praised for having some of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean. There are also many underwater shipwrecks that can add to the thrill and excitement of snorkeling.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Barbados:
A trip along the west coast of Barbados will take you to Gibbs Beach, a serene, undisturbed location with shady trees, calm waters, and white sands. The clear, tranquil waters create the perfect conditions for snorkelers who are sure to find rainbow fish, cowfish, needlefish, and other intriguing marine life.
This harbor, which is named after a Lord Proprietor of Barbados, is a relaxed spot with one of Barbados’ largest beaches. Carlisle Bay is also part of a marine park that is popular among scuba divers looking to explore the six underwater shipwrecks. If you want to snorkel here, you’re very likely to enjoy exploring this site and seeing all the relics, sea turtles, and manta rays that are often spotted here.
Freshwater Bay (Pile Bay)
To the southern end of Paradise Beach lies Freshwater Bay, also known as Pile Bay. This beach gets its name from the freshwater springs found undersea in this area. Freshwater Bay is popular among anglers and visitors looking to laze around in the sun. Snorkelers are also in for a treat because the shallow waters, colorful fish, and coral formations make it a great snorkeling site, especially for beginners.
Expert tip: Barbados has some of the best snorkeling sites in the Caribbean and staying at an all-inclusive resort in Barbados might be the perfect opportunity to see some of the best ones. At Sandals Barbados, you can book all your dive trips through the resort, which will be helpful as well!
Bonaire is a Dutch island in the Caribbean, which, along with Aruba and Curaçao, forms what is usually called the “ABC” islands. These islands fall within the Kingdom of the Netherlands but are located in the Caribbean in the Lesser Antilles. Bonaire is quite small (about 112 square miles), flat, and has a population of just over 20,000 people.
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Bonaire’s capital city is called Kralendijk, which essentially means “coral reef” in Dutch. This speaks to the topography of this island which is mainly made up of coral reefs and seagrass beds in the south. In fact, all the waters surrounding Bonaire, as well as 20 percent of the total landmass of this island, are protected.
Bonaire’s rich coral reef environment makes it a great place to go snorkeling. Below are some of the best snorkeling spots in Bonaire.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Bonaire:
Snorkeling at Bari Reef in Kralendijk, Bonaire, is bound to be a thrilling adventure. To get to the beach, you would need to enter through another beach nearby. Beachgoers are advised to wear comfortable shoes for the rocky shores. Near the concrete structure in this area, snorkelers will see lots of coral and an even wider variety of fish. These include trumpetfish and blue head wrasse among others.
Lac Bay (Sorobon Beach)
A 15-minute drive from the capital of Kralendijk will take you to Lac Bay in Sorobon Beach. This bay has very shallow waters and, if you choose to dive here, you’ll need to swim out a bit to get to the best coral area for snorkeling. Once you get there, you will be rewarded with views of striking staghorn coral and sea life such as parrotfish, eagle rays, and flounder.
This beach gets its name from the steps one must climb to get to and from it. Though it is not 1,000 steps, it does require exercise. However, it is certainly worth the trouble due to the wide array of coral formations, sponges, and fishes found there. So, pack your bags, put on some water shoes and start stepping in the right direction.
2. Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is a small volcanic island located in the Caribbean Sea, nestled between Martinique and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This charming island is highly regarded for its amazing landscape, sandy beaches, lush vegetation, and its famous twin Piton mountains. All of these features have transformed this island into one of the leading vacation destinations in the Caribbean.
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Saint Lucia’s ecosystems and coral reefs have been well preserved over the years, which has helped protect some of the island’s best snorkeling spots. These can be found all over the country and are suitable for snorkelers of various levels of expertise. Here’s what you need to know about snorkeling in Saint Lucia.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Saint Lucia:
Anse Chastanet Beach is a popular snorkeling spot found in the community of Soufriere where the island’s world-famous Pitons are also located. Since this beach is part of a marine reserve, the sea life is protected, and snorkelers get to enjoy this special opportunity. Whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced snorkeler, you can have this experience while in Saint Lucia. As you snorkel on this beach, you’re likely to see parrotfish, octopus, flounder, and scorpionfish.
Reduit Beach is in the north of Saint Lucia in the community of Rodney Bay. This is a popular commercial and tourist area. The beach here has a relaxed atmosphere, and it is popular with both locals and visitors. Snorkelers who are just starting off will enjoy an experience in these gentle waters where they can see tropical fish, crabs, eels, and more.
Marigot Bay is a sheltered cove with shallow waters and beautiful scenery. This makes it perfect for a day at the beach whether you’ll be spending time with family or the love of your life. Snorkeling at Marigot Bay is relatively easy, so children and beginners can have some safe fun. You’ll discover several large coral formations at the bay’s northern end and enjoy the sight of exotic fish and even seahorses.
Expert tip: Staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts in Saint Lucia allows you to experience some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. Some of these resorts are located on the best beaches on this island.
Curaçao is the last island in the “ABC” chain of islands, along with Aruba and Bonaire. This long, flat island has an area of about 180 square miles, and it measures only 40 miles from southeast to northeast. Though it is still pretty small, it is actually the largest “ABC” island.
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Nevertheless, there is still so much fun you can have in Curaçao, whether it be visiting the amazing beaches, learning about its history and culture, or enjoying its natural attractions. You simply can’t get bored! In fact, its beaches have made it quite popular, and snorkeling is quite common here with many spots available just offshore without the need for a boat. This makes it easy and convenient to go snorkeling during a Curaçao vacation.
Our favorite snorkeling spots in Curaçao:
This beach is named after a tugboat that can be found just 16 feet in the water after sinking more than 30 years ago. Since then, it has become very popular among scuba divers and snorkelers eager to explore the shipwreck. Brain coral, sea fans, snapper, moray eels, and surgeonfish can all be found near these ruins.
Little Knip Beach (Playa Kenepa Chiki)
Little Knip Beach is a small but isolated beach in northern Curaçao in the western part of the country. Its remote location means that it is kept authentic and undisturbed, making it ideal for snorkelers who simply want to explore the waters uninterrupted. You should try snorkeling on the left side of the bay where all the tropical fish like butterflyfish and barracuda, as well as corals like brain coral, sea rods, and sea fingers, can be found.
Klein Curaçao or ‘Little Curaçao’, as it is known, is a small island situated about six miles from Curaçao. Boat trips take visitors from the mainland to this exclusive hideaway where you can explore, bathe, scuba dive, and snorkel as much as you like. Keep an eye out for bonefish, flounder, hogfish, and other marine life amongst the coral reefs.
Playa Lagun is a small cove with a beautiful beach that is popular among local and visiting beach lovers. The rock cliffs add to the impressive landscape of this area while also serving as a home for various fish. Snorkelers also benefit from the variety of sea animals like sardines, snapper, and wrasse.
Good to know: Sandals Resorts’ all-inclusive resort in Curacao just might be the perfect place to stay during your snorkeling vacation in Curaçao.
Experience the best snorkeling in the Caribbean
The Caribbean region is known for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, marine parks, and thriving marine life. There’s nothing quite like experiencing the ocean from beneath the waves while encountering myriads of colorful and fascinating sea creatures. You might even be able to explore underwater caves and take boat rides out for some of the most exciting reef adventures!
If you choose to go to a top snorkeling destination like Curaçao, Saint Lucia, Antigua, or Grenada (among others), you can stay at a Sandals all-inclusive resort where snorkeling and scuba diving (up to 2 tanks per day) are included! This includes professional-quality dive gear and instruction. There are also lots of other quality inclusions at these resorts like multiple themed gourmet restaurants, multiple bars including swim-up bars, day and night entertainment, land and water sports, and so much more!