Snorkeling is an easy and fun way to explore the ocean. You don't need a certification, and anyone in good health who can swim is able to enjoy snorkeling. All you need is a mask, snorkel, fins -- and a swimsuit! --, and you're good to go!
Snorkeling can be done almost anywhere in the world where waters are swimmable. Discover the amazing coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, or swim with friendly dolphins in the blue waters of the Bahamas. Sharks and humpback whales might even be your neighbors in certain areas of the world!
Pick a time of year that's best for the location when the waters won't be choppy and visibility will be good. Most areas have many different reefs or other underwater features that can be explored, so head to a different one each day of your vacation to explore all the different sea creatures that live in the ocean. You might even see ones you've never heard of before. Snorkeling is a great way to educate yourself on what's below.
Where to Go
Where should you go snorkeling? There are so many great locations all over the world, so it can be hard to choose! Here are some ideas -- but there are countless others.
- Best time to go: May through November
- Highlight: Conveniently located close to the United States, each island in the Bahamas provides a unique snorkeling experience.
The Bahamas have everything from beautiful coral to sunken ships to snorkel over. Swim over some incredible blue holes as you’re surrounded by curious sea turtles and playful dolphins. If you’re feeling adventurous, swim over the shipwrecks to see what creatures might be lurking around them.
- Best time to go: June through October
- Highlight: Nicknamed the “soft coral capital of the world,” Fiji has some of the most colorful reefs you’ll ever see.
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Fiji has some of the bluest water in the world. With over 300 islands, Fiji has hundreds of different beaches to snorkel on. See multiple different species of turtles and even sharks if you’re lucky. There are over 400 different types of coral to be discovered and over 1000 different fish to encounter. You’ll swim over a variety of soft coral and see large canyons.
- Best time to go: September through November
- Highlight: From colorful reefs to species only known to the area, Australia has exceptional water to snorkel in.
Some of the most amazing sea creatures can be found under the sea in Australia. Humpback whales are frequently spotted as well as sharks, stingrays, eels, and cuttlefish, to name a few. From New South Wales to Queensland where the Great Barrier Reef is, it’s not hard to find a good place to snorkel.
Planning Your Trip
What to Look For In a Snorkeling Tour
Snorkeling is easy to do anywhere water is available. Most public beaches that are deemed safe for swimming are available to snorkel at during the day. If you're looking for something more intensive, there are programs you can join to snorkel for weeks or months at a time. When you book a tour that includes snorkeling, be sure to check how many hours per day you'll get to snorkel, so you get your fill.
Types of Snorkeling Trips
Research -- If you're looking to snorkel beyond just a casual swim, you can help out with research trips. In the Bahamas, coral is slowly dying due to climate changes and other environmental factors. Help researchers survey the reefs to gather information and figure out ways to slow this effect.
Adventure Trips -- While snorkeling may not be the hardest sport, you're able to do it anywhere that has water. Snorkel among beautiful coral reefs in Australia or Mexico. For a trip that's once-in-a-lifetime, you can snorkel in Iceland between the continental shelves of Europe and North America.
Day Trips vs Multi-Day Trips
Most snorkeling trips are day trips, but there are providers around the world who offer multi-day trips that either focus entirely on snorkeling for several days, or include snorkeling as a major activity along with other water sports activities.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
Snorkeling gear is fairly inexpensive to buy yourself - you just needs a mask, snorkel, fins, and a bathing suit. It's easy enough to bring on vacation with you, but most tropical locations also have daily or weekly rentals available. If you go with a tour provider, it's common that they will provide you with any gear you need.
Always make sure you know the area you're snorkeling in, and check the beach / weather conditions everyday. They'll provide helpful tips for how the waters are or if there's a dangerous condition like a rip current.
It's best to snorkel with a buddy should anyone happen, but at the very least let someone know where you're going and when you plan to be back.
Always make sure you're in good physical condition and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While the fins will help you swim, they won't keep you afloat. Keep an eye on where you are compared to your starting point so you don't get lost.