14 Top-Rated Snorkeling Beaches Around The World

Our planet is a magical place, and snorkeling is one way to discover its wonders. Swim with turtles, say hi to clownfish, be amazed by coral reefs, and get to know harmless sharks up close — it's pure marine life joy. The sound of the above world goes off, and you're one-on-one with a rich underwater world. Often, you'll also embark on your snorkeling journey from a heavenly-looking beach. From Hawaii and Thailand to Honduras and French Polynesia, many popular snorkeling locales involve stunning tropical landscapes. What could be better?

Personal snorkeling experiences helped us choose our destinations. We also considered reviews from snorkelers on Google and Tripadvisor, and Snorkeling-report.com served as a major source for gaining more in-depth and specialized analysis of the world's top snorkeling beaches. So put your mask on, prepare your snorkel, and enjoy the magical sub-aquatic world of these destinations.

Kahalu'u Beach Park, Hawaii

Visitors to Hawaii are fortunate to have Kahalu'u, an idyllic snorkeling spot on the Big Island, where you can have a hassle-free experience. It's suitable for beginners, too, as the snorkel area is naturally protected by a breakwater. That, in turn, leads to calm waters and immediate access from the bay. This fact and proximity to Kailua-Kona make the beach park quite a popular destination. It's always a good idea to get to Kahalu'u early to have clear waters and an uncrowded swim.

As for the marine dwellers, you'll see a whole kingdom of inhabitants. Get underwater to swim among the lava rocks and gaze at butterflyfish, parrotfish, triggerfish, and green sea turtles. Add the coral-dotted seabed, and you've got one of the most rewarding snorkeling adventures in Hawaii. You can rent equipment in several shops right next to the bay. Although there's a parking fee for non-residents, the beach has lifeguards on duty and is family-friendly.

Playa Lagun, Curaçao

With coves reminiscent of the Meditteranean and its abundance of underwater life, Playa Lagun is high on the list among snorkeling aficionados visiting the island of Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean. Playa Lagun creates some of the best conditions for off-shore snorkeling. The narrow lagoon is surrounded by cliffs that ensure calm waters and protection from big waves. It's also a very accessible beach, with free public parking, two equipment rental spots, and showers. After snorkeling, you can also unwind at Bahia Beach Bar & Restaurant, which serves drinks and local food from a scenic terrace just above the cove. 

Playa Lagun is ideal for both novices and pros. You don't have to swim far to spot tropical fish, as the magic starts directly from the shore. One of the highlights of this beach is the central part, where green turtles often feed on seagrass. Many people are lucky to meet these gorgeous creatures while casually snorkeling here. Just make sure to come in the morning for the best visibility and thinner crowds. If you can, snorkel during the week. Weekends can become hectic, as this beautiful beach is a popular spot on Curaçao.

Plage de l'Ermitage, Réunion

Milky white sands, a reef, and superb snorkeling. That's Plage de l'Ermitage, a picturesque beach on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean that will take your breath away. Above the water and under, it's a joy to visit. Expect shallow waters, easy access, and plenty of sealife encounters. L'Ermitage is a very wide beach so overcrowding isn't a problem, giving you enough space to fully engage in your snorkeling exploration. There's also a spacious parking lot nearby that will eliminate the hassle of searching for a spot.

As for the sub-aquatic life, L'Ermitage is full of wonders. The Indian Ocean's diversity unfolds before your eyes in a stunning lagoon setting. Green sea turtles often grace these waters with an appearance, and you can expect plenty of colorful fish like threadfin butterflyfish, cornetfish, and lagoon triggerfish.

Lady Elliot Island, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the bucket-list dreams of every snorkeler. Lady Elliot Island allows you to discover its marvels straight from the beach. It's a rather unique place to visit, too. Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay (a sandy island atop the coral reef) and boasts not one but two distinct snorkeling zones. The first one is a lagoon on the eastern side, and the second is found next to the lighthouse on the island's west coast. At both locations, you can snorkel right from the shore. However, on the lagoon side, you'll want to snorkel at high tide, as it creates the ideal conditions to see marine life. You can encounter reef fish, sharks, stingrays, green and hawksbill turtles, and octopuses here.

Lady Elliot Island is not a touristy place, as it can only be reached by air. Although it's part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, this destination fits the description of "exclusive." You can catch a chartered flight from Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Brisbane (Redcliff), and the Gold Coast (Coolangatta). The cost of flights depends on the season and departing location. There's only one lodging choice on the island, the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, which offers various accommodation options, all-inclusive packages, and snorkeling tours. 

Tanote Bay, Thailand

A hidden paradise on the lush island of Koh Tao (among the best island destinations for couples), Tanote Bay is a secluded gift for snorkeling enthusiasts. Once you see it from the cliffs above, you'll understand why. The seabed visibility is absolute, the waters are crystal-clear, the crowds are non-existent, and the surrounding rocky formations are stunning. Whether you're just starting or a snorkeling pro, Tanote Bay is of the hassle-free variety. Just put your mask on and get in the water. You will instantly be rewarded with rich aquatic life without having to devote much energy to reaching any specific point.

Several species of butterflyfish reign supreme in between the corals and boulders. Also, you will encounter bannerfish, angelfish, and occasional blacktip reef sharks. Resorts around the bay come with fantastic water views, and there are plenty of beach cafés to take a scenic break with a glass of freshly squeezed mango juice. Calypso and Buddha View are two diving centers that cater to snorkelers here and can organize tours to the reef drop-off.

Boca Catalina, Aruba

At Boca Catalina, pelicans lounge on boulders half-submerged in the water, white sands mix between rocks, and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean all create an idyllic scene — but wait until you go underwater. Boca Catalina is a premier spot for snorkeling on Aruba, a top Caribbean vacation destination for families. One of the coolest things about this beach is the diverse environment it offers. There are plenty of colorful fish around the corals and rocky areas of the northern part, while the seagrass beds in the southern part welcome other types of sea life. In other words, it's heaven on Earth for snorkeling aficionados. You will have a chance to meet green sea turtles feeding on the seagrass, spot mythical peacock flounders, and see a variety of fish on the reefs.

A great feature of Boca Catalina is that the seagrass beds are accessed straight from the beach, so you can come with your equipment and just go underwater. Specialized snorkeling tours are organized from the nearby town of Noord. There are also equipment rentals next to the beach itself. Come early to have the calmest waters and the best visibility. To take your snorkeling adventure to the next level, consider a tour that includes a trip to the Antilla Shipwreck, another diving highlight of Aruba.

Gili Air, Indonesia

One of the pleasantries of snorkeling is the anticipation of the wildlife encounters. When you enter the underwater, you never know what you're going to spot. However, on Gili Air, a small island next to Lombok in Indonesia, you can be certain of one thing: There will be turtles. More precisely, the green and the hawksbill sea turtle. The Gili islands (there are three) are underrated Asian bucket list destinations. And snorkeling here is the ultimate way to enjoy their beauty. The Gilis are coral islands surrounded by reefs and grass beds (where the turtles feed). Geographically, it means that the sandy beaches around the islands boast ideal conditions for snorkeling right from the shore.

If you were to choose the best starting point, the beaches between Manta Dive Gili Air Resort and Scallywags Resort in the southwest of the island are perfect locations to dive in. From that side, you'll also enjoy stunning views of the mountains on Lombok in the distance, and Gili Air boasts many local tour companies that rent equipment and organize snorkeling tours through Viator and GetYourGuide. 

West Bay Beach, Honduras

Easily one of the most striking places to snorkel in the world, West Bay Beach on Honduras' Roatán island is a crown jewel of the Caribbean. Sheltered by the barrier reef, sporting a long stretch of white sands, and known for its diverse sea life, it's ideal for underwater adventurers. Getting sub-aquatic is utterly exciting here. First, you will see the colonies of various Caribbean fish, then you will reach the corals with even more variety. To top it off, there's also sea grass on the lagoon's bottom where turtles feed close to the rocky southern part of the beach.

West Bay is bordered by resorts and features many restaurants, beach bars, and cafés, as well as several equipment rentals. Be aware that it can get pretty busy due to all the accommodation spots along the coast. To be closer to the reef and enjoy a calmer beach experience, without vendors constantly trying to sell you something, head to the southernmost end of the West Bay where the rocks start.

Akumal Beach, Mexico

Akumal is far from a secret destination. It's one of the pearls of Riviera Maya, with its palm trees-dotted beach and some of the best turtle-watching snorkeling in the world. The bay is also a great place to start your love of snorkeling. Akumal is a short trip from both Tulum and Playa del Carmen, and there are loads of companies offering guided tours. Here, snorkeling is about meeting green sea turtles. These gorgeous marine animals come to the bay to eat the seagrass.

Pulling from personal experience, here are some tips for snorkeling in Akumal. First of all, beach access is not free. It will cost you 120 MXD ($7), and there are several entry points. As Akumal is a marine protected area, it's essential to follow the rules to avoid damaging the fragile ecosystem. The most important rule is to not touch the animals, as it will harm them. While it was possible to snorkel in Akumal on your own in the past, you now need a certified guide, and to save some money, we suggest booking your tour online in advance. 

N'Gouja Beach, Mayotte

Located in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique, Mayotte is a paradise-looking French territory and a rewarding place for snorkeling. N'Gouja Beach is an apogee of the island's beauty, boasting a wide sandy surface, spectacular coral reef, and superb biodiversity. Crowds are almost non-existent here due to the sheer size of the coastline, so you will have the turquoise waters largely for yourself to explore. But before getting underwater to meet sea turtles and sting rays, there will be another creature to greet you. The beach is a popular hangout for makis, the cute Mayotte variety of lemurs.

The snorkeling here is among the best in the world and only steps from the beach. First of all, the seabed of N'Gouja is a feeding ground for sea turtles. If you come early in the morning, it's almost a guarantee that you'll see one or more near the reef drop-off. The scale of the beach also means that the snorkeling territory is immense. You can spend hours simply following the reef to experience the pretty coral life. Just make sure to be respectful toward the underwater dwellers and avoid touching anything.

1000 Steps Beach, Bonaire

When you approach 1000 Steps Beach from the Queen's Highway, you'll quickly understand why it's a perfect snorkeling spot on the island of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean. The blue water is impossibly clear, the cliffs around are extra-picturesque, iguanas are lounging on the rocks, and the dark blue silhouette of the reef promises an unforgettable time below the surface. And this is exactly what you'll see while descending the 67 steps (yes, there's a little exaggeration in the name) to the beach.

1000 Steps Beach represents everything great about Caribbean snorkeling. It's a spot where you'll need to bring your own equipment, as there are no rentals in the vicinity, and the stretch is pretty isolated. (There is a tiny parking area next to the beach entrance.) However, after carrying your gear down the stairs and stepping onto the beach, the snorkeling is as easy as it gets. Just enter the water and enjoy the calm currents, seabeds with a variety of exotic fish, and the gorgeous corals found farther offshore. Since 1000 Steps is part of Bonaire National Marine Park, you'll need to pay a fee of $40 to enter the water to snorkel.

Ta'ahiamanu Beach, French Polynesia

If you like your beaches to come with a vista, Ta'ahiamanu is a gem. Part of Opunohu Bay in the west of Moorea Island, it is French Polynesia at its most scenic. The beach overlooks dramatic dark-green volcanoes, and the waters are impossibly turquoise. French Polynesia is not the cheapest destination for exploring marine life, as many beaches come with a price tag to visit. However, Ta'ahiamanu is the exception. It's public, and you won't spend a penny to embark on a snorkeling adventure here. Recent refurbishment by the local government also added a spacious car park, showers, and picnic tables to the beach. 

Calm waters and great visibility make this beach an ideal pick for beginners. Just make sure to bring your own equipment, as there are no rentals in the vicinity. Go underwater to see a colorful realm of the South Pacific Ocean's diversity of fish. You'll have the chance to spot butterflyfish, triggerfish, trumpetfish, and occasionally hawk-billed turtles and manta rays. All you need to do is enter the water. The coral area starts right off the shore, so you're assured an exciting sub-aquatic ride. Ta'ahiamanu is somewhat of an open secret of Moorea, frequented by locals and tourists alike, so you may consider snorkeling earlier in the day. 

El Fanar Beach, Egypt

El Fanar showcases the underwater grandeur of the Red Sea in Egypt. No need to buy boat tours here or deal with guides, since the reef is accessible right off the shore. Although there's an entry fee of about $10 per person, the fee includes a beach chair and access to all the facilities. What's also cool about El Fanar is its jetty, which allows you to enter the above-the-reef area without needing to swim out. 

Around the reef, you may encounter Red Sea bannerfish, parrotfish, regal angelfish, eels, and eagle rays. The reef is as gorgeous as it gets, the visibility is amazing, and the experience feels like you're in one of those videos of perfect subaqueous exploration — but in real life. 

While beautiful, El Fanar Beach is far from an under-the-radar spot, with several resorts, markets, and restaurants nearby. So don't expect tranquility once you're back on the surface. It's a busy place, but the earlier you come in the day, the better. Still, El Fanar is among the most approachable and easygoing places to snorkel in Egypt.

Anse Lazio, Seychelles

Anse Lazio is a magnificent beach idyll in Seychelles. The sky-blue Indian Ocean waves caress the soft white sands, the palm trees lazily sway with the breeze, and the island greenery abounds behind you. It's also among the top snorkeling spots on Praslin Island. The area for underwater exploration is situated at the eastern end of the beach, along the cliffy shore. Enter the water here to witness the rich ocean life that busily unfolds among the corals and the rocks of the coast. Colorful fish, stingrays, and eels are waiting to be spotted here. Bluespotted ribbontail rays conceal in the sands of the seabed. Occasionally, you can also encounter green sea turtles.

Come outside of the monsoon months to enjoy the best snorkeling conditions. Autumn and spring typically offer the calmest waters and greatest visibility. The beach is lifeguarded, and there are plenty of beach bars and restaurants in the area. There are also several resorts located directly next to the water.


Although we pulled from extensive personal snorkeling experience to create this list, it's simply impossible to cover all the beaches in the world where you can snorkel. Our planet just has so many wonderful spots. So, to help uncover the world's top-rated beaches, we also based our choices on Google and Tripadvisor reviews. Each beach in this list receives stellar reviews for its snorkeling conditions and the diversity of underwater life. 

We also incorporated info from specialized snorkeling resources, such as Snorkeling Report and 1001Beach, to include all the practicalities about going subaquatic at each locale. This allowed us to produce a definitive list of the best beaches for snorkeling, covering places ideal both for beginners and experienced snorkelers.