The Caribbean Sea offers a wealth of marine life and coral reefs to explore by snorkeling. But depending on what you’re looking to see, it’s best to know exactly what kind of offerings each destination has before booking your vacation. If you’re in the mood for kissing Stingrays, there’s a place just for you; if you’d rather meander over a 600-foot hole, we’ve got just the spot. These are six cool locations in the Caribbean to fill any snorkeler’s appetite.
The Baths — Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The Baths, an impressive boulder formation on Virgin Gorda’s northwest shore, offers extraordinary landscapes and tunnels and crevices that make for some really great snorkeling. The more shallow areas are great for novice snorkelers and younger children, but for the ambitious adventurer, the path from Devil’s Bay to The Baths can be more exciting. You’ll get to venture through underwater labyrinths and hidden grottos, all the while exploring the abundance of sea life around you. As one of Virgin Gorda’s most popular beaches, the best time to hit the water is before 10 a.m. to avoid the crowds.
Dean’s Blue Hole — Long Island, Bahamas
If the thought of swimming above a 663-foot drop doesn’t scare you, then Dean’s Blue Hole may be the place for you. Created when the ceiling to an ancient cave system collapses into the ocean, blue holes can be found in Belize, the Bahamas, the Great Barrier Reef, and The Red Sea, but Dean’s is considered to be the deepest in the world. When snorkeling around its mouth, you can find a plethora of marine life including turtles, jacks, porpoises and even dolphins. Since the drop off is very sudden, children and beginning snorkelers should maintain a safe distance from the hole.
The Underwater Museum — Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc, Mexico
Probably one of the coolest snorkeling spots in the Caribbean is eco-sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor’s permanent artificial reef sculptures in Mexico. Taylor’s most ambitious work to date, his work covers around 1,378 square feet of the sea’s bottom with his 400 life-size casts of individuals taken from a broad cross section of humanity. Called The Silent Evolution, his work was created to aggregate fish and corals on a grand scale. Over time, rust and marine life will wear away at the sculptures, making them an ever-evolving exhibit. You can easily snorkel near the display, but it’s also worth looking into diving equipment to get a better up-close look.
Stingray City — Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
During the spring and summer are the best times to visit Stingray City, a snorkeling site that, as its name suggests is the place to meet hoards of tame, gentle stingrays in the warm Caribbean Sea. This is also one of the easiest sites to snorkel in since the main attraction sits only down around 3-5 feet of water. If you feel like petting a stingray or two, watch out for their vacuum-like mouths that will leave a hickey-like mark on you (don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt).
Buck Island — St. Croix, USVI
Buck Island is a small uninhabited isle that sits off the northeast coast of Saint Croix. Here snorkelers can follow an underwater trail that has plaques describing the area’s marine flora and fauna. Most of the island is surrounded by elkhorn coral barrier reef and snorkelers can often see over 250 fish species and other marine life in its waters. Juvenile Blacktip reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, and Whitetip reef sharks can be discovered here. Nearby, Turtle Beach is filled with endangered Leatherback turtles in the spring coming to shore to nest while Green turtles and Hawksbill nest during the summer.
Curaçao Underwater Marine Park — Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles
The Curaçao Underwater Marine Park is a stunning location that stretches over 1,482 acres of reef and 10,774 acres of inner bays. Hundreds of fish species live there and the visibility is around 100 feet so at times you can see diving sea turtles or sunken ships. This makes it a haven for many snorkelers and divers. It’s also easy to spot manta rays, barracudas, sea turtles, and reef sharks along the way.