Last updated on April 12, 2023 by Wandering our World
There is no shortage of amazing attractions when visiting any of the beautiful Caribbean islands on vacation. Strolling along sun-kissed beaches, sipping back cocktails at beachfront bars, and exploring lush and vibrant vegetation are just some of the incredible things to do when exploring these islands.
However one of the most exciting things to try during a visit to the Caribbean is snorkeling. Blessed with beautiful coastlines, exceptional weather and warm water, virtually every Caribbean island has the perfect snorkeling conditions.
From kid-friendly shallow waters to expansive coral reefs for the more experienced traveller, there is no shortage of incredible Caribbean snorkeling adventures awaiting you in this gorgeous part of the world.
In fact, it’s because so many Caribbean islands offer incredible snorkeling that deciding which one to visit can be quite challenging!
However luckily for you we know this region well. So, to help you find the best Caribbean island for snorkeling, we’ve put together our own handy travel guide below!
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Incredible Experiences: The Six Best Caribbean Islands For Snorkeling!
Situated in the southern region of the Caribbean Sea, Aruba is home to some truly spectacular snorkeling destinations, with spots suitable for all ages and experience levels.
As one of the driest Caribbean islands, Aruba’s beaches offer year-round snorkeling fun, making it perfect for everything from family holidays to backpacking adventures.
Waters are very calm and shallow throughout Aruba, making it especially suitable for beginner snorkelers.
For instance, if travelling with kids or inexperienced snorkelers, most of the public beaches in Aruba offer pleasant snorkeling conditions suitable for most people and many have shore accessible sites.
For those seeking a unique Caribbean snorkeling experience, we highly recommend visiting Malmok Beach. Here you will find the SS Antilla Shipwreck, a 400ft World War II shipwreck that resides 700m off the coast.
Snorkeling conditions are not too challenging, with the wreckage just 60ft below water. Make sure to sign up for the official snorkeling tour though, as you’re then taken directly to the shipwreck via boat. From here you can snorkel around the shipwreck and see all kinds of tropical fish and coral.
Plus, the tour includes some stops to some other sweet snorkeling spots, making it great way to enjoy a day of underwater fun. (Recommended: The Best Caribbean Islands for Families).
Expect to see: Green sea turtles, parrotfish, stingray, squid, butterfly fish, yellowtail snappers and more.
Some of the best snorkeling spots in Aruba: Malmok Beach, Mangel Halto, Puerto Chiquito, Palm Island and Beach.
With over 700 islands making up the Bahamas, it’s unsurprising this nation is one of the best Caribbean islands for snorkeling.
As one of the most visited Caribbean islands too, the Bahamas is also packed with fantastic attractions beyond snorkeling, making it an all-round great place to visit on vacation.
Golden sandy beaches are found in abundance throughout the various islands of the Bahamas, along with huge stretches of coral reef begging to be explored by an underwater adventurer!
The turquoise crystal clear waters here offer the perfect chance to explore and see various sea life, including turtles, coral tropical fish – and you may even see the occasional swimming pig – yes that’s a thing in the Bahamas!
Because there are so many snorkeling spots throughout the Bahamas, it does help to choose a location based on your experience level. Some areas are great for beginners while others provide more challenging snorkeling conditions, so consider your overall experience before deciding which to visit.
Nassau snorkeling on New Providence Island is a good choice for most visitors. The capital city and most populated island has many amazing beaches great for snorkeling. Some are free to visit while others require a boat charter. But most offer plenty of exciting underwater sights including tropical fish and vibrant coral reef.
Some popular snorkeling destinations on Nassau include Gambier Deep Reef, Rose Island Reefs, and Goulding Cay Reef. For a family-friendly snorkeling adventure by the beach, consider spots like Cable Beach, Love Beach, and Cabbage Beach. The Bahamas is easily one of the best Caribbean islands for snorkeling.
Expect to see: Sharks, dolphins, snappers, sea bass, angelfish, groupers, butterfly fish, starfish and more.
Some of the best snorkeling spots in the Bahamas: New Providence Island, Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Gambier Deep Reef, Rose Island Reefs, and Goulding Cay Reef, Cable Beach, Love Beach, and Cabbage Beach, Shark Reef.
Home to the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba has an extensive range of snorkeling opportunities throughout hundreds of miles of breathtaking coral reef.
Take a dip in the warm waters and explore the beautiful coral and tropical fish. While here you may have the chance to see some dolphins up close too!
Jibaco Bay is one of the best spots for beginner snorkelers, offering calm and shallow waters nearby to the beach.
Sit and unwind on the golden beaches and then cool off with a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the bay, which is teeming with all kinds of tropical fish. It’s also near to popular resorts, so visiting should be easy for most.
Guardalavaca is a town on the north coast of Cuba that is a popular tourist destination, with affordable accommodation, nice resorts, and a large variety of restaurants, bars, and fun attractions to enjoy. There is a gorgeous stretch of beach in the town and the reefs are just 150m from the coast, making it easy enough to snorkel from the shore.
For those seeking snorkeling fun further offshore, look no further than Jardines de la Reina.
An archipelago 50 miles south of the main island, the expansive coral reef here is packed with amazing sea life, including various species of shark and ray. It’s some of the best Caribbean snorkeling you’ll find anywhere in the region.
Expect to see: Nurse sharks, barracuda, groupers, butterflyfish, angelfish, parrot fish and more.
Some of the best snorkeling spots in Cuba: Jibaco Bay, Guardalavaca, Jardines de la Reina, Rocky Shallows, Playa Girón, María la Gorda, Bay of Pigs.
4. Cayman Islands
Of the three islands that make up the Cayman Islands, the largest island Grand Cayman offers some truly exceptional snorkeling opportunities.
Moreover, this island is home to the capital of George Town, which is very tourist-friendly while also being close to most of the best snorkeling spots.
Perhaps the most interesting snorkeling area around George Town is the Wreck of Cali. A freighter ship carrying thousands of bags of rice that sunk in the 1940s, the wreckage still rests underneath the shallow waters nearby the beach.
This means you can easily wade out into the shallows with snorkeling gear and explore the rust ruins of the vessel, with all kinds of fish, eels, and octopus now calling it their home! This sight is close to George Town and suitable for all levels, making it a good spot to visit with kids.
Moving towards the northern portion of George Town is Cheeseburger Reef, a hilariously named reef that is approximately 150 yards from the coastline.
The crystal clear waters here are only 10ft deep and are a great spot to snorkel with sea turtles – an incredible experience we cannot recommend enough. Spotts Beach is another superb spot for swimming with sea turtles.
Finally, be sure to consider the appropriately named Stingray City, one of the most popular snorkeling attractions on the Cayman Islands.
While typically packed with tourists, Stingray City is a mesmerizing sandbar filled with friendly stingrays that glide through the shallow waters. The experience at Stingray City is one of the top reasons the Cayman Islands makes it into our list of the best Caribbean islands for snorkeling!
Expect to see: Stingray, barracuda, angelfish, blue tang, butterfly fish, lionfish, groupers, snappers, turtles and more.
Some of the best snorkeling spots in the Cayman Islands: Wreck of Cali, Cheeseburger Reef, Stingray City, Wreck of the Gamma, Bloody Bay Wall, Cemetery Beach, Turtle Reef, Spotts Beach.
With over 600 miles of gorgeous coastline, it is unsurprising that Jamaica has some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean.
Add in the friendly locals, rich culture, and incredible cuisine and you have the reason you need to visit Jamaica for a spot of snorkeling fun.
The island has plenty of great snorkeling areas suitable for all levels and experiences. For instance, just north of the town of Negril is Booby Cove, a beautiful snorkeling spot that is ideal for beginners.
The shallow waters are calm, clear, and inviting, allowing you to enjoy the various underwater sights that include an old ship wreck and all kinds of aquatic life. It is a popular spot for snorkeling, so finding a boat to the cove is easy and won’t cost much.
Near to the capital city Kingston is Port Royal. There are various shipwrecks here from different eras in history, offering some cool sightseeing opportunities while you snorkel. The area is also teaming with a vibrant coral reef with tropical fish, sea urchins, and stingrays.
The resort town Ocho Rios has some excellent snorkeling locations throughout its coastline too, which are packed with aquatic animals including shark, sea slugs, and coral. For more experienced snorkelers, Devil’s Reef is worth checking out, with the underground ridge providing various areas to explore.
Expect to see: French grunt fish, parrotfish, angelfish, sergeant fish, damsel fish, turtles, stingrays, sharks and more.
Some of the best snorkeling spots in Jamaica: Runaway Bay, Booby Cove, Port Royal, Ocho Rios, Devil’s Reef, Montego Bay Marine Park, Luminous Lagoon, Runaway Bay, Frenchman’s Cove, Pear Tree Bottom Reef.
6. Puerto Rico
Something of a hidden gem when it comes to snorkeling in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico provides some truly unforgettable snorkeling experiences. Blessed with miles of pristine coastline and lush tropical forests, a vacation in Puerto Rico has lots to offer any outdoor enthusiast.
Anyone visiting San Juna, the island’s capital, will want to head west towards the gorgeous Mar Chiquita beach. The water here is a sight on its own, with a beautiful blend of greens and blues making snorkeling paradise.
Various tropical fish are found throughout these coastal waters, and snorkelers are sometimes lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the huge schools of fish that navigate through the waters here.
It is a popular tourist spot for sunbathing and snorkeling, so be mindful of crowds if heading during peak tourist season. We recommend visiting in the early morning to avoid the crowds.
Those seeking a quieter spot can visit Seven Seas Beach, which is about an hour from San Juan. While the longer commute may be off putting, the beaches and coast here are much quieter. This means fewer people snorkeling in the incredible coral reefs along this beachfront region.
Moreover, the reef offers the perfect barrier between the beach and ocean, resulting in calm and tranquil waters perfect for exploring. This also makes it a very kid-friendly area!
On the south west coast is the town of La Parguera, offering one of the most unique snorkeling experiences in Puerto Rico. There are several coves formed by the lush mangroves in the area, which have created various channels that you can explore as you snorkel.
While quite a sight during the day, visiting here at night offers an exceptional snorkeling experience.
Once done exploring the reefs and coves throughout La Parguera, you must visit La Parguera’s Bioluminescent Bay where the plankton literally glows blue at night! You are allowed to swim in the water as it glows. There’s not many snorkeling experiences in the Caribbean that offer such an opportunity!
Expect to see: Puffer fish, clownfish, turtles, triggerfish, moray eels, rays, clownfish, butterfly fish, queen angelfish and more.
Some of the best snorkeling spots in Puerto Rico: Mar Chiquita, Seven Seas Beach, La Parguera, Mona Island, Caja de Muertos, Tamarindo, Luis Peña.