The Caribbean Sea is full of extraordinary creatures and great places to jump into the emerald waters and do some snorkeling. This area is actually considered the suboceanic base of the Atlantic Ocean, which is most likely why it contains as many interesting geographic and animal components as it does.
The Caribbean Sea stretches from Venezuela to Colombia in South America and Panama to Mexico in Central America. It also encompasses many islands just off the coast of North and Central America, like Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad.
The Caribbean Sea is a popular tourist destination for cruisers or those who just want to take a fun tropical trip. It’s easy to get to both from the United States and Central American countries, so it’s an excellent place to have a quick weekend trip. Of course, you can’t beat the snorkeling! We’ve listed the top nine snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean, plus a few additional hidden gems.
Top 9 Caribbean Snorkeling Destinations
See the best of the Caribbean Sea with these fabulous snorkeling destinations.
1. Booby Cay
Booby Cay is a little island that offers snorkeling novices a great chance to see impressive sea life. The water is clear and turquoise, and the cay itself is full of amazing creatures. There’s even a shipwreck right near the cay, so if you have your PADI certification, you can explore the depths and maybe even find some buried treasure.
This island was named for the small birds that use it as a nesting ground, but the most exciting animals aren’t in the air; they are in the water. Visit Booby Cay, and you can see incredible coral underwater caves and tons of tropical fish, as well as sea urchins and the odd stingray.
Bonaire is simply surrounded by reefs, making it a fantastic destination for snorkelers of all different types of levels. You could easily spend an entire day exploring the brilliant Bonaire reefs. While the coral formations themselves are enough for most people to flock to Bonaire, it’s the animals that really steal the show.
Angelfish are abundant off the coast of this island. What’s more, many of them are human friendly and won’t be adverse to a swim with a snorkeler or two. You can also see gobies, groupers, and possibly eels in this region of the Caribbean Sea. Bonaire’s coral is protected, so make sure that you take care as you swim around it.
Anguilla is a small island with a lot of character; it is one of the best beaches in all of the Caribbean. Shoal Bay East is an amazingly long beach with a great reef teaming with both plant and animal life. You don’t have to swim out too far to get in on the action. Snorkelers will catch a glimpse of snappers, sea fans, wrasses, and other animals.
You can also find stingrays, tangs, and parrotfish right off the coast of Anguilla. Those who prefer to check out the sea life from the dry comfort of a boat can always go on a glass-bottomed boat tour, but Anguilla’s wonderful sea life is really best spotted from the ocean itself.
There are a few different places to snorkel on Anguilla, and it’s a great spot for snorkelers of all levels. Experienced snorkelers will not get bored.
The Cayman Islands are excellent spots for both snorkeling and diving, as there are multiple reef formations around and several wrecks to explore. If you love history and don’t mind exploring the depths, you can always check out the Wreck of the Cali, a shipwreck right outside of George Town. Since this wreck is close to shore, it’s easy to get to for snorkelers of all levels.
The Wreck of the Cali is teeming with sea life. Expect to see octopuses, sea urchins, eels, and plenty of tropical fish. You can also visit Cheeseburger Reef, a popular place for sea turtles to congregate.
Stingray City is another massive draw. This site is popular with both snorkelers and divers, and you can swim and play with the gentle rays. It’s a memorable experience that is appropriate and safe for snorkelers of all experience levels. If you visit one place in the Caribbean, make it this one!
(Explore more Snorkeling Destination In The Cayman)
5. St. John
St. John is a snorkeling goldmine for one specific reason; Trunk Bay. This island might be one of the smallest of the Virgin Islands, but it packs a massive punch with its 673-foot-long snorkel trail. The trail is marked with signs and is almost like a free form museum. You can learn all about the coral and sea life that you’re spotting beneath the waves.
If you love to mix your adventure with a little bit of learning, Trunk Bay is exactly up your alley. Additionally, St. John is slightly off the tourist map, so there’s a possibility that you might have the joys of the snorkeling site almost all to yourself.
Since most of the reef and creatures are only 20 feet under the waves, Trunk Bay is a good place for skilled novices and intermediate snorkelers, although experts will like it as well. Plan to see plenty of colorful coral, tons of fish, and maybe a nurse shark or two.
Norman Island is where you can find The Indians, snorkeling sites that make this lesser-known Caribbean Island a genuine hotspot for snorkelers in the know. The Indians are made up of four rock formations that you can swim under, through, and around. These formations are the secret dwelling of many sea fans, reef fish, and other areas. You can also see an abundance of coral.
Since The Indians are comprised of several systems of nooks and crannies, they are most appropriate for experienced snorkelers, and you should make sure that you go with a guide. Many people find that they can happily spend an entire day at The Indians.
If you love caves and have the time, you can also check out Treasure Point; a triad of caves that was actually used by old-time pirates. Although the loot is gone, the lore remains, and you can certainly hear some great stories.
Curacao is not one of the most touristic islands in the Caribbean. Still, it doesn’t need too much flash or typical touristic draws because it has some of the most amazing marine life and snorkeling in the entire Caribbean sea. There are plenty of shipwrecks in the waters right off Curacao, so if you fancy a dive, you can certainly check out some fantastic sites.
Snorkelers will love Curacao as well. There are tons of fish and sea turtles living right off the shore, and you can swim right up to, and with, many of them. There is also an abundance of gorgeous indigo-colored coral and eagle rays.
Since there are comparably fewer visitors to Curacao than other islands, you might just get the snorkeling destination all to yourself.
8. St. Martin
St. Martin’s French side is known for the best marine life because it’s protected and pristine. Visit this area of the island, and you can check out astounding creatures, like neon-colored tropical fish and green sea turtles. If you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to see a hawksbill sea turtle. Visit Turtle Reef for the best turtle sighting. It’s a good spot for snorkeling enthusiasts of all aptitudes.
Happy Bay is another popular St. Martin hotspot. It’s got a great beach and crystal clear waters to snorkel in. Like Turtle Reef, Happy Bay is appropriate for any type of snorkeler, and you might have it all to yourself, especially in the low season.
9. The Bahamas
The Bahamas are the crown jewels of the Caribbean Sea. They consist of 700 islands and more snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities than you can imagine. You will see all sorts of animals in the Bahamas, including nurse sharks, starfish, dolphins, parrotfish, and even pigs.
Additionally, Bahamian coral is fabulous and found in deep purples, yellows, and oranges all over the hundreds of islands that make up this fantastic archipelago. Put the Bahamas on your snorkeling bucket list.
A Few Other Hidden Snorkeling Gems Worthy of Mention
(You might also be interested in reading about the Best Snorkeling Resorts In The Caribbean)
Caribbean Snorkeling: Pack Your Bags
There’s tons of incredible marine life in the Caribbean, and what you happen to see depends mainly on where you visit. One thing is for sure; you won’t be bored with the lack of variety in this part of the world. There are plenty of tropical fish, dolphins, sharks, eels, and even pigs in the Caribbean Sea.
Wild dolphins are a huge draw, and they tend to be reasonably social with people. Some even swim alongside boats. Dolphins are highly intelligent animals, and many people specifically come to the Caribbean to swim with them. Another unique animal is the Bahama Sea Star.
Sea turtles and nurse sharks are also very prevalent. Nurse sharks tend to be more docile than other varieties of sharks. If you want to explore nature and get your feet wet in a fun way, check out some of these best spots to snorkel in the Caribbean Sea.