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Looking for a trip with a side of adventure? These 11 tours bring you to some of the best snorkeling spots in the world

Mar 08, 2023 by Jamie Gallerani

One sure way to make an exciting day on tour even more unforgettable? By donning a snorkeling mask and hopping in the water! Our guided trips take you to some of the best snorkeling spots in the world, so you can immerse yourself in your destination—literally. (Psst… even if snorkeling isn’t your thing, our expertly crafted tour experiences give you the chance to get out on the water and see a destination from a whole new angle.) Check out 11 trips to take if you have your heart set on some of the best snorkeling in the world.

1. Highlights of Australia & New Zealand

One of the best places to snorkel: the Great Barrier Reef

The Land Down Under has stunning landscapes in spades, and the Great Barrier Reef is one of them. There are a handful of ways to explore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but there’s nothing quite like getting in the water, snorkel mask on. This is one of the best places to snorkel thanks to its balmy waters and coral galore—not to mention all the amazing marine life you’ll have a chance to see on our Highlights of Australia & New Zealand tour.

“Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef was really amazing,” said staffer Vanessa. “I was so surprised to learn that you take a boat pretty far offshore to this remote, ‘middle-of-the-ocean’ spot that is magically shallow and filled with colorful reefs and fish. I saw the biggest fish I’ve ever seen. It’s also surprising to learn how big the reef is—I love how they prioritize protecting it.”

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2. New Zealand: Untamed Landscapes

One of the best places to snorkel: off the coast of Fiji’s Tivua Island on the Fiji extension

Adding the Fiji extension to our New Zealand: Untamed Landscapes tour is a must—you’ll already be on the other side of the world, so might as well see it all while you’re there. Plus, hopping over to Fiji is your chance to experience some of the best snorkeling in the world on our Day on Tivua Island: Sailing & Snorkeling excursion. The tropical water around Tivua Island is one of the best places to snorkel thanks to all the different marine species you can see.

The island experience is more than worth it, even if you want to opt out of snorkeling. You can paddle around the island in a kayak or board a glass-bottom boat with a marine biologist to see the colorful fish that live in the water around the island. (Or, if you’d rather lounge on the white-sand beach, we’ll save you a hammock.)

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3. A Week in Belize: Ruins, Reefs & Rainforests

Two of the best snorkel spots: Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Coral Gardens

Getting the opportunity to visit one of the best snorkeling spots in the world is a treat—and getting the chance to visit two on one trip is even better. On our A Week in Belize: Ruins, Reefs & Rainforests tour, you’ll meet up with a local guide and board a boat to explore both the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Coral Gardens. Hop in the water to snorkel above the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, keeping an eye out for turtles, dolphins, and over 160 species of fish as you swim.

“The Belize snorkeling trip was amazing,” said staffer Craig. “We must’ve seen 100 different species of fish, sea turtles, and all of the beautiful coral. Our guide was super knowledgeable about all of the different marine life and the entire ecological system of the reefs. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime type experience.”

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4. Highlights of Central America: Costa Rica & Panama

One of the best places for snorkeling: off the coast of Isla Barú on the Cartagena extension

Picturesque islands and top-notch snorkeling spots often go hand-in-hand. That’s surely the case on our Day on Isla Barú excursion, which you can add by extending our Highlights of Central America: Costa Rica & Panama tour in Cartagena, Colombia. The turquoise waters around Isla Barú are some of the best places to snorkel in Colombia thanks to the nearby Rosario Islands, a protected national park that’s home to the country’s best coral reefs. Isla Barú isn’t officially part of the Rosario Islands, but it’s right next door, which makes it the perfect jumping-off point to see some of the best coral reefs in the world.

Adding our Day on Isla Barú excursion is your only time to truly get a Caribbean beach experience during our Cartagena extension, so if snorkeling is on your bucket list, don’t miss it. Once you hop out of the Caribbean Sea, white-sand beaches—like the famed Playa Blanca—are your ticket to relaxation.

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5. A Week in Costa Rica: San José, Arenal & Guanacaste

One of the best places to snorkel: off the Guanacaste coast

The Guanacaste coast is truly a sight to behold, and if you’re looking for some of the best snorkeling, then you can’t go wrong by adding our Guanacaste Sailing & Snorkeling with Lunch excursion on our Week in Costa Rica: San José, Arenal & Guanacaste tour. This unspoiled coastline is one of Costa Rica’s most scenic spots, and it has a fascinating marine ecosystem created by the area’s millenia of volcanic activity. Pop on your snorkel mask and try to spot humpback whales, dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, tropical fish, and more swimming in the warm Pacific water.

“This was the best excursion of the trip,” said traveler Lisa. “The team on the boat was awesome and very attentive. The food was great and the location of our swimming was so relaxing. I almost didn’t want to leave.”

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6. Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife

One of the best places to snorkel: Manuel Antonio National Park on the Manuel Antonio & San José extension

If calm, turquoise waters sound like some of the best places to snorkel in the world, you’re right on the money. That’s exactly what you’ll find on our Manuel Antonio Catamaran Cruise excursion, which you can experience by extending our Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife tour in Manuel Antonio and San José. Just picture spending an afternoon cruising along the central Pacific coast of Quepos on board the Ocean King catamaran. You’ll sail past islands and rock formations as you explore Manuel Antonio National Park before getting to the most magical part: diving in with a snorkel to see the underwater beauty up close. Be sure to keep an eye out for seabirds, dolphins, and even more marine wonders.

“This was a well-organized tour and a gorgeous catamaran in a lovely port area,” said traveler Lori. “The staff worked hard to keep everyone safe and keep the party spirit alive the entire time. We were thrilled to see dolphins and a mother whale and calf. It was a fantastic trip that was a lot of fun with beautiful coastal scenery and great music!”

Travel tip: The water can be murky during the rainy season, which usually runs from May through November. So, if you’re hoping to find some of the world’s best snorkeling in Manuel Antonio National Park, going during the dry season is the best bet.

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7. Highlights of Mexico: Oaxaca to Mexico City

Two of the best places to snorkel: Cenotes Sac Actún & Akumal Bay on the Yucatán extension

Have you ever heard of cenotes? They’re networks of flooded caves, and are some of the best places to snorkel for the adventurous at heart. You can visit one of these fascinating natural landmarks on our Cenotes Sac Actún & Akumal Bay Snorkeling excursion, which is a must-add if you choose to extend our Highlights of Mexico: Oaxaca to Mexico City tour in the Yucatán. In fact, the Cenotes Sac Actún is one of the largest and most beautiful cenotes in the region, and you’ll snorkel in the pool’s crystal clear water with a local guide before enjoying free time to explore, swim, and discover more of the underground cave system.

Then, it will be on to the next part of the added excursion: exploring Akumal Bay. This bay is sitting pretty along the Riviera Maya on the Caribbean Sea, and is famous for rays, (harmless!) nurse sharks, barracudas, lobsters, coral reefs, and green sea turtles that frequently nest here. What’s not to like about spending a day snorkeling in both the unique cenote jungle caves and at a Caribbean coral reef in the Yucatán?

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8. Cuba People & Culture: Havana, Trinidad & Cienfuegos

One of the best places to snorkel: the Bay of Pigs

Cuba has a lot of beautiful things going for it: vintage cars, perfectly rolled cigars, and captivating salsa dancing, to name just a few. But, it’s also home to the Bay of Pigs, which is one of the best places for snorkeling if you want some history to go along with your underwater adventure. On our Cuba People & Culture: Havana, Trinidad & Cienfuegos tour, you’ll join a local marine biologist to chat about the bay’s impressive marine ecosystem. Then, snorkel among well-preserved coral reefs and colorful marine life.

“It was an incredible experience,” said staffer Lauren after her time at the Bay of Pigs. “There were different pools we could go in, and one in particular had a freshwater spring running into the saltwater. The fish in that particular pool were so colorful, bright yellows and blues. The water was a beautiful teal color. To realize we were enjoying such a beautiful bay with so much history was extremely moving.”

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9. Grand Tour of Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai & Phuket

One of the best places to snorkel: off the coast of the Phi Phi Islands

Some of the most pristine water in all of Thailand is found around the Phi Phi Islands, and you can jump right in it on our Phi Phi Islands Cruise, Snorkeling & Lunch excursion. It’s here that you’ll find one of the world’s most abundant coral reef systems. These islands have made our list of 12 hidden gems in Thailand for good reason, and snorkeling here is sure to bring your time on our Grand Tour of Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai & Phuket tour to the next level.

“Our Thailand tour was jam-packed with tons of adventure, and I mean that in the best way possible,” said staffer Emily. “So, spending a relaxing day snorkeling, boating, and sunning on the shores of the Phi Phi Islands was the perfect way to cap off my time in Thailand. Our group snorkeled in a reef off the coast of Phi Phi Don Island. I snapped underwater photos of all the colorful fish swimming around us, as well as the bright coral that you could see moving in the water. To say the Phi Phi Islands Cruise, Snorkeling & Lunch excursion was unforgettable would be an understatement!”

Adventure in Thailand

10. Greece’s Cyclades Islands: Naxos & Paros

Two of the best places to snorkel: the Blue Lagoon on Antiparos & the sea caves on Despotiko island

Exploring the Greek Islands is always a thrill—how could it not be, with all those amazing Mediterranean views? The beautiful coastal scenery of the Cyclades islands becomes even more unforgettable on our Paros Boat Cruise & Snorkeling excursion, which you can add on our Greece’s Cyclades Islands: Naxos & Paros tour. This sun-dappled trip will take you to the Blue Lagoon on the nearby island of Antiparos, which is one of the best snorkeling places in the area. The water’s clear, the sand is white, and the surrounding scenery is wow-worthy.

This excursion will also whisk you to sea caves at the uninhabited Despotiko island, which also tops our list of the world’s best snorkeling places. The caves are filled with crystal-clear water, after all, which makes it feel like a true Mediterranean adventure. Plus, if you get thirsty, there will be a drink waiting for you on board the ship. “The boating experience was INCREDIBLE!!!” said traveler Christine. “We were able to see and swim in so many spots, it was definitely the highlight of the trip.”

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11. Hawaii: Oahu, the Big Island & Maui

One of the best places to snorkel: Kealakekua Bay

There’s no doubt that Hawaii is a wonder-filled part of the U.S., and Kealakekua Bay is just one of its gems—especially if you’re looking for top places to snorkel. In fact, this bay may very well be the best place to snorkel in all of Hawaii thanks to its natural wind protection, remote location, warm water, and dazzling marine life. If you have your heart set on seeing one of the best snorkeling places in Hawaii, add our Kealakekua Catamaran Cruise & Snorkeling excursion to our Hawaii: Oahu, the Big Island & Maui tour.

“The crew was very knowledgeable, fun, and professional, and I felt safe both on board and in the water,” said traveler Linda. “I loved the ceremony asking permission to swim in the bay! I learned a lot!!” That ceremony captures the beautiful connection to nature that locals in the area have. If you’d like to read up on more ways to travel responsibly in Hawaii, get tips for visiting the five major Hawaiian islands in our Hawaii Travel Guide

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Ready to jump in the water? Throw on a snorkel mask and check out everything our guided tours have to offer


About the author | Jamie Gallerani
It was Jamie’s homestay in Germany that made her fall in love with travel (and her studies in Florence that really sealed the deal). When she’s not writing and sharing the magic of seeing the world with others, she’s usually on the lookout for her new favorite memoir, testing out recipes at home, or visiting her family on Cape Cod.

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