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Top 8 Best Coral Reefs in the World for Snorkeling

If you love swimming, snorkeling, surfing, boating, and everything else that comes with the underwater world, then youre in luck because 70% of the earth is the ocean.

This means that, there are many ocean adventures to be had all around the globe. The ocean is a vast, mysterious place with tons of underwater species—many of which we have seen before and many we have yet to discover. 

Snorkeling is a great way to experience the underwater world from a safe yet curious distance. It allows you to swim in shallow waters and peer down at the life of these fascinating aquatic creatures while staying on the surface of the water.

You’ll spot colorful schools of fish, turtles, stingrays, sharks, and much, much more when youre snorkeling.

There are many great places to snorkel right off the beach so that you don’t need access to a boat to spot diverse marine life.

To enjoy colorful, unique, and vibrant sea life, youll need to go to some of the most remote and warm places on earth.

Visiting these locations are not only great snorkeling spots but also make fabulous vacation destinations. Keep reading to find a list of the best coral reefs in the world for snorkeling.

Best Reefs In The World

Here youll find a list of the eight best coral reefs for snorkeling around the world. Maybe youve been to some, and perhaps you havent, but you havent experienced shockingly impressive snorkeling until youve visited one of these locations.

If you love snorkeling and you ever have the chance to snorkel in any of these destinations, take the opportunity. Youll be amazed at what is out there. The ocean is a lively, diverse, and mysterious place.

Tropical Fish swimming in Coral

1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

We have all heard of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and for a good reason. Its the worlds largest coral reef with thousands of individual reefs and hundreds of islands stretching miles and miles.

This means there is a ton of area to explore with the very best snorkeling in the world. 

If you want to see some of the most abundant, interesting, and colorful sea life in the world, look no further than the Great Barrier Reef off the shore of Queensland, Australia.

You will be taken aback by the thousands of different species you can spot in a single snorkel trip. Not only is the marine life jaw-dropping, but the coral is vibrant and beautiful as well. There are tons of boat tours that will take you to all the best spots. 

Yellow Angel Fish swimming in the Florida Keys

2. The Florida Reef, Florida Keys, United States 

The Florida Keys is the southernmost part of the United States and an excellent place for snorkeling. The Keys are located on the Florida Reef, the third-largest reef system in the world.

There are tons of great places to snorkel among islands that make up The Keys, but John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is arguably the best spot.

The state park is located on Key Largo and was the first underwater park in the US. The park aims to protect the only living reef in the continental United States.

You can go on guided snorkeling tours by boat and check out the famous underwater statue of Christ of the Abyss, which is an 8.5-foot structure 25 feet underwater. 

The Keys would make a great vacation spot and an even better snorkeling destination. So if youre visiting Florida, consider checking out The Keys to experience some of the best snorkeling in the United States. You wont be disappointed.

Fish swimming in Coral in Hawaii

3. Hawaii, United States

 If youre looking for great snorkeling opportunities in the United States while simultaneously visiting one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world, consider Hawaii.

All the islands that makeup Hawaii have great places to snorkel, but Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, has the best snorkeling.

Kealakekua Bay State Park on Big Island is great for all snorkeling levels. You can kayak, snorkel, swim, and more in this area. The coral reef here is called Maui Nui. 

Enjoy the crystal clear waters in Hawaii. Maui is another excellent spot to snorkel where you may have the opportunity to swim with sea turtles.

For example, Turtle Town, also known as turtle reef in Maui, was formed by underwater volcanoes, which have become a place that many sea turtles call home.

Many other sea animals also spend time in this area, so its a great place to spot marine life. Hawaii has many opportunities to snorkel, its one of the best activities to partake in on the islands, along with surfing, of course.

Fish swimming in the Coral

4. Mesoamerican Reef, Cozumel, Mexico

Mexico has some fantastic places to snorkel, but best of all is along the island of Cozumel. Here sits the Mesoamerican Reef, the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere.

It’s home to hundreds of different coral types and fish species. Cozumel is located across from Playa del Carmem off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The island can be accessed by flight or ferry. Plenty of offshore snorkeling spots makes it super easy to get out there and snorkel along the coral reef.

Cozumel is worth the trip because its an incredible, secluded destination. Not sure where to stay when you are there? Cozumel is full of amazing hotels

 Akumal is another great snorkeling spot in Mexico off of the Mesoamerican reef, also known as the Great Mayan Reef. The reef stretches from Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

It is a popular spot for snorkeling because there is a high chance youll run into a sea turtle during your adventure. 

Turtle Swimming in Coral in Costa Rica

5. Costa Rica

 Costa Rica is situated with the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, which leads to a diverse landscape and ecosystem.

Cahuita National Park is a vibrant park on the southern Caribbean coast consisting of a 600-acre coral reef.

To see vibrant coral and tons of marine life, snorkel at this fantastic park which is one of the best offshore snorkeling spots.

The Caribbean side of Costa Rica is more remote with fewer well-known snorkeling spots and less tour companies to take you out on the water or to rent gear from.

It’s definitely not impossible but the opportunities are more scarce. Your best bet is the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica, where there are tons of establishments that will take you by boat to some of the best snorkeling spots in the country.

The best snorkeling in Costa Rica is accessed by boat.

 Some of the best places on the Pacific Ocean side of the country are listed below. Manuel Antonio National Park has a ton of biodiversity.

You can snorkel and see all the sea life, but you also might find a monkey or sloth chilling in a tree on your way to the beach. Marino Ballena National Park attracts sea turtles, rays, tons of fish, and even whales.

You cant snorkel right offshore, but you dont have to go very far by boat to snorkel. These are just some of the best snorkeling locations in Costa Rica, but there are many other great spots too. 

Coral with Palm tress in the Maldives


6. The Maldives 

The Maldives is a great place for snorkeling. There are several amazing reefs that will leave you mind blown. The Banana Reef located inside Kuda Kalhi is shaped like a banana and its one of the best snorkeling spots in the world.

The reef is a habitat for all kinds of colorful species. HP reef in Male Atoll has tons of fish, sharks, rays, and other large marine life. This reef often receives the nickname Rainbow Reef because of the vibrant colors of the coral here.  

There are many great places to snorkel, and the Maldives is home to 22 atolls which are ring-shaped coral reefs along lagoons.

These make great spots for snorkeling. There are both snorkeling opportunities offshore and by boat tours. All of the resorts in the Maldives offer snorkeling excursions for you to take advantage of as well. 

Bright Coral with fish

7. Belize Barrier Reef, Belize

The Belize barrier reef is the second largest reef system in the world. The reef stretches from Bacalar Chico to the Bay of Honduras.

Its one of the best places to snorkel in the world, no doubt, and would also make the perfect vacation destination. Some of the best snorkeling locations in Belize include Southwater Caye Marine Reserve, Glovers Reef Atoll, and Lighthouse Reef Atoll. 

On top of colorful fish, coral, and other species, you may also have the opportunity to snorkel alongside manatees, rays, sea turtles, whale sharks, and other fascinating marine life.

Belize is also home to hundreds of cayes, which are small islands that have great snorkeling opportunities.

On top of the amazing conditions, Belize also has some of the most turquoise, blue water in the world, making the clarity pristine. 

8. Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat is home to some of the world’s richest and most diverse coral reefs. There are over 600 species of coral that live here, which is 75% of the types of coral that exist. You can see it all here in Indonesia.

You can also see hundreds, maybe even thousands of different species of fish and other sea animals when snorkeling or diving in this area. So get ready to see tons of schools of fish and to be amazed. 

Indonesia also has 20% of all the world’s coral reefs, its essentially an underwater playground for avid snorkelers. With thousands of islands that make up Indonesia, there are a whole host of places to snorkel.

Great offshore snorkeling spots in Bali include Jemeluk Bay which has a sunken USS Liberty ship, Amed Pyramids and Lipah Beach.

If youre in Bali, make sure to check out these offshore snorkeling destinations. Another island with great snorkeling opportunities is Nusa Penida. Manta Point on Nusa Penida is great for snorkeling with manta rays.

Pick the best spot in Indonesia for you and go enjoy all the snorkeling opportunities that exist. 

There are so many great coral reefs that make for fascinating snorkeling experiences throughout the world.

Snorkeling is the easiest way to peer into the underwater world. All you need is a snorkel, some goggles, and the ocean. 

There are great offshore snorkeling spots worldwide that make it an easily accessible activity for anyone.

Tour companies will also take you by boat and provide you with gear to bring you to some of the most abundant reefs.

Either way, you wont be disappointed. There is nothing like peering into the ocean world, watching fish interact, and looking out at the vastness of it all.

Also, the vibrant, magnificent colors are astonishingly beautiful. So get out there and snorkel some of the best locations around the world. 

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