So you’ve had a bit of a problem getting your diving license. Maybe you’re too busy at work and can’t spend the necessary hours training? Or maybe there’s something distressing about staying underwater for an extended period of time and trying to calculate how much air you have left and how to slowly ascent to the surface without causing serious harm to yourself?
It may sound fatalistic, but just the thought of it fills some people with dread. At the same time, what better thing to do on a vacation then to see the completely different planet that exists just inches under the surface of the ocean?
Snorkeling lets you enjoy the freedom of a dive, but doesn’t demand the skills and training necessary for a full dive. Not to mention the money! This is why a lot of people with children and students opt for snorkeling and not diving. The costs add up quickly!
For some, snorkeling is a great introduction to a very adventurous diving hobby. Where are the best places to try it?
If you have opted for a bit of a tropical vacation in the Yucatan during the cold months between December and March, you’re in luck. Not only are you getting an amazing tropical getaway but you will have a chance for the ultimate snorkeling adventure.
Diving with Whale Sharks is an amazing experience. It’s humbling to realize how small you are next to these gentle giants of the sea. They are the biggest fish in the ocean! This is a great alternative to diving with Bull Sharks, which requires at least 20 hours of experienced dives.
Cancun Whale Sharks Tours will take care of beginners eager to explore – small groups will get a breakfast and will be taken care of all throughout the day of your snorkel. You will even get a personal 10 minutes to swim with the sharks all on your own – to truly appreciate and take in the experience.
If it’s not already on your bucket list, it should be!
Snorkeling in Hawaii is something everyone visiting the islands should do at least once. There is a number of amazing places in terms of sea life, gigantic fields of corals and translucent waters that you can visit here.
The Big Island is definitely the best choice for snorkeling in order to experience corals, but Maui is best for other things like seeing gigantic green sea turtles (but without as much variety in the sea floor).
You don’t have to get any tours here – simply drive to the beach and start snorkeling! There are a few things to keep in mind though: stay on the leeward side of the islands. The windward side is, well, wind whipped and the water gets a bit murky.
The best times to snorkel here is in the summer, when the big waves don’t pummel the islands’ shores, and the sea is calm.
3. Komodo Island, Indonesia
Komodo National Park is famous for its namesake dragons. But the lesser known fact about it is that it also contains some pretty amazing ocean ecosystems – some of the best snorkeling grounds in the world!
The Komodo Islands are home to amazing “macro life” – large fish, turtles and sea mammals.
Pengah Reef, Batu Bolong, Tatawa Kecil – those are amazing reefs with a confetti of tropical fish and corals to graze your eyes upon.
A major difference between here and places like Hawaii – to get to the “good” snorkeling sites, you can’t just go out on the beach and get in the water. It’s best to rent a boat, even for a few days, and get to the best places that are further from shore.
4. French Polynesia
French Polynesia offers never ending snorkeling arena – it all depends where you happen to be. It’s not just one place, but five archipelagos, and the general surface area of French Polynesia is as large as the whole European continent.
The most popular places to snorkel are Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Fakarava, Society Islands, Tahiti or Moorea. There are many more to choose from!
This is another winter snorkeling special – a perfect getaway if you want to catch a little sun during the winter. There are a lot of organized tours to choose from and you will see amazing tropical marine life that looks straight out of a well-kept aquarium.
Parrot fish, butterfly fish, barracudas, clown fish, eagle rays – all can be seen while exploring the coral garden of Eden that surrounds these islands.
Thailand is known for absolutely perfect beaches. A good place to go are the Surin Islands. Here, you will find protected bays that will keep you sheltered as you look for Nemo. Yes, this is one of the most ideal clownfish territories and their anemone homes.
Thailand’s popular tourist spots such as Phuket are also great for snorkeling. If you only have a few days, are here for a conference or are just passing through – you can wander the beach and enjoy some impromptu snorkeling for just a few hours.
If you have more time, you should check out Koh Wai. It’s considered one of the best remote snorkeling places in the world, because of its lack of tourists and locals – people come here for peace and quiet.
6. Yalong Bay, China
We don’t often think of China as a tropical paradise, and Yalong Bay is sure to take any unsuspecting tourist by surprise. White sandy beaches, palm trees, and turquoise waters. You might as well be in Hawaii.
Yalong Bay is in at the tip of the Hainan Island in the South China Sea – a place known for beautiful, but slowly disappearing coral reefs. The island itself is beautiful, with the cleanest air in China.
There are some snorkeling, as well as some diving tours available here. It’s better to go out on a boat and snorkel under the eye of an instructor. They know all the best places, and getting away from the “tourist zone” will ensure that you’ll have a peaceful snorkel.
The most amazing place here is the Sanya Coral Reef National Nature Reserve.
Speaking of the tourist zone – there are a variety of luxury hotels to stay in Yalong Bay – if you visit, you can relax at the Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, or the Hilton.
For the Beginner and Pro Alike
If you are thinking about getting into diving but don’t have the time or money – start with snorkeling and see where the currents take you. Maybe you will fall in love with the ocean and will need to explore it further.
Or maybe you will stick with snorkeling – a completely different world begins only a few feet below the surface, and it only takes a good mask, flippers, and a sturdy snorkel to be absolutely amazed.