Grab your snorkel gear and take the plunge into life under the beautiful blue sea. Here are 7 of the world’s top snorkel hotspots, offering beginners and advanced swimmers a mesmerizing look at some of the earth’s most prized natural creations.
Dimakya Island, Philippines
One word: dugongs. This majestic marine mammal resembles a manatee, growing to about 9 feet long and weighing in at a whopping 1000 pounds. They are extremely endangered, but in Dimakya, you have a pretty good chance of encountering one. But that’s not all you can expect, flutter your fins around the thriving reef that encompasses the island where colorful fish, green sea turtles and stingrays play.
Lord Howe Island, Australia
Dive into the turquoise water of this UNESCO World Heritage site only to be blown away by the amazing abundance of life that calls the southernmost coral reef of the world home. Curious double-header wrasse, bluefish, and seat turtles won’t flit away as you swim near, making the viewing easy and effortless. Even better, only a limited number of visitors are allowed on Lord Howe Island at a time, adding a feeling of isolation to this pristine snorkeling experience.
Santa Catalina, California
Get lost in a stunning kelp forest in the temperate waters of Lover’s Cove, located 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Not only is swimming through the green dancing strands of sea grass an experience unlike any other, but the unique sea life that depend on the kelp for food and living are an incredible sight to behold, including large sea bass, playful harbor seals and graceful sea rays skimming the waves.
You can’t talk about snorkeling without the Caribbean; after all, the azure waters and coral reefs offer some of the best snorkeling in the world. That’s where Bonaire National Park comes in, a lush tropical island that won the 2008 Sustainable Tourism Award from islands magazine and the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Here, the protection of wildlife is strictly enforced, leaving plenty to see and experience. Jump in a boat and jet over to Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited island nearby, where the sea life is plentiful as you float through swaying sea fan forests.
Big Island, Hawaii
Head on over to Kealakekua Bay where spinner dolphins leap and humpback whales flock during the months of December to May. Snorkel the nearby lava tube and get up close and personal with friendly butterflyfish, surgeonfish, wrasse, and sea turtles who have grown used to the presence of snorkelers and will not scatter in fear.
Crystal River, Florida
Swim with gentle giants in this sparkling spring fed estuary where manatees come to rest. The springs are best to visit year round. In the winter there are more manatees present but in the summer there are fewer crowds to worry about. Either way, you will be sure to get a close up glimpse of these precious creatures, and if you swim slowly and remain calm, you may even invite a friendly nuzzle from a curious whiskery face.
Pigeon Cay, Honduras
Take a 45-minute boat ride from Roatan to a world away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This place is the stuff snorkeling dreams are made of; complete with silk white sand beaches, crystal waves lightly lapping the shore and green palms offering shade and solstice after a long day of exploring the bountiful reefs.