Centering your getaway around water lends itself to an ocean’s worth of activities, from surfing and jet skiing to paddleboarding and fishing. But nothing quite beats snorkeling in crystal-clear waters and exploring all the colorful creatures and beautiful coral that lie beneath the waves. While scuba diving requires training and certification, snorkeling allows you to dive right in. It’s easy enough for children and fairly inexpensive to get the necessary gear. Considering that 71% of Earth’s surface is covered in water, it would be impossible to name all of the places that offer unbelievable underwater scenery. However, these six places should not be overlooked. Pack your mask and fins and plan your snorkeling adventure around one of these top destinations.

Grand Cayman

It can’t be denied that snorkeling is one of the biggest reasons why Grand Cayman is the most visited of the three Cayman Islands. When making a trip to this Caribbean jewel, the first order of business should be Stingray City, a collection of sandbars situated about 25 miles off the shore of Grand Cayman where you can feed and swim with an array of friendly rays. Don’t be confused by the name Cheeseburger Reef, where you’ll be able to marvel at turtles, tarpon and 12,000-year-old coral formations with ease. Grand Cayman is also home to the Seven Mile Beach, often regarded as one of the best beaches not only in the Caribbean, but also the world. Luckily, The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman and Marriott Grand Cayman are both situated along this gorgeous stretch of coastline. In fact, Marriott Grand Cayman offers 300 artificial reef balls in the water behind the hotel, allowing you to check out incredible marine life just a few steps away.

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The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort


Boasting the largest barrier reef system in the Western Hemisphere, the island of Cozumel is undoubtedly a snorkeler’s paradise. While Cozumel is known for its white powdery beaches, these aren’t the best spots for snorkeling. Instead, set your eyes on the dark, rocky beaches like El Cielo. Located about a mile off Cozumel’s shoreline, El Cielo is only accessible by boat, but it’s well worth the effort once you arrive there. The water is shallow, clear and teeming with starfish, making it an ideal destination for beginners and families. For an all-in-one outing, head to The Money Bar Beach Club at Dzul-Ha, an oceanfront restaurant and one of the few places in Cozumel where you can witness tons of crabs and lobsters. After your snorkeling adventure, you can chow down on some tasty surf and turf while sipping on a refreshing mojito.

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The Westin Cozumel


This island archipelago in the South Pacific is a goldmine for snorkelers. After all, Fiji is called the “Soft Coral Capital of the World,” making it even tougher to decide which spots to explore. For beginners and little ones, consider checking out Beqa Lagoon off Fiji’s main island. You’ll be able to wade through the calm, clear waters and see as far down as 100 feet. Be on the lookout for an array of marine life including hawksbill turtles, manta rays and soft coral in nearly every color possible. If you had to choose only one spot to whet your snorkeling appetite, make sure it’s Rainbow Reef, nestled between the second and third largest islands – Taveuni and Vanua Levu. This underwater wonderland is surrounded by nutrient-rich water, making it arguably the best spot to see schools of multicolored fish and beautiful displays of soft coral including the Great White Wall.

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Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay

Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island, Fiji

The Great Barrier Reef

Home to the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem that’s composed of 2,900 individual reefs spanning over 1,400 miles of the Queensland shoreline, The Great Barrier Reef is unquestionably one of The Land Down Under’s natural wonders. The reefs are packed with mesmerizing coral and a diverse range of marine life including more than a thousand fish species and six different species of sea turtles. You might even see bones of ships that crashed on the reef years ago.

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Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas

The Maldives

One of the most beautiful places in the world, The Maldives comprises over 1,000 small individual islands within 26 atolls scattered throughout the Indian Ocean just south of India and Sri Lanka. The islands are so tiny that nearly every resort – including the ones mentioned below – is on its own private island. If you’ve every daydreamed of escaping to a gorgeous, remote island far from modern civilization, it can become fully realized in The Maldives. As far as underwater exploration goes, you’ll love scanning the shimmering aquamarine waters overflowing with hard coral and an array of ocean critters such as anemonefish, giant clams and whale sharks. Consider scheduling your trip to The Maldives somewhere between March and April since they’re the driest months of the year and have the lowest average wind speeds.

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Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa

W Maldives

The Big Island, Hawaii

The whole archipelago of Hawaii is encompassed by excellent snorkeling spots, but if you could only choose one island for your underwater adventures, let it be The Big Island. Living up to its name, The Big Island is almost twice the size of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined, giving you more opportunities to explore the wonders under the Pacific. If you’re new to snorkeling, Kahalu’u Beach Park is a great place to start. It offers calm, shallow waters and an abundance of sea turtles. Kealakekua Bay is another fantastic choice because it not only provides its fair share of vibrant marine life but also rich history. Be sure to check out the 27-foot Captain Cook Monument, which commemorates the site where Captain James Cook was killed by native Hawaiians in 1779.

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The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

Ready for an underwater adventure? Make the most of your trip with exclusive rates on accommodations and airfare from Vacations by Marriott.