Snorkeling is an exciting way to see some of the amazing sights the ocean has to offer. It is an easy and affordable method of exploring any tourist destination, and is also a great source of exercise. Below I’ve outlined some of the top spots to snorkel in the world, and provided recommendations for trusted tour groups who can help you truly appreciate each area’s underwater splendor and diversity.
Located in the South Pacific, Tahiti has some of the most densely populated waters in the world. Here, bright, tropical fish swim against a backdrop of warm, shallow waters in vibrant shades of blue – making it no surprise that Tahiti is considered a paradise for snorkelers of all levels. While snorkeling on the islands of Tahiti, you’ll encounter coral reefs, giant manta rays, dolphin, sharks, and even humpback whales. Although Moorea and Bora Bora are among the most popular snorkeling sites in the area, many consider the best diving experiences to be in lagoons located off-the-beaten-path.
Best tour: Windstar Cruises offers lavish week-long tours of Tahiti aboard a graceful sailing yacht. Tours include drift snorkeling among coral gardens, water sports, and local entertainment. For those looking for a more casual snorkel, Tahiti Tourism provides a thorough online guide to diving, as well as suggestions for top tour groups and training centers on the Islands.
A prime snorkeling destination, the 7,107 islands of the Philippines are a mix of Asian, European, and American cultures. As the gateway to the Coral Triangle (considered the world center of marine biodiversity) the Philippines offer warm, tropical waters surrounded by miles of gorgeous beaches. Hundreds of classes of coral dwell in the 13,124 miles of coral reefs located within the Philippine archipelago. Snorkelers can expect to see distinctive aquatic life such as gorgonian butterfly fish, giant sponges, seafans, and starfish.
Best tour: Wilderness Travel hosts multi-day snorkeling journeys through two separate UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in the Philippines. Led by marine biologists, these expeditions are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to immerse yourself in the area’s culture and marine life.
The shallow waters of coastal Australia contain a world of diverse and scenic underwater ecosystems that are perfect for snorkeling. In these waters, you’ll find everything from giant clams and baby sea turtles to gigantic whale sharks, red bass, and dolphin. Lord Howe Island, located offshore of Sydney, is a prime destination for anyone looking to explore an untouched reef system which is home to over 500 species of fish and 90 species of coral. This World Heritage location is ideal for children, offering a clean and clear lagoon protected by the world’s southern-most coral reef.
Best tour: Lord Howe Island Environmental Tours operates coral viewing and snorkeling tours featuring glass-bottom boats for an optimal viewing experience.
Hawaii offers some of the most unique marine life in the world. In fact, more than a quarter of the species found in its oceans are unique to Hawaii. The Big Island boasts some of the healthiest reefs in the Islands with stunning coral formations and beautiful tropical fish, shielded by cliffs and breathtaking mountains. Less than 30 miles away, Maui is home to an abundance of sea life – including green sea turtles, pincushion sea stars, butterfly fish, humpback whales, and manta rays.
Best tour: Fair-Wind Cruises provides an array of snorkeling tours throughout The Big Island, with snorkeling gear, lunch, and expertise instruction included.
The Galapagos Islands offer a snorkeling experience like no other. Since the Galapagos Islands span multiple marine sub-provinces, snorkeling throughout the islands varies immensely from site to site. However, no matter where you are snorkeling on this diverse set of islands, you’ll discover some interesting wildlife – such as sea lions, blue-footed boobies, parrot fish, giant tortoises, iguanas, and even penguins.
Best tour: Natural Habitat Adventures offers private snorkeling tours designed to provide small groups of snorkelers with intimate wildlife viewing experiences. Affiliated with WWF, the world’s leading environmental conservation organization, these tours are led by seasoned instructor’s who will be sure to show you the Islands prime snorkeling sites.
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