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8 Spots for the Best Snorkeling in the Caribbean

The Caribbean Sea is a cornucopia of colorful sea creatures, and you don’t need any prior diving experience to see them up close. That’s because, while strong swimming skills come in handy in some locations, plenty of other spots also offer fantastic snorkeling for beginners. For the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, grab a mask, snorkel, and underwater camera and check out these eight spots.

8. Negril Cliffs, Negril, Jamaica

Negril Cliffs, Negril, Jamaica with Holiday Hamster

Explore Negril Cliffs, Negril, Jamaica with Holiday Hamster

Why it’s great: There’s no more exciting way to start a dive than by leaping off black-coral cliffs into crystal-clear water.
When to go: Visit between November and May to avoid hurricane season.
What you’ll see: Stoplight parrotfish, chromis fish, and other marine life. You can also venture out about two miles from shore to get a closer look at a protected reef.
Good for: Thrill seekers. The dive into the water is half the fun, so if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, this might not be your spot.
Getting here: Fly into Sangster International Airport (MBJ) in Montego Bay, about a 50-mile drive from Negril.

7. Silver Bank, Dominican Republic

Silver Bank, Dominican Republic with Holiday Hamster

Discover the clear waters of Silver Bank, Dominican Republic with Holiday Hamster

Why it’s great: It’s one of the few places on Earth where you can swim with humpback whales.
When to go: Mid-January through early April, when the whales visit Silver Bank for breeding season.
What you’ll see: Pods of humpback whales, enormous creatures that can reach 60 feet in length and weigh up to 40 tons.
Good for: Serious snorkelers, divers, and photographers. Silver Bank is actually located about 80 miles north of Puerto Plata in the Dominican, so you’ll need to book a boat tour to get out there. These tours fill up as early as a year in advance, so this isn’t something you can do on a whim.
Getting here: Fly into Gregorio Luperón International Airport (POP) in Puerto Plata.

6. Stingray City, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Stingray City, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands with Holiday Hamster

Snorkelling in Stingray City, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands with Holiday Hamster

Why it’s great: You can safely feed, pet, and swim with dozens of stingrays.
When to go: To avoid crowds, go on a day when there are no cruise ships docked in George Town’s port.
What you’ll see: Atlantic Southern stingrays; most tours also visit nearby reefs.
Good for: Beginning to intermediate snorkelers. Swimming’s not required—you can see and touch the stingrays while standing in just 3 feet of water. You’ll need more experience if you visit nearby reefs, though.
Getting here: Fly into Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM) in George Town. Most tours will pick you up from your hotel free of charge.

5. Champagne Reef, Dominica

Champagne Reef, Dominica with Holiday Hamster

Champagne Reef, Dominica is perfect by snorkelers and scuba divers alike

Why it’s great: Tiny bubbles created by geothermal vents make you feel as though you’re swimming in champagne.
When to go: Visit between November and May to avoid hurricane season.
What you’ll see: Seahorses, parrotfish, Caribbean spiny lobsters, and colorful sponges
Good for: Beginning snorkelers
Getting here: Fly into Douglas-Charles Airport (DOM) via San Juan, Puerto Rico. Champagne Reef is about an hour’s drive away.

4. Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands

Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands with Holiday Hamster

Travel to Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands with Holiday Hamster

Why it’s great: Marked underwater trails a few steps from the beach feature signs that identify various species of coral. Locals boast that you can see more than 50 species in 30 minutes.
When to go: Visit between November and May to avoid hurricane season.
What you’ll see: Trumpetfish and parrotfish
Good for: Beginning snorkelers. The reef is shallow and calm, and there’s usually a lifeguard on duty.
Getting here: Fly into Cyril E. King Airport (STT) in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, and take a 35- to 45-minute ferry ride to Cruz Bay, St. John. Trunk Bay is about a 10-minute drive from here.

3. Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Isla Mujeres, Mexico with Holiday Hamster

Snorkelling in the Isla Mujeres, Mexico with Holiday Hamster

Why it’s great: Isla Mujeres is one of the best spots in the world to swim with whale sharks, who migrate around the northeastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula each year.
When to go: Visit between June and August, during the whale sharks’ peak migration.
What you’ll see: Whale sharks that measure 20–25 feet in length and weigh more than 10 tons (don’t worry—they feed only on plankton)
Good for: Intermediate snorkelers. Tours travel 60–90 minutes north of the island, and the waters can get choppy.
Getting here: Fly into Cancún International Airport (CUN). Isla Mujeres is a 15-minute ferry ride from Cancún.

2. Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Belize

Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Belize with Holiday Hamster

Visit the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Belize with Holiday Hamster

Why it’s great: Lots of large sea creatures live among the limestone formations here along the Belize Barrier Reef.
When to go: Visit between November and May to avoid hurricane season.
What you’ll see: Shimmering schools of grunts, nurse sharks, and Atlantic Southern stingrays
Good for: Beginning to advanced snorkelers. The reserve’s four zones range from calm mangroves and seagrass beds to a channel in the reef, which can have very strong currents.
Getting here: Fly into Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City and take a 90-minute ferry ride to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. The marine reserve is a 20-minute boat ride from Ambergris Caye’s shore.

1. No Name Beach, Klein Bonaire, Bonaire

No Name Beach, Klein Bonaire, Bonaire with Holiday Hamster

Dive into the clear waters of No Name Beach, Klein Bonaire, Bonaire with Holiday Hamster

Why it’s great: A national marine park protects Bonaire’s underwater inhabitants. Some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean is at Klein Bonaire, a half mile from the main island.
When to go: Visit during high tide, when you’re less likely to damage the shallow reefs.
What you’ll see: Fire and orange cup corals, angelfish, tube sponges, and sea turtles
Good for: Beginning to intermediate snorkelers. The reefs vary from 3 to more than 10 feet in depth, and a light current could carry you 20–30 feet.
Getting here: Fly into Flamingo International Airport (BON) in Kralendijk and take a water taxi, snorkeling tour, motorboat, or kayak to Klein Bonaire.

Book with Holiday Hamster and you could be snorkelling in one or more of these top spots in the Caribbean.
Call 08000 988 955 and have a travel advisor tailor make your package at the best possible price.

Photo Credits: The Champagne beach by Antoine Hubert under CC BY-ND 2.0, Trunk Bay on St. John by Fred Hsu under CC BY-SA 3.0, and giant anemone Condylactis gigantea by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble under CC BY 2.0.

The above article first appeared here, in June 2017.

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