Snorkeling is a wonderful way to escape while on holiday. Picture it- you, floating effortlessly through gorgeous waters, watching mesmerising tropical fish and beguiling sea critters flash through the water around you. Today the experts of the Big Blue Collective reveal some of the best hidden snorkelling spots worldwide that everyone should experience.
Why snorkelling is such a popular beach activity
It’s been estimated that as much as 80% of the life on earth is in our seas, and a great deal of it is infinitely intriguing to us because it’s so different from anything we encounter day-to-day. While people tend to think of diving when they imagine a sea experience, snorkelling allows you an aquatic adventure that’s infinitely accessible, needs almost no specialist equipment or training, and offers a window into a world of infinite beauty. The ocean’s beauty is already in reach!
Gorgeous snorkelling destinations can be found throughout the world- but here’s our list of 5 extra-special locations everyone needs to enjoy at least once.
Koh Tao (Thailand)
While Koh tao is one of the smaller islands in Thailand, it’s become well-known as a destination for snorkelling and diving that compete at a world-class level. It’s also pretty easy to access from Koh Samui, the most popular tourist destination.
Here you’ll find the home of the Japanese Gardens, a unique underwater landscape littered with spectacular granite boulders that have become the host for fanciful coral formations. Baby sharks, trigger fish, spotted rays and clownfish play here, and the beach at Aow Leuk is on hand to enjoy, too.
Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
The Great Barrier Reef, actually the sum total of more than three thousand individual reefs, represents the world’s largest expanse of coral and one of its most iconic destinations. It’s also exceptionally beautiful. While the reef is slightly harder to access than some on our list, meaning that you need to catch a boat out to various spots along the reef, boats visit the reef daily. You can easily access reef tours from Port Douglas and Townsville, as well as ever-popular Cairns.
Want an insider tip? Don’t forget to stop by Heron Island. This coral cay juts into the southern end of the reef and offers a few off-beach, easy-to-access snorkelling spots as well as the chance to spot around 60% of the fish species you’ll find along the reef itself.
Baa Atoll (the Maldives)
The entirety of this remarkable area is actually part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Imagine well over 1000 coral islands nestled together, and you have the Maldives, explaining why they’re seen as a premier snorkelling destination globally. Heading into the water, you can experience docile reef sharks, bright tropical fish, sea turtles, and even the odd dolphin.
Yet most snorkelers hope for a manta ray sighting. While they are rare, the opportunity to spot one, and the whale sharks often found alongside them, is a lure no snorkeler can resist. This is a destination where it’s worth trying to get an experienced marine biologist to tour with you, ensuring you don’t miss a single experience in this gorgeous corner of the world’s oceans.
Apo Island (Philippines)
If you would like to experience a true ‘Disney’ moment while snorkelling, this is a choice you don’t want to miss. One of the largest giant sea turtles populations in the world make their home here, despite the outward appearance of a sleepy little island. Sightings of up to 20 on just one tour are not unheard of.
Of course, they’re not the only experience awaiting you beneath the waves. Sea anemone, clownfish, nudibranch and lionfish all call the area home, making for a uniquely biodiverse adventure. If you’re looking for something a little different and off the beaten track, this could be the destination for you.
Smith’s Reef (Turks and Caicos)
Of course there would be a TCI snorkelling destination to finish the list! It’s not just love for our gorgeous islands, however- the Turks and Caicos is truly one of the best snorkelling destinations globally. We have a little bit of everything- the world’s 3rd largest (and best preserved) barrier reef, rays, turtles, sharks, and many more exciting sea creatures to meet, including dolphins and, in the right season, the whale migration. If you’re not sure where to head for your next aquatic adventure, there’s nowhere better.
So gorgeous is the snorkelling and diving in the TCI in general, we were hard-pressed to select a favourite spot. Yet the outer reefs at Smith’s reef are among some of the easiest to access, and offer a staggering opportunity for beach snorkelling direct from Provo. It also offers enough of a challenge to keep experienced divers entertained, yet it’s gentle enough for beginners too. There’s a great variety of scenery, hard and soft corals to marvel at, and a staggering diversity of life- including indigo hamlets, parrotfish, moray eels, butterfly fish and damselfish, and so much more. At night, there’s even a chance for a curious octopus or two! It’s this diversity across the length of the reef that made us choose this as our stand-out local spot for snorkelling in the TCI. Smith’s Reef is easy to access from Turtle Cove, and has public beach access in the north, east, and center, so you can go where your vibe takes you.
Keen to explore the many other spectacular snorkelling destinations available in the Turks and Caicos? You will never discover all the island’s secrets even with thousands of dives and snorkelling adventures, so there’s always something new to enjoy. The Big Blue Collective is here to help you plan the snorkelling adventure of a lifetime!