"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."It does, indeed. After spending all our living span being bogged down by gravity, it sure is a welcome change to be floating in the depths of the sea, exploring a completely different world. And speaking of the marine world, what better place than the Caribbean? None, without a doubt.
―Jacques Yves Cousteau
Which is why, we bring you a list of places that are perfect for snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea. And believe me, we're not just talking about viewing some gorgeous corals here; we've got stingrays, dolphins, whale sharks, and the likes.
Remember, the best time to be in the Caribbean is the dry season from December to April. The weather during these months is calm and breezy, making it perfect for snorkeling, diving, or simply lazing around.
Best Snorkeling Destinations in the Caribbean
How about an up, close, and personal encounter with the biggest fish in the sea? Yep, come to Isla Mujeres between June to August every year, to witness a massive whale shark congregation that is sure to have your wits floored. In fact, even before you take a dip, you'll be able to witness hundreds of dorsal fins skimming the surface―a truly awe-inspiring sight indeed. Plus, there are also chances of spotting some dolphins and manta rays, along with the native flamingos on the shore. The island is located in the Yucatán Peninsula, in the southeastern corner of Mexico.
Stingray City is located in the shallow waters of the northwest corner of Grand Cayman's North Sound. It is within a natural channel that passes through the barrier reef and consists of a string of sandbars. Stingrays happen to be the gentle inhabitants of the sea, and are a delight to have around. More so, if you're carrying some treats in the form of squids. The drama that follows, is something which needs to be experienced first hand, as the stingrays' antics always manages to keep you spellbound. And the best part? You can get here all year round.
Keeping Fajardo in eastern Puerto Rico as your hub, Cayo Diablo is a 20-minute boat ride away from the town's shore. It lies on the fringes of the Atlantic, yet is very much in the Caribbean. This area is famous for Elkhorn and Staghorn coral, with a jagged limestone periphery. However, nestled in these depths are some rather extraordinary sea turtles. Breathtakingly beautiful, this is probably the only place in the Caribbean that offers such close encounters with sea turtles.
You may have heard of Bonaire, located off the northern coast of Venezuela, as a premier diving destination, but it holds true for snorkeling as well. Off the coast of its capital city, Kralendijk, a wide variety of corals and colorful fish await you in the warm waters here, along with some sea horses as well. Klein Bonaire is an uninhabited island further off the coast of Kralendijk, around which you will find filefish and queen angelfish. Windsock is also a popular snorkeling venue, with people spotting barracuda, tarpon, or even turtles.
Mexican Caribbean's biggest attraction remains the Cancun Underwater Museum, with hundreds of sculptures placed underwater off the coast of Isla Mujeres and Cancun in southeastern Mexico. Yes, we do know about the one in Grenada as well, but frankly speaking, one simply needs to dive, rather than snorkel there, as the clarity of the water can be quite low on most days. Coming back to Cancun, the 450 sculptures here are also by the same artist who created the Grenadian versions―Jason deCaires Taylor. The museum is a part of the Cancun National Marine Park―a wonderful sight, which offers a memorable journey of exploration.
The joy of swimming alongside dolphins probably is one of life's finest and most subliminal experiences. Even if you've had the opportunity to swim with captive dolphins, you ought to make a trip to the Bahamas, where you'll be gliding next to an Atlantic Spotted dolphin. The thrill is comparable to none. And while you're in the Bahamas, don't forget to check out Dean's Blue Hole, where you'll be jolted to discover that you can go from a depth of 5 feet to a jaw-dropping 600 feet in a matter of a few laps. And while you're doing that, don't forget to spot some turtles, dolphins, and porpoises.
Belize is a country on the northeastern coast of Central America bordering Mexico on the south, and offers fantastic sites for snorkeling. 11 miles off the coast of the southern town of Placencia lies Laughing Bird Caye, a fabulous snorkeling spot suitable for all levels of expertise. This is where you'll find a vast expanse of reef species, including parrotfish, yellowtail snapper and barracuda. Also on the agenda is Shark Ray Alley, a part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is home to several Nurse sharks, as well as Southern Stingrays. The locals promise great visibility and close encounters at a depth of just eight feet, which makes it a must-visit snorkeling spot in the Caribbean. You may also wish to visit Ambergris Caye, the largest island of Belize located northeast of the country. Here, you can take a dip off the Lighthouse Reef to snorkel around the edges of the famed Blue Hole, which is Belize's premier diving site.
Many tend to confuse this tiny island in the Lesser Antilles with the Dominican Republic. Dominica is a small nation with a big reputation as a snorkeling hotspot. Champagne Reef is located near Pointe Michel, a small town on the southwest coast of Dominica, south of the capital, Roseau. The area gets its name from the effervesce emanating from fissures in the seafloor, giving the impression that one is swimming in a bottle of bubbly. But that's not all―you also need to be on the lookout for parrotfish and lobsters. Scotts Head, in the southern most tip of Dominica is a stellar diving spot, but it does hold some thrill for snorkelers too. It's past the capital city of Roseau, just over an hour's drive away. This ancient volcanic crater has a veritable wealth of marine plants along its walls, and you certainly don't need to dive to see it.
So, this was a round-up of the best snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean. But as we mentioned before, any place is a great place to hit the sea when you're on any of the gorgeous islands here. Do make sure that you tick these off your list.