Top 26 Best Island Beaches for Swimming and Snorkeling from Top 26 Best Island Beaches for Swimming and Snorkeling

Top 26 Best Island Beaches for Swimming and Snorkeling

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Top 26 Best Island Beaches for Swimming and Snorkeling

There is something enticing about island beaches. The thrilling opportunities they offer – such as diving, snorkeling, swimming, and surfing – make them even more appealing. The ideal coast can be secluded offering with long stretches of white or pink sand that will make you want to set up camp and spend your vacation there. Floating calmly in clear blue water and gazing at bright and colorful flora and reefs swarmed by many different kinds of fish species makes for an unforgettable trip.

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Plaza Sur, Galapagos Islands

Plaza Sur is among the best snorkeling destinations in the worldPlaza Sur South Plaza — is one of the smallest yet richest islands in the archipelago, known for its rich marine life, according to Galapagos Travels. The abundant and friendly sea lions, the largest animals on the islands (with adult males weighing up to 550 pounds) are one of the main reasons snorkelers go there. Covering the seabed you’ll also find damselfish, triggerfish, hogfish, sea stars, and urchins.

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Uepi, Solomon Islands

Uepi is a true snorkeling paradise. Whichever edge of the island you descend from you’ll find a fascinating underwater ecosystem. Uepi drops off into 165 feet of water at the Welcome Jetty and 6,560 feet at The Point, according Uepi Island Resort. Two other popular snorkeling access places are The Lagoon and The Dive Jetty. You can look forward to marveling coral “gardens,” huge schools of fish, large gorgonian fans, vase sponges, lion fish, snowflake eels, plus many small invertebrates in the cracks and holes.

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Maldives

This beautiful tropical island nation is best known for its exceptional beaches, snorkeling, and topnotch diving. The water is so clear that many hotels have built overwater bungalows to accommodate guests. You can jump off your private balcony into the water and swim with exotic fish. Enjoy Technicolor coral, soft sponges, mantas, whale sharks, and pelagic fish that are regularly seen on almost any dive. If you are a certified wreck diver, you can explore the British Loyalty, a 450-foot tanker covered in coral reef.

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Corn Islands, Nicaragua

The islands have very diverse beaches. On the south end of Big Corn you can explore the most swimmable shore, according to TripAdvisor, which is a wide sandy bay like seaside. Take the road north from Casa Canada to come across a path with a very narrow beach, which has some great snorkeling, some in little protected coves. There are all sorts of coral and fish to swim with.

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Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Stingray City is one of the largest tourist attractions in the world. It is in 12 feet of water and is mainly, but not exclusively, visited by scuba divers. This series of shallow sandbars is home to tons of southern stingrays that divers and snorkelers can touch and feed with the help of a guide.

Photo Modified: Flickr /  cisc1970/ CC BY 4.0

Champagne Reef, Dominica

There are several active volcanoes in Dominica, which affect the reef. Underwater geothermal springs vent gasses in the form of thousands of warm bubbles giving snorkelers a feeling of swimming through a giant glass of Champagne, according to ChampagneReef.com. You can expect to see a myriad of sea life including sponges, lobster, parrot fish, and a resident population of Hawksbill turtles.

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Molokini Crater, Maui, Hawaii

Molokini Crater alone is a reason why you should visit Hawaii in the winter. It offers a diving and snorkeling experience like no other. More than 200 species of fish reside there. Winter is the time to go because this is when the water is the clearest — more than any other place on any of the islands — and not as choppy. You will probably hear the spooky sound of the whales “singing” if you go very early in the morning.

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Dry Tortugas, Florida

Dry Tortugas is a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand. The area is known for its famous bird and marine life. Fort Jefferson, one of the largest coastal forts ever built, is a central feature. Take the ferry to the national park for pristine snorkeling. The wrecks and patchy reef system surrounding the islands host a tremendously diverse array of sea life.

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Bonaire

If you want to escape the crowds and still have a blast, consider Bonaire. Most of the 6,672-acre park is water. There is a no-anchoring policy, but the nearly 60 species of coral underneath are some of the most unspoiled in the world. The variety and scenery are unmatched in the region. Popular snorkeling sites include Karpata, Front Porch, and Captain Don’s Reef.

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Bay Islands, Honduras

They are made up of the islands of Utila, Roatan, and Guanaja. Home to a massive barrier reef, one of the most diverse in the region, the Bay Islands are a world class scuba diving and snorkeling site. Utila is the smallest of the Honduras Bay Islands, but it offers some of the largest underwater animal encounters in the Caribbean. The affordable pricing and easy access from the US make the islands popular snorkel destinations.

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Big Island, Hawaii

No matter where you choose to start swimming, you will never get bored, because you will be busy for a long, long time, marveling at what you see. Go to Kealakekua Bay, an unspoiled marine sanctuary filled with colorful marine life and coral where you can see, among other fish, whales and dolphins. Other favorite locations are Kahaluʻu Beach Park, Captain Cook, and Honaunau Bay.

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Mauritius

Situated in the Indian Ocean southeast of Africa, Mauritius boasts bright blue waters, warm white sands, and tropical temperatures all year long. It is almost entirely encircled by a coral reef, which makes the island nation a superb destination for snorkeling. Mauritius has some of the most copious marine life in the Indian Ocean. A favorite place, especially for beginners, is the Lagoon, which is generally calm in the majority of places. Colorado and Roche Zozo are among the most popular sites.

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Ilha Grande, Brazil

This is a charming destination with astonishing waterfalls, lakes, secret coves, and secluded beaches. All of those make it an exceptional place for snorkeling and diving. The local rich marine life as well as the several old ship-wrecks can be explored year-round but November through May is the best time to snorkel.

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Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

One of the most popular of the BVIs is the Virgin Gorda, a land mass whose shape resembles that of a large reclining woman, and a place where the laid-back pace will wash all your worries away. There are many vivid and shallow-water snorkeling spots to keep you wide-eyed. The Dogs, a small group of uninhabited islands just off the western shore, have some of the best snorkeling in the BVIs, according to Villas Virgin Gorda. Other popular places are Savana Bay and Prickily Pear Island.

Photo Modified: Flickr / LuxTonnerre / CC BY 4.0

Palau

Its marine environment is incredibly well-preserved, which means you’ll see some amazing things if you dive or snorkel. Go on a snorkeling trip in the Rock Islands where you’ll paddle to hidden marine lakes and hike to waterfalls deep in the rainforest.

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Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is an adventure destination that doesn’t require a passport. If you want to explore the Caribbean Sea, head to the absolutely serene Trunk Bay — but go early in the morning because it gets really busy later in the day. Try the Underwater Trail, which is a snorkeling path of coral and fish with underwater signs. Boat tours, scuba diving and snorkeling are by far the most popular activities for tourists.

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Whitsunday Islands, Australia

The lavishness of the reef’s marine life makes for breathtaking views. Bright blue waters and white sand beaches are the norm for the Whitsundays. The area is made up of 74 individual islands that TripAdvisor describes as “mini paradises.”

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Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Known world-wide for breathtaking sunsets, five-star resorts, iconic cottages, and lavish floating villas with glass floors, Bora Bora is more than just honeymoon hotspot. The island is also a hotspot for sharks, and snorkeling trips to see lemon sharks are very popular. “The jewel of the South Seas” is a surreal place to see the clearest, bluest water on Earth. Head to the Coral Garden, an underwater park teeming with tropical fish or hire a guide to lead you through some of the lesser-known spots.

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The Seychelles

The general rule is that the reefs are to the left and right of the beach wherever you choose to swim in this collection of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off East Africa. Baie Ternay Marine Park has the best underwater fauna from all Seychelles. Beauvallon, a small cove with small rocks on both sides, extends under the water with corals. You’ll find here a lavish and colorful marine life. The right side of the bay consists of flush rocky islets. Swim there with butterfly fish, surgeon fish, and parrot fish.

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Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

The coral reef systems are so abundant and astonishing you’re going to need at least a month to explore them properly. When the tide is right, the stunning Monkey Bay is accessible. The coral is just below the surface and brightly colored fish dart, inches from your mask. Hin Klang is in the middle of the sea, Phi Phi Leh has a few more popular snorkeling locations such as Phi Phi Don and Bamboo Island.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Jirka Matousek / CC BY 4.0

Culebra, Puerto Rico

Explore Puerto Rico's best-kept secret, the island of Culebra, a pristine eco-destination. It’s a natural paradise, home to one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in the US and some of the most spectacular beaches in the Caribbean. Snorkel in a secluded cove and swim among turtles, sting rays, coral reefs, and colorful fish in warm turquoise waters.

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Boracay, Philippines

The island is world renowned for its pristine beaches. Enjoy the throw-back atmosphere for a reasonable price. The islands’ varied landscape is matched by its many offerings; adventurous travelers will find themselves with endless options. White Beach is the most famous site and much of it is finely ground coral. Banyugan Beach is another great location with large groups of fish swimming together just offshore. 

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Palawan, Philippines

Palawan is one of the last unsettled places in the South Pacific, which makes it all the more exotic. If you’re looking for a mixture of adventure and tranquility you have found your destination. The archipelagic province of the Philippines is full of amazing landscapes, beautiful beaches, and a vast marine life.

Santa Catalina, California

This is one of several Channel Islands in the Golden State. It is known for its snorkeling and dive sites. By far, Lover’s Cove is the most popular snorkel spots off Catalina. It is a protected area with kelp forest, rock reef, and a “zoo” of cool-water inhabitants. The rugged island is a popular summer escape, so visit now, without breaking the bank, for fewer crowds and nicer weather. 

Photo Modified: Flickr / Shriram Rajagopalan / CC BY 4.0

Silfra Fissure, Iceland

The Silfra fissure is famous for being one of the world’s best dive sites because it’s actually a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents. It is the only place where you can dive or snorkel right where the continental plates meet and drift apart about less than an inch per year. It’s also known for its incredible underwater visibility — over 330 feet. This creates an experience that can hardly be beat.

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Menjangan Island, Bali

This is where you go to find Bali’s best underwater gardens. Located within the protected area of West Bali National Park, the island is one of the more popular dive and snorkeling spots around, according to Travel Fish, an independent travel guide for Southeast Asia. Menjangan is known for calm clear waters, a profusion of marine life, and gorgeous coral formations. You may also see whale sharks, mantas, and turtles, if you’re lucky. 

Top 26 Best Island Beaches for Swimming and Snorkeling