Alright, it's going to be pretty tough picking only ten of the best beaches to snorkel.
I mean we aren't short on beautiful underwater realms to explore.
So narrowing it down will be the challenge, but we've done it! So explore them by reading our list of the top ten best beaches to snorkel.
- 1 #1 La Jolla Cove, California
- 2 #2 La Jolla Shores, California
- 3 #3 Hanauma Bay, Hawaii
- 4 #4 Scorpions Anchorage, Santa Cruz Island CA
- 5 #5 Shark Bay, Thailand
- 6 #6 Punta Nizuc, Cancun
- 7 #7 Plage de La Palu, Mediterranean
- 8 #8 Kea Beach, Hawaii
- 9 #9 Ningaloo Reef, Australia
- 10 #10 The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
#1 La Jolla Cove, California
La Jolla Cove is located in beautiful Southern California. It is a marine protected area that is home for hundreds of California Sea Lions. If you snorkel here, you most certainly will see them along the rocks, and sometimes get the opportunity to share a wild encounter.
You also have a rocky reef ecosystem to play in and can see Garibaldi along with spiny lobsters. If you swim 1/4 of a mile outside the cove, you will run into a kelp forest ecosystem which is home to hundreds of species of fish, and invertebrates. If you swim to the east along the coast, you will see the seven sea caves of La Jolla and can swim inside The Clam sea cave. Always be mindful of conditions.
La Jolla Cove is a protected beach from south swells as the cove is sheltered by a large rock outcropping. But that doesn't mean the beach won't have big waves. There is a lifeguard tower sitting atop the cove so check in with them if you aren't sure of your capabilities. The conditions in the summer are typically perfect for the beginner snorkeler.
#2 La Jolla Shores, California
Alright, we only have to travel ten minutes down the road for another best beach to snorkel. La Jolla Shores is also an MPA (marine protected area) as it still shares the same body of water as La Jolla Cove. But it has a completely different ecosystem, the sandy flats. Now During the summer months, you can have the opportunity to swim with hundreds of sharks. Don't be scared as they are only leopard sharks. Not to be confused with a tiger shark, the leopard shark is a bottom feeder that swims skittishly away when you get to close. These leopard sharks aggregate during the summer months to breed, and it's an incredible experience to swim amongst them.
If you swim towards the south of La Jolla Shores, you will start to encounter a shallow rocky reef. This is where you can see Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtles! I always tell people you don't have to go to all the way to Hawaii to see a sea turtle as we started seeing more of them take residence at the shores.
#3 Hanauma Bay, Hawaii
Hanauma Bay is a gorgeous protected coral reef on the Island of Oahu. This confined coral reef caters to snorkelers and beachgoers. It is full of reef fish and beautiful protected waters that are perfect for your average snorkeler.
This area is unique as it is a recreational park that hosts a reef in Hawaii. It is rugged but tamed for the average tourists. Now, this is a beautiful park, but I suggest going before 8 am. That way you can find parking and avoid the crowds. It is a crowded destination as it is jam-packed with Hawaiian ecology. From Parrotfish to Moorish Idols. I find it to be the ideal ecosystem to frolic but do not step on the reef!
This aquatic playground is shallow ranging from 5ft-10ft. If you slip past the coral barrier, you may run into a honu! Sea turtles are a marvelous encounter while snorkeling as they observe you as much as you observe them.
#4 Scorpions Anchorage, Santa Cruz Island CA
Scorpions has to be one of my all-time favorite snorkel sites. That's because it is off the beaten trail and is teaming with marine wildlife and ecology. It too like La Jolla Cove and Shores is an MPA. You can see the fauna and wildlife thrive.
Since it is located on an island off the coast of southern California, it is hardly frequented. But the pink coral and golden kelp forest make it a must see snorkel destination. Getting to this spot requires a charter company known as Island Packers. They will shuttle you out to Scorpions Anchorage and take you back to the Ventura Harbor as where you came.
#5 Shark Bay, Thailand
Not only is Shark Bay recognized for its warm sandy beaches, beautiful blue waters and tropical backdrop. But it's also known for sharks! Once your done soaking up sun rays on the beach, you can cool off by swimming next to blacktip reef sharks! It is a bit tricky getting out to Shark Bay; you can huff it by scooter or foot. There's also the option of paying for an excursion, but that exempts you from laying out at the beach!
#6 Punta Nizuc, Cancun
The warm waters of Cancun host a beautiful reef and beach at the southern part of Punta Nizuc. Here you can find yourself swimming with sea turtles or possibly a manatee! It is most famous for its underwater museum. Statues have been placed around the reef so snorkelers can view them. Sixteen figures can be seen at a depth of only 3 ft, so it accommodates novice snorkelers. You can rent your snorkel gear and snorkel for free, or you can hire a tour guide.
#7 Plage de La Palu, Mediterranean
We all know that the Mediterranean coast is home to beautiful beaches and the best beach to snorkel would be the Plage de La Palu! It is in the Port Cros National Park (the oldest National Marine Park in the Mediterranean, first opened in 1963). A beautiful hillside surrounds it with chaparral you can gaze at while playing in the water. Underneath the surface, you'll find jellyfish, sea stars and fish playing in Neptune grass seabeds. The crystal clear blue water is inviting just as much as the beach is.
#8 Kea Beach, Hawaii
Right in front of the Mauna Kea Hotel is a long beautiful sandy beach that hosts magical event almost every night. Tour boats drop off divers and snorkelers with lights galore and wait for the beautiful 15 ft long manta rays to appear. The lights attract plankton on which the manta rays feed on. It is an incredible experience to observe and can be done by snorkeling. If you aren't staying at the hotel, the public beach access is closed at night, so you will need to take a tour. It would be well worth it as these animals are natural acrobats underwater, doing flips and maneuvering in between snorkelers and divers.
#9 Ningaloo Reef, Australia
The Ningaloo coast is a world heritage site located in Western Australia. Along that coast is Ningaloo Reef. This reef is home to one of the largest fringing coral reefs and is a beautiful beach to come and snorkel. Reasons such as whale sharks, dolphins, dugongs, and humpback whales are why some find it so incredible. The reef supports about 500 species of fish and 300 species of coral. The beach that surrounds the reef is encompassed by white sand and turquoise waters. It is no wonder why this beach made a list for best places to snorkel.
#10 The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
If you want to be surrounded by a beach with white sand and gigantic granite boulders while you snorkel then The Baths of the British Virgin Islands is the place to go! There are beautiful pools and grottos to observe and play in while you snorkel along the beach. When you follow the trail to Devil's Bay, you can see cup corals and an array of colored sponges. You only have to go about 12-15 ft to see it!
Now that you’ve read the ten best beaches to snorkel at, which will you go to first!?
Make sure to check out our snorkel gear guide so that you can get the best snorkel gear package before you head out on your adventure!