With shades of turquoise and sapphire, warm waves and abundant sea life, the islands of the Caribbean are one of the best places to be under the sea. From Belize and Bonaire to Tobago, St. John and the British Virgin Islands, dive, snorkel and swim among stingrays, trumpet fish, colorful coral and even sculpture gardens.
Dive shops, resort activities and tour boats are always plentiful in the Caribbean. If the resort doesn’t have their own private boat for snorkeling excursions and day-trips, chances are there are many to choose from just down the road. Don’t forget your camera.
1 – Ambergris Caye, Belize
Built on fishing and water sports, Belize backs up to the second biggest barrier reef in the world and Ambergris Caye is an excellent spot from which to anchor a visit. Coral atolls, manta rays, eagle rays, reef and whale sharks can be seen as divers maneuver the walls, swim through caves and tunnels of Hol Chan. Hol Chan is great for night dives and one of the world’s best shallow dive spots. In just six to ten feet of water, snorkelers can see fish normally only seen by divers.
Impressive from the air, the Blue Hole is the most famous dive site in Belize. Divers descend 130-feet into the ethereal blue abyss for a quick yet completely breathtaking excursion.
2 – The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Grottoes and pools formed by granite boulders from the island’s volcanic birth make this a favorite spot for photographers. Located nearby, Devil’s Bay offers a cave, cup corals, and a crayon box of colorful sponges in crystal clear water.
3 – Bonaire Marine Park, Bonaire
Designated an official marine park, the calm, clear water of Bonaire Marine Park is untouched and unspoiled. The reef starts right at the edge of the water and scenic sites sit just off shore. Parrotfish, anemones, elkhorn and staghorn coral, moray eels, sergeant major fish, seahorses, nurse sharks, tarpon, turtles and goatfish make this spot a photographer’s dream. Reef features include spur, groove and buttress formations and small wall dives. There are also large and small wreck sites.
4 – Buccoo Reef, Tobago
Rated by Jacques Cousteau as the third most spectacular reef in the world, snorkelers can take a glass-bottom boat to see angelfish, parrotfish and blue chromis, as well as elkhorn, starlet and brain coral. On a lucky day, you can catch sight of manta rays gliding peacefully through the clear water.
5 – Molinaire Bay, Grenada and Cancun, Mexico
The steel and concrete underwater sculpture gardens by British sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor give an artistic ambience to undersea adventures at these spots. Merging art and the environment to form a reef system for marine life to inhabit, the sculptures convey a message of hope and prosperity within the human and natural world.
Anchored in place, the sculptures are placed perfectly for snorkelers. Just a few of the haunting statues include life-size human figures forming a circle with joined hands, a registrar keeping track of an underwater archive and a young girl propagating pots of coral. The Cancun sculpture reef is one of the most visited waterways in the world.
6 – Stingray City, Grand Cayman
A tourist mecca that must not be missed, beginner and experienced snorkelers get a thrill from this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Feed, touch and snorkel among graceful stingrays as they glide by on soft, silken wings.
7 – Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
A marked underwater nature trail, stingrays, turtles and more than 50 species of fish make Trunk Bay one of the most popular snorkel spots in the Caribbean. Underwater plaques identify the coral and fish found in the gentle water, which is perfect for beginners, families and small children.
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