Best shore snorkeling in world ???

Discussion in 'Snorkeling / Freediving' started by altarose, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. altarose

    altarose Nassau Grouper

    Greetings All, We are avid snorkelers, have been to Cuba, Akumal,Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Costa Rica,Honduras, and just got back from Puerto Rico. Every year we try to find a location with as good or better shore snorkeling than the last trip.

    If you could go any where in the world, where would be your favorite destination?

  2. gcbryan

    gcbryan Great White

    # of Dives:
    Location: Seattle
    I've snorkeled in Kauai, Oahu, southern Thailand, Roatan (Honduras), Isla Margarita (Venezuela) and I enjoyed Kauai the best.

    I'm sure there are better spots in the world but the Na Pali Coast is so beautiful and the island of Kauai itself has so many beaches where you can just stop the car and jump in that it's the place that I enjoy the most.

    Second choice would be in the south of Thailand but again a lot of that has to do with the surface aspect as well.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    The best shore snorkelling spots for me are never remote tropical resorts whose only reason for existence is snorkelling or diving. Over the decades, I've particularly enjoyed snorkelling in the Mediterranean, La Jolla Cove near San Diego in Southern California and a swimming lake in what was then the capital of the German Democratic Republic. What all these venues had in common was that the local people, not just tourists, were enjoying snorkelling too.

    These days, now I'm in my sixties, the best shore snorkelling destination in the world for me is just eight miles from where I live in the North East of England. The water is cold (a simple drysuit keeps me warm), the aquatic flora and fauna are conspicuous by their absence and my only company are people walking their dogs. The rising sun is spectacular, however, and the sea is blissful when the waves are calm. The snorkelling experience there relaxes me, provides me with some gentle exercise and is the ideal start for my day. I feel terrific after my morning dip. I'm not a bit envious of my compatriots who regularly leave our island with its myriad sandy beaches, surrounded by sea, for resorts in Egypt, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. Why would I want to travel to a crowded airport, find my plane is delayed or cancelled, pay extra because my snorkelling fins exceed my baggage allowance, endure airline food and a cramped seat for hours, stay in resort hotels which the local people can't afford, far from cities of cultural and historical interest? For me, now I'm retired, snorkelling is all about spontaneity, the ability to look out of my bedroom window at home in the hope that the weather favours snorkelling. If the signs are good, I pack my snorkelling gear in my car and head off for an hour's snorkelling at the coast. On the way, I see swans, ducks and occasionally a fox. When I reach the seaside, I may see a fishing boat bobbing in the bay, seagulls overhead, sometimes a seal. It's a picture postcard scene. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we don't have to travel far to find it.

    You don't have to come to the North East of England to share my enjoyment of the simple pleasure of snorkelling. Rediscover the places where you first snorkelled and try to recapture the joy you experienced when you first tried out our great pastime. Here's a photograph from a British book about snorkelling and diving from the 1950s:
    The caption reads: "If underwater swimming is not fun, it's not anything". I suspect the family was snorkelling somewhere in the United Kingdom, not some tropical paradise.

    The early skin divers of the Mediterranean and Southern California were all local people who didn't see the point of travelling great distances to enjoy the experience. If you're always trying to outdo last year's snorkelling vacation by seeking out more and more distant and exclusive destinations, you may run out of places to go and your constantly rising expectations will never be satisfied.
    crayolabarb likes this.
  4. dano2036

    dano2036 Guest

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Bishopville Md
    I like shacks in puerto rico.
  5. vladimir

    vladimir Giant Squid

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    On a liveaboard trip from Komodo to Bali, we anchored in a small cove that had virgin reef right up to the shore. In two meters of water you could find the sort of richness and diversity that you rarely find on any reef, anywhere. I didn't forget the name of the island: unfortunately I never knew it.
  6. ScubaSteve

    ScubaSteve Wow.....what a DB

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Acton, Ontario
    I was in Thailand in Nov/Dec 2009 and the best snorkelling I have ever seen is hands down KOH ROCK off Koh Lanta. While I generally am not wowed by snorkelling (since I am a diver first), this was great IMO.
  7. diver_doug

    diver_doug Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    This is an easy one...Long Beach, California. I've seen visibility as high as 3 FEET!!! One time I even saw a baby eel that looked just like a floating condom (wait, maybe that's what it was). Eat your heart out Australia!!!! Hope this helps.
  8. robint

    robint Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Albuquerque, NM
    Bonaire Bonaire Bonaire!

    best shore snorkeling and diving in the world. It is the shore diving capital of the world because reefs are so close to shore. This makes for amazing snorkeling, too!

    webcams all over island:
    Bonaire WebCams - The Works - All the WebCams and Weather and UW Temperature on One Page!

    my diving videos:
    Bonaire, 2007 on Vimeo
    these are scuba diving, but you can see in many cases how close to the surface I am!

    here is diving right in front of Buddy Dive resort, most of the dive is in less than 40' water!

    water is clear, very little current, easy easy easy snorkeling and diving!

    at one dive site, Andrea II, a school of 20+ squid met us as we were heading towards shore. They didn't want us to leave. We spent the last 10 minutes of the dive with them, in 5' deep water! AMAZING! Then as we got out, 2 of the larger ones followed us all the way into shore. I got out of water and one was next to my foot in 6" deep water! It was one of the coolest experiences in my entire life!

  9. Teamcasa

    Teamcasa Sr. Moderator Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Near Pasadena, CA
    I'm told, Tahiti was pretty amazing but I'm a sucker for Kauai.
  10. Dave C

    Dave C Manta Ray

    You have been to so many places yourself - does any one spot stand out above the rest?

    I have yet to find the "best" shore snorkeling spot, but I'm sure the best would be found in the western Pacific - Indian Ocean region. There is so much more species diversity there than in the Caribbean or Hawaii. Consistently I see some of the best shallow-water photos coming from two places: Maldives or Red Sea. Fantastic visibilty, corals, and fish diversity. Indonesia and the Philippines would also be very good. All these places are a long way from North America, however.

    My experience is that Belize has the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, but most of it is not convenient from shore. Hawaii has some pretty Indo-Pacific fish, but the coral is not that great, and I often found surge to be a problem. In the winter months in Hawaii, you frequently have to snorkel in tiny protected coves which doesn't allow for much freedom to explore.
  11. altarose

    altarose Nassau Grouper

    Out of the places we have been so far, I would rate Blue Bayou, Utila, Honduras as the best (So Far):) It had very good visabilty, over 100 ft. and a dramatic 125 ft wall, abundance of fish and healthy reef. We were the only 2 snorkelers, but there were 4 scuba divers below us at the bottom of the wall, which we could clearly see.
    A close second would be the outer reef at West Bay, Honduras.

    Trying to talk wife into Philippines for next year, but like you said, it is a long haul from home.
  12. Dave C

    Dave C Manta Ray

    I was in Roatan a few years ago, and I also liked the reef at West Bay Beach for its coral and uw topography. However, I did not find the fish very abundant or diverse there, which surprised me because this was supposed to be a marine park. I did see a marine park boat cruising around, so this was not a park in name only but appeared to have some active enforcement. There was more diversity in Half Moon Bay, even though it was a much smaller area, the coral wasn't as good, and had less visibility. You be interested in a very long trip report I wrote; I had to post it in two parts:
    Was there any good off-the-beach snorkeling at Utila? It appeared to me that around the town (we stopped there very briefly) there wasn't anything, but maybe there is somewhere that you could walk to.
  13. altarose

    altarose Nassau Grouper

    Hi Dave, Thanks for the link to your Honduras report, I noticed the exact same thing about the fish being timid. The Blue Bayou on Utila was from shore west of town. Not sure if the Scubaboard allows this, but if you are interested I have a full trip report on Trip Advisor,
    Also have pictures at

    I enjoyed reading your opionions on different snorkeling sites, it allways befuddles me when others dismiss a destination as being a complete waste of time and nothing worth seeing. As we all know great snorkeling can be the difference of going the right direction by as little as couple hundred feet, and enjoying the new experience. After all even a so-so day of snorkeling certainly beats a day at work:D

    I notice you have been to Curacao, all the research I have done on Curacao and Bonaire allways mentions the lack of nice beaches, but last night I came across a web site ( that shows pictures and discriptions of several nice sandy beaches on both islands. What is your take on the beaches ?

  14. Dave C

    Dave C Manta Ray

    Thanks for your reply. Good info about the Bay Islands and Honduras in your Tripadvisor post. You got dengue fever in Roatan and still liked it? What a bummer. Sand fleas/mosquitoes didn't bother us much in Roatan. It was usually breezy, which helped.

    It's good to know there is some decent off-the-beach snorkeling within walking distance of Utila town. I really enjoyed our brief 2 hour stop there on a day-tour from Roatan. Maybe I'll go back there someday.

    I too have photos on flickr. I am also on Pbase (my original photo site), but I am gradually switching my pics to flickr because it is much more interesting with all the comments and interactions between users. I have put you as a flickr contact. You will have to go pro, as I see you are up to the 200 photo limit. Here are both my pbase and flickr sites:
    Dave_Clausen's Photo Galleries at
    Flickr: Hawkfish's Photostream

    Curacao does not have long stretches of sandy beaches. The only exception is Klein Curacao, which is a little island 10 mi. from Curacao that is reachable by boat tours. What Curacao does have on the uncrowded western end of the island (where I stayed) is beaches on small coves that are cut into the ironshore cliffs. These tend to be a mixture of sand and coral rubble, so maybe are not everyone's idea of perfect beaches. I thought they were very nice, but my main interest is snorkeling and not throwing frisbees on the beach. Here's a photo of the island's best beach:
    Playa Grote Knip, Curacao on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    I wrote a trip report about Curacao on Tripadvisor:
    Curacao Trip Report, Especially Snorkeling, & Photos - Curacao Forum - TripAdvisor

    I intend to modify this report and put it on Scubaboard, but I've got to focus on doing my taxes first!

    How did you like Culebra? I liked it a lot. The snorkeling was extremely easy and convenient, and I got some of my best uw photos there. It would have been better if there had been a few more fish.
  15. mdb

    mdb ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    Lot's of great shore diving and some great reports. For me, La Jolla Cove is at the top. Lots to see in one of the worlds most beautiful spots. The cove has easy access and showers after the dive. A great shore dive for anyone heading to Southern California.
  16. altarose

    altarose Nassau Grouper

    Hi Dave, Yes getting Dengue Fever certainly was a downer, but goes to show just how much we enjoy our visits to the tropics. It is also present in Puerto Rico, and about 2 weeks before this years trip there were a few posts on TA raising the alert to near epidemic, which had us freaking out a bit. But we were extra careful and all went well. Most people don't want to talk about it and almost deny its presence, which I feel is wrong. The more people are aware and take steps to protect themselfs, the less chances of it spreading.

    We liked Culebra very much, our favorite snorkeling was at Carlos Rosario and fairly good at Melones. We also found some decent spots on Vieques. The beaches on both Island were to die for.

    The beaches on Curacoa sound just right for us, just like to chill on a bit of sand and swim between outings of snorkeling.

    Your review of Curacoa has me wondering if Bonaire might be better for snorkeling in shallower water. Not that we are afraid of the deep stuff, but like having a mix of deep and shallow reefs
  17. Karloss

    Karloss Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Braselton, Ga.
    Maui is very nice.
  18. coldwaterlloyd

    coldwaterlloyd Manta Ray

    I was just going to say , Maui has great beach snorkeling for sure , Olowalu ( excuse spelling ) seemed to go on forever , like a maze . I even saw reef sharks in the shallows there .
    Bonaire is good but much deeper .
    Snorkeling in Hawaii in 1991 is what got me hooked on Scuba .
  19. ComeOnFish

    ComeOnFish Guest

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Virginia, US
    Let me piggy back on this thread. Because you guys know a lot.
    Recently we went Almond Beach Village in Barbados. We did not do any scuba-diving at all. My wife and I did a lot of shore snorkeling off the resorts. The reefs were not as good as Bonaire but my wife enjoyed shore snorkeling because of calm water and no hassles. I found that my wife really likes shore snorkeling in calm water as we get older. The place was good for both of us because I could do spear fishing right off the beach with friendly locals even though I did not bring spear gun and spear pole.

    The reason I wrote the above is that I am in search of the place where my wife and I can shore snorkeling off the resort and also I can do some spear-fishing at the same time/place. My wife is not a stronger swimmer so swimming out more than 70 yard is not a good thing. I am a 30' diver and my target fish will be 2-5lb fish. I am not looking for a lot of edible fish. If I can shoot one a day is fine.

    Does anyone know good place or resorts in Jamaica, Puerto Rico or Dominican Republic (because of direct flight/no connecting)? I live in Virginia and am planning to have more 3-4 day get-away trips

  20. DoubleDeep

    DoubleDeep Garibaldi

    Bonaire has become our favorite spot for snorkeling from shore having vacationed on the island in March. We have visited Akumal and areas north, Maui (past favorite), Cozumel (past favorite), Jamaica, Grand Cayman and others. We would return to Bonaire in an instant (and will) except there is a whole world out there to see. Bonaire has more than a weeks worth of places to snorkel and explore. We are not beach sitters so the lack of sand on Bonaire did not bother us. There are some postage size coves of beach that filled our needs. Let me know if you need more info.

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