6 Great Snorkeling Spots Around the World

From French Polynesia to the Caribbean to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, here are some of the best spots for undersea exploration.

There are some parts of the world where crystal blue waters beckon us to take a closer look. And snorkeling offers the simplest way to peek into an underwater playground of incredible sea creatures that can only be imagined on land.  

To maximize the thrill of your next snorkeling adventure, trek to one of these intriguing destinations across the planet.

Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean are surrounded by one of the largest coral reef systems in the world. Snorkel outfitters boast of the waters’ impeccable visibility that lets you see coral formations, schools of fish and shipwreck artifacts. The islands offer a variety of vacation options. The Meridian Club on the privately owned Pine Cay Island provides secluded luxury. Or stay closer to the action in a villa in Providenciales.

Rurutu Island consistently ranks as the top snorkeling destination in the world for one reason: humpback whales. From July to October, the seas around this French Polynesian island serve as a nursery for migrating mamas and their calves. A rural commune, the island features small, simple hotels, or you can stay in a classic overwater bungalow in Tahiti and then charter a plane for the 90-minute flight to Rurutu for the day or even overnight.

Exploring the Great Barrier Reef from Australia’s Lizard Island is the ultimate in exclusive snorkeling travel. The tiny island boasts 24 beaches but only one option for accommodations: the luxurious Lizard Island Resort. Beach snorkeling is just steps from the resort, and guests can book half- and full-day private barrier reef snorkeling from the Fascination III.

To maintain the pristine setting, only 400 visitors at a time are permitted on Lord Howe Island, Australia, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Snorkeling at the junction of five major ocean currents offers up-close views of green sea turtles, coral, eels and a variety of colorful, tropical fish. Luxury accommodations are available at Arajilla Retreat, while the Pinetrees Lodge offers cottages.

Known for its rare and abundant sea life, the islands of the Maldives are situated in the Indian Ocean. The small country is made up of a 1,190 coral islands surrounded by live coral reef. Stay in a glass-floored bungalow at Huvafen Fushi, a Maldives Luxury Resort or charter a yacht for a live-aboard experience with scuba diving.

The Red Sea is a must-visit spot for glimpsing blue-spotted stingray, moray eel and lion fish — just off the shore. Stay at the Four Seasons Resort in Sharm El Sheikh or charter a live aboard for more secluded travel.

Laura Laing is a freelance writer from Baltimore.

Photography Getty Images, Superstock, courtesy of Maldives Luxury Resort, courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

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