The Caribbean is known for its white sand beaches, colonial charm and laid-back lifestyle. But there is another Caribbean to discover below the surface - the azure water and it is a world of colour, beauty and intrigue. The best way to see this fascinating world is to go snorkelling, here we reveal the six best places to go in the Caribbean to explore coral reefs, meet stingrays, encounter shipwrecks and marvel at the amazing marine life.
Belize is often considered to be the best place for snorkelling in the Caribbean -and with good reason. Along the coast runs the 300-Kilometre Belize Barrier Reef, home to more than 500 species of fish and over 100 different corals.
We recommend booking a tour as you will need a boat to take you out. Ambergris Caye is the most popular section of the reef and here you can expect to see nurse sharks, manta and spotted eagle rays and the aptly-named, brightly coloured rainbow parrotfish.
Here, the fringe reef is so close you can almost touch it from the shore, making it one of the most accessible in the world. Beneath the waters, you will enter a world of colourful soft coral and deep canyons, where hawksbill turtles and tropical fish weave about in crystal clear waters.
Whatever time of year you visit you will be rewarded with an abundance of thrilling marine life. Book a guided excursion if you are a first timer but the reef is so accessible, you can simply swim out and explore under your own steam.
Just off the coast on the tiny Caribbean Island of Bonaire is the even tinier, uninhabited, island of Klein Bonaire. Here, shallow snorkelling close to No Name Beach rewards you with an array of interesting corals.
Swim further out to the deep coral wall, where you can get close-ups of fire and orange cup corals, sharing the space with increasing numbers of fish and other marine life. Further out still and the waters are clear and deep. Here you might spot angel fish, sea turtles, corals and sponges. Klein Bonaire is accessible by water taxi or book a guided snorkelling tour.
Stingray City is an amazing attraction located in a series of sandbars off Grand Cayman. It is a great introduction to snorkelling and to stingrays where you can be up close and personal with these huge five-foot wide flat fish in shallow water and learn all about them.
There are around 50 friendly stingrays in the waters and it is a popular attraction so we recommend you book ahead.
The great attraction at Carlisle Bay is the shipwrecks. There are six sunken ships in all and swimming around them is an utterly absorbing experience.
The wrecks are covered to varying degrees in corals of all hues, and as you explore you will find yourself surrounded by teeming schools of tropical fish, including blue and white striped triggerfish and long, slim trumpetfish.
Off the north-east coast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands lies Buck Island Reef, a huge area with protected National Monument status. Here you can snorkel in what has been described as one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea.
Take an organised boat trip, which includes a guided tour of the unique underwater trail followed by free snorkelling. You will spot shoals of brilliant blue tang, yellow striped french grunts, angelfish and many other species.
Our ship, Celebrity Equinox, cruises the Caribbean all year round and, depending upon which cruise you choose, you can try out all these great snorkelling spots. With the second largest barrier reef in the world and waters as clear as daylight, the Caribbean offers a wonderful opportunity to see the rare and beautiful world beneath the sea. Book your Caribbean cruise today – and don’t forget to pack your snorkelling gear!
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