15 Best Snorkeling Locations In The USA

February 8, 2019

North American snorkeling covers over 95,000 miles of diversity playing host to shipwrecks, sea turtles and more. Dive into the water to swim through schools of tropical fish, weave through kelp forests and mingle with dolphins. From Hawaii to the many islands dotting the East coast, there are many great snorkeling destinations available.

Choosing The Best Spot For Your Vacation

This list of the best snorkeling vacation spots in the United States has something for everyone or every family. Try and figure out which is best for you? 

Skill Level 

Before booking your vacation consider your skill level. If you’re a beginner and want to try snorkeling, consider booking in a location that has calm waters, human-made lagoons, and boat tours. Boat tours that take you to snorkeling spots have experienced snorkelers as well as guides so your family can have the best possible experience. 

But if you have experience snorkeling or diving, you might want to venture out on your own. Try booking trips with entire islands dedicated to snorkeling or self-guided adventurings such as Shell Island, Hatteras Island or La Jolla. 

Activities

Available activities that tie into snorkeling can include boat tours, kayaking or lazying around on the beach. Choosing between these three, or picking a vacation spot that has all three can help you decide where to book your holiday. 

Hawaii is famous for snorkeling because you can book a boat tour, or kayak out to a cove and snorkel, or even sit on the beach and let the rest of your group snorkel only a few feet away. 

Other areas don’t have all of these options but may have wildlife or biomes that you can’t find anywhere else such as Crystal River, Florida. 

Family Friendly Spots 

Vacationing with your family makes a huge difference in where you book your snorkeling excursions. If you’re taking children with you, or a large group, look for calmer waters. Typically calm waters are around an island or are within the protection of a barrier reef system. 

Book the vacation that seems best for you and your family so that everyone can have an incredible experience snorkeling!

Here are some of the best snorkeling spots:

Islands Off Texas Make For A Beginners Paradise

Head to South Padre Island, Texas for a kid-friendly snorkeling experience. The waters are calm enough to bring the kids, and the seas are clearest through summer vacation. Depths for snorkeling range from 3 to 6-feet deep. 

A Day Of Adventure In La Jolla, California

Off the coast of San Diego is little La Jolla Cove, where you can play with seals and sea lions. La Jolla’s most significant bragging right is that there’s a cove or lagoon for every skill level. 

Swim With Dolphins In Panama City Beach, Florida

If you’re in Panama City Beach, head over to Shell Island for the best snorkeling experience. The island has a shuttle so you can spend the day snorkeling with the dolphins and watching the crabs scuttle in the shallow waters. 

Whales, Dolphins, And Sea Turtles In Poipu, Hawaii

A family-friendly excursion where you can interact with giant sea turtles, and dolphins all at the surface of the water. The water is calm, and it’s a great way to try snorkeling for the first time.

An Ocean Lover’s Dream Swimming In Captain Cook Bay

Underwater cliffs protect hundreds of different wild marine life species in Captain Cook, Hawaii. It’s a great snorkeling spot with very still waters and kayak or boat tour options. 

Snorkel Off The Shores Of Catalina

Catalina is the fun place that people go to enjoy food that you can’t get in Los Angeles, right? Not quite. Catalina has an under-appreciated snorkeling center. Rent a kayak or book a tour to snorkel in some of America’s cleanest waters. Be sure to bring a wetsuit; it’s cold!

Hatteras Island, North Carolina Is Family Friendly

Many islands scatter across North Carolina’s coast, and many more shipwrecks sit in the shallow waters around Hatteras Island. Go clamming, explore the habitats of wrecks and take the kids. 

Boat Tours That Lead Snorkelers to Forests

Big Pine Key, Florida snorkeling will take you out to a coral reef and lead you inward to the spooky remnants of a vast sunken cargo ship and haunting mangrove forests. 

Fully Experience The U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Croix has a reputation for luxury vacations, and snorkeling in these waters can be the finishing touch on any getaway. Famous snorkeling sites such as Chenay and Cane Bay are only a few of the options, for a luxury spin, book a private snorkeling tour. 

Warm Waters Near Oahu’s Electric Beach

A nearby power plant fills this beach with warm water earning it the nickname Electric Beach. Officially named Kapo Point Beach in Kapolei, Oahu. There are many human-made snorkeling centers nearby too!

Eco-Friendly Snorkeling In Key West, Florida

Florida is known for many things, but their eco-friendly tours is a well-kept secret. Key West is host to the third largest barrier coral reef in the world and endangered marine life too. 

Snorkel in Key West with an eco-friendly tour for an up-close experience with loggerhead sea turtles, manatees, and stingrays. While you’re at it, you’ll have the chance to explore Florida’s famous mangrove forests. 

Visit Endangered Wildlife In Florida At Crystal River

Manatees are the gentle creatures with terrible luck. But, Crystal River is a National Wildlife Refuge for these creates. You can snorkel in these calm and warm freshwater springs year-round. 

An Underwater Canyon Of Honolulu’s Coasts

The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve has pathways where you can head straight from sand to coral reef that’s perfect for families with small children. But, for real adventure, head out to Turtle Canyon. 

Options For Every Skill Level in Lahaina, Hawaii

For beginners, you can snorkel right off the coast of Maui just off the beach and see tropical fish and eels. But for the more experienced enthusiasts head into the waters off of Lahaina to join migrating humpback whales!

An Undersea Park In Key Largo, Florida

For those with a flair for adventure, head out to Key Largo, Florida where you can find America’s first undersea park! The park includes submerged statues, coral, fist, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds.