The Bahamas, consisting of over 700 islands and over 2000 coral reefs, is one of the trendiest vacation spots in the world. In fact, the US Department of State estimates that between 5-6 million people visit the Bahamas each year. With luxury resorts and ample outdoor recreational opportunities, it’s no wonder why the Bahamas attract 5x as many tourists as residents each year. One of the most popular recreational activities for vacationers is snorkeling. Because the Bahamas is home to the world’s third largest reef system, snorkeling here introduces vacationers to warm, clear waters with spectacular views of marine life, ship wreckage, and geological formations. Deciding to snorkel is the easy part; deciding where to snorkel can take time. Rent or bring your own snorkeling mask, then explore these islands and you’ll discover some of the best snorkeling spots in the Bahamas.
Bimini’s proximity to the Gulf Streams makes it a prime spot to snorkel. The upward rush of the Gulf Stream warms the waters here but also creates a path for marine life, including dolphins, sea turtles, and marlin. A Spotted Dolphin pod resides near the island and appears to divers and snorkelers on a daily basis. In addition to offering abundant marine life to observe, Bimini also offers stunning geological views.
- Rainbow Reef: A shallow ledge provides viewing opportunities for some larger marine life including nurse sharks and sea turtles.
- Paradise Point: The giant flat rocks at Paradise Point are often referred to as the jetty to the famed city of Atlantis. Whether that is fact or fiction, the beauty of the underwater causeway is undeniable.
Eleuthera may only be about a mile wide, but it’s 112 mile long stretch is a must-visit island for any tourist. Eleuthera’s pink sandy beaches connect to numerous snorkeling hotspots including these three well-known sites:
- Devil’s Backbone: Because Devil’s Backbone has a history of damaging ships, it offers stunning underwater shipwreck vistas, even including a sunken train. In addition to the ship graveyard, Devil’s Backbone is teeming with marine life including lobsters and eels.
- Current Cut: Snorkel in Current Cut, and you’ll find yourself on an underwater “roller coaster” ride. Current Cut is home to a variety of small marine life.
- Pineapple Dock: Like Devil’s Backbone, Pineapple Dock is another snorkeling site that offers a shipwreck to explore. As the name suggests, Pineapple Dock is home to several varieties of tropical fish.
Grand Bahama Island
Grand Bahama Island is the northernmost island of the Bahamas and boasts clear waters and plentiful coves. The popularity of this island led to the creation of numerous all-inclusive resorts. Guests of these resorts frequently visit popular snorkeling sites including:
- Paradise Cove: The highlight of Paradise Cove is that snorkelers can access this cove directly from the beach.
- Peterson Cay: This spot is a favorite because of the particularly shallow depths of the cay. Peterson Cay is located off of southern coast of Grand Bahama Island.
- Ben’s Cave: A popular destination, Ben’s Cave is part of the Lucayan Cave system.
- Explore the reefs at Gold Rock and Silver Point Reef.
The 120 miles of quiet reefs draw in many snorkelers hoping to see breathtaking vistas. The depths of the cays in Abacos rarely exceed 20-40 feet, which makes visibility even better. The top spots in Abacos include:
- Elbow Cay: Because of Elbow Cay’s proximity to the Gulf Stream, this reef is particularly clear, making this a smart choice for a snorkeling wishing to take underwater photographs.
- Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park: This snorkeling hotspot attracts snorkelers who seek animals as well as unusual landscape. Snorkeling here will win you views of sea turtles and eagle rays. For the more adventurous snorkelers, there are plenty of underwater caves to explore here.
- Mermaid Beach: While some snorkeling sites are optimal because of animal or sea life sightings, Mermaid Beach excels because of the colors of the reef itself.
Because the majority of San Salvador’s diving and snorkeling sites lay on the lee side of the island, vacationers experience relatively calm snorkeling outings. Planning a snorkeling trip to San Salvador is made easier by the fact that several key snorkeling sites are located within miles of the main town, Cockburn. Visit Bamboo Point, Fernandez Bay, and Long Bay.
Andros Island, the largest island, has as much to offer in the water as it does on land. Andros’ shores are filled with shallow reefs, a deep sea wall, blue holes and dolphin sightings. The world’s third largest barrier reef is just off the western coast of Andros.
- Liben’s Point: This is a large snorkeling area, known for large populations of star coral.
- Trumpet Reef: Invertebrates populate Trumpet Reef. The most popular denizens here? Spiny urchins.
- Solarium: Visit Solarium to observe lobsters and stingrays.
- Other popular sites: Central Park, China Point, Red Shoal, North Beach, Goat Cay, Davis Creek.
The Exumas is a system consisting of 350 smaller islands. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, The Exumas draws boaters, divers, and snorkelers to its waters.
- Stocking Island boasts a beautiful underwater world to explore. Explore underwater caves dotted with colorful coral. One of the most unique elements of Stocking Island is the prevalence of blue holes. Blue holes occur when fresh water pools float on the heavier, salty ocean water.
- Crab Cay Crevasse: While only a diver could explore the depths of the crevasse, Crab Cay Crevasse starts just 15 feet under the surface of the water, allowing snorkelers to peak into the abyss.
- Stingray Reef: This reef is a prime spot for anyone hoping to spend some time observing fish.
Cat Island, part of the Out Islands, is a centrally located island but not as well traversed by tourists, leaving this island quieter and less developed. A famous ship lies in the 20-foot shallows, the Santa Maria Teresa, a 360-foot Spanish battleship.
- Dry Heads: Considered one of the healthiest shallow snorkeling sites, Dry Heads teems with abundant fish.
- The Tunnels: Snorkeling in this shore coral garden boasts of canyons to explore in about 30 foot-depths.
While Long Island is a popular spot among divers, it is still worthwhile to visit Long Island for an afternoon of snorkeling, particularly if you snorkel primarily to see big marine life.
- Shark Reef: The Shark Reef is a 30-foot depth area, made for snorkelers to encounter wild sharks.
- Conception Island: Near the southern tip of the island, snorkelers who visit Conception Island explore a 40-foot reef, which then dramatically drops more than 6000 feet, revealing sea cliffs.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Overwhelmed by the number of snorkeling sites to choose from? Ask your hotel for suggestions for organized tours or locations of gear rental shops. Most all-inclusive resorts and luxury hotels even have snorkeling gear rentals available for their guests.
Home to the third largest barrier reef system, the waters beneath the Bahamas are home to some of the world’s most beautiful coral and schools of fish. Whether you visit the Bahamas with a wish to experience a dolphin encounter, watch a sea turtle glide through the water, explore sunken wreckage, or experience the unusual blue holes, there is a snorkeling location for everyone.