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Sep 26

Best Places to Snorkel in the Caribbean

You can leap in almost anywhere in the temperate, clear Caribbean Sea and find stunning sights and captivating marine life. From the most prolific coral reefs offshore to the peculiar burrowing creatures of the back bays, snorkelers who journey here have a world of underwater opportunities. To give all you masked mariners a go-to list custom-made for extraordinary finning, we’ve scoured the bottom to find resorts where you can practically roll out of bed and onto the reef, the best I-don’t-need-no-boat beach dives, the most expert naturalist guides, the top extreme snorkel adventures and the wettest and wildest day trips.

Reef-Enthusiasts Resorts

Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia06_majuro_snorkel_jump The reef beckons from the water’s edge at the south end of Anse Chastanet Beach, a swath of salt-and-pepper sand on St. Lucia’s thriving southwestern coast. The resort exudes a nature-loving feel, which complements the always-rewarding snorkeling you’ll find. Watch out for peacock flounders, octopus, needlefish and turtles in the shallow spots. Farther out, the reef goes deep over thick coral. (800-223-1108; www.ansechastanet.com)

Cocoview Resort, Roatan Accommodations don’t get much more snorkel- and dive-friendly than those really built over the water, similar to the bungalows and cabanas at Cocoview. Guests have 24-hour admission to the resort’s watery Front Yard, including the renowned Cocoview Wall, where coral rises to within five feet of the surface. With a plethora of octopus and other critters in the shallows, this is also an amazing place for night snorkeling. (800-510-8164; www.cocoviewresort.com)

Coral Gardens, Provo Crossing Grace Bay Beach right in front of this boutique resort puts you on Bight Reef and its beautiful snorkeling track through fringing coral. Sunken placards in three to 16 feet of crystalline water introduce the residents — numerous species of tropical fish, crustaceans and invertebrates. Matthew Williams, adventure concierge at Coral Gardens, provides personal instruction, tours and boat excursions. (649-941-3713; www.coralgardens.com)

Glover’s Atoll Resort & Island Lodge, Belize Campsites, rural dorms and over-water thatch rental cabins dot this unspoiled nine-acre cay in Glover’s Marine Reserve. The aquamarine lagoon’s extensive patch reefs provide nonstop shallow wanderings and are bordered by 50 miles of sheer drop-offs, which lure a wealth of marine life. On the east and north sides, canyons start from 25 feet deep and sink to the thousands. Spires line the south side, while stacked layers of reef come down on the west. (011-501-520-5016; www.glovers.com.bz)

Guana Island, BVI There’s excellent snorkeling all around this private-island resort, but the best is off White Bay Beach. Stride down the precipitous hill from your room, and you’ll be surrounded by silversides within a small amount of feet of the sand. Stay in school and you’re sure to see large tarpon cruising in to feed (watch for the dive-bombing pelicans and boobies). Carry on offshore to find low-profile spur-and-groove reefs leading to deeper water. (800-544-8262; www.guana.com)

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