With 700 islands and thousands of cays, the Bahamas are a unique playground for snorkeling enthusiasts. The largest archipelago in the Caribbean, a step away from Miami, and hosts a wide array of snorkeling spots including coral-covered wrecks, colorful reefs, sandbars teeming with nurse sharks and stingrays, mangroves, and innumerable blue holes. Grab your mask and fins and check out some of the best snorkeling in the Bahamas!
Whether you like to snorkel freely from a beach or go by boat to more remote reefs, the Bahamas suits all tastes and ability levels of snorkelers. All beaches in the Bahamas are public, so there are no restricted areas. When you go snorkeling by boat, you are less affected by tourism, so the waters around the Bahamas offers the best of both worlds.
During a snorkeling trip to the Bahamas, combining several islands is always a good idea, as each of them has its own atmosphere and singular snorkeling spots. Ready for a tour of the best spots in the archipelago? Let’s go!
Snorkeling in Nassau, New Providence and Paradise Island
New Providence, on which Nassau is located, is often considered the gateway to the Bahamas. You can snorkel from several beaches of the island, such as Love Beach and Cable Beach.
From Snorkel Beach, in the Clifton Heritage National Park, you can discover the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden, an underwater gallery made up of various submerged sculptures. One of them, “Ocean Atlas”, is the largest underwater statue in the northern hemisphere.
Paradise Island, only half a mile north of Nassau and accessible by road, also offers several shore snorkeling options. Cabbage Beach, Cove Beach and Paradise Beach, all located on the northern coast of the island, are the most recommended.
From New Providence or Paradise Island, boat trips to the surrounding reefs are also offered. Day-trippers particularly enjoy the Rose Island Reefs, about 6 miles off Nassau, and Goulding Cay, just one mile west of Clifton Bay. On these two spots, the reefs are shallow, which allows snorkelers to fully enjoy the local sea life.
Snorkeling in Eleuthera
East of Nassau, Eleuthera, a long, skinny 105 mile-long island, is renowned for its pink sand beaches and wild landscapes. You can snorkel on almost all the beaches of this island snaking through both Atlantic and Caribbean waters, but some spots shouldn’t be missed.
Devil’s Backbone, a shallow reef on which several wrecks are found, Gauldings Cay, known for its soft corals, and Current Cut, where you can drift in a pass surrounded by tropical fish, are the most recommended.
For an even more original snorkeling experience, go explore the Ocean Hole, in Rock Sound. This seawater hole, connected to the ocean by underground caves, is literally filled with fish. Even if the underwater visibility is just average, you will be surrounded by large schools of grunts and huge gray angelfish.
Snorkeling in Andros
Andros, the largest island in the Bahamas, remains lush and sparsely inhabited. It is just a 2 hour ferry trip from Nassau. Andros is home to the world’s largest concentration of blue holes. Some of these surreal geological formations, filled with fresh or sea water, can be snorkeled with local guides.
For those who are more interested in the Ocean, Andros is a must-visit: running parallel to its east coast for more than 186 miles is one of the largest barrier reefs in the world. The reef’s most popular snorkeling spots, only reachable by boat, are Tiamo, China Point, Red Shoal, Trumpet Reef, Central Park and Liben’s Point. The latter two are renowned for their shallow Elkhorn coral, but hundreds of other sites can be explored.
Snorkeling the Abaco Islands
Landing in the Abaco Islands, you will immediately notice their unique atmosphere and temperament. The archipelago hosts the third-largest city in the country, Marsh Harbor (on Great Abaco), and there are other settlements that are scattered over dozens of islands and islets.
In Marsh Harbor, you’ll find good snorkeling at Mermaid Reef, accessible from the city’s northern shore. Elbow Cay, on the other side of the lagoon facing Marsh Harbor, is renowned for its stellar visibility and shallow reefs. The cay is just a 30-minute boat trip from Great Abaco. Sandy Cay, a little further north, is another famous day-trip snorkeling destination.
Snorkeling in Bimini
The Bimini Islands, located only 50 miles off the Miami coast, are the closest to Florida. Here, too, strips of sand, islets and reefs bathe in turquoise water heated by the Caribbean sun.
These stunning islands are home to some of the most beautiful snorkeling in the Bahamas. Reef-lovers will enjoy the many shallow reefs scattered throughout the archipelago, the best known being Rainbow Reef, made up of hard corals, gorgonians and sponges.
However, two other locations offer even more singular experiences: the Wreck of the Sapona, a steamer that was once a floating warehouse for illegal liquor during Prohibition, and the fascinating Bimini Road, aka Atlantis Road. There, you will explore a cluster of large flat stones submerged in some 6m/20ft of water. The legend says that these rocks were part of a road system that once traversed the lost continent of Atlantis.
Snorkeling the Exuma Islands
The Exumas are an archipelago made up of 360 cays featuring white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters, which can be reached from Nassau by plane or ferry. It boasts some of the most iconic snorkeling spots in the Bahamas.
If you visit George Town, the capital of the Exumas, go explore the seabed of Stocking Island. On this island located less than a mile from the city, you can explore the reefs bordering Stocking Island Beach, or admire the cushion sea stars living in shallow Starfish Beach.
Snorkeling and movies enthusiast? Head to Staniel Cay, 1about 62 miles further north. This is where Thunderball Grotto, a submerged cave famous for its appearance in a James Bond movie, is located. In its shaded water be on the lookout for tropical fish and stingrays. Next door, Not The Grotto is also a good snorkeling location.
Pig Beach, where pigs will swim with you in the water, is the other attraction of Staniel Cay. Continuing north, you arrive at Compass Cay, where dozens of nurse sharks await you in the turquoise waters of the marina.
Snorkeling in Southern Bahamas
There are opportunities for shore snorkeling in almost all of the southern Bahamas. San Salvador Island, in particular, is almost surrounded by coral reefs. Near Cockburn, top sites include Bamboo Point, Fernandez Bay and Long Bay. Around the southern tip of the island, Grotto Bay and especially Sandy Point boasts great snorkeling.
While planning your trip to the Bahamas, you will probably have heard of the Dean’s Blue Hole. This blue hole over 218 yards deep is located on the northern coast of Long Island. You will see little underwater life there, but snorkeling above its dark, bottomless waters is a surreal experience.
The southern shore of Long Island also teems with coral reefs, which can be snorkeled from the beach in many places.
The varied marine ecosystems of the Bahamas provide the backdrop for hundreds of species.
Marine life enthusiasts will agree that the Bahamas are one of the world’s best places to spot sharks. More than 10 species live in the archipelago, including the iconic tiger shark and hammerhead shark, which divers from all over the world come to encounter on the island’s deep sandbanks. Nevertheless, most of the sharks spotted at snorkeling depths are nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, and lemon sharks.
Southern stingrays are very common in the Bahamas, and are fed and tamed in some locations. Spotted eagle rays, green sea turtles, and hawksbill sea turtles are rarer, but occasionally make an appearance around the reefs.
The reef ecosystem of the Bahamas, which is home to the third-largest coral reefs on the planet, is vibrant. Hard corals, soft corals and gorgonians abound on the healthiest reefs, attracting around them a whole host of underwater life.
Angelfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, grunts and parrotfish are particularly easy to see in the shallows, but many other species can be encountered.
Due to the year-round warm temperatures and favorable conditions, snorkeling in the Bahamas is possible all the time. The islands enjoy a very pleasant tropical climate, tempered by the trade winds.
The winter is dry and sunny, with maximum underwater visibility but relatively cool temperatures (73-82 F/23-28 C on land, 75 F/24 C on average in the water). During the summer months, temperatures rise (93 F/34 C degrees on the beach, 84 F/29 C in the water) but rains shower the islands from time to time.
450+ spots have been featured on Snorkeling Report with the help of people like you. Share your favorite snorkeling spot and help us cover the world map. Your contribution will help the snorkeling community find sites and enjoy the underwater world!
ADD A SPOT
Common at reefs
Very common in some locations, for example at Compass Cay
Easy to spot in most of locations
Occasional at reef
Seen in large schools in most reef locations
Common at reef
Small cay edged by a coral reef
Coral reef with a diversity of colorful fish
Coral reef with sea fans and colorful fish
Shallow wreck with reef fish
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, is renowned for its spectacular beaches, which are kissed by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south. The country offers dozens of snorkeling spots spread out along its expansive coastline, with a wide range of marine environments (...)
The Turks and Caicos Islands, less known than some other Caribbean destinations, are a veritable Eden bordered by white sands, coconut palms and a crystal sea. Luxury hotels and villas line the peaceful coasts of this archipelago of 40 islands stretching south of the Bahamas. If you like snorkeling, (...)
From the kaleidoscopic coral reefs that fringe the Keys region, to the freshwater springs where manatees congregate in winter months, Florida offers you a variety of choices for your next snorkeling vacation. Florida is the only continental U.S. state where the tropical climate provides ideal condit (...)
Beautiful coral reefs and pristine waters have made the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman a favorite destination in the Caribbean. For snorkelers, the Cayman islands are, before everything else, home of the most popular and visited snorkeling spots of the region. Located h (...)
For many people, a trip to the Dominican Republic is one thing above all else: a relaxing all-inclusive vacation on a beautiful white-sanded beach. But if you love snorkeling, leave your beach towel for a while and go exploring the island’s underwater world. Even if snorkeling in Dominican Republic (...)
Bathed by the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of California, Mexico introduces snorkelers to an extraordinary diversity of underwater environments. The Riviera Maya, in particular, offers an unequalled diversity of snorkeling spots. Lose yourself into the clear emerald green waters of a cenote near Tulum (...)
Considered one of the top snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean, Roatán’s underwater world should not be missed. Located some 20 miles from the Honduras mainland, the island of Roatán boasts some stunning and pristine snorkeling spots. From queen angelfish to sea turtle sightings, to amazing disp (...)
The US Virgin Islands are located in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, to the east of Porto Rico. They comprise approximately 50 islands but the three main islands are St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John, around which the most accessible snorkeling can be found. In particular, much of the coast (...)
LAST SPACES AVAILABLE