Snorkeling is a fun and inexpensive water activity most anyone can participate in. It requires a diving mask, snorkel, which is a tube you place in your mouth to help you breathe and usually fins of some sort, to help propel you deep enough under the water or to return to the surface. There are two ways to snorkel. One is to swim along the surface of the water, keeping your air tube above the waterline while you look through your mask at all the animals and plant life under the surface. Another way is to hold your breath and using your fins dive from the surface to get an up close and personal look at what life looks like as a sea creature. Whatever way you are comfortable with being prepared to be amazed at life under the sea at the best places to snorkel in the U.S.
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Buck Island Reef National Monument
The U.S. Virgin Islands is an excellent getaway from the mainland to experience the laid-back and relaxing style of an island. The island of St. Croix has areas that are a protected U.S. marine sanctuary where animals and plants can live without being threatened or harmed, allowing them to flourish. Over 19,000 acres are made up of a fantastic reef, which makes up almost two-thirds of the islands surroundings. Try an underwater trail called the Buck Island Reef Underwater trail, complete with plaques that inform the swimmer of the different types of fish and marine life you are seeing. Snorkelers will see colorful fish, manta rays, sea turtles and much more as they all call this massive reef their home. This is considered some of the best snorkeling areas, not only in the U.S. but in the world! Don’t miss it!
The Crystal River
Located in Florida is the Crystal River. The river connects a spring-fed area known as Kings Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. The river and Kings Bay are referred to as the “Home of the Manatee.” Manatees are large, slow-moving, yet friendly creatures that seem to lazily float around in the spring-fed waters, which are a constant 72 degrees. The biggest draw of the Crystal River is the ability to snorkel and swim with these wild creatures. This water is some of the clearest in the country and a favorite tourist destination as there are tons of different companies that offer tours and snorkeling adventures with the manatees. Manatees are curious by nature, so while you’re checking them out, they may swim over to look at you too.
Makaha Beach Park
You can’t mention snorkeling without thinking of a Hawaiian Island! The island of Oahu has some fantastic snorkeling areas, especially in the Makaha Beach Park. To get to the best areas, you have to swim out to the buoys that mark where the reef is. There you can spend hours looking at all the coral and animals that are swimming around, especially the Green Sea turtles that are so popular on this reef. This may be for more advanced snorkelers due to possible waves and the long swim to the reef. The waters are calmer in the summer, so this is the best time to snorkel. The winter months bring stronger waves and surfers, crowding the reef area.
La Jolla Cove
This famous beach in California will allow you to see some amazing marine life. You may need a wetsuit to snorkel here, as the cold waters of the Pacific can be a jolt to the system. You can rent a wetsuit and snorkel gear nearby if you need to for your convenience. When you arrive at La Jolla Cove, head for the cove area on the beach for the best underwater views. It is not too large, but this is the best spot to see things under the water, and it is also the most popular. The plant life is not too thrilling, but there are some great strands of kelp that are neat to see. There isn’t any coral, but you may see some fantastic marine life. The bright orange fish known as the Garibaldi can be seen, adding a brilliant color to the dark waters. Keep an eye out for leopard sharks that also have been sighted in the area.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
In famous Key Largo, Florida, lies the John Pennekamp State Park. This park is an excellent known location for both divers and snorkelers. This is also home to one of the largest known living coral barrier reef in North America and reefs mean plant and marine life in abundance. Tropical fish, sea turtles, grouper and tons of other species can be seen, many of which people travel from far and wide in hopes to experience. The park and the snorkeling abilities are fantastic, and you can head to the fun town of Key Largo for some yummy food and to see some of the best sunsets in the entire U.S., when you’re done playing in the water and the beach.
Getting to the crater is half the fun, as it is three miles off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. Upon arrival, usually by boat, you will see a crescent-shaped piece of land, as the other half of the crescent is now submerged under the water. The water visibility here is outstanding, and on clear days you can see up to 200 feet, with the average clarity being at least 100 feet. It is a Marine Life Conservation District, so the water stays unpolluted. Over 200 species of fish call this crater home, and the biggest attraction is the ginormous whale shark, which is no threat to humans. To get here, several companies do snorkeling tours and will transport you to and from the crater so you can have fun swimming and see all the types of fish and maybe even a whale shark.
Don’t Forget Your Fins!
Snorkeling doesn’t have to be done at some far off destination that takes thousands of dollars to get to, as some of the best places to snorkel in the U.S. are just as amazing! With the ocean as your playground, you can see reefs, coral, sharks, fish, marine plants, sea turtle and even a giant whale shark. Some of the destinations are close to the main cities like San Diego and Key Largo, which are full of fun and excitement when you’re not playing in the water. Which place would you choose to snorkel? Whichever location you choose, you will not be disappointed and don’t forget your fins!