You slap on your snorkeling gear, eagerly anticipating the tropical fish and colorful reefs that await as you enter the crystal-clear shallow waters.
Instead, you find yourself face to face with a sea of flippers, bleached coral and bright orange life jackets. It can be frustrating to try to find a spectacular snorkeling destination that hasn’t been taken over by crowds. But not impossible.
We asked a few marine experts to share some of their favorite places to snorkel.
In these top snorkel spots you’ll be bumping fins with reef fish, humpback whales and non-stinging jellyfish — to name just a few.
1. Raja Ampat (West Papua, Indonesia)>
Raja Ampat: Home to 75% of all known coral species.
Courtesy Ethan Daniels/Coral Triangle Adventures
At the top of the list is Raja Ampat, or Four Kings, located in Indonesia’s West Papua province.
Experts say it’s hard to find anywhere else in the world that compares, given it’s got the world’s greatest concentration of marine life for a region of its size and 75% of all known coral species in the world.
A marine oasis with more than 1,000 different species of fish, sea turtles, sharks and manta rays, snorkeling here means largely having the place to yourself as the isolated islands are scarce of people.
Snorkelers come face to face with fish and coral in every direction while swimming the waters of this archipelago, which is made up of 50,000 square kilometers of islands and water.
“Each day you get to experience something different,” says marine biologist and snorkeling guide Lee Goldman of Coral Triangle Adventures.
For info on getting there/where to stay, check out Indonesia’s official tourism website.
2. Komodo National Park (Indonesia)
Though Komodo National Park’s celebrity inhabitants steal the show — it’s one of only five islands in the world where you can see Komodo dragons in the wild — the snorkeling here is not to be overlooked.
Being a World Heritage Site for more than 30 years, the reefs and islands of this Indonesia national park are heavily protected, giving their abundance of underwater life and corals a chance to flourish.
The area is also rich in nutrients, thanks to the cold water that flushes into the park from the Indian Ocean, keeping the marine life fed.
“You really know you’re in a different part of the world when you’re in Komodo,” says Coral Triangle Adventures’ Goldman.
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