3. The Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
A friendly sea lion might pop over to say hello during your Galapagos snorkel.
Courtesy Jeff A. Goldberg/Natural Habitat Adventures
Unlike most spots on this list, snorkeling in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands doesn’t revolve around colorful coral and tropical fish.
This is the place to see big marine life — we’re talking sea lions, sharks, dolphins, turtles and even penguins.
Being the basis of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the Galapagos Islands offer snorkelers fascinating and unique mammals both on land and beneath the sea.
The islands’ remote location means that underwater wildlife are friendly and approachable — mainly because they don’t encounter humans all that often.
“There’s a good chance you’ll be approached by a playful sea lion or a group of turtles that will happily swim alongside you,” says Jim Sano, vice president of travel, tourism and conservation with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
4. The Coral Triangle (Asia Pacific)
Stretching from Eastern Borneo all the way across Bali, the Philippines, most of Indonesiaand the Solomon Islands, the Coral Triangle is the center of the world’s marine biodiversity.
It’s home to 75% of all known coral species in the world and encompasses 647 million hectares of land and sea.
What makes it so awesome for snorkelers is that you don’t have to go deep to check out the region’s 2,000 species of reef fish, which hang out just below the surface.
The region also nurtures six of the world’s seven marine turtle species.