The five most amazing snorkeling locations on the planet

by Paul Kent

Snorkeling may not have the allure and adventure connected with scuba diving, but what it lacks in sexy black neoprene and pretending you're Darth Vader, it compensates for in its assortment of fish. From the largest sharks to the tiniest sea slug; donning your mask, snorkel and fins is often the simplest way to experience the underwater world.

From having led snorkeling tours I know that it is in those first couple of meters of water where you find the colour, coral and characters that makes the ocean such a remarkable place to explore. Bathed in light, it is like being on the surface of an interactive aquarium that is just as interested in you as you are of it.

Here are the most unique snorkeling locations on the globe.

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Stretching more than 2,600kms down Queensland's East Coast lies the most famous reef system in the world. From cheeky clown fish peaking out from their anemones to swimming with inquisitive dwarf minke whales, the 'GBR ' offers something for everyone. Easily accessed for each age and ability, a visit to Queensland truly is not complete without a glance at some of the most varied sea life on the planet.

The Kona Coast, Hawaii

Found on the Big Island, the Kona Coast supports some of the most varied and wonderful marine life found anywhere in the Americas. With resident dolphins, regular visits from manta rays and a stunning coral and exotic fish population, it suggests more than one trip under the waves is on the cards. A night snorkel in Kona with manta rays is an experience you will be hard pressed to forget.

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Over on the west coast of Australia lies a remote stretch of reef that provides spotless coral, no crowds and the biggest fish in the sea: the whale shark. As Whale sharks are not fans of bubbles it is solely by snorkeling that we are able to experience these amazing giants.

The Galapagos, Ecuador

In contrast to the barren landscape of the islands, outside the shore there is abundant life just under the waterline. Unafraid of humans, sea lions happily swim up to visitors as marine iguanas glide past. This is the only place on the planet where snorkelers can safely swim with hammerhead sharks and see the captivating penguin burst past at superfast speed.

New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Sometimes human intervention can actually offer an opportunity for sea life to prosper. Although most wrecks are found in deeper water, in the New Britain province of PNG, WWII wrecks can be experienced close to shore in just a few meters of wonderfully clear water. Fighter planes, bombers and Japanese boats litter the floor and provide life even as instruments of war and destruction.

Although snorkeling may not push the boundaries of equipment or experience, it nevertheless offers the most thrilling underwater experiences. So be certain to always pack a mask and snorkel, because you never can say what may be prowling just under the surface.

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