To snorkel the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas is to enter a pristine world where the hub-bub of modern life is erased by the vivid glories of the ocean. Sleek angelfish glimmer as they dart among stands of vibrant coral. Blue holes, as brilliant as they are deep, seem to defy nature. And it’s all within reach of the residences at Margaritaville Beach Resort, Nassau, Bahamas.
Whether a passion for snorkeling is in your blood or you’re donning a mask for the very first time, we’ve selected the most memorable experiences around Nassau to help you expand your horizon by revealing the beauty below it.
Rose Island Reef
Just east of Nassau is the secluded and beautiful Rose Island. The island is a popular spot for trips and day tours because it is just a 20-minute boat ride from Nassau, yet it gives you the opportunity to enjoy secluded coves and uninhabited beaches.
Rose Island is surrounded by a vibrant reef that is also very shallow, which makes it the ideal place to snorkel. You don’t have to worry about holding your breath or heading down deep underwater in order to get a great view of marine life. Rose Island Reef boasts countless schools of colorful fish as well as two shipwrecks that you can explore.
One of the best things about Rose Island is that you can easily enjoy a few hours or a full day there even if you don’t snorkel. Head in and out of the water at your leisure and kickback on the sandy shoreline in between snorkeling sessions.
Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park
If snorkeling is a priority, then it is worth taking a day trip to Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park. This 176-square-mile area is located south of Nassau and is only accessible by boat or by seaplane. Although it is a little out of the way, it is well worth the journey.
Once you’re there, you’re free to explore the pristine waters and beaches. The reef here is thriving, and both the coral and limestone are healthy and attract all types of fish, plant life, and marine animals.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, then you might love Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park because it boasts a number of blue holes, caves, and even grottoes. There were even two James Bond movies, Never Say Never Again and Thunderball, that were filmed at Thunderball Grotto within the park.
This spot is also a good choice if you are part of a group that wants to snorkel and scuba dive on the same day, because the area is ideal for both water activities.
Gambier Deep Reef
When you’re snorkeling, you need to find reefs that are relatively shallow. Otherwise, you’ll be too far away from the reef to truly see all the fish and marine life that call the reef home.
However, the Gambier Deep Reef is one exception to the rule. Just nine miles away from Nassau, the Gambier Deep Reef boasts depths of over 80 feet. Fortunately, the reef also offers coral formations just under the surface of the water. This allows snorkelers to see a vibrant underwater seascape with ease and it also means that free divers can do even more exploring if desired.
Coral Reef Sculpture Garden
Arguably one of the most fascinating places to snorkel in all of The Bahamas is actually not a natural reef at all. The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation opened the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden as a way to educate snorkelers about reef preservation and to draw visitors away from some of the more popular reef spots in the region.
The result is a truly incredible, one-of-a-kind experience that combines art and underwater adventure.
The artificial reef attracts fish and other marine life, so there is plenty to see as you snorkel. There are even designated snorkel trails, which makes it easy to navigate the area without worrying about getting too far out to sea.
Best of all, the coral reef sculpture garden is home to some fantastic sculptures that are slowly becoming part of the artificial reef. You won’t be able to miss Ocean Atlas, which happens to be the largest underwater sculpture in the entire world.
Goulding Cay Reef
To snorkel in what is ranked as one of the top shallow water snorkeling destinations in the world, be sure to check out the reef at Goulding Cay. Just off the western coast of the island, this reef is one of the most conveniently located spots to do some epic snorkeling.
The reef itself is made up primarily of elkhorn coral, and it is teeming with brightly colored tropical fish. Goulding Cay is shallow enough that you can take in all the underwater sights with ease right from the surface. It’s also family friendly, and it is just as popular with children as it is with adults.
School House Reef
If you’ve ever seen photos of a reef near Nassau, there’s a good chance it was taken by someone at School House Reef. As part of the Great Bahama Bank, it is home to stunning coral reef gardens, and the terrain is a mixed array of rocky outcroppings and fascinating coral heads. You can spot sponges and hundreds of varieties of fish.
Because of the diversity of School House Reef, this also happens to be a top spot for underwater photographers. The reef here can go down to 20 feet, which is a little deeper than a typical snorkeling spot. Nonetheless, it is such a beautiful destination that even snorkelers find it to be well worth the visit.
Nassau is for Snorkelers
In Nassau, you’ll have a staggering array of places to snorkel thanks to the beautiful clear waters and environmental makeup of the area. Whether you want to snorkel right off the coast or you’re gearing up for a day trip by boat, you’ve got lots of options. You could even snorkel among a shipwreck or with sharks!
Sometimes, you have to go vertical to see what you’re missing. From shallow, sun-warmed idylls to mysterious hidden grottos, The Bahamas continually rewards those who take the plunge.