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Snorkeling with kids: Top destinations for 2024

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Taking your kids on their first snorkeling adventure might sound daunting, especially if they are young or nervous, but imagine the joy on their faces when they discover the wonders of the ocean. It is a life-changing moment you won’t want to miss out on. Your kids will meet colorful marine life of all shapes and sizes, learn new skills for life, develop their confidence, and create treasured family memories with you.

From Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef to the abundant marine life of the USA, southeast Asia and Europe, there are accessible family snorkeling spots worldwide. It’s easy to add a day’s snorkeling to almost any beach vacation – or you can go all in and learn to scuba dive as well.

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But before you start exploring the ocean with your family, let’s delve into some essential safety tips and top snorkeling spots to ensure a secure and fun experience for you and your family this year.

Safety precautions when snorkeling with kids.

Before you embark on your snorkeling trip, it’s crucial to put safety first. Ensure that your kids are comfortable in the water and have basic swimming skills. Equip them with a properly fitting snorkel, masks and fins, which you can buy at your local dive center. Familiarize them with the equipment and practice using it, or better yet, learn how to snorkel properly with a Snorkel Diver course.

If you go snorkeling somewhere sunny, use reef-safe sunscreen or cover up with a rash vest and leggings. Always supervise your children in the water and check weather conditions, currents, and water visibility before you go. If that sounds like too much work for a busy family, book a guided snorkel tour instead. The local dive guides will know the best snorkel spots and will keep you and your family safe. After your adventure, get warm, hydrate, and refuel with some food.

So, now you’re ready to start exploring, here are our top family-friendly snorkeling destinations for 2024.

Top places to go snorkeling with your kids.

Manatees
Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

1. The Florida Keys, USA.

The Florida Keys are a haven for families looking for snorkeling adventures among vibrant coral gardens and lush seagrass beds. There are colorful fish, turtles, manatees, and even dolphins at this popular vacation spot. 

Great for beginners, the calm waters and abundant marine life make it a memorable destination. Visit during the dry season from November to April for ideal conditions. Summer water temperatures average 85°F (29°C), making it perfect for family snorkeling adventures.

There are plenty of family-friendly attractions on land, plus beautiful beaches to relax on. Accommodation options include resorts with kid-friendly amenities and beachfront access.

Costa Brava, Spain
Costa Brava, Spain
Photo by Michael Cadieux on Unsplash

2. Costa Brava, Spain.

Snorkeling at the Medes Islands, located off the Costa Brava coast, promises a fun day out for families. The crystal-clear waters surrounding these protected islands boast an abundance of marine life, from schools of fish to colorful sea anemones. Renowned for its underwater biodiversity, the Medes Islands offer a unique snorkeling experience, with the chance to encounter moray eels, octopuses, and even seahorses.

The summer months, particularly June to September, provide optimal visibility, with water temperatures ranging from 66°F to 75°F (19°C to 24°C). On land, enjoy Costa Brava’s medieval towns, local markets, and family-oriented festivals. Quaint coastal villas and family-friendly resorts cater to all family accommodation budgets.

Phi Phi Islands, Krabi, Thailand
Phi Phi Islands, Krabi, Thailand
Photo by M o e on Unsplash

3. Thailand. 

Snorkeling and diving in Thailand are on the wish lists of many ocean fans. It is one of the most affordable places in the world to learn to scuba dive and has magazine-worthy beaches and lush rainforests teeming with wildlife.

The vibrant coral reefs of Thailand’s Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand offer a kaleidoscope of marine wonders. Explore the crystal-clear waters surrounding Koh Phi Phi or the Surin Islands, where schools of tropical fish, majestic sea turtles, and colorful coral formations are the norm. At Richelieu Rock, you can swim with whale sharks.

With both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand to choose from, snorkeling in Thailand is great all year. The water is always toasty, from 79°F to 86°F (26°C to 30°C), creating a relaxing and unforgettable family snorkeling experience.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Photo by Yanguang Lan on Unsplash

4. Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

When it comes to top snorkeling destinations it’s hard to beat Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This remarkable reef system, which is large enough to be visible from space, is made up of nearly 3000 individual reefs. It is easy to access from many locations along the east coast, but most tours depart from Townsville, Airlie Beach, Port Douglas, and Cairns. Tour companies offer everything from half-day Great Barrier Reef snorkel tours to multiple-day adventures snorkeling with dwarf minke whales.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is teeming with marine wonders large and small. Imagine vibrant coral gardens, schools of tropical fish, humpback whales, and even a pink manta ray at Lady Elliot Island. The dry season from May to October offers the best conditions. 

If you visit the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, leave time afterwards to visit the nearby Daintree Rainforest (the oldest rainforest on Earth), meet the local saltwater crocodiles, and explore the pristine beauty of Cape Tribulation.

Kauai County, Hawaii
Kauai County, Hawaii
Photo by Braden Jarvis on Unsplash

5. Hawaii, USA.

For a snorkeling vacation in the tropics, head to Hawaii. This idyllic destination is rich in marine life, with around 25% of Hawaii’s marine species found nowhere else on Earth. With its turquoise waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life, it stands out as an unrivaled place to try snorkeling. 

Hawaii has sheltered bays and soft-sand beaches in abundance, making it an easy place to go snorkeling. For an adventurous experience, join a snorkeling tour to the Molokini Crater off the coast of Maui. This crescent-shaped volcanic crater is a marine sanctuary with coral gardens and an abundance of tropical fish, rays, and reef sharks. 

Molokini Crater, Maui
Molokini Crater, Maui, Hawaii
Photo by Farid Askerov on Unsplash

At Kona on the Big Island, you can go night snorkeling with manta rays. In this magical experience, you float in the water while manta rays gather and feed by the light of your torch. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is one of the Big Island’s top snorkeling spots and allows you to encounter charming sea turtles as they swim near the shore, feeding on algae in the rocky areas. 

Sataya Reef, Red Sea, Egypt
Red Sea, Egypt
Photo by Veronica Reverse on Unsplash

6. The Red Sea, Egypt.

If you want to experience something akin to diving in an aquarium, look no further than Egypt’s Red Sea. This famous dive destination is perfect for snorkelers as well and has rainbow-coloured coral reefs teeming with fish in every colour imaginable.

Soft corals abound in the Red Sea, creating multicolored reef landscapes, and at Sharm El Sheikh, there is easy snorkeling just a few paces from the shore. Take a day tour to Ras Mohamed National Park, where you’ll be immersed in warm, clear waters with exceptional coral reefs. Or visit Marsa Alam to swim with dolphins and dugongs, the gentle giants of the ocean. 

Back on land, Egypt has plenty of accommodation options for every budget and activities to keep your kids entertained all day long. 

So, in 2024, let the ocean become your family’s playground. Snorkeling with your kids is not just an adventure; it’s an opportunity to create lasting memories and do something new. Armed with our safety tips and top family-friendly destinations, you can make this year’s vacation truly special. Pack your bags, dive into the unknown, and enjoy exploring a whole new world. 

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About Author

Kathryn is a marine conservationist, a dive travel writer, and an award-winning author based in New Zealand. She is the author of No Damage and co-founder of the marine conservation cause Friends for Sharks

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