Did you know that people have been snorkeling since 3,000 BC? Luckily, the snorkels we use today are much more advanced than the hollow reeds the Greeks used back then.
The U.S. coasts and its territories are full of great snorkeling destinations. We have compiled a list of the best resorts to stay at for your next snorkeling adventure. Some of the best snorkeling destinations are national parks where no lodging can be constructed, but we will point you in the right direction for hotels close by.
Here is our list of the best resorts for snorkeling from the Virgin Islands to the West Coast and everywhere in between. (Read to the end to see our number-one pick!)
The Gulf of Mexico
#25: Getaway Lodge at Port Mansfield
When you think of underwater adventure, you probably don’t think of the “Lone Star State,” but Texas is a surprisingly great snorkel destination! Laguna Madre Estuary sits where the Rio Grande meets the Gulf of Mexico. This snorkeling location is full of speckled trout, smooth butterfly rays, and sleeper gobies. Keep an eye out for songbirds flying around too. Stay at the Getaway Lodge nearby for a great restaurant and access to fishing destinations.
#24: Lush Resort at Possum Kingdom Lake
This vibrant lodge offers lakeside access to one of Texas’ most unique state parks. If you thought snorkeling was only an ocean activity, Possum Kingdom will prove you wrong. Swim near the dam for the clearest water views. Explore sheer rock walls with caves and cutouts. When you’re done with your day of snorkeling, head back to Lush Resort for dinner at the Lush Bar & Grill.
#23: Baileys Harbor Yacht Club Resort
Want to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities? Visit Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin for a tranquil town and a freshwater snorkeling experience. Lake Michigan is home to over 1,500 shipwrecks waiting for you to see them. Stay on the water at Baileys Harbor Yacht Club for two pools, grilling stations, and in-room kitchenettes.
#22: Turkey Holler Bed & Breakfast
If you’re looking for a unique inland snorkeling experience, Bonne Terre Mine is the place to go. When this lead mine near St. Louis Missouri was depleted, groundwater trickled in to fill the lower three levels of the five-level mine. The resort owners installed lights that now provide visibility of up to 100 feet deep. Go for a swim to discover rock arches, pillars, and abandoned mining carts and equipment. While in Bonne Terre, stay at Turkey Holler Bed & Breakfast for a rustic experience.
#21: Hampton Inn Bourbonnais Kankakee
If you want to experience a different abandoned mine, check out Haigh Quarry in Kankakee, Illinois. This abandoned limestone quarry was purchased in the 70s and remodeled into a pool when the new owner filled it with spring water. Naturally, schools of bass, pike, and catfish came to inhabit the area. For a close and affordable stay, look no further than Hampton Inn Bourbonnais Kankakee. This hotel offers an indoor pool, free wifi, and complimentary breakfast.
#20: Hotel Beatnik
Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi is a great place to go snorkeling in the Gulf. Discover grassy beds full of tropical fish and sunken shipwrecks. If you choose to dive, you can find the remains of the USS Massachusetts battleship just 1.5 miles outside of Pensacola Pass. Staying at Beatnik will give you a modern experience with floating cabins and outdoor showers.
#19: Hyatt Residence Club Key West, Beach House
This show-stopping resort is located in the Florida Keys. It’s stationed right on the beach and is just a boat ride away from Dry Tortugas National Park. This proximity makes Hyatt Residence Club a great choice for a snorkeling destination.
#18: TownePlace Suites by Marriott Miami Homestead
TownePlace Suites is located in Homestead, Florida, just south of Miami. This is the best place to stay if you’re hopping the pond over to Biscayne National Park. Biscayne is the home of Elliott Key, an island that was formerly the home of a pioneer community dedicated to pineapple farming, sponging, and wrecking. Not far from Elliott Key sits the Mandalay Wreck. Take the shallow dive to explore the ship that sank in 1966.
#17: Coconut Cove Resort and Marina
Before we move on from Florida, we can’t miss the opportunity to talk about Key Largo. There is plenty to see here, but the most notable is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This is the first designated underwater park in the U.S. Its main draw is not its marine sanctuary or Molasses Reef but a statue of Jesus. Known as Christ of the Abyss, the 4,000-pound statue stands with open arms 25 feet below the surface. Stay at Coconut Cove for a pool with a waterfall, access to the beach, and world-renowned views of the sunrise and sunset.
The West and West Coast
#16: Homestead Resort
The most landlocked destination on our list is Utah’s Homestead Crater. This geothermal hot spring in Midway, Utah, is an hourglass-shaped rock structure with opportunities to swim, scuba dive, or snorkel. If you are scuba-certified or interested in taking lessons, you will be interested to know that this is the only warm scuba destination in the Continental U.S. If you don’t want to scuba dive, you can rent a snorkel or bring your own to watch divers reach the 65-foot depths. Stay on the same property by lodging at Homestead Resort.
#15: Channel Islands Inn & Suites
The Channel Islands are a national park off the coast of Oxnard, California. Anacapa Island and the other islands provide some of the best snorkeling on the West Coast. Stay at the Channel Islands Inn & Suites just three miles from the beach for access to the resort’s pool and pool table.
#14: Bellanca Hotel
Stay at Bellanca Hotel for beach access to Avalon Bay. Catalina Island has a beautiful kelp forest just off its coast. If the bustling crowds can make it difficult to enjoy, consider taking a kayak over to one of the quieter coves nearby. You can even coordinate a tour with Bellanca Hotel to find great snorkeling spots farther out into the ocean. Remember to bring a wetsuit because the west coast water can be pretty chilly.
#13: Terramor Outdoor Resort
Terramor sits just outside Acadia National Park in Maine. Although Acadia is not the first place many people think to go snorkeling, Acadia offers a unique experience. Explore tidal pools near the shore or head out farther to discover copper sweepers, red sponges, and even moray eels. Maine’s water is cold year-round so make sure you have a wetsuit. Be cautious as you snorkel off this rocky shore.
#12: Ballard’s Beach Resort
If you’re a fan of the Northeast, Rhode Island’s Block Island is a great place to snorkel. This location has clearer water than the surrounding region, several reefs, and a warm Gulf Stream that welcomes tropical fish. Surf Beach is the best place to snorkel because that’s where most fish hang out. The rocks will also protect you from strong waves. Stay nearby at Ballard's Beach Resort for beach access, summer music festivals, and VIP cabanas.
#11: Hyatt Place Atlanta / Centennial Park
Did you know you can snorkel at the Georgia Aquarium? Take a dip in the largest aquarium in the U.S. to interact with manta rays, whale sharks, and more. While you dive with several guides, your friends and family can watch you from the exhibit windows. The aquarium’s temperature control makes this a great option for snorkeling in the winter. If the aquarium is the focal point of your visit to Georgia, you might as well stay across the street at Hyatt Place Atlanta / Centennial Park. This modern hotel offers a rooftop pool, an exercise gym, and a complimentary breakfast.
#10: Lighthouse View Oceanfront Lodging
If you want a family-friendly snorkeling option, consider Hatteras Island in North Carolina. The calm waters of the shallow Pamlico Sound make it a great place for kids to snorkel. Discover plenty of fish and numerous sunken ships around the Outer Banks. Enjoy a large pool and beachfront access when you stay at Lighthouse View Oceanfront Lodging.
#9: Turtle Bay Resort
Most of O’ahu’s resorts are in Waikiki, but Waikiki doesn’t have much to offer in terms of snorkeling. If snorkeling is the focus of your trip, head to Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore. This resort offers connections for golfing, surfing, horseback riding, and more.
#8: Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton
Hawaii is full of snorkeling destinations. Ho’okena Beach Park on the Big Island is a great place to look for dolphins and sea turtles, among other sea creatures. This area is less polluted with surfing and other recreational activities than other parts of Hawaii. Stay at the waterfront Grand Naniloa for easy access to the ocean and an exclusive golf course.
#7: Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa
Maui is known for being a place to slow down and relax. While O’ahu has tourist destinations like Waikiki and Pearl Harbor, Maui attracts a crowd that wants to kick back in a lounge chair on the beach. While you’re staying at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, take a day trip over to Coral Gardens or discover the rich history of Molokini Crater, a protected crescent atoll.
#6: Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu
This resort is located right by Kauai’s most popular snorkeling spot, Poipu Beach. This south shore destination is known for its Nukumoi Point, a narrow stretch of land that separates two bays and connects to a small island. Experience it for yourself! While staying at Koloa Landing Resort, visit the spa or take a dip in its 350,000-gallon main pool.
#5: Gallows Point Resort
If you are traveling to St. John, Gallows Point Resort is a great place to stay. With yoga classes, massages, and a large pool, this resort provides much more than just snorkeling for entertainment. Gallows Point is located on its own 5-acre peninsula surrounded by a gorgeous reef so guests have easy access to some of the best snorkeling on the island, right from the property! In addition, the resort is not far from other fantastic snorkeling destinations on St. John like Leinster Bay, Haulover Bay, and Hurricane Hole.
#4: Suite Villas
On the other side of the island in St. John, you will find Suite Villas. Trunk Bay rests just down the road from this resort. The colorful fan coral makes this a stunning destination to explore. Plaques along an underwater path give even inexperienced snorkelers direction and an opportunity to learn about the wildlife. When you aren’t snorkeling, take a breath and enjoy the scenic views from your hotel room.
#3: Secret Harbour Beach Resort in St. Thomas
Save time by snorkeling from the beach at Secret Harbour. This resort offers some of the best and most convenient snorkeling on the island. Secret Harbour is located on the same end of the island as other popular snorkel spots like Christmas Cove, Coki Beach, Lindquist Beach, and Sapphire Bay. This is the place to be for great snorkeling.
#2: Caribe Hilton
If you want to go snorkeling in Puerto Rico, San Juan is the place to do it. This city is the capital of Puerto Rico, so it has plenty of activities to keep you busy. Just outside of the city you will find Balneario El Escambron, a public beach with a coral reef to explore off the shore. The Caribe Hilton in San Juan offers an oceanfront pool, hammocks, and proximity to historic San Juan.
#1: El Conquistador Resort
There is no end to the snorkeling opportunities in Puerto Rico. The best resort for snorkeling on this list is El Conquistador, located near Laguna Grande and Faro Las Cabezas de San Juan. Laguna Grande is one of Puerto Rico’s three bioluminescent bays, and it is almost completely landlocked. The bay has a blue glowing effect that is created by microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates activating a defense mechanism. Take a kayak through the water or go snorkeling to experience the magic.
There you have it – the top 25 resorts for snorkeling! Where are you going this summer? Let us know if we missed a hidden gem!