Posted on December 06, 2021
As millions of people take some down time this month and many hit the ski slopes, others start planning ahead to their next warm weather vacation. That often means checking travel websites during your time off looking for locations and resorts. But what if you already own a timeshare or are thinking of buying a timeshare and you enjoy snorkeling?
This can narrow down your choices since not all snorkeling destinations have timeshares nearby. Some snorkel destinations are better than others, and as travel begins to open up again (Omicron notwithstanding) we take a fresh look at the best timeshare spots for snorkeling trip.
Since more vacationers snorkel than scuba dive due to the complexities and certification needed to scuba, we’ll focus on snorkel trips. That’s not saying you can’t scuba dive in these spots. Quite the opposite, as Grand Cayman and Cozumel in particular offer outstanding dive sites. It’s just that divers often look for a different vacation experience (like diving with sharks!?!) than the casual vacationer looking to slip on a mask and fins.
We’ll look at the places where you can either snorkel off the beach, from a boat or both. The spot may not be right at the resort but these locations are worth the effort.
So, let’s “jump” in.
An emerging vacation destination, the Central American country of Belize borders Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the south and west. Vacationers to Belize can access the Mesoamerican barrier reef, which is second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Just a few miles off the coast of Belize, nearly 500 fish species and dozens of soft and hard coral species call the reef home. You may even see manatees.
Ambergris Caye is the main resort destination, and you can head out to snorkel at spots such as Hol Chan Cut and Shark Ray Alley. These are accessible by boat, as are the vast majority of snorkel spots.
Belize Timeshare Resorts: Captain Morgan's Vacation Beach Club, SunBreeze Suites, Isla Bonita Yacht Club
Part of the ABC islands in the southern Caribbean (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), Bonaire has been a wonderful snorkeling and diving destination for decades with 350 species of fish and 55 species of soft and hard corals.
Visitors should keep to the leeward, western shoreline to snorkel as it is much more sheltered than the eastern side. Bonaire has marked snorkel spots with a yellow stone, so keep an eye out.
For top offshore destinations, try accessing the reef at Klein Bonaire, a small island about a 2/3 of a mile offshore.
Shoreline snorkelers can check out Karpata with its staghorn coral, the elkhorn coral at 1000 Steps or Te Amo Beach for beginners.
For those looking for an eastern spot, try the area of Lac Bay, which is a semi-enclosed bay with a shallow lagoon protected by a reef. You can enter from Sorobon Beach to see the staghorn coral or Lac Cai but the current tends to run stronger at Lac Cai.
Bonaire Timeshare Resort: Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino
This spectacular location along the Mexican Caribbean coast is renowned for its beaches, but you’ll need to be selective when looking for the best snorkel spots. Remember, anyone can put on a mask, snorkel and fins and swim off the beach, but will you actually see anything?
The town of Puerto Morelos, heading south between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, is a great spot with a protected offshore reef with coral and sea fans. Keep an eye out for spotted eagle rays and sea turtles along with angelfish and butterflyfish. However, you’ll need a boat to get to it, as with many of the top snorkel spots.
One of the most unusual destinations is the MUSA, considered an underwater museum with over 500 underwater sculptures and artwork across three offshore locations. Check out the Manchones Reef near Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc off Cancun.
Cancun Timeshare Resorts: Royal Islander, Royal Sands, Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort
The island of Cozumel is about 12 miles off the coast of Playa del Carmen and the Mexican Caribbean shoreline. Long known as a terrific dive spot with wall drift dives at 90ft deep, Cozumel has terrific snorkeling spots as well.
Snorkelers will need to stay on the western side of the island, which is the protected side facing the Mexican coast. The eastern side is the windward side exposed to the rougher sea conditions.
Head south from the main township of San Miguel and the main hotel zone to reach the spots such as Chankanaab Park. Easy entry into the water and the main reef is only about 300 yards offshore with the best sea life such as angelfish and anemonefish. Look out for the underwater bronze statues of the Virgin Mary and Christ.
Palancar Reef is further south and part of the Arrecifes de Cozumel Marine Park. Snorkelers can see tropical fish, rays and turtles, but you’ll need a boat and tours are on offer.
Closer to San Miguel, you’ll find Villablanca Reef which is near the ferry pier. You should see fish life near the sea fans and coral outcrops, but keep in mind the boat traffic and currents can make this a tricky spot to snorkel.
Cozumel Timeshare Resorts: Occidental Grand Cozumel, El Cid La Ceiba Cozumel, Coral Princess Club
This stretch of islands offers a number of spots for snorkelers ranging from Key Largo near the start through to Key West and beyond.
Is there a beyond past Key West? Yes, but you’ll need a boat or seaplane to get to the Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson. Original built following the War of 1812, Fort Jefferson was built as a place to monitor sea traffic into the Gulf of Mexico. Now, snorkelers can explore from three primary areas off the fort, either from the beach or off the moat wall.
Back on Key West, beach snorkelers can access Higgs Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor but keep in mind that visibility can be limited. The best options are boat trips to places like Sand Key Lighthouse and Cottrell Key.
Heading up into the middle Keys, check out Bahia Honda State Park and Pigeon Key. For Marathon visitors you’ll have options at Coffins Patch and Sombrero Reef. Vacationers staying on Islamorada have Alligator Reef Lighthouse, while Key Largo boasts the first undersea park in America at John Pennekamp State Park.
Timeshare Resorts in the Florida Keys: Coconut Mallory Marina and Resort (Key West), The Reef at Marathon Resort Club (Marathon), Caloosa Cove Resort (Islamorada)
One of the best destinations in the Caribbean for scuba diving and snorkeling, Grand Cayman hosts the spectacular Seven Mile Beach and some of the best wall dives in the world.
The western side of the island, where Seven Mile Beach is located, has most of the resorts and boat operators. Here you’ll have snorkel options such as The Wreck of the Cali, Cemetery Reef (towards the north end of the beach), and Coconut Harbor near the capital city of George Town.
Remember than even on the more protected side of the island, sea conditions can determine whether snorkeling off the beach is a good idea. Options such as Cheeseburger Reef, which is only 150 yards offshore and close to George Town, can seem closer than they really are and should probably be accessed by boat unless you are an experienced snorkeler.
The best part about Cheeseburger Reef is it sits in about 15 feet of water and has wonderful sea life with butterfly fish, sea turtles and snapper as the highlights.
The can’t miss snorkel attraction on Grand Cayman is Stingray City, located on a sandbar in the North Sound of the island. Accessible by boat, snorkelers can interact with dozens of stingrays in the wild in about four feet of water. The rays are used to spectators and come looking for squid that is offered by the boat captains during the tours.
Grand Cayman Timeshare Resorts: Seven Mile Beach Resort, Grand Caymanian Resort, Morritt's Grand Resort
The Emerald Isle of Hawaii has numerous beaches, but some of the best snorkeling spots near timeshare resorts are on the southern end of the island near Poipu Beach. The Poipu Beach Park offers smooth water, tide pools, sandy shores and sea life – a great spot for beginners and families.
Look for needlefish, baby unicornfish, butterflyfish and the always popular sea turtles. Keep an eye out for the monk seals lounging on the beach.
Other good spots in the vicinity are Lawai Beach and Koloa Landing to the west and a less-crowded, more out of the way area to the east known as Mahaulepu Beach.
Off-shore snorkel boats are also available where you may see bottlenose dolphins and maybe even whales on your way out to the reefs.
Timeshare Resorts on Kauai near Poipu: Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club, Diamond Resorts The Point at Poipu, Lawai Beach Resort
Looking at the area around Lahaina and famed Kaanapali Beach are a number of great snorkeling areas close to some of the best timeshare resorts in the country.
At the norther end of Kaanapali Beach sits Black Rock – known for the amazing cliff diving but also for great snorkeling. Look for a variety of tropical fish such as yellowfin, butterflyfish, parrotfish and even spotted eagle rays.
A few miles north of Kaanapali sits Kapalua Bay, with a great beach and easy access to the water. Snorkel to the right along the rocks and away from the beach to see the best marine life.
For offshore snorkel options, try boating out to Molokini Islet. The island is not habited, and you’ll see a number of fish and maybe even the elusive whale shark. It’s actually the edge of a volcanic crater and home to 250 species of fish and 38 coral species, with visibility as much as 150ft.
Timeshare Resorts on Maui near Kaanapali Beach: Diamond Resorts Kaanapali Beach Club, Marriott's Maui Ocean Club, Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas North.
Part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the island of St. John is two-thirds national park and offers a wonderful chance to explore a natural environment which hasn’t been overrun by tourism.
One of the top spots to snorkel is scenic Trunk Bay, which has a 673-foot-long snorkel trail that you can access from the shoreline. The trail features underwater signs pointing you along the way with fish and coral in about 20 ft deep water.
Other snorkel spots include Haulover North, on a more remote part of the eastern side of the island which sits alongside the Virgin Islands National Park. Check the weather forecast since this spot can be a bit challenging if the conditions are less than ideal.
Places such as Henley Cay and Waterlemon Cay either need a boat or a bit of a hike to reach, but the corals and tropical fish are terrific.
St John Timeshare Resorts: Westin St John, Sunset Ridge Villas, Grande Bay Residence Club
We’ve noted some of the best snorkeling areas with timeshare resorts in mind but there are obviously other amazing snorkeling destinations around the world. The Great Barrier Reef along Australia’s east coast immediately comes to mind but there are others in southern Asia, the islands of the Pacific and even the Red Sea.
If you’ve heard of a great snorkeling or scuba diving spot and wonder if there are timeshares nearby, contact us here to ask your question or call 877-624-6889 for more details.