Snorkeling offers the chance to experience a new world full of beauty, mysterious creatures and possibilities. From encountering exotic aquatic life to exploring one of the millions of shipwrecks lying on the ocean floor, an exciting world awaits under the sea. Whether you’re a novice or half mermaid, get your flippers ready for these snorkeling adventures.

Snorkeling for beginners

Just dipping your toes in the water? There are plenty of destinations around the world that offer glimpses of underwater “treasures” for snorkelers who choose to simply take it all in while floating on the water’s surface. The calm, clear waters of the Bahamas and Hawaii welcome millions or snorkelers each year.

Molokai, Hawaii’s fifth largest island and home to a 30-mile “fringing reef,” offers snorkeling from the shore or by boat, which allows access to the island’s best dive sites. Snorkel Molokai offers day trips for people of all ages and experience levels. A 20-minute boat ride whisks you away to the upper reef where you will see a variety of tropical fish, coral structures and other wildlife. A short jaunt to a second dive site takes you into areas in which you just might spot a sea turtle, Hawaiian monk seal, octopus or manta ray.

Bonus: You can hear the whales “singing” to each other from December through March in Molokai.

While many islands in the Caribbean boast a stingray city, Stingray City in the Cayman Islands is a special spot for unusual experiences. The shallow, clear water (less than five feet deep) is home to more than 50 stingrays. Guests are invited to swim safely among the gentle giants that weigh an average of 150 pounds and are approximately five feet in width.

Ready for adventure

If you’re a fish out of water, why not snorkel in the Galapagos Islands? There are several sites that offer the chance to experience large marine life, including sea lions, sharks, dolphins and even penguins. These animals are curious and not used to humans, so they may just join you for a swim.

The underwater caves of the Yucatan Peninsula in Cancun also are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While there’s swimming involved, most of the sightseeing is done overhead. Rio Secreto’s underground river leads adventurers through caves dripping with stalactites and deeps pools where the clearance is no more than a few inches. The nature reserve offers tours for groups of 10 that include all the equipment and the promise of an unforgettable experience.

And, for underwater explorers in search of some national treasures, check out the History Channel’s 6 Famous Shipwrecks Still Waiting to be Discovered.

Safety tips

Regardless of the destination, keep a few tips in mind to ensure your experience is enjoyable. Make sure your equipment fits to avoid a fogging mask or blistered feet from fins that are too tight or loose. Practice breathing in and out of your snorkel in a pool or calm beach; it may take a while to get used to breathing through a snorkel with your face in the water. And, while it’s possible to go under water with the entire snorkel tube, remember to first take a deep breath, block the air tube with your tongue and don’t breathe while completely immersed.

Finally, don’t forget to respect the environment. Leave everything untouched so we can enjoy the beauty of the sea for years to come.

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