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From Indonesia to Thailand and the Philippines, Southeast Asia is home to some of the world’s best snorkeling spots. These places offer you the chance to duck beneath the crystal-clear waves and explore an ever-changing landscape of colorful corals, inquisitive turtles and exotic marine life. See for yourself what mystical underwater treasures are in these top snorkeling spots in Southeast Asia.
The Palawan Islands are one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines, and for good reason. The waters surrounding this spectacular nature reserve and heritage site are teeming with marine life, surrounded by a lush landscape of rainforests, mountains, karst cliffs and hidden beaches. Go island hopping at Honda Bay and discover a majestic display of islets and reefs that are filled with various sea creatures that come in all colors and shapes, while Tubbataha Reef National Park is home to the more beautiful coral reefs in the world.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Among the world’s best snorkeling sites, Raja Ampat is a remote location in Indonesia that offers a range of habitats where you’ll discover marine life just a few feet underwater. Lined with resorts that offer snorkeling opportunities right from your front door, take a trip around the various islands to discover blue water mangroves and a marine area that boasts over 2,000 species of reef fish, 600 species of coral reef and seven different types of sea turtles.
Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand
A set of three islands connected by two strips of white coral sand, Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand features a beach that reveals itself at low tide and disappears under the clear water when it rises. Dotted by three lagoons filled with blue that comes in an array of shades, perfect for a tranquil day of snorkeling in the sunshine. Its postcard-perfect landscapes is lined with granite rocks where you’ll discover clownfish in their anemones, butterflyfish, clams and shoals of parrotfish.
If you’ve ever wanted to get face to face with the largest fish in the world, visit Oslob in the Philippines to see whale sharks up close. The mythical giants can be found swimming along the island of Cebu, and the tiny village of Oslob is your best choice in seeing them. Growing up to 50 feet, swimming alongside these creatures is a bucket list experience and certainly an adventure you won’t soon forget. You can also participate in shark feeding and explore the area’s beautiful coral reefs.
Offering some of the best snorkeling and diving in Southeast Asia, Phu Quoc in Vietnam is a tropical destination that is home to a collection of small islands. Its vibrant ecosystem lure in water enthusiasts around the world with its shallow waters and vibrant marine life. Head to Nudibranch Garden for colorful creatures and 2,300 different types of nudibranchs, a unique type of mollusc. Other types of marine life you might observe on Phu Quoc is bamboo sharks, dugongs and cuttlefish.
Bunaken Islands, Indonesia
The Bunaken Islands in Indonesia is home to Bunaken Island National Marine Park, which includes five small islands that are considered hotspots for snorkeling enthusiasts. Its gorgeous coral formations are alive with hundreds of fish species teeming with marine life. There is a one-mile long reef fringing the island’s southeastern shore, where you can don a mask and flippers and explore the multicolored forest of fish, from butterflyfish to trumpetfish, huge porcupine fish in addition to sea turtles. The angelfish is the most colorful species found here, a photogenic creature often seen around the reef flats.
Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
A cluster of small islands about 12 miles off the Northeast coast of Malaysia, Perhentian Islands has two main islands, the Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. You can take snorkeling tours around the big and small islands to get the most out of your snorkeling excursion, while a designated marine park also features a vibrant display of underwater marine life. You’ll have fun spotting the orange and black striped “Nemo” fish, sea turtles and harmless reef sharks.
The crystal clear waters that surround Koh Rong in Cambodia make it a hotspot for snorkeling, where you’ll have up-close interactions with sergeant fish, seahorses, parrotfish, diamond fish and blue-spotted ribbontail rays. You can walk along the rocky ocean areas or take a day trip to explore several points along Saracen Bay and Koh Koun just off Sanloem’s coast with one of the local snorkeling tours, as the island’s visibility makes it easy to spot a range of sea life.
Ko Tao, Thailand
Offering a diverse landscape for lazy days and snorkeling adventures, Ko Tao, Thailand is home to vibrant corals, colorful clams and diverse schools of fish. Its crystal clear waters are clear and shallow and are a breeding ground for hawksbill and green turtles. Head to Tanote Bay for angelfish and butterfly fish or Aow Leuk for clownfish and lionfish, while the Japanese Gardens are perfect for first-time snorkelers with its sandy shallows. To see friendly black tip reef sharks head to Shark Bay.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Gili Islands is home to three small islands in Indonesia, fringed by white sand beaches and colorful coral reefs. It’s one of the best snorkeling spots in Southeast Asia, offering swimmers the chance to get up close to turtles hanging out just a few feet from the beach. While swimming with the turtles is the main attraction on the island, there are plenty of chances to witness other marine life, such as parrotfish and angelfish, in its soft and hard corals.
Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Surrounded by crystal clear waters, Komodo National Park in Indonesia is not only home to the famous Komodo Dragons but it is also a great place to enjoy an afternoon of snorkeling. Its unique biodiversity and marine life reveals one of the most pristine and untouched coral reefs in the world, where just a few feet under the surface of the sea you can spot reef shelves filled with large groupers and over 70 species of sponges, in addition to anthias and fusiliers.