Short answer, definitely yes! Without a doubt. 

Why is Raja Ampat worth the long haul flights from the Americas and Europe? Well, it just so happens that Raja holds the world’s most biodiverse marine life, including the most species of coral and tropical fish. For five years I spent six months a year living on a boat diving and snorkeling Raja Ampat and I still feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of the area. With over 600 islands and who knows how many reefs  you could quite literally spend years exploring the area and still find new things. Not only that, but it’s supremely beautiful both above and below the waters surface. Here’s a little break down of what I most look forward to about snorkeling in Raja Ampat and reasons why Raja is totally worth the jet lag. 

5.   The Islands

many of Indonesian islands

The islandscape is really like something from another world, especially when viewed from above where you can get the full perspective of intricate network of little lagoons and reefs. 

4.  Piers or Jetties

School of fish swirling around pier pilings

Whether you are in the north or south of Raja Ampat there will always be a jetty or pier to snorkel around. What’s so special about these wood structures? They act as a unique safe haven for marine life and the older piers will have a surprising amount of coral encrusting the vertical pilings which only adds to the beauty and uniqueness of this snorkeling experience. 

 3.  Mangroves

There are very few places in the world where you can snorkel around the mangroves and actually enjoy the it. Most mangroves systems are in silty bays and estuaries where the visibility is not much further than the tip of your nose. Raja is unique as it has several mangrove forests that offer phenomenal snorkeling around the arching mangrove roots in clear blue water and a healthy reef beneath the canopy. 

 2.  Mantas

many mantas feeding on the surface

Manta rays are the ocean’s most charismatic ocean resident and it’s not uncommon to encounter these large plankton eating rays while snorkeling in Raja. In fact it’s quite likely as Raja has a very healthy manta population as it’s the world’s first manta sanctuary keeping them well protected. What’s more is that Raja Ampat  is one of the only places in the world where it’s possible to see both species of manta ray, the ocean mantas with their fifteen to twenty foot wing span and the slightly smaller reef mantas with their measly ten to fifteen foot wingspan. 

1.  Reefs

snorkeler swimming through overhang in reef

Since Raja Amapt is the record holder for most species of coral it should come as no surprise when you first dip your face beneath the water’s surface and see the overwhelming beauty and diversity of the reefs. The reefs are teeming with life and in a lot of places reach right up to the surface so for those that like shallow reefs you’ll be able to get your fill no problem!

Snorkeling with the aid of a liveaboard boat has become increasingly popular over the years. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this type of snorkeling, allow me to explain. A liveaboard is a large boat built and equipped for the sole purpose of taking people snorkeling. Not only that, but it also functions as a sort of floating resort. They boats are large, usually one hundred feet or more, and will have enough space for each couple to have their own  air conditioned cabin and ensuite bathroom. A restaurant or dining area is also something you’ll find on board as well as indoor/outdoor lounging areas and sun decks for those of you who are working on that perfect tan. Many liveaboards will have even have their own camera room. You will by no means be roughing it should you choose the liveaboard option for your snorkeling holiday. 

Amira Liveaboard sailing

Why would someone choose a liveaboard over a resort? Well, it depends a bit on the location, but certain snorkeling destinations have reefs that are just not accessible from the land based resorts. Belize  wold be a great examples of when a liveaboard would be a good option for your snorkeling safari as the barrier reef in Belize is not only far from the mainland, at least an hour by speed boat, but also because the reef is so extensive you’ll only be seeing a small portion of this fantastic reef system. With a liveaboard you’ll be able to cruise to the next site in comfort and dry cloths while enjoying a nice meal, or taking a siesta in your private cabin. 

Cayman Aggressor V Cabin
Deluxe Stateroom, Cayman Aggressor V

Yes, despite the large size of the vessels there will be a bit of rocking compared to the stability of a land based resort. However, if you take the proper precautions and wear one of those patches or take the necessary anti sea-sickness tablets before you jump onboard then all will be well. Before I joined Snorkel Venture I lived and worked full time on a liveaboard in Indonesia for five years and I can tell you for certain that those that knew they were prone to motion sickness or even thought there was the slightest chance of getting it, and came prepared had no noticeable effects from the motion of the ocean.

In short snorkeling via liveaboard can be an absolutely amazing and novel experience. There is nothing like waking up to see the sun rise from aboard a luxurious boat and knowing that the only effort you’ll have to make in order to get to the areas best reefs is to simply jump off the back of the boat. On top of that, after each snorkel session you’ll have a nice hot shower and an awesome meal is the icing on the cake. Actually let me take that back, the real icing on the cake is watching the sun dip below the blue horizon after an incredible day in the water while sipping your cold beverage of choice as the boat makes it’s way to the next day’s remote location. 

Jacuzzi on top deck of Roatan Aggressor V

Finding the best reefs for snorkeling may seem a bit daunting considering how much ocean is out there. Or, it may seem relatively simple considering over seventy percent of the earth is ocean. Despite the amount of salt water on our planet, shallow coral reef’s are in relatively short supply and can really only be found on a narrow belt that extends just a bit above and below the equator. Now, just because you you decide to go for a swim within this tropical beltway doesn’t mean that every inch of coastline is covered in coral reefs. There’s still a lot more that goes into the ongoing productivity of coral reefs beyond geographic location. Rather than get into the specifics if it, I’ll just go ahead and point out where the best reefs suitable for snorkeling can be found. 

Aerial view of exposed coral reef

Caribbean: Belize, Cuba, Honduras, and Cayman Islands

Caribbean is easily one of the most iconic tropical destinations in the world and with seven-thousand islands to choose from it’s hard to know where the best snorkeling may be. While the Caribbean as a whole doesn’t have the staggering diversity of marine life that the Indo-Pacific does, both Belize and Cuba really do offer some truly exceptional snorkeling. Not to mention a whole lot closer if you are coming from North or South America! 

Belize is actually home to the second largest barrier reefs in the world which seemingly offers endless shallow reefs full of purple sea fans, hard coral, and tube sponges in crystal clear waters. Larger marine life like nurse sharks, groupers, and turtles are also prevalent in this vast reef system. 

Where Cuba is concerned, the best snorkeling can be found sixty miles off the of this iconic island in a protected marine reserve known as La Jardines De La Reina, or The Garden of the Queen. Here there are over 250 coral and mangrove islands ripe with marine life! 



tropical fish on coral reef with boat above

Like the Caribbean, the Philippines is one of those iconic tropical destinations. For those that have yet to visit this island nation, the mention of the Philippines typically conjures images of a horizon dotted with tropical islands fringed by white sand beaches and endless coral reefs. Those that have been would generally agree with this description. 

The Philippines is located at the very north of the Coral Triangle, and as a result of this unique geographic location, it boasts some of the world’s richest and most diverse reefs.  The reefs do tend to start a little bit deeper in certain locations, five-to fifteen feet on average, but they are visually stunning in the clear blue water. 


Palau is one of those places that has been visited for years and years by divers and as a dive destinations typically ranks among one of the best in the world.  Now, as the snorkel travel trend grows, Palau is quickly making a name for itself as an exceptional snorkeling destination as well. While Palau is not technically within the boundaries of the infamous Coral Triangle, it’s close enough to reap most of the benefits in that it has an dizzying amount of coral and marine life, not to mention a healthy manta and shark population. 


reflection of coral reef on the surface

Indonesia really reigns supreme where reefs are concerned. Like the Philippines, Indonesia is located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, but on the magical triangle’s southern border where it benefits from the southern ocean’s nutrient rich waters. Not only do these cold currents coming from the south keep Indonesia’s reefs safe from bleaching, but they also give the reef systems and marine life a little something extra because these reefs house the world’s largest number of coral species as well as individual species of fish. If you really want the best of the best for tropical reef snorkeling, you really can’t beat locations like Komodo, Raja Ampat, Bunaken, Wakatobi, or Alor.