The group met for dinner on the first evening, after arriving in Bali and checking into the airport hotel. We shared a delicious traditional Balinese meal, served family-style while getting to know each other a little. As expected, people were tired from the long journey and jetlag so we went to bed early.

The following morning we reconvened in the lobby and met a local English speaking guide who accompanied us (and our luggage) to a waiting bus. As we drove through Bali, towards Uluwatu, he told us about the local people and customs and about the historical and religious significance of the beautiful places we were to visit that morning.

First stop was Uluwatu Temple- a traditional style- old Hindu temple, built on the edge of a high cliff, with spectacular views of the ocean down below. We also got to watch some local kids who were there practicing playing their musical instruments and dancing. So sweet. We went in search of some Macaque monkeys as we did not immediately see them around.

Uluwatu temple and ocean cliff

We then returned to the bus and went to the GWK park, a government cultural and tourist park on the way back to the airport. It is most well known for the 263m statue of Lord Vishnu on the back of his Garuda (eagle). It is a magnificent sight.

Upon return to the airport, we received packed lunch from the guide before leaving to check in for our onward flight to Kupang. Here we transferred to the hotel to check-in, and meet in the restaurant for a well deserved cold beer and a few giggles before dinner, and bed.

This meant by the next morning we were all feeling well-rested and fresh and knew each other a little better so the real fun could begin. A short transfer and flight later, we were on our way to Alami Alor resort. Located on the eastern island of Alor, the drive took about an hour and gave us a chance to take in the scenery.

Upon arrival at the resort, we were met by some of the friendliest staff, who quickly figured out who was who and which bags belonged to each of us, before taking the bags to our rooms for us. The rooms are individual bungalows, well-paced from each other for privacy, built on the rocky shore of the island, with large private verandas, partially outdoor garden bathrooms, huge beds and spectacular views over the bay and surrounding volcanoes.

After settling in we met in the communal lounge and dining area, a large open-sided structure with a stunning view of the calm blue water. Here we settled into the comfy couches and had a welcome briefing before lunch- a delicious spread of local food fit for royalty.

Alami Alor Resort

After lunch, we got to the really good stuff- snorkeling! We were eager to hit the water, and none of us was disappointed. We visited two sites that afternoon, one form the boat and the other from the resort’s jetty, the house reef. We were all instantly taken by the stunning (25m+) viability, the lush reef teeming with small fish and critters, and the schooling fish hanging around off the side of the reef. We returned for showers and evening cocktails as very happy people.

Diamond spadefish below jetty in Alor

The following days were spent more or less as follows- breakfast (pre-ordered the evening before from a menu) and freshly ground and percolated coffee, followed by aa trip on the boats out to two sites. We would spend about 1h15 – 1h45 at each site exploring the wealth of marine life that varied so greatly depending on the location. From sandy bottoms with coral bommies to sloping reefs, to boulders dropping off into the deep, to volcanic geysers bubbling through the substrate, we were constantly entertained and enthralled. We were treated to tea and water, and homemade baked goods and fruit on the boat between snorkel sessions! After a leisurely lunch back at the resort, we would go to one more site for the afternoon before returning to home base to relax in the lounge while looking at our photos and trying to identify all the previously-unseen creatures in the fish ID books the resort has on the coffee tables.

Aerial view of Blue Whale

The week was not without much excitement. Highlights were- Blue Whales in the bay!! Schooling dolphins and tuna hunting small fish leaping out of the water putting on a fantastic display! A mola-mola (sunfish) coming to say hello to us on the reef! Loads of tropical fish, nudibranchs, octopus, small critters, and Mandarin Fish mating!! Every day we thought “wow, this could not get better”, and the following day we would be proven wrong. Simply amazing.

After a spectacular week we traveled together to Labuan Bajo, western Flores, were we transferred by boat to the stunning island resort- Komodo Resort. The boat ride over treated us to the best view of the red-skied sunset.

Komodo Resort Beach Bar

After arriving and checking into our beachfront luxury bungalows, we met for dinner and a drink before bed. The following morning, we were back at it! Here we spent our days on a large wooden boat, leaving the resort around 9 am and staying out until about 4 pm. We would visit two sites in the mornings before lunch on the boat (a yummy buffet of local dishes and fresh fruit) and then another site after lunch. The first day we were lucky enough to snorkel with 5 manta rays, and we knew right then that we week was going to be special. And boy was it ever. From watching a cuttlefish lay her eggs into the hard coral, to drift snorkeling, more manta rays, countless turtles, octopus, eagle ray, eels and more, we were simply delighted at every turn.

Green sea turtle sleeping on reef

The house reef at Komodo Resort is utterly exceptional, and we snorkeled it several times, with many people agreeing it is one of the best reefs in and around the Komodo National Park.
Evenings at the resort were spent watching stunning sunsets from the beach bar, while chatting, looking through photos, exchanging funny stories and generally recapping the day’s events and new sightings.

Komodo Resort Island

By the end of the tour, we felt like we had all known each other for ages (far longer than the two weeks it had been) and were sorry to have to say goodbye when we got back to the airport in Bali.

With so many many compact cameras on the market, all of which seem to do everything from 4K video to doing your laundry, it can be a daunting task in picking the right one for your upcoming snorkel trip. You can check any of the popular forums and websites that break down the different cameras, but all the reviews are based on how a camera operates on land, and what we need are the relevant details regarding how the cameras do underwater. So, in order to make things a little easier on you I’ve put together a little list of the best cameras that are ideal for this very purpose.  

The Olympus TG-5 is a real powerhouse of a camera, despite being able to fit in your pocket. After seeing it in action on multiple occasions, it’s not wonder it’s one of the top waterproof cameras of the year. That’s right, I said waterproof. You can literally take this camera out of the box and jump straight into the ocean with this bad-boy. If you were to purchase the housing Olympus makes for the camera, which will allow you to take it to forty-five meters should you decide to go for a dive—or you just happen to be an exceptional free-diver—you have the added assurance of knowing the housing will defiantly keep the water out. You would really have to try hard to flood this camera.

olympus tg5 on beach

Aside from being waterproof, the TG-5 also offers some really impressive functions that are extremely beneficial to  snorkelers. Arguably the most important when it comes to bringing out the natural colors of the reef, is that it has a built in underwater white balance mode, along with two additional custom white balance modes. Now, some of you may be wondering what this all means. As we all know, even in the shallow water we start to lose the natural colors of the reef, the first being the reds. So, to overcome this we need to adjust the white balance accordingly, the easiest way being to switch into underwater mode it comes with. This will basically create a digital red filter and will instantaneously bring the brilliant colors of the shallow reef out, no flash needed!

Manta ray belly
No White Balance
Manta Ray Belly
With White Balance

Some of the other benefits of the TG-5 include RAW photo capabilities so you can play around with your photos in your post-production software just like the pros. It also has a remarkable ability to shoot in low light with minimal loss in the overall quality of the image. Along with that it offers what seems like an infinite amount of aftermarket products like strobes, video light, and different wet-lenses so you wont’ need to upgrade cameras as your skills start to improve.

It’s a common misconception that you don’t see as much when you snorkel when compared to scuba diving. This idea is generally put forward by divers who have spent little to no time snorkeling, or maybe have just been snorkeling in the wrong areas. Yes, it’s true there are certain species that prefer the deeper portion of the reef, however, you can also argue that there are certain creatures who are typically more present in the dappled light of the shallows. Living in Asia and working as an underwater photographer I’ve spent my fair share of time in both the deep and shallow, and I can say without a doubt, the shallows rock.

snorkeler swimming through overhang in reef

In Bali, Komodo and Raja Ampat, fleets of mantas feed directly on the surface while other species like turtles regularly emerge from their reef buffet for a breath of fresh air. Then, of course, there are the surprise visitors you often find wandering around the shallows like whale sharks, dolphins, and in one very exciting snorkel session—a giant sunfish. While these pelagic experience will no doubt get your blood pumping and leave you with some lasting memories, one of most amazing experiences you will continuously have is just drifting over the vast fields of immaculate shallow coral reefs.


There is no better place to enjoy pristine reefs than in Indonesia. With over seventeen thousand islands in the heart of the coral triangle, the snorkeling possibilities seem endless. To help narrow things down though, I’de just like to take this time to focus on a few regions within Indonesia where the snorkeling is truly epic, starting with Bunaken National Park in northern Sulawesi. This marine park is home to some excellence snorkeling, and a lot of it is accessible by just walking out from your resort. The underwater topography is characterized by fringing shallow coral reef plateaus which begin as shallow as a meter and gradually drops to about five meters, before abruptly turning into a vertical wall. The reefs in Bunaken are covered in an array of hard corals and sponges with no shortage of green sea-turtles, thanks to the turtle conservation projects from resorts like Siladen.

One of my favorite things to do while snorkeling in Bunaken is to let myself drift over the fields of coral until I reach the point where the reef just plunges into the blue abyss, and then just let myself float over the several hundred meters of blue nothingness. My fear of heights and sound logic have never allowed me to go hang-gliding, but I imagine that feeling of running down a grassy slope and off a vertical cliff into nothing is the probably most relatable experience you could have on land, only a billion times scarier. I’ll stick to the reefs thank you very much.


You have no doubt heard about Komodo, if not for its world-class diving than for its infamous giant lizards. Komodo also has some absolutely amazing snorkeling with a huge variety of styles. Peaceful drifts over immaculate reefs, placid mangroves, vast seagrass beds, and bays where mantas are known to feed in large numbers. One of my favorite sites for a really amazing snorkel experience, which could easily last hours should you choose, is in the north of Komodo and goes by a couple names. It’s most commonly known as Shotgun or the Cauldron thanks to the current that propels you through a narrow channel between two small islands and essentially shoots you out onto the other side. After the exhilarating drift over the giant trevallies, snappers, and white-tip reef sharks who hang in the current and you cruise pass, you’ll find the that current suddenly slacks off and you are left floating over arguably one of Komodo’s most pristine reef. Coral bommies brimming with hard and soft coral nearly reach the surface while schools of reef fish, cuttlefish, and turtles indulge in the life-giving forces the reef provides.

lion fish with sun behind

You can literally see anything at Shotgun. In my own experiences snorkeling here, I’ve encountered large schools of a hundred or more mobula rays and the less common cow-nose ray, and even glimpsed a dugong from the surface, not to mention the frequent manta encounters. A couple of years ago you may have seen a viral video of a diver who had managed to film the super rare megamouth shark, that video was actually filmed at Shotgun! As I said, you can literally see anything there.

Megamouths and fleets of mobula rays aside, one of the most interesting things about Shotgun or the Cauldron is the type of unusual manta behavior it encourages. From the current that pumps between the two islands and the surface counter currents created by the underwater topography, mantas have actually figured out how to use these opposing currents to their advantage. Mantas, usually juveniles, will ride the countercurrent up the reef until it changes in the stronger main current further up the channel. They will then join the main current, facing into it with their mouth wide open, siphoning up their planktonic supper while using only the smallest amounts of energy. As the main current pushes them back down the channel, they do a quick dip below the surface which then puts them back into the opposing counter current and takes them back to the top of the channel where they will repeat this cyclical feeding routine for hours. The best part is, as snorkelers, we get to sit and watch the whole process from a sheltered area with no main currents or counter currents to worry about, just peacefully bobbing along as the mantas go round and round.

hard coral reef with manta swimming through blue water

Raja Ampat

over under perspective with reef below and tropical island above

Raja Ampat is famous for a lot of reasons. Its iconic landscape is absolutely breathtaking while it tops the charts in terms of marine biodiversity. The reefs in Raja literally come to the surface, making it a magical place for snorkelers. One of the most unique types of shallow water experiences which makes Raja so special doesn’t actually take place on a reef, but around any one of the wood jetties in front of the local villages.

School of fish swirling around pier pilings

Sawanderek, a quintessential island village in the north of Raja Ampat has one of the most amazing jetties in the area. It’s wood pilings are encrusted in lush soft coral, sea fans, and even a large table coral has magically sprouted out of the vertical beams as if it was a branch on a tree. It may seem unusual to paddle beneath the wooden structure but it’s completely safe, and you’ll be amazed at the fish life that now calls the area home. Giant clams sit motionless on the bottom as large formations of sweetlips and batfish congregate close the structure’s supports. If you’re really lucky, you may even find a dense shoal of silversides and scads using the jetty for protection. If you decide the jetty is not for you, just turn around and you’ll be floating above that iconic terracing reef-scape Raja is known for.

schooling fish around soft coral colony

Everyone has a different experience in mind when they immerse themselves in the ocean. Some may love the idea of putting on thick wetsuits and decorating their BCD’s with knick-knacks they same way one would decorate a Christmas Tree. Others may find peace or freedom of the idea of amicably floating along with nothing more than a plastic tube to breath through. There is no right or wrong in choosing snorkeling over diving or vice-versa, there is just your own personal preference. Diving a bit deeper has its obvious benefits just as spending time in the shallows do. However, if it’s pristine tropical reefs beautifully illuminated by the power of the sun with a solid chance at encountering some of the ocean’s famous residents, there is no better place to spend your time than the shallow reefs of Indonesia.

Welcome to the New Snorkel Venture site!

Hello fellow snorkelers! We’re really excited to be releasing our new dedicated snorkeling site and we really hope you like the look and feel of it. Although the site is new, we’re not exactly new to this – our sister company Dive Safari Asia has been going for 8 years now and includes group travel to destinations across remote regions of the Asia-Pacific region. I’ve spent the last 18 years in and out of dive and snorkel operations across the globe. I must admit it’s taken some time for me to realize that snorkelers often get a poor deal when they travel – despite the fact that they are just as passionate as divers about the marine world – perhaps more so? All to often snorkelers are forced to join dive boats and snorkel sites which just aren’t that suitable. So around 18 months ago we thought about how we could change that. I hope you’ve noticed by now Snorkel Venture is exclusively for snorkelers – group travel for people who love snorkeling. Please have a good look around and check out some of the amazing tours we have created off the back of our many years experience snorkeling sites around the world. And for all the ideas, inspiration and tips you need – be sure to bookmark our inspiration page right here.All the best (snorkeling)

Ben Stokes

Co Founder