There is nothing like a beach vacation. Spending the afternoon flipping through a book on a lounge chair, sipping tropical cocktails at the poolside bar, or curating the perfect seashell collection are just some of the luxurious activities that can fill your itinerary.
But, if you’re on the hunt for a new, fun water activity that is widely accessible, try out snorkeling on your next beach vacation.
While it might seem intimidating to gather the proper gear, find the right spot, and jump in the water, we promise the process is totally painless. There are countless beach destinations across the world that are best known for their snorkeling potential, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a local expert to help you experience the underwater wonders.
Once you pick your destination and book yourself on a snorkeling tour, you might be wondering what you should wear for this underwater experience. Luckily, we have rounded up everything you need to know to dress for the part.
First, you’ll obviously need the proper underwater gear before hopping in the water. If you decide to book a spot on a snorkeling tour, the tour should provide you with the necessary gear (but you should double-check, just in case). If you go on a self-guided tour, you can bring your own essentials or pick up the gear at a local surf shop.
Naturally, you need a way to see the beautiful fish and underwater treasures, so a mask is first on our list. There are many different types of snorkeling masks, but they all will cover your eyes and nose. Some masks come with special anti-fog technology to guarantee a clear underwater view.
To ensure a mask fits you properly, strap it onto your head and inhale lightly through your nose. If this rates a vacuum seal on your face, it’s a good fit!
The type of fins you wear will depend on the water temperature. If you are snorkeling in warm water, perhaps opt for a pair of full-heel fins. If you are snorkeling in cold water, on the other hand, you will want to pair open-heel fins with a pair of scuba booties for warmth.
If you are a beginner or are mostly sticking to the surface, you should be fine with shorter fins. For breath-hold diving, many snorkelers swear by the traditional freediving fin.
Most snorkels are generally constructed the same, but beginners might want to consider a shorter snorkel. Longer snorkels can be used for deeper dives, but they are sometimes harder to breathe out of.
Check that there is a secure attachment between your snorkel and mask to prevent it from falling off into the water.
Top Swimsuits for Snorkeling
Now that you have a basic understanding of the gear, it’s time for the most fun part — picking your swimsuit!
Here are our favorite recommendations:
An extremely common outfit piece for snorkeling is a rash guard. Although you don’t have to worry about your skiing rubbing on a surfboard, a rash guard is helpful in other ways. If you are going on a snorkeling tour, or if you have to take a boat to get to your snorkeling destination, you will be out in the sun for a long time.
A rash guard is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of getting a sunburn (in addition to marine-safe sunscreen). To keep chemicals out of the ocean, stock up on reef-friendly sunscreens like the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40.
Lastly, if you sometimes struggle with your chest slipping out of bathing suit tops, a rash guard will give you peace of mind as you jump into and swim through the water.
The Bikini Bottom
For a dependable swimsuit bottom that will work with any rash guard or bikini top, choose the classic Bikini Bottom. The low-rise waistline will leave your tummy free, but the medium bottom coverage and medium-leg cut will leave you feeling secure and covered. This bottom fits comfortably on your skin and will hug your hip without slipping.
Our most versatile option, the Bikini Bottom, comes in eleven different colors and nine unique pattern options.
The Super Highwaist Bottom
If you prefer to have your lower tummy covered by your swimwear, you can opt for the Super Highwaist Bottom. These bikini bottoms are as comfortable as they are flattering. Plus, they are made from recycled nylon fabric, which helps protect the environment!
The low leg cut and full bottom coverage will cover the skin you want while giving you an hourglass shape.
The Maui Top
For a simple bikini top that you can wear under your rash guard or alone with a pair of bikini bottoms, try out the Maui top. The adjustable straps and compressive chest band will give you maximum bust support no matter how many waves you hit. With the comfort of your favorite crop top, the Maui Top will feel comfortable on your body all day long.
The compressive lining and four-way stretch will hug your body in all the right places, and it looks good on every body type!
Lastly, for a piece that is sporty and chic, pack the Malibu for your next snorkeling adventure. The high, snap-front neckline makes this suit incredibly versatile. Snap all the buttons up before hopping in the water, and pull some snaps apart before lounging on the sand.
The Malibu offers maximum bust support, and the medium bottom coverage and medium leg cut show just the right amount of skin.
World-Famous Snorkeling Destinations
Now that you have an idea of what to wear for a snorkeling excursion, here are some top-notch spots to get a glimpse of the underwater world.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, United States
This spot is quite a remote location, but well worth the trip if you’re feeling adventurous. Sitting in crystal blue tropical waters a few miles off the coast of Key West, Florida, Dry Tortugas is a famous destination for underwater sights.
This secluded national park, which can only be reached by ferry, is teeming with sea life and has old fort ruins and a shipwreck to explore. The natural reefs, which are roughly 12,000 years old, are a sight to behold.
Bahia Honda State Park, Florida, United States
Right in the heart of the Florida Keys lies this gorgeous park with warm waters. This is a very popular spot for sea kayaking, scuba diving, and, of course, snorkeling. On the Atlantic side, you’ll find extremely shallow depths, which makes this spot well-suited for beginners.
Because of its size and accessibility, Bahia Honda State Park is fabulous for family vacations or if you’re traveling with kids. The area is home to hawksbill sea turtles, seahorses, sea sponges, and octopuses.
Turtle Town, Hawaii, United States
If you’re on vacation in Hawaii and want nothing more than to see some incredible turtles, check out this spot off the southern coast of Maui. Submarine volcanoes have created multiple underwater lava formations that act as a haven for a community of sea turtles. Be careful, however, not to touch any you come across — these fragile creatures are endangered.
This location is suitable for snorkelers of all levels, so don’t be deterred if you’re traveling with kids or teens. Everyone in your travel party will marvel at angelfish, moray eels, and octopuses, in addition to the turtles.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
The Caribbean waters off the coast of Central America are home to incredible snorkeling environments. Ambergris Caye features one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, coming in at around 185 miles!
Hiding beneath the turquoise waters, you’ll find colorful coral, eels, rays, all sorts of vibrant fish, and shark-ray alley, an area that’s home to thousands of nurse sharks who will gladly let you swim alongside them (they’re harmless to humans!).
Baa Atoll, Maldives
The Maldives is famous for its lush tropical beauty. This archipelago, located South of the Indian subcontinent in the Indian Ocean, is a snorkeling paradise. It’s not a hotspot for family vacationers, though, so you’re more likely to find yourself here on a honeymoon or a romantic getaway.
Baa Atoll is just one of the country’s geographical atolls (a ring-shaped island, chain of islands, or reef that surrounds a lagoon). It hosts an immense group of stunning coral reefs where manta rays, sharks, octopuses, and hundreds of species of exotic fish co-exist.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is generally considered to be the best snorkeling destination in the entire world. Acting as a magnet for both locals and tourists, you surely won’t be disappointed with these views. The warm temperatures make it a comfortable experience as you gaze at the various caves, caverns, pinnacles, monuments, and impressive coral communities.
One of the most popular spots to admire the Great Barrier Reef is Lady Elliot Island. While it’s only accessible by air, it’s a common journey; you shouldn’t have a problem getting there. Once you are on the island, hop in the water and swim down an impressive stretch of the reef and even spot Manta Rays along your way.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Known for its gorgeous overwater bungalows, in Bora, Bora, you can sleep above the water and spend your days exploring beneath the surface. For your first time in the area, check out the Inner Reef. Several tour companies will make a stop here, but feel free to go on a self-guided tour as well.
Here, you’ll encounter a plethora of sting rays and blacktip reef sharks that are usually entirely harmless. The bright blue water and sandy bottom will leave you breathless as you soak in the impressive marine life.
Time To Snorkel
At the end of the day, you will be much more focused on the gorgeous coral and beautiful tropical fish in the water than on your (gorgeous) swimwear. Aside from the proper gear that will be given to you by your tour company or that can be bought at a local surf shop, focus on clothing that makes you feel confident and secure.
While you might want to wear your favorite swimsuit for any underwater photo ops, it’s more important to have a swimsuit that doesn’t move on your body and won’t cause any trouble while snorkeling. For a helpful boost, review our Andie Swim Fit Guide to find the style that supports you best.
Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs | National Ocean Service
Nurse Shark | National Geographic