Sure you strap on the fins and the mask, jump in the water right away, and marvel at all the coral and creatures—but as the old adage goes, “Getting there is half the fun.”
Several Ways to Get There
There are several ways to get to a good a snorkeling area. Of course the easiest is if you can walk right off the beach and snorkel right there. The Barceló Maya Resorts on the Mayan Riviera south of Playa del Carmen have excellent snorkeling right off the beach and you can snorkel anytime just by walking down the beach and jumping in. Other times you have to either take a boat from your resort if available, book a trip that will pick you up or travel on your own to a nearby Marina to catch a ride.
If you’re down on the Mayan Riviera, you can hitch a ride on The Fat Cat Catamaran out of Puerto Aventuras, Mexico or while in St Maarten try Aqua mania’s Lambada for way more fun than just snorkeling. The Lambada does a Thursday cruise to Prickly Pear island where, after an hour or so of snorkeling, you’ll be served a bar-b-q lunch on a small covered patio. Drinks are served from a tiny Tiki-bar about as big as a coffee table right on the beach. The nice thing about Prickly Pear is these are the only structures on what is otherwise a deserted and tranquil spit of land. With Fat Cat on the Mexican Riviera, after sailing up the coast and enjoying some amazing snorkeling, their famous boom net is dropped off the back for some fun water riding. Then you are taken to a sweet swimming-hole right outside the marina and shown how to sit in your life preserver and sip beer while bobbing on the waves. Both of these trips fall under the “Booze Cruise’ label as you will get to know everyone on board, some maybe more than you’d like. Both cruises literally pour you off the boat at the end of the day as the rum punch has done its job.
If you want to cover more territory in less time, a power boat tour is the way to go. In St Thomas, the Virgin Islands check out Pirate’s Penny for their motor boat tours of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. One of their more popular tours includes the Baths on Virgin Gorda: a rock formation and old pirate hideout with a stop at the world famous Soggy Dollar bar on Jost Van Dyke. The only snorkeling we did was to get to the baths from our boat, so this is more a drinking tour than anything, but boy, did you get your money’s worth. In Cancun, Mexico, Aqua World right on the lagoon offers a two-man power boat tour so you can drive your own water-craft through the mangrove swamps and then out to the reef for snorkeling. This isn’t a booze thing but the drive up and back is a blast in a train of their little two-man speed boats.
This is the leisurely way to get to your snorkeling spot. If you visit the Virgin Islands, check out the New Horizons sailboat in Red Hook on St. Thomas. They offer a leisurely sail (or motor if there’s no wind) across to St .John for some excellent snorkeling. Then, after a tasty Italian lunch spread you will float over near a private island where the snorkeling is great and the resident Barracuda, aptly named “Barry” will greet you from under the boat. Alcoholic beverages are provided but this is more a relaxing sailing day and not quite the party scene as on the bigger catamarans.
Either Way, It’s a Great Day
Whichever way you choose, the snorkeling is the point of the trip, but the party up and back will make your day. Check the websites of whichever outfit you prefer and look for family trips if that’s what you’re looking for. Otherwise, be prepared for a good time, both under the water and on top.