Fall is in full swing, and if the cooling temperatures have you dreaming of balmy breezes and turquoise waters, then it’s time to pack your bags for the Caribbean. Holland America Line ships are starting to reposition from their summer homes, and when Nieuw Amsterdam arrives at Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos Oct. 29, the season is officially underway.
The Caribbean boasts some of the clearest waters in the world, teeming with a variety of colorful and vibrant marine life. Snorkeling is one of the best ways to see what lives beneath the ocean’s surface, especially if scuba diving isn’t for you. Holland America Line has several excellent snorkeling tours. A few of the top tours that feature this fun-for-the-whole-family activity include:
The Reef Snorkel & Stingray Safari at Grand Turk (photo at top) takes guests to a private, untouched reef off the coast of the island. This secluded haven is filled with pristine corals, sea fans, sponges and the bright tropical fish of the Caribbean. At the stingray playground, the stingrays will greet guests as they enter the water, brushing past with a gentle wave of their wide wings. These wild but gentle Atlantic rays will let you stroke their soft bodies and play with them in their own area. The water is shallow and crystal clear — a perfect spot for memorable photographs.
“Goldenspring” wrote: We’ve snorkeled all over the Caribbean and this reef was beautiful!
Clear water and lots of sea life. Good crew and safe for beginners. The stop to play with the stingrays on a beautiful deserted beach was wonderful. We have great pictures that will make our memories last a lifetime. One of the best tours ever!
Captain Nemo’s Snorkel Safari at Georgetown, Grand Cayman, includes snorkeling and a semi-sub ride. Snorkeling from the spacious deck of the Nautilus, guests can expect to see a huge variety of tropical fish, including stingrays, parrotfish, sergeant majors, tarpon and angelfish. Feed them if you wish and have them literally eating out of your hand.
“Flatrocker” wrote: When the diver fed the fish, it was really amazing. You couldn’t even see him for the fish. There were lots of fish, and they paid no attention to us at all — I am sure I could have reached out and touched lots of them. Recommend it.
Oranjestad, Aruba’s Sailing & Snorkeling Cruise tour takes guests on a three-hour sailing and snorkeling cruise for a chance to marvel at the beauty of Aruba’s coastline and the riches of its underwater world. The first stop is at Boca Cathalina for some great reef snorkeling. As the depth is around 15 feet, this is the perfect place to refresh or learn snorkeling skills. The second stop is at the famous Antilla shipwreck. A relic of World War II, the Antilla was scuttled by its own captain to prevent it from being captured by the Dutch Marines. It is lying on its side in 60 feet of water and has been voted one of the world’s top ten dive and snorkel sites. The Antilla is the second-largest wreck in the Caribbean.
“Cinzia” wrote: We really enjoyed both snorkel stops, Catalina Bay, a shallow bay with calm waters where you can truly see colorful tropical fish, and the famous Antilla Wreck, a 400 ft. German freighter that sank in 1940. Highly recommended.
The Shipwreck Snorkeling & Beach tour in Honduras takes guests to Fantasy Island Beach Resort. The 45-minute guided snorkel adventure will start from the gazebo placed in the water at swimming distance from a mysterious shipwreck, a beautiful shallow reef and a dramatic wall just a short distance away. After the swim guests can take a walk along the nature trail with a guide in search of monkeys and iguanas.
“MikePA” wrote: We thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. The snorkeling was excellent. Lots of interesting fish and coral. We found the snorkeling to be comparable to the snorkeling we had on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and in some respects, better.
At Bridgetown, Barbados, the Carlisle Bay Shipwreck Snorkel & Beach tour, guests go to Carlisle Bay and enjoy a 40-minute snorkel over a World War II shipwreck that is surrounded by fish so tame you could feed them by hand.
“Burqueno” wrote: Have snorkeled several times before, and I’ve always enjoyed it, but this was the first time I’d ever had the experience of being completely surrounded by fish. It was like being inside an aquarium. Really, really fun.
What snorkeling site would you like to visit on a Caribbean cruise? Would you choose to go to an old wreck or do you prefer swimming along the reefs and seeing the fish up close?