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Total beginner snorkeler looking for advice (please)

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Hi, and thank you so much for any advice you can provide.


I will be cruising April 28-May 5 - ports are Grand Cayman, Belize, Roatan, Cozumel. I want to take my boys (17 and 20) snorkeling - and really want it to be magical. I read a lot of reviews about places that are not that great, or have very mixed reviews. It's so hard to understand what is best "for us".


We are first-time snorkelers. And we are not the best swimmers - that is an important note. We are in great shape, just not great swimmers. We want to be wowed. However, we would prefer a location where the snorkeling is relatively close to the port. We don't mind a 15 minute taxi ride, but don't want to bus somewhere for an hour each way. And obviously, for us, it is very important to have a great and patient instructor - my boys are excited, but a bit nervous about snorkeling.


So, here come my main questions. Based on our desires/needs:

-Which port is best for us?

-Can you recommend a dive shop that focuses on snorkeling, and not just scuba?


Thank you so much!

Rob from Canada

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Grand Cayman -  do the snorkeling with stingray city excursion.  Great chance to get in the water, clear water with friendly rays, and also snorkel at a reef.  Ideal for beginners.

my video:  



Roatan - best snorkeling in the Caribbean.  Do the ships excursion on the catamaran, Jolly Roger.  Do a YouTube search for videos.

not my video:



By doing the catamaran... easy entry and exit into water, less boat motion.  This is part of the problem most people have - scared of getting on and off boat.  


Belize and Cozumel also have snorkeling, but I would highly recommend the first two as your first time..



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When my wife and I got married (40 years ago) we took a cruise on our honeymoon. My wife had almost drowned when she was a kid and was afraid of the water. Needless to say she was a poor swimmer.  I had grown up on the water and soon talked her into snorkeling. Our first adventure was off a boat in 20 feet of water over a ship wreck in the Bahamas. Once she got used to it she enjoyed it and has been doing it ever since.


People are more buoyant in salt/sea water so it's easy to float. You don't need to be a strong swimmer with fins.


We've been to Grand Cayman many times and I have to second Stingray City. Easy snorkeling in shallow water. The rays are cool. It is a must do (at least once).


Cosumel has some good snorkeling. If memory serves me correctly you can snorkel off the beach at the nature preserve/park. You will need a taxi to get there however.  Probably just book an excursion through the ship. They are used to dealing with newbies and you will have a great time. 


The last time we were there was took a taxi to a resort and just snorkeled off the beach. I'm trying to remember the name of the place.  We were surrounded by fish the whole time. There was a guy there who followed you into the water and took photos. You could buy them on a thumb drive afterwards.  We never/ever buy stuff but the photos were quite good of us snorkeling. The cost included the taxi ride both ways, a beach chair and a drink.  It was quite nice.


I've not been to Roatan but have a cruise booked to go in Dec. The snorkeling there is supposed to be very good at West End beach but it is about a 20 minute taxi ride from the port.

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And the nature park is called Chankanaab, which is a national park. About 10 minutes by taxi, and a fee to get in.  We snorkeled off the beach there a couple times.

Edited by mac66
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23 hours ago, mac66 said:


I've not been to Roatan but have a cruise booked to go in Dec. The snorkeling there is supposed to be very good at West End beach but it is about a 20 minute taxi ride from the port.

I meant West Bay

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My first snorkeling experience was at Roatan on an NCL excursion in 2016.  The drive wasn't too far, but the roads were a little 😱I found the instructors very good and I was able to see lots of fish.  Jolly Roger sounds familiar so it might have been them.  They provide all equipment including flotation vests, so no trouble for this moderate level swimmer.

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Do you have a local dive shop?

Do they have access to a pool?

Ask if they can arrange a couple of hours of snorkeling lessons for you.

It's all about being confident in the water, some prior experience and practice will make your snorkel tour much more rewarding and "magical".

Think of it as part of your vacation.

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I completely agree with Stingray City. It was fantastic. There were some people there that had never snorkeled before, and time was taken to explain to them step by step what to do, how to do it, and there was someone right there with them the entire time. 

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