Snorkelling in the South Pacific Islands
Destination Review - Ranked by Preference
There aren't many places that you can't enjoy snorkelling in the South Pacific with the ocean littered with coral reefs and most islands protected by a fringing coral reef. In many places you can snorkel right off the beach but if not, a good snorkelling reef is never far away and many hotels organise their own snorkelling trips by small boat. Although snorkelling equipment is readily available for use and is often provided free of charge by the hotel, if you are a keen snorkeller we highly recommend you take you own gear. The following is a summary of the unique aspects of each island destination for a snorkelling holiday in the South Pacific. Find out more about each destination by clicking on the "detailed ... snorkelling holidays" link after each passage. This will take you to a dedicated page highlighting the destination and featuring our recommended resorts to stay at plus instant quotations for your snorkelling holidays so you can make a booking straight away.
# 1 - Fiji
Almost every resort in the Mamanuca Islands and Yasawa Islands has great snorkelling reefs right off the beach so you can enjoy snorkelling whenever you want. Some of these resorts offer snorkelling trips to outer reefs where the coral may be better, but generally speaking this is a great place for beginners. The best snorkelling reefs though are found in the passages of the Astrolabe Reef in Kadavu, around Toberua Island in Lomaiviti and along the southeast coast of Vanua Levu / west coast of Taveuni where the corals are incredibly vibrant and full of fish. To snorkel with manta rays head to Naviti Island in the Yasawas or to Buliya off Kadavu.
# 2 - French Polynesia
The most accessible reefs for snorkelling are in Cooks Bay and off Haatafu Beach on Moorea which have wonderful corals and plenty of small reef fish. If you want to snorkel amongst reef sharks the lagoons of Fakarava and Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Group are the best in the South Pacific for shark spotting whilst for beginners should enjoy snorkelling in the controlled lagoonarium on Bora Bora.
# 3 - Tonga
Snorkelling with humpback whales is something not to miss, and can be done between May and October in both the Ha'apai and Vavau groups. Vavau has several excellent coral gardens to enjoy.
# 4 - Vanuatu
Although scuba diving is fantastic, snorkelling in Vanuatu is a bit hit and miss. Espiritu Santo has decent reefs along its east coast, whilst on Efate Island there are good reefs around the smaller offshore islands of the north and west coast including Lelepa Island as well as off Eratap Beach. Snorkelling in the lagoon around Port Vila is only OK although being a protected lagoon is very safe for beginners - if staying in Port Vila and wanting a better reef for snorkelling take a day trip to Hideaway Island or to Breakas Beach / Paradise Point where the coral reefs are more attractive.
# 5 - Cook Islands
Snorkelling on Rarotonga is not great with the best spots being around Takitumu on the south coast. Aitutaki has much better snorkelling reefs, particularly off the north west coast and in the lagoon off Maina Island where you can see hundreds of giant clams.
# 6 - New Caledonia
In the Isle of Pines head to the safe "Natural Swimming Pool" where you can literally stand and watch the fish swim around you.
# 7 - Samoa
One of the most unusual snorkelling reef's in Samoa is at the Palolo Marine Reserve in Apia Town and tucked just behind the harbour. It's not the most inspiring of locations but the quantity of fish that gather in this protected enclave is quite amazing. Otherwise, on Upolu Island go to Sa'Moana Beach for crystal clear waters and good drop-offs or on Savaii stay at Manase Beach where there are nice reefs to enjoy accessible from the beachfront.