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4 Pacific Islands for the Best Snorkel Vacation of Your Life

Wendy Perrin | June 12, 2015

Question:

Hi Wendy,

What’s the best Pacific island for a 10-day snorkel trip?

Thanks,

Dennis

Answer:

Dennis, it depends where you’re flying from (some islands will be a lot more convenient to get to than others), what time of year you’re going (it could be typhoon season on some islands), what accommodations you have in mind (beach hut? overwater bungalow? boat cabin?), what island atmosphere you prefer (do you want a dining scene or to be removed from civilization entirely?), etc.

Assuming that money, time, and transport are no object, here’s a list of the top four from Meg Austin, a travel professional who has snorkeled all over the world and specializes in dive trips. These are her Pacific faves, in order of preference:

1. Fiji
“It’s the soft coral capital of the world,” Meg points out. “It’s got consistently good visibility (May – October is best), islands and hotels where the snorkeling is right there, and a local population that can make even the grumpiest traveler smile! Lalati, Koro Sun, and Rainbows End (miles of brilliantly colored corals) are the best reefs.”

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Photo courtesy Tourism Cook Islands.

2. Rarotonga, Cook Islands
“It doesn’t have the infrastructure or resorts that Fiji has,” says Meg, “so it’s important to have the right expectations. This is a quiet place for snorkeling by day and reading books at night. Rumours Luxury Villas has bells and whistles. I like Palm Grove: funky, not fancy.”

3. Palau, Micronesia
“Palau is not for everyone either, but an avid snorkeler would be in heaven. The Rock Islands (especially Rock Island itself) and The Milky Way lagoon are both do-not-miss. Some would love Jellyfish Lake, others would not. Palau Pacific Resort is “water-focused” (diving and snorkeling) and would be my first choice; there is remarkable activity to explore in the sea there. Love the very colorful nudibranchs!”

4. Sipadan, Malaysia
“Sipadan, the only oceanic island in Malaysia, is known for its fabulous diving but is also great for snorkeling: I’ve sent divers with non-diving spouses there, and they’ve raved about the snorkeling.”

Dennis, choosing an island with world-class snorkeling is the easy part. Pulling together a world-class vacation—juggling the complicated logistics of South Pacific travel, getting to the most colorful reefs at the right times of day, sussing out the overwater bungalows with the best underwater creatures below, ensuring you waste no time or money—is the tough part. If you can provide more detail about your specific trip needs, send them to Ask Wendy and I can connect you with the right travel fixer for that world-class vacation.

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