Indonesia consists of 17.000 islands, which are considered to be a biodiversity hotspot on land as well as in the water. The country is seen as one of the best places to snorkel in the world and is one of the best locations to snorkel in southeast Asia.

Located at the heart of the Coral Triangle, Indonesia is a popular snorkeling destination where you can see and explore some of the world’s healthiest reefs. With that many islands, you will not be able to explore all different kinds of marine ecosystems, therefore pick wisely where you go to get the most out of your snorkeling adventure.

To give you a glimpse: just imagine swimming in crystal clear water while hovering over pristine reefs composed of about 500 species of corals, filled with an incredible diversity of fish. Indonesia’s waters are always warm enough to snorkel without a wetsuit; however, the sun may be extreme. So, make sure to bring some reef-safe sunscreen, a hat, and a shirt so that you can protect yourself while in the water.

bali snorkeling

DIFFICULTY

Beginner/Intermediate

DEPTH

20ft (6m)

VISIBILITY

60 ft (18m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Manta Rays, damselfish

RENOWNED FOR

Coral reef

best snorkeling destinations

Apart from the magnificent cultural and historical attractions, Bali – Indonesia’s leading tourist destination – offers an incredibly diverse underwater world. The easiest accessible and one of the best snorkeling in Indonesia can be found there. Bali is surrounded by incredible reefs that are all worth a visit, but Nusa Pineda is uniquely beautiful. This offshore island on the southeast coast of Bali is the best place to snorkel in Indonesia. The island’s coral reef is home to Manta Rays. In fact, at one particular spot, called Manta Bay, you are guaranteed to encounter some Manta Rays while snorkeling above the shallow reef. The reef, however, is shallow, and currents can be strong – so do be aware. If you are an inexperienced snorkeler, we suggest you stay on Bali and visit Tanjung Benoa Reef in Nusa Dua. This vibrant reef is safe for any level, and you are guaranteed to encounter swarms of damselfish foraging in the colorful reef ecosystem.

snorkeling in indonesia

DIFFICULTY

Beginner/Intermediate

DEPTH

3ft to 60ft (1m to 20m)

VISIBILITY

30ft to 100ft (10m to 30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry and boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Manta Rays, mangroves, turtles

RENOWNED FOR

Limestone cliffs

raja ampat archipelago

One of the best snorkeling spots in Indonesia can be found on Raja Ampat, a shoal and island group. Raja Ampat is known for its breathtaking landscape. Limestone rocks are covered by green vegetation, and the waters are turquoise blue. The reef surrounding Raja Ampat is very well preserved and considered as one of the world’s most pristine marine habitats.

Although a vibrant coral reef surrounds all 1800 islands of Raja Ampat, many of the snorkeling spots are remote. The reefs can prove difficult, if not impossible, to get to. The most popular snorkeling spots are located around Dampier Strait. The waters are full of Manta Rays and other aquatic life. It is a once in a lifetime experience to boat around the bays, channels, and sandbars. Manta Sandy and Manta Ridge are the best spots to find manta rays when snorkeling. Mantas forage on plankton. If you´re fortunate enough, you may even be afforded the opportunity to swim around them as they feed with their mouths open filtering water.

Another incredible adventure while snorkeling Raja Ampat is experiencing the vibrant mangrove ecosystem. Here the water is unusually clear compared to other mangrove ecosystems. The seafloor is covered by healthy corals, and one can enjoy colorful coral fish species, such as the clownfish.

Great snorkeling spots that are easy to reach are the island chain called the “jetties”. One of the most popular snorkeling sites in Indonesia, especially Raja Ampat, is called Sauwandarek Jetty. This crystal-clear nearshore snorkeling site is home to an impressive abundance of marine life. Furthermore, there is a coral restoration program, which aims to regain a healthy and species-rich ecosystem. In the past, these waters have been a feeding area and are therefore rich in marine life abundance and diversity. Apart from many coral reef fish species, the hard and soft corals provide a home for octopuses, giant clams as well as turtles.

DIFFICULTY

Beginner / Advanced

DEPTH

6ft to 230ft (2m to 70m)

VISIBILITY

60ft to 100ft (20m to 30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat diving, onshore

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Jacks, Sea Turtles

RENOWNED FOR

Drift snorkeling, vertical ledge

best snorkeling in world

Komodo Island National park is named after the largest lizard on Earth, the Komodo Dragon. This impressive species may be as long as 3m (10ft) and weigh around 154pounds (70kg). This endangered terrestrial predator only lives on a few small islands, and the Komodo Island National Park makes sure that the populations are healthy. But apart from this dragon, Komodo Island has many incredible snorkeling spots that are all protected ecosystems. Through this protection, one is guaranteed to encounter high diversities and abundances of marine species. The island offers some of the best snorkeling sites in Indonesia.

Experienced snorkelers can enjoy breathtaking snorkeling on the northern coast of the Island, in Batu Bolong. One can enjoy watching a wall dropping down about 230ft (70m) while drifting along its ledge. The wall is covered by a vibrant coral ecosystem that contains a large amount of tropical fish, such as sergeant majors, jacks, surgeonfish, and anthias.

Siaba Besar offers snorkeling for advanced as well as beginners. While advanced snorkelers can drift over beautiful coral reef ecosystems, beginners can practice drift snorkeling in a rather protected area above a sandy reef. Especially during low tide, one has a great chance of encountering turtles.

If you would rather snorkel in calm waters while enjoying a vibrant reef, you can go to Kanawa Island. Kanawa Island offers calm waters without any perceptible current. Combined with its beautiful white sand beach, and picturesque setting, it is ideal for relaxation.

snorkel spots

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

10ft to 60ft (3m to 20m)

VISIBILITY

20ft to 60ft (10m to 20m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry and boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Sea Turtles, Schooling Sergeant Majors, Rabbitfish

RENOWNED FOR

Underwater statues

best islands for snorkeling

Located east of Bali is a semi-circle shaped island which offers one of the best snorkeling in Asia. Considered as the top snorkeling spot in Lombok, Gili Nanggu is a paradise for all beginners. Gili Naggu offers blue-green waters that are safe to snorkel in no matter how often you have done it before. When snorkeling here, one can explore shallow seagrass beds filled with anchovies, sergeant majors and rabbitfish, that may come near to you once you are in the water.

For a unique snorkeling experience, we highly recommend you explore Gili Meno and see several man-made underwater statues that have become an underwater attraction. While there are several statues underwater, the main attraction in Gili Meno is the standing statues of a man and woman caressing each other. Right beside the statue, a fringing reef emerges, which is known for its sea turtles. If you are lucky, you may encounter the friendly turtles nearby. Please remember that, although locals may encourage you to interact with them, they are wild animals that should not be touched or fed.

snorkelling vacation

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

6ft to 60ft (2m to 20m)

VISIBILITY

16ft to 60 ft (5m to 20m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry and boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Stingless Jellyfish

RENOWNED FOR

Salt ponds, coral reefs

best snorkeling in world

There is a total of 31 Islands that belong to the Derawan Islands. These islands are located on the east coast of Borneo, Kalimantan. Since the islands are relatively remote, this snorkeling destination is not well known, and one can explore lush Indonesian snorkeling. Kakaban Island and Maratua Island offer a unique snorkeling experience. The islands’ salt ponds allow for a protected area with extremely calm waters. Within these salt ponds, one can encounter thousands of jellyfish, which all are harmless. One can thus snorkel amongst different species of jellyfish and admire their gracefulness. Apart from these unique ecosystems, the islands are surrounded by coral reefs harboring many different coral reef species, with crystal clear waters.

best beaches in indonesia

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

10ft to 60ft (3m to 20m)

VISIBILITY

30ft to 60ft (10m to 20m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Sunfish, reef sharks, clownfish

RENOWNED FOR

Massive coral beds

One of the best snorkeling in Indonesia can be found off the northern edge of Sulawesi, a chain of islands called Bunaken. Bunaken is a worldwide known destination for divers since the waters are extremely clear and full of all different kinds of marine species. The waters are protected under the Bunaken National Marine Park. The most accessible island is called Bunaken Island. Bunaken island does not receive many tourists, and therefore, if you are lucky, the snorkeling sites are exclusively for you and your family or friends. When on Bunaken Island, make sure to go to the east coast – Bunaken Timur. Here, you can explore a massive, vibrant reef that is full of corals that provide a habitat for many different coral species, including sunfish, turtles, or reef sharks. The coral reef is further home to many different clownfish, such as the Spinecheek Anemonefish, Clark’s Anemonefish, Pink Anemonefish, Orange Skunk Clownfish, and the Fire Clownfish.

best places in the world to snorkel

DIFFICULTY

Beginner/Intermediate

DEPTH

10ft to 100ft (3m to 30m)

VISIBILITY

60ft to 100ft (20m to 30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat or shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Hammerhead sharks

RENOWNED FOR

Inactive volcanic island, reef plateau

best snorkeling in the world from shore

Also located within the Bunaken National Park, is Manado Tua, a smaller island that is even less popular amongst tourist than Bunaken Island. Manado Tua is a volcanic island that is separated by the other Islands through a 3.937ft (1.200m) deep marine ditch. This ditch attracts several marine open ocean species, and if you are really lucky, you may see an Orca swimming through while you are on the boat to Manado Tua. This happened to me and was one of my best experiences in life.

You can walk around Manado Tua and experience the different villages that are very local. If you enjoy eating fish, there is one of the best fresh fish that the locals will prepare for you. It is guaranteed that they caught it the same day.

Manado Tua is home of the Sulawesi Black Crested Macaque. Although it is native to the Sulawesi mainland, this monkey is, until this day, hold as a pet or eaten for a special occasion. However, it is critically endangered, and the Sulawesi mainland population is shrinking. Luckily for conservation efforts, some monkeys must have escaped or set free by their owners on Manado Tua. Nowadays, there is a healthy population on this small island, and you may be able to see or hear them if you stay a night on this tropical island.

Basically, all beaches are safe to snorkel and offer untouched marine life and a crystal clear turquoise blue water. The best spot to go snorkeling is Tanjung Kopi (Coffee Point), located on the east coast of the island. The current is soft and allows you to drift above pristine reefs filled with fish of all sorts like the blacktail barracuda, napoleon wrasse, eagle rays, and if lucky some hammerhead sharks.

best snorkeling vacations

DIFFICULTY

Beginner/Intermediate

DEPTH

30ft to 100ft (10m to 30m)

VISIBILITY

30ft to 100ft (10m to 30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry and boat diving

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Whitetip reef sharks, hammerhead sharks

RENOWNED FOR

Reef ledge, lava slopes with coral beds

best snorkeling in world

Once popular for its nutmeg tree, this group of ten volcanic islands is now a popular site for snorkeling. Located at the heart of the Banda Sea and east of Java, each of the islands offers different snorkeling adventures. This because the topography is distinct between islands. If you want to explore a reef filled with whitetip reef sharks and patrolling hammerhead sharks, then go to Hatta Island. If you want to explore the remains of a lava flow from a once-active volcano, then Banda Api is the place to be. While the lava flow can only be seen on the slopes of the inactive volcano, the underwater world has turned these slopes into incredible coral beds.

snorkeling in singapore

DIFFICULTY

Beginner/Intermediate

DEPTH

10ft to 60ft (3m to 20m)

VISIBILITY

30ft to 60ft (10m to 20m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry and boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Sweetlips, Trumpetfish, Spotted Eagle Ray

RENOWNED FOR

Extensive reefs, rock formations, night snorkeling

Aside from being known for white pepper fields, Bangka Island is a tourist attraction in Indonesia. Tourists can go snorkeling over pristine reefs with little boat traffic on the surface. If you are looking for pinnacles and rocky ledges, Batu Mandi is highly recommended. Here, the crystal clear water allows you to see cuttlefish and squids. Highly recommended for newbies is Bangka House Reef. Everyone enjoys Bangka’s shallow sandy reef filled with tropical fish such as damselfish, butterflyfish, trumpetfish, sweetlips, and spotted eagle rays. A highlight for this snorkeling destination is that all snorkeling sites are ideal for snorkeling at nighttime.

best snorkeling in southeast asia

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

10ft to 60ft (3m to 20m)

VISIBILITY

30ft to 60ft (10m to 20m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry and boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Jacks, Barracudas

RENOWNED FOR

Seagrass meadows

Wakatobi is a marine national park consisting of four major islands. It is considered Indonesia’s third-largest marine sanctuary. Wakatobi Island (formally known as Wangi-Wangi) is a seagrass territory of Wakatobi where your snorkeling adventures involve swimming along grass-covered sand that leads to a reef. Kaledupa Island offers the chance to see large fish such as barracudas and jacks. Sadly, however, the reef is only sparsely covered by corals.

best indonesian island

RAINFALL

The months with the highest rainfall are December and January. They average 11.29inches (286.7mm) and 13.09inches (332.6mm) of rainfall, respectively. Months with the lowest rainfall include July and August with an average of 3.77inces (95.7mm) and 3.42inches (86.9mm), respectively.

TEMPERATURE

The highest water temperature in Indonesian waters is in December, with 85.82°F (29.9°C). Lowest water temperature can be found in August with 82.5°F (27.5°C).

BEST SNORKELING MONTHS

July and August are the months with the least precipitation, and therefore, visibility will be better. Furthermore, the water in August is colder and may, therefore, attract more open ocean species and thus a higher diversity of marine animals.

FIRST TIME ZONE: Western Indonesian Time (UTC +7)

SECOND TIME ZONE: Central Indonesian Time (UTC +8)

THIRD TIME ZONE: Eastern Indonesian Time (UTC +9)

CURRENCY: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) $1= IDR13.686

CALLING CODE: +62

ELECTRIC VOLT: 220V

PLUG TYPE: C

MAIN AIRPORT: Jakarta International Airport (CGK)

1. Where to see manta rays in Indonesia while snorkeling?

Manta Rays are quite common in Indonesia. One may encounter them in most of the snorkeling spots. However, there are several snorkeling sites in Indonesia where you are guaranteed to see Manta Rays, including Manta Point on Nusa Penida Bali, Komodo, as well as Manta Sandy and Manta Ridge in Raja Ampat.

2. Can you wade out and snorkel off the Gili islands?

The Gili islands offer snorkeling from the shore. Therefore, it is possible to wade out and snorkel. Typically, one gets ready at the beach and then wades into the water until the water is high enough to start snorkeling. You will first pass seagrass beds before reaching the coral reef ecosystem.

3. Where can I hire snorkel gear in the Gili Islands?

There are several dive shops in Gili Islands that rent out snorkeling gear. These dive shops are often located in Gili Trawangan. However, do not expect to use high-end snorkeling equipment or gear that fits well. Generally, in Indonesia, it is recommended to bring your own snorkeling gear. It will save you time, and you will be more comfortable in the water.

4. Where can I buy snorkel gear in the Gili Islands?

If you want to purchase a set of snorkeling gear on Gili Islands, we highly recommend you go to Gili Trawangan as several dive shops sell scuba and snorkeling equipment. Please be sure to compare the prices of the gear between different dive shops.

5. What is the best Raja Ampat snorkel cruise?

When booking any snorkel cruise, whether stay aboard or day tours, please make sure they are Padi certified. Through this certification comes a certain level of security, knowledge, and experience that is important when being on the open ocean. After all, their knowledge may lead you to the best snorkeling spots while keeping you safe from unwanted currents. However, there is no standard price for a liveaboard snorkel cruise in Raja Ampat, and the price offered depends on the length of the cruise and the services included within the trip. With this, we highly advise you choose the one that’s best suited for you. Please find Padi certified cruises here.

raja ampat island

As always, we create our content with you, fellow divers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next dive is a great one!

Sophie Bader

Sophie is a product expert, degreed wildlife manager, and biologist, with a specialization in Marine Biology as well as Ecology and Evolution. Sophie has a huge passion for traveling and is originally from southern Germany. She has obtained her PADI - Open Water diving license at the age of 13. Throughout her studies, Sophie has been conducting marine conservation research on four different continents and whilst traveling, has been diving in over 10 different countries worldwide. Her key interests include marine life and its conservation, local culture, diving, writing, and teaching English to local communities.

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