Interpretation of Snorkel Rating Key

by | Last updated Mar 17, 2024 | New

My husband and I have snorkeled in quite a few places around the world. The more we snorkel, the more we start to compare snorkel sites. The bar continues to be raised. I have rated most of the snorkeling sites based on 5 categories. Here’s our snorkeling rating key to give you a sense of how a certain destination stacks up.

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01- Overall Snorkel Rating

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DEFINITION OF OVERALL SNORKEL RATING

Please understand your snorkeling experience will depend on multiple factors such as the time of year, the current, the weather, and even the time of the day you go.

Natural disasters are also going to play a role. For example, your snorkeling experience will change based if you go pre- or post-hurricane.

Your underwater adventure will also be influenced by where you snorkeled at your destination. I’ll share a story to illustrate my point.

We were recently at the Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa and had just finished an incredible snorkeling experience. We came out of the water and plopped down on a lounge chair on the beach.

While we were sipping on cocktails, I overheard a family’s conversation who also just finished snorkeling. They were disappointed they hadn’t seen much. Just one turtle.

What?!!?? We just saw two sharks, two stingrays, one eagle ray, numerous turtles, and little pockets of fish soup.

The difference was we had started our snorkeling from the overwater villas, snorkeled through the cut to get to the reef drop-off, snorkeled along the edge, and then swam through the seagrass beds to get to the beach.

Case in point. Knowing WHERE to snorkel is vital. Make friends with the resort’s dive shop. They’ll share all the good spots. If you don’t feel comfortable going on your own, they usually will offer a guided snorkeling tour of the house reef.

I also want to point out that a personal snorkel rating is SUBJECTIVE because everyone has a different definition of what the “best” experience looks like.

Some travelers will rate a reef based on the variety of fish they see or the overall health of the coral. Others may define it based on how many sharks or rays they counted.

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OVERALL SNORKEL RATING KEY

The symbol used to represent the overall snorkeling experience: 🤿 

OVERALL SNORKEL RATING KEY

🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿   =   World-class snorkeling and worth traveling just for the snorkeling alone!

🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿   =   Incredible snorkeling and should be on your list of top things to do!

🤿 🤿 🤿   =   Decent snorkeling and worth the effort!

🤿 🤿   =   Worth consideration if you are running out of things to do!

🤿   =   Not worth it!

02- Fish Soup Rating

Clownfish at Reethi Faru Resort in Maldives

Clownfish at Reethi Faru Resort in the Maldives

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DEFINITION OF FISH SOUP

I define fish soup (again, just my personal definition) by the schools of fish + variety of fish.

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FISH SOUP RATING KEY

Symbol used to represent fish soup: 🐠

FISH SOUP RATING KEY

🐠 🐠 🐠   =   Many schools of fish + a huge variety

🐠 🐠   =   Several schools of fish + a fair amount of variety

🐠   =   Maybe one school of fish or a different fish here and there

03- Big Marine Life Rating

Turtle and a remora fish at Hansen Bay in St. John USVI

Turtle and a remora fish at Hansen Bay in St. John USVI

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DEFINITION OF BIG MARINE LIFE

I define big marine life as turtles, rays, and sharks.

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BIG MARINE LIFE RATING KEY

Symbol used to represent big marine life: 🐢

BIG MARINE LIFE RATING KEY

🐢 🐢 🐢   =   10+ turtles, rays, or sharks

🐢 🐢   =   Between 2-9 turtles, rays, or sharks

🐢   =   At least one turtle, ray, or shark

04- Where’s Waldo Marine Life Rating

Chainlink moray eel at Mangel Halto

Chainlink moray eel at Mangel Halto in Aruba

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DEFINITION OF WHERE'S WALDO MARINE LIFE

Remember the children’s series Where’s Waldo, where you have to pick out Waldo from the sea of colors, figures, and landscapes?

I put octopuses, eels, lobsters, shrimp, and any other harder-to-discover marine life in this category. These sea creatures are a little harder to find but incredible when you discover them.

Again, this is a completely subjective snorkel category and will be based on one’s eagle eye. Thankfully, my husband is a good spotter and points out all the fun marine life I would have missed.

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WHERE'S WALDO MARINE LIFE RATING KEY

Symbol used to represent Where’s Waldo marine life: 🐙

WHERE’S WALDO MARINE LIFE RATING KEY

🐙 🐙 🐙   =   10+ octopuses, eels, lobsters, shrimp

🐙 🐙   =   Between 2-9 octopuses, eels, lobsters, or shrimp

🐙   =   At least one octopus, eel, lobster, or shrimp

05- Unique Snorkel Encounters

Swimming with a Whale Shark on the Outrigger Maafushivaru Excursion in the Maldives

Whale Shark on the Outrigger Maafushivaru Excursion in the Maldives

Not many of the snorkeling destinations will have this last category. There are certain destinations in the world where you travel just to have these EPIC experiences.

For example, we have specifically traveled to the Maldives to snorkel with whale sharks in the South Ari Atoll.

Other unique experiences have included snorkeling with numerous nurse sharks in Shark Ray Alley in Belize.

Another incredible underwater encounter was night snorkeling with manta rays on the Big Island in Hawaii.

Final Thoughts

I hope you find this snorkel rating key helpful. It is meant as a fun way to very quickly visualize what you might expect from a snorkeling site. Just remember my snorkel ratings are meant to represent a snapshot in time and can change based on current conditions.

Happy snorkeling! 🤿

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