Snorkeling is unarguably one of the most rewarding and enjoyable activities you can enjoy in the water. Given the choice, many of you reading this right now would probably spend every minute in your favorite pursuit. 

But there are certain times that are better suited for snorkeling than others. Don’t get us wrong: almost every time is a good time for snorkeling. But if you want to enjoy the most impressive sights and get the best possible experience, you might want to plan your snorkeling schedule strategically.


Perhaps the single most important factor that can affect the ideal time to go snorkeling is the tide. Every day, the water comes in twice a day in a phenomenon known as ‘high tide’. When the water recedes‒which also occurs twice a day‒it is known as ‘low tide.’


So when is the best time to go snorkeling: high tide or low tide? There are benefits and drawbacks to each period, and each certainly has its advocates. Although the choice is largely dependent on your preferences, there are certain characteristics to each that might make them the better option for you. 

You will usually get better visibility at high tide, which means you can see underwater features much more clearly. This is because the depth of the water makes it less likely to churn up the sea bed and stir up the sand. 

On the other hand, it will be more difficult to get to the bottom, which is where the most impressive sights usually are. But this shouldn’t be an issue if you are an experienced diver or snorkeler and the water isn’t too deep. 

At low tide, you will probably get reduced visibility due to the action of the water stirring up the sand. On the plus side, the shallower water makes it easier for you to reach the ocean floor.

Another advantage of snorkeling at low tide is that the coral formations and tide pools are more accessible and readily visible. You could then see a lot more features that wouldn’t be visible or accessible during high tide.  

There are other factors to keep in mind when choosing the optimal time to go snorkeling. For example, if you opt to head out at high tide, you will probably have to stick pretty close to shore for safety. This could prevent you from seeing the most impressive formations and marine life, which tend to be located further out.


There are also safety and practical factors to consider. Snorkeling in deep waters means you will be doing more swimming, treading water, and floating, which uses up a lot of energy. You might find that doing so tires you out more quickly, so you might have to make more frequent trips back to shore to take a break. 

Of course, these are non-issues if you are heading out on a boat or a raft. Some of the most enjoyable snorkeling trips are those wherein you have a vessel close by that you could always go back to for a rest or to get supplies. 

If you do go snorkeling at low tide, you can often get to where you need to go simply by walking through the shallows or clambering over rocks. This gives you the opportunity to check out a lot more tide pools and underwater caverns, most of which will have impressive coral formations and colorful marine creatures.

Keep in mind that snorkeling at low tide has its share of risks as well. Rocks and corals can cut and scrape you if you aren’t careful, and there is always the possibility of slipping or falling.


Ultimately, the only way to know which period is best for you is to try them both. If you have the opportunity to spend a couple of days on the beach, head out at low tide and then again at high tide. Tide schedules are usually available at the information desk, from the snorkeling shop staff, or on the internet. Make sure to check out what time the tides come in on a particular day, as the schedules shift slightly every day. 

Whether you choose to go snorkeling at high tide or low tide, always be aware of your surroundings and the environmental conditions at all times. Stay safe, take the necessary precautions, and don’t take any unnecessary risks, and you should have a great snorkeling experience!