6 Great Snorkeling Destinations In Europe

Are you looking for a cool destination you could spend your next holiday? How about spending your holiday in one of the best snorkeling destinations in Europe.

Even better, how about a destination that’s great not only for snorkeling but also for swimming, hiking, scuba diving or just relaxing and enjoying beautiful sites. Sounds interesting, right?

Ok, here is our list of the best snorkeling destinations in Europe with a short review on each of them:

  1. Illes Medes – A little piece of heaven
  2. Isola Rossa – The best of Sardinia
  3. Makarska – The heart of the Adriatic sea
  4. Paphos – Incredible Cyprus
  5. Caneiros – Portugal at its finest
  6. Plage de la Palud – From France with love

Let’s start with Illes Medes – A little piece of heaven

Illes Medes, Costa Brava, Spain

A little piece of heaven indeed…

The Medes Island chain in Spanish waters is a great place to snorkel with the whole family. There are seven islets in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea close to the shore, east of the coastal town of L’Estartit.
The islets are surrounded by several reefs which are home to an underwater site of amazing biological and ecological value. There is a lot of things you can see and do on the Medes Islands.

Illes Medes, Costa Brava, SpainBecause this coastal area is so rocky, there won’t be a lot of swimmers, boaters, and fishermen getting in your way and spoiling the relaxing experience of snorkeling.

You can splash around in the shallows with a snorkel, or take some scuba diving lessons and dive a little deeper. The Medes Islands have been protected area for over 20 years. The protection has led to the recovery of endangered marine life, seabed and the islands themselves.

The islands have become one of the Mediterranean’s top scuba diving destinations. The fish and plant life both seem more peaceful, and as a result, more beautiful.  Nothing is getting caught up in netting, and no one is damaging the coral life.

Take your best underwater camera with you, and watch for the giant groupers and the very distinctive barracudas. The barracuda, by the way, is a ferocious ray-finned fish. Here are a couple of videos showing some great snorkeling and scuba diving in Illes Medes.

Hotels and Accommodation in the Medes Island

Although there is no accommodation available on the island, there are plenty of amazing options available on the mainland. You can choose whether to stay in a hotel, bungalow, villa or an apartment.

Some of the best and most attractive places for staying here are Hotel Panorama, Hotel Nereida and La résidence Estartit Playa.

Up next we have…

Isola Rossa, Sardinia

The best of Sardinia

Enjoy the seaside tourist town of Isola Rossa in the northwest of Sardinia. The red rock sandy beaches are beautiful with many small warm pools and inlets to explore. Below is a selection of the best beaches you can visit during your holiday in Isola Rossa:

Longa Beach

Isola Rossa sardinia snorkeling

Longa beach is a mesmerizing beach with fine white sand and crystal clear water. It is located in the center of the Isola Rossa resort.

The beach is perfect for families with children thanks to its gentle incline into the water. The beach is fully open to the public.

There are plenty of loungers and sunshades which can be rented. There is also a scuba diving center where you can rent scuba diving gear or take lessons on scuba diving.

Li Femini Beach

Spiaggia Il FeminiLi Femini beach is located close to the tourist port in Isola Rossa. It is particularly popular among families with children, due to its gentle incline into the water. Even if the water is shallow, hundreds of colorful fish will be there to greet you. Your kids will love it. The water is crystal clear even on wavy days. It is worth mentioning that in the past only women were allowed to sunbathe on this beach. That’s where the name of the beach “Li Femini” comes from (“Li Femini” means “women” in Gallures)

La Marinedda Beach

La Marinedda beach is a beautiful beach hidden in a cove between Isola Rossa and the Li Caneddi headland. The beach is very popular among surfers from all over the world. The beach is so popular among surfers that an international Surf Contest is held here every year.

Marinedda beachAlthough the beach is heaven for surfers, it is also fully open to the public. Some parts of the beach are equipped with loungers and sunshades that can be rented.

There is also a pedalo and canoe rental for those interested exploring the coastline. For those interested in surfing, there is a surf school where you can take surfing lessons or rent surfing gear.

Moray eels are popular here because they love to hide among the rocks. Eels are quite capable of looking after themselves.  They have been know to attack a shark.

For the more experienced snorkeler, venture further from shore. You never know what might be lurking in the deep. Once again, never snorkel without a friend and a camera.

moray eels sardinia snorkelHere’s a great video showing some of the underwater sights you will see in Isola Rossa.

Hotels and Accommodation in Isola Rossa

Isola Rossa

Although it is a rather small village, Isola Rossa has a lot to offer, including amazing beaches, crystal clear blue waters, and some of the most amazing hotels and villas.

This village is fast becoming one of Sardinia’s favorite tourist destinations and visitors from all over the world come here to enjoy beautiful nature, amazing food and great accommodation.

Some of the most popular places for staying in Isola Rossa are A.I.R. Residence Tanca Della Torre, Case del Borgo Isola Rossa, Rocciarossa and A.I.R. Hotel Gabbiano OK onward to…

Makarska Beach, Croatia

The heart of the Adriatic sea

Makarska Beach is on the Adriatic Sea, and the snorkeling here should provide you with some very different species.

The seabed at Makarska beach has freshwater springs, which results in a unique collection of corals and plants such as the Golden Sponges. Octopuses and crabs are hiding in the rocks below, and best of all, seahorses will make your snorkeling experience complete for sure.

Did you know that the male seahorse gives birth to the baby seahorses known as fry? The fry is on his/her own right from the beginning.  They float along in the plankton and only 1 in a 1000 will survive.

Makarska beachWhat makes Makarska beach one of the most popular beaches in Croatia is its location. Makarska is located in a deep sheltered bay, backed by the amazing rocky heights of Mount Biokovo.

Biokovo’s sea-facing side is full of well-marked trails which are ideal for hiking or mountain biking. Mount Biokovo is also an amazing place to go to watch the sunset from. Makarska’s town beach is a beautiful pebble beach, backed by fragrant pinewoods overlooking the crystal clear turquoise sea.

Makarska Beach, Croatia snorkel

Around the beach you can find a lot of boats, banana rides and jet skies for hire which is great for families. Makarska also offers chilled-out nightlife with plenty of beach bars and night clubs.

One of the most popular beach bars is Buba beach bar which is famous for its parties, sunset cocktails and electronic dance music.

Hotels and Accommodation in Makarska


Make your trip to Croatia’s Makarska Riviera more special and memorable by staying in one of its luxurious villas, apartments or hotels. Most of Makarska’s hotels are close to the main beaches and usually offer private pools, great ocean view, fascinating food and much more.

Some of the best places to stay in Makarska are Central Beach 9, Hotel Osejava and Boutique Hotel Ani.
Alrighty, let us hop on over to the beautiful…


The incredible island of Cyprus

The Paphos area has gently sloping beautiful sandy beaches. There are several secluded beaches, where you will be the only one there.

After a great snorkeling experience, enjoy the privacy on several small and quaint beach strips. Crystal clear water is excellent for swimming, diving and water sports. The beaches are excellent for families as lots of water sports options are available.

coral bay divers

The seawater glimmer in the night and one can enjoy the view by sitting in a nearby tavern sipping a glass of local wine.

The lighthouse area is popular because of the sea caves. Look closely and you might spot the elusive octopus. For sure you will spot a pipe fish. Swim along with him and enjoy his adventures. The water is very clear and perfect for photos.

pipe fishThe pipe fishes’ body is long and straight, and it is a cousin of the seahorse. He has to work hard to get his supper, because he is so small. It is worth mentioning that some of the beaches are well-known for the volleyball tournaments that are held regularly and attract volleyball enthusiasts from all sides of the world.

If you are interested in shopping, there is plenty of shops where you can shop for fish, local food and delicacies.

Hotels and Accommodation in Paphos

paphos alexander the great

Paphos is one of those rare places where you can experience a rich cultural heritage while indulging in modern luxuries.

This amazing place features intriguing classical style buildings, a deep and enchanting history, incredible archaeological findings, and a great subtropical climate.

With amazing sea views, luxurious resorts, brilliant hotels and access to the gorgeous countryside, Kato Paphos is definitely the best area to stay in Paphos. Almyra Hotel, Alexander the Great and Annabelle are just some of the magnificent places for staying in Kato Paphos area.

If you are able to visit all of these places, consider yourself lucky.  Here is another great European snorkeling destination!

Caneiros, Algarve, Portugal

Portugal at its finest

Thirty minutes from Faro airport and not far from the community of Lagoa, Caneiros can be a romantic spot or a wonderful family day at the beach. It is close to the eastern bank of the Rio Arade estuary.

El esquinazo rocoso de la Praia Dona Ana, en el Algarve, PortugalThe large rock faces envelop the underwater explorers, and the swimming is great.  Rent a day bed on the beach for sure. If you decide you just want to lie and look at the blue horizon, you should see one of the old Portuguese Caravels sail past at some point in the day.

These amazing wooden boats sailed as far as the Indian Ocean in the 15th century on their voyages of discovery. Paddle boats and kayaks are also available. You must snorkel in the warm clear Atlantic Ocean and explore the underwater caves. We highly recommend you bring an underwater camera or waterproof smartphone with you so you can make amazing underwater photos.

At low tide, you can walk, swim or snorkel to your own private cove. Have a chic meal at the Rei das Praias on the beach with ice wine. If you are not a big fan of ice wine, you can try some of the most amazing cocktails.
Wrap up your day in the beautiful sunshine with a massage.

Hotels and Accommodation in Caneiros


What makes Caneiros such a great tourist destination is the fact that it offers not only crystal clear waters, amazing sand beaches and great snorkelling spots but also a range of activities, attractions, and places to stay.

Some of the best places to stay in Caneiros are the Tivoli Carvoeiro, Hotel Oriental (Adults Only), Caneiros Luxury House & Suites, Hotel da Rocha and Bela Vista Hotel & Spa.

Can you handle another great European snorkeling destination?  Here’s one more!

Plage de la Palud, South of France

From France with love

The south of France borders the Mediterranean Sea with a shoreline of over 560 miles. Many different marine environments exist here with rocks, sandy beaches, and islands.

The snorkeling is great, especially in the reserves and National Parks. Port Cros National Park is a small island, with some of the best preserved sea beds which contain the richest fish.

Port Cros is also famous for its incredible historical heritage which consists of archaeological remains, military forts and several ship wrecks.

Many of the ship wrecks are available for exploring so we suggest you take your snorkeling gear and hit those amazing sites.

Shipwreck DivingPlease bear in mind that the only drinkable water point is located in the fort of L’Estissac. That’s why it is suggested you bring your own water supplies with you when hiking and exploring this amazing place. Palud Bay is just one location that will impress the most experienced snorkelers. Arrive in Port Cros, and walk north for about 40 minutes to reach Palud beach. The path is well marked, but stony. You will need good footwear.

PLAGE NOTRE DAMEThe water is calm and very clear, especially from June to September, so snorkelers can get up close and personal with hundreds of fish. The temperatures are perfect for snorkeling during these months, too.

The underwater path prepared by the Parks Service rangers will make your snorkeling education that much easier. Please be careful and watch out for jellyfishes as there is plenty of them in this part of the sea.

Hotels and Accommodation near Plage de la Palud

Hotel with Pool

There are plenty of amazing places for you to stay near this magnificent beach. You can choose whether to stay in a hotel, bungalow, villa or an apartment.

Some of the best and most attractive places for staying here are Le Manoir de Port-Cros, InDiPaChaHoliday Homes and La MAISON du PORT.
Thanks for reading!

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About the author: Garth loves camping under the stars with his Arb III, scuba diving, snorkeling, and also tanning. His favourite snorkel spots include Alanya (Turkey), Koh Rong (Cambodia), and Maui (Hawaii, USA). He also loves to visit the cenotes in Mexico and he recommends everyone reads the book, “The Soul of an Octopus”, because, he says “they are sensitive, just like me”.