The Best Places to Snorkel in Europe
Dive into our selection of the best snorkelling spots on the continent.
It’s time to dive into the delicious possibility of snorkelling in Europe. With the continent blessed with an exceptional variety of oceans, landscapes, wildlife and temperatures, Europe is home to some of the most varied snorkelling in the world with many different kinds of flora and fauna visible. Let Plum Guide help you find luxurious accommodation near some of the very best places to snorkel in Europe.
As if you’d ever need an excuse to visit this gorgeous Italian island anyway. But just in case you did, the snorkelling here is excellent. Sardinia itself is picture-perfect, full of colourful villages clinging to the Italian coastline, gently tumbling towards the sea. It’s also home to an incredibly rich culture and history, if your grown-up kids would rather spend the afternoon in a museum rather than joining their flipper-wearing parents in the sea.
What makes Sardinia one of the best places to snorkel in Europe is its 1,149 mile long coastline. While primarily made up of rocky cliffs (keep an eye out for bronzed Italians cliff jumping while wearing tiny swimwear), the island’s bays and inlets are tailor-made for gazing at through a snorkel mask. Two of our favourite spots are Cala Goloritzé, which is reachable only by hiking or boating, so is far from the madding crowds, and the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara where you can take a guided tour to swim by the Crisso shipwreck and discover the sea life that lives there.
Islands have an inherent advantage when it comes to the best places to snorkel in Europe, as there tends to be a lot more coastline to play with. Crete is no exception. As the largest of the Greek islands, it’s an ideal place for someone as discerning as you to get their fins on. It is, as Homer described it, 'in the midst of the wine-dark sea.'
The waters here are clear and very blue, and offer an abundance of marine life for you to enjoy while you splash around on the island’s many beaches. We recommend making sure to visit the pink sand Elafonisi Beach for holiday snaps which will make your most social media-savvy friend green with envy. After a day in the water, head to one of Crete’s traditional kafeneions, or coffeehouses, and make up for all those calories burned with a spread of mountain snails, locally sourced vegetables and raki. You are on vacation, after all.
Just because the sea isn’t the UK isn’t bright blue and crystal clear doesn’t mean there’s not great snorkelling to be had here. Devon is home to beautiful green landscapes, cream teas laden with jam, and a wide variety of fascinating sea life.
Fairy Cove, in the middle of Tor Bay, is made up of a series of enticing caves and rocky corridors that are fun and interesting to swim through. Inside tip: as you make your way south along the cove, keep an eye out for the dramatic tiered layers of rocks and the submerged gorges where the sunlight dapples onto the sea-sponge coated walls. You’ll see grey mullet, bib, ballan and corkwing wrasse while you swim.
When you’ve had your fill of the ocean, it’s practically illegal to visit Devon without seeing Dartmoor. This renowned national park is officially the least-inhabited space in the UK, so you can finally throw off the shackles of annoying work colleagues and compulsory attendance at kid’s birthday parties and run wild. If you want to give yourself a fright, read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles when you get back to your gorgeous Plum Guide property (although don’t blame us if it means you have trouble falling asleep).
That’s right – the snorkelling is so good in Italy we had to include it twice. Sicily is one of the country’s crown jewels, especially in the summer months when the intense heat makes the days long and languid.
Sicily is blessed with some of the Mediterranean’s oldest marine reserves, so the wildlife here is truly exceptional. The rugged coastline and crystalline waters are the cherry on the cake of swimming here. Even better, most of the great snorkelling spots around the island are freely accessible from the island’s many beaches. Moray eels, small dusky groupers, sea breams and tropical-colored wrasse are just some of the creatures you’ll see.
South of France
With a shoreline stretching over 560 miles, with many different kinds of marine environments, the South of France is a snorkeler's dream. As if the excellent food, exemplary wine and flawlessly relaxing environment of the South of France aren’t enough, the snorkelling is out of this world.
Some of the best spots to take a dive are the coves, bays and rocky beaches between la Seyne-sur-Mer and St Tropez. On the beautiful Giens peninsula, we recommend visiting the Archaeological Site of Olbia, where a 19th-century wreck and an ancient Roman quay rest just a few metres from the beach, making accessing them very easy. You can expect to get up close and personal with octopus, starfish, wrasse, sargo and even sea horses in some locations.