The World Traveller’s Guide to Picture Perfect Underwater Photography

by Emese Graham
best destinations for snorkelling

If you wouldn’t dream of boarding a plane without a camera and a tripod, get ready to add ‘underwater camera housing’ to your essential packing checklist.

From eco-friendly tips, diving etiquette, and a guide to the world’s most mesmerizing snorkelling destinations, use our pointers to make your underwater travel photography really click.

travel photography

taking pictures under waterWhere to Go Snorkelling and Diving for the Best Underwater Photography

1. Galapagos Islands

underwater photography destinations

What to photograph: whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, barracuda, tuna, seahorses, eels, sea turtles, penguins, sea lions.

Resplendent with wildlife, the Galapagos Island is the first ever UNESCO World Heritage site, and the ultimate travel destination for true nature lovers. Expect stunning encounters with endemic creatures both above and below sea level.

One of the best ways to experience the Galapagos is with Celebrity Cruises. Between magical offshore excursions, your shutterbug getaway will be the epitome of comfort, hospitality, and more than a little gastronomic indulgence.

But more importantly, Celebrity Cruises has been recognized with the Charles Darwin Socially Responsible Award for their industry-leading standards of environmental stewardship and conservation efforts while cruising the Galapagos Islands for the past 14 years.

2. Bali

underwater travel photography

What to photograph: parrotfish, tuna, cuttlefish, eels, seahorses, octopi, manta rays, sea anemones, coral reefs, sea turtles, shipwrecks.

The tropical island of Bali is more than an enchanting hideaway, it makes up part of the Coral Triangle, which is home to an astonishing 76% of all known coral species. Bali’s sugar-sand beaches, crystalline waters, and abundant sea life make it one of the top destinations for beginner-friendly snorkelling in the world.

Grab your camera and underwater housing unit and head to Blue Lagoon Beach for shallow family-friendly conditions, plan a day trip to Tulamben to capture eerie shots of a sunken ship, or visit the aptly named Manta Point for a respectful photoshoot with friendly manta rays.

3. Mexico

underwater travel photography

What to photograph: whale sharks, coral reefs, reef fish, starfish, sea turtles, manta rays, tuna.

The largest barrier reef system in the Western Hemisphere is quite close to home for many Canadians, located in Cozumel, Mexico. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System was called “one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas in the world” by oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau.

Cozumel is a thrilling destination for colourful underwater photography, but not to be underestimated are the nearby Socorro Islands, Riviera Maya, and even Cancun! Expert Traveller, Jason Chow recommends visiting Cancun’s whale sharks as an essential addition to anyone’s travel bucket list. While you’re nearby, make a pit stop at Cancun’s mystifying Underwater Museum.

4. Palau

underwater photography destinations

What to photograph: jellyfish, manta rays, giant clams, coral reef, reef fish (1500 species!), shipwrecks.

Take a boat to explore Palau’s jungle islets and snorkel or scuba dive over the coral reefs. Camera-armed divers are in for a treat- there are several stunning shipwrecks to juxtapose against the island’s marine life.

For a special excursion inland, check out Jellyfish Lake, the only lake on Eil Malk Island that’s open to the public for snorkelling. Swimmers can safely float around a bloom of jellyfish, whose stings aren’t harmful to humans. It’s out of the way, but such a one-of-a-kind experience that your journey to Palau won’t be complete without a visit.

The best way to experience Palau is to fly in from the Philippines, Taiwan, Guam, or South Korea or dovetail the trip to your getaway in nearby Bali.

5. Australia

underwater photography tips

What to photograph: coral reef, reef fish, manta rays, barracuda, anemones, seahorses, Maori wrasse, surgeonfish, parrotfish, sharks

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef ecosystem on earth (and the reason you’ll never forget P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney). Along with exploring at least a few of our top-recommended Australian destinations for photography, make sure you reserve a day to play in the reef.

You don’t have to scuba dive to get a great view either. Just ask Expert Traveller, Hannah Ventham, who had a lucky encounter with a friendly Napoleon fish named Wally while snorkelling the reef. She was amazed at how much reef life you can witness just from the water’s surface.

Our Expert Travellers can help you design the perfect itinerary for travel photography. Book your underwater wonderland getaway in a snap! Just call 1-877-967-5302 anytime or chat with us online.