Northeast of Guam and southwest of Saipan, the island of Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands has several exceptional snorkeling dive sites known for their visibility. Most of the snorkeling is focused on the southwest coast in Sosnhya Bay. Since Rota is located outside of the typhoon belt, the reefs are nearly pristine.
The best snorkeling on Rota is called the Coral Gardens and is located on the southwest side of Rota to the located southeast of Songsong and Teneta. During a Coral Gardens snorkeling dive, you may encounter double-saddle angelfish, butterflyfish, garden eels, octopus, clownfish, peacock flounder, surgeonfish, sea turtles and sharks among the rolling hard coral formations. In fact, there are over 250 species of coral in these waters. The water depths range from 10 to 50 feet deep and the visibility is usually really good. The Coral Gardens snorkeling site can be accessed by shore or by boat. It is also known as the Cable Run snorkeling dive site. It was very popular in the past, but there are been underwater demolition of old ordinance which impacted the area. The coral is slowly recovering. It is found within the Sasanhaya Bay Fish Reserve.
The A-Frame snorkeling dive site is accessible from either shore or boat and is known for its large coral heads. The water depth ranges from 20 to 50 feet deep. While snorkeling A-Frame, you may encounter parrotfish, stingrays, surgeonfish and sometimes white tipped reef sharks.
The Joanne’s Reef snorkeling dive site is accessible from either shore or boat and is known for its diverse marine life in clear water. The water depth ranges from 30 to 60 feet deep. While snorkeling Joanne’s Reef, you may encounter rays, lionfish, octopus, goatfish, parrotfish and snapper.
The East Harbor snorkeling dive site is a popular shore-accessed snorkel popular for scattered coral heads and anchors among the sand flats. The water depth ranges from 10 to 65 feet deep. While snorkeling East Harbor, you may encounter octopus, surgeonfish, parrotfish, stingrays, turtles and crocodile fish. Keep in mind that getting to the double reef requires crossing an active harbor channel with a sometimes strong current, so use a diver down flag.
The Wedding Cake Point snorkeling dive site is located to the southwest of Songsong at the far point. It is known for excellent visibility with plenty of anemone and sharks. But, it may also have quickly changing currents.
The Cable Run snorkeling dive site is located southeast of Songsong and Teneta. This spot can be accessed from shore as there is a small cove beach. Keep an eye out for the manta rays and sharks as you get deeper.
Rota Island has very little actual rainfall and no rivers, therefore the water clarity is known to be exceptional. Rota is a territory of the USA, and there are regular flights direct from Guam and Saipan (but they are known to be unreliable).
Overall, Rota is the 2nd most popular snorkel dive spot of all 5 snorkeling dives in Northern Mariana Islands.