The answer is yes you can snorkel on Hamilton Island and in fact, you can snorkel straight off the beach. I have included a map further down to show where.
Hiring Snorkel Equipment on Hamilton Island
Snorkel Hire is from the Hamilton Island Beach Sports hut which is located on Catseye Beach in front of the Main Pool area. You can walk to this location or catch the shuttle bus and get off at the ‘Resort Centre’ stop and walk through the centre/pool area to the beach.
Snorkel Hire is free if you are staying in one of the Hamilton Island owned accommodation (Palm Bungalows, Reef View Hotel, Beach Club, Qualia or Hamilton Island Holiday Homes) on a package that includes non motorised watersports.
All other visitors can pay to hire snorkelling equipment on the day or alternatively you could bring your own if you have them.
How and where to Snorkel on Catseye Beach Hamilton Island
The snorkelling at Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island is best at or close to low tide as you are closer to the reef so can see the coral and fish more clearly.
You are best to confirm with water sports at the time of snorkelling when you are on the island so they recommend snorkelling based on the current conditions such as weather and reef conditions.
However when I visited in 2022 the advice was to head out through the sand channel (either the main channel or the small one to the left side of it when standing on the beach looking towards the water) and then snorkel along the reef.
To be honest I didn’t go too far along as I’m a bit of wuss with an overactive imagination but there is some nice patches of coral on either side of the sand channels towards the drop-off at the back of the area inside the buoys (again get this explained to you in person once on the Island to ensure you get up to date safety info).
I spotted turtles at the back locations/near them but also in the grassy sea beds between the shore and the drop-off over towards the high tide snorkel area as well. At super low tides it may be to shallow to snorkel over the more shallow areas.