This paper presents the characteristics of the streamer discharge development between the dielectric-coated sphere-plane electrodes in water. In order to study the streamer propagation mechanism, the factors such as polarities, water conductivity, and ambient pressure were taken into consideration. Experimental results demonstrate that the water conductivity and amplitude of applied voltage both have a great influence on mean velocity and brightness of the streamer. When the ambient pressure decreases from 0.1 to 0.0065 MPa, the pressure has little influence on the mean velocities of the streamer in both distilled and tap water for fast streamer. The existence of dielectric coating causes a lower initiation voltage of the streamer for negative polarity than that for positive one. Also, the 10% breakdown voltage (U10%) is decreased by 20% under the pressure of 0.0065 MPa than that under the pressure of 0.1 MPa in distilled water, while the U10% is almost the same under different pressures in tap water. Based on the analysis of the discharge images and current waveforms as well as the above experimental results, it can be concluded that the streamer propagation is composed of the generation of the microbubbles and the discharge in the bubbles. For subsonic streamer, the generation of the bubbles is more likely a thermal process, whereas for supersonic streamer, the ionization and dissociation of water molecules in high electric field are involved in the bubble generation process.