Snorkeling in Cancun, Mexico

Snorkeling in Cancun

Cancun is a paradise destination not only for its beaches but also for snorkeling.

Sea outings with masks and snorkels allow you to explore the Great Mayan Reef, the second-largest coral reef in the world.

Located off the coast of Cancun, this reef is made up of thousands of corals and is home to incredible tropical fish.

Snorkeling in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is always an amazing and different experience every day.

In Cancun, you can also find a very unique snorkeling spot: an underwater museum consisting of 500 statues placed beneath the sea.

Snorkeling in Cancun also means exploring the seabeds of the islands off the coast of Cancun.

Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy are two of the most beautiful islands in the Riviera Maya. Completely different, they both have breathtaking underwater wildlife.

Finally, the whale shark, the largest fish in the world, is present near Cancun during the summer months.

An excellent opportunity to experience the unforgettable experience of snorkeling with these magical animals.

Follow my guide to discover the best spots for snorkeling in Cancun!

1. The Underwater Museum of Cancun

The Underwater Museum of Cancun, known as the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), is a museum comprised of 500 sculptures located between Cancun and Isla Mujeres.

The sculptures placed beneath the sea surface were created by local and international sculptors.

Opened in 2010, the underwater museum of Cancun was aimed at providing a new destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.

As a result, the fragile coral reef, damaged by hurricanes and human activities, is now less burdened by the growing tourism.

In addition to their visually attractive nature, these sculptures are intended to raise awareness about the protection of oceans and marine environments.

Made of neutral concrete for the ocean, these sculptures have a positive impact on corals and fish, acting as artificial reefs.

The underwater museum can be visited either by snorkeling with fins, mask, and snorkel, or by scuba diving.

MUSA Cancun

How to access the underwater museum?

The underwater museum is located on the southern coast of Isla Mujeres, next to the Manchones Reef.

To visit the underwater museum and the Manchones Reef, it is necessary to go on an excursion. It is not possible to reach it on your own.

There are numerous excursions departing from Cancun or Isla Mujeres.

❤️ I particularly recommend this excursion where you will be accompanied on-site and then have time to observe all these statues while snorkeling.

Wearing a life jacket is mandatory for visiting the underwater museum while snorkeling as the museum is located within a national park.

This excursion is recommended for beginners in snorkeling to discover an underwater artistic environment.

For snorkeling enthusiasts, the experience can become disappointing due to the sometimes very large number of tourists on-site.

Underwater museum Cancun

What to see at the underwater museum?

The area of MUSA located at the Manchones Reef consists of exactly 477 underwater statues.

They depict men and women in everyday life situations.

The artworks “Silent Evolution” and “Silent Evolution II” by artist Jason Decaires Taylor depict men and women standing and forming a crowd as if frozen in time.

Another remarkable artwork at the museum is “Anthropocene” by the same artist, where the sculpture of a human body on the hood of a Volkswagen Beetle surprises visitors.

You can also see many other works such as sculptures of giant bombs, rather worried bankers, or even a house buried underwater.

In addition to the statues at the underwater museum, it is also possible to see the numerous corals and fish living on the Manchones Reef.

Many marine animals have made their home in the Manchones Reef, so it is not uncommon to encounter tropical fish, rays, turtles, and more.

MUSA Cancun

2. Punta Nizuc

Another snorkeling spot in Cancun that I’ll tell you about is Punta Nizuc.

Accessible for snorkeling via a boat tour, Punta Nizuc is bordered by a reef teeming with numerous corals and fish.

A small part of the underwater museum is also accessible from Punta Nizuc. 33 statues are submerged in this part of the Cancun bay.

If you have to choose between Punta Nizuc Reef and the Manchones Reef, I still recommend heading to the Manchones Reef, which has many more statues and healthier coral reefs.

Punta Nizuc

How to access the reef?

Punta Nizuc is located just next to the Club Med, south of the Cancun hotel zone.

If you wish to visit Punta Nizuc Reef on an excursion, you will find several tours that can take you there. Aquaworld is one of them.

You can dive in and snorkel to observe the statues of the underwater museum and the fish amidst the corals.

3. Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a paradise island located off the coast of Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula and easily accessible by ferry or day trip excursion.

Its particularly rich marine life, abundant with fish, rays, and turtles, makes it a paradise for snorkeling enthusiasts in Cancun.

To snorkel at Isla Mujeres, I recommend two must-visit spots:

  • El Faro
  • In front of the Mia Hotel
Isla Mujeres

El Faro

To snorkel at the El Faro spot, it’s necessary to take a boat tour to access it.

Indeed, the reef is located too far from the beach to reach by swimming from the shore.

El Faro is actually where a lighthouse was built on a rock to signal to boats the island and the nearby coral reefs close to the surface.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef passes near Isla Mujeres, and corals are abundant offshore of Isla Mujeres.

The colorful fish seeking shelter within this reef are present by the hundreds and often move in entire schools.

In addition to the numerous colorful fish, I have also seen rays swimming at the bottom of the water!

In front of the Mia Hotel

The Mia Hotel is the only resort on Isla Mujeres. It is located on a small island just north of Isla Mujeres, near the famous Playa Norte beach.

To connect the island of the Mia Hotel to Playa Norte beach, a wooden bridge has been installed.

Under this wooden bridge, dozens of schools of colorful fish have made it their home.

The diversity of fish present at this spot is incredible and always surprises me when I visit Isla Mujeres.

At this location on the island, the water has a low depth, making it easily accessible for beginners and children.

The water at Playa Norte beach is always very clear, even transparent, ideal for seeing fish even in windy conditions.

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

4. Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy is a neighboring island of Isla Mujeres, only accessible via an excursion.

Indeed, Isla Contoy is the last untouched island of the Riviera Maya, protected within a natural park.

Every day, the number of visitors is limited to 200 people to avoid affecting the island’s wildlife and flora, as well as its marine life.

Isla Contoy is inhabited by numerous birds that come to nest, as well as turtles that come to lay their eggs on the island’s beaches.

During a snorkeling session at Isla Contoy, you can observe fish swimming amidst the coral reef passing not far from the island.

Rays and sometimes even turtles also join in during the snorkeling activity.

❤️ If you’re up for an adventure and want to visit a paradise island, then I recommend this excursion to Isla Contoy, which combines snorkeling, relaxation on the beach, a tour of the island, and a stop at Isla Mujeres on the way back.

Isla Contoy

5. Swimming with Whale Sharks

An extraordinary experience to have while snorkeling in Cancun is swimming with whale sharks.

These animals are the largest fish in the world and can reach a length of 18 meters!

Whale sharks visit the shores off the coast of Cancun during the summer months, from June to September, to find the plankton they feed on.

To live this experience, it is necessary to go on an excursion, as whale sharks remain quite far from the coast.

❤️ If you’re tempted by the adventure, I recommend this excursion which allows you to go in a small group with a guide to discover these sea creatures.

The boat ride lasts about an hour and can be quite bumpy on a generally rough sea.

During the journey, your guide will explain the history of whale sharks as well as the safety measures to be followed while swimming alongside them.

Whale shark

Is it safe to snorkel in Cancun?

Snorkeling in Cancun is a safe activity.

To snorkel safely in Cancun, it is important to follow some basic rules:

  • Use a life jacket if you are not comfortable in the water.
  • Use a safety float to signal yourself to boats.
  • Stay alert to boats and rocks nearby.
  • Do not leave valuables on the beach.

In any case, I always recommend having travel insurance. It will undoubtedly be useful in case of unexpected events during your trip to Mexico.

Coral and Marine Life Protection

To protect corals and marine life during a snorkeling session, it is very important to:

🧴 Avoid using sunscreen, even if it’s biodegradable.

🦟 Refrain from using mosquito repellent.

🪸 Avoid touching the corals.

🐢 Avoid touching marine animals.

🐟 Refrain from feeding fish and other animals.

🏊‍♂️ Always remain horizontally in the water to avoid touching the corals.

🗑️ Do not leave any waste or food on the beaches.

Engaging in responsible snorkeling is essential to ensure the protection of corals and a fragile ecosystem.


What to Bring for Snorkeling in Cancun?

For any snorkeling session, I recommend having with you:

👙 Swimwear

✅ Towel

🤿 Mask and snorkel

📱 Waterproof phone case or camera

🛟 Safety float

👕 Wetsuit if you are sensitive to cold.

snorkeling gear

Where to Buy Snorkeling Gear in Cancun?

To find snorkeling gear in Cancun, you can head to Walmart or Chedraui supermarkets.

However, be aware that the selection may be limited, and prices can be relatively high.

If you’re looking for a specialized snorkeling and diving store in Cancun, consider visiting Manta Dive and Snorkel Cancun.

In addition to being a shop, you can also do scuba diving trips in the Caribbean Sea.

What is the Best Time for Snorkeling in Cancun?

For snorkeling in Cancun, I recommend the summer months.

During the winter months, which are known for better weather, there can be episodes of cold fronts where north winds disturb water visibility.

These episodes typically last 2 to 3 days maximum. Otherwise, winter is also a very good season for snorkeling in Cancun.

Other Snorkeling Spots in the Yucatan Peninsula

  • Snorkeling in Tulum: Explore an incredible coral reef in the Sian Ka’an biosphere.
  • Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen: Discover a hidden spot facing downtown Playa del Carmen.
  • Snorkeling in Cozumel: Explore the underwater world of this paradise island, perfect for snorkeling enthusiasts.
  • Snorkeling at Caleta Yal-Ku: Explore an extraordinary cove inhabited by hundreds of fish.
  • Snorkeling at Playa Xpu-Ha: My favorite for snorkeling from the beach and discovering extraordinary marine life.
  • Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos: Located near the coral reef barrier, Puerto Morelos offers many spots for snorkeling.
  • Snorkeling in Holbox: Swimming with whale sharks is a magical experience to have from the island of Holbox.
5/5 - (2 votes)
Sian Kann Tours