Snorkeling in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

snorkeling coral

Snorkeling in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is one of the reasons why this region of Mexico is an essential natural gem.

Indeed, the second largest coral reef in the world lies off the coast of the Mexican Caribbean Sea.

Stretching over a thousand kilometers between Cancun and Honduras, this coral reef is home to an exceptional underwater fauna.

That’s why snorkeling in the Yucatan Peninsula is a must-do activity when visiting Mexico!

In this article, I will introduce you to my top spots in the region for snorkeling and observing fish, turtles, seahorses, starfish, and more.

Why go snorkeling in the Yucatan Peninsula?

Snorkeling involves exploring the underwater world with just a mask, a snorkel, and sometimes fins.

The snorkel allows you to swim without having to lift your head out of the water, allowing you to breathe continuously while observing the fish!

Even if you’ve never tried snorkeling before, know that this activity is very easy, and you’ll have no trouble getting into it.

With just a mask and a snorkel, you can discover the rich marine life housed within the coral reef.

In addition to the Caribbean Sea seabeds, it’s also possible to explore the spectacular geological formations of the cenotes.

In this way, even without extensive scuba diving gear, you can observe the rich marine life off the coast of the Riviera Maya.

snorkeling in Mexico

The Mexican Caribbean Reef

Off the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula lies the second largest coral reef system in the world. It runs along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

More than 65 different coral species make up the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. The corals come in all colors and shapes.

This unique ecosystem harbors numerous animals: more than 500 species of tropical and multicolored fish, a delight for the eyes of visitors!

In addition to fish, it’s possible to spot sea urchins, mollusks, starfish, seahorses, and even sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees.

In addition to mangroves and lagoons, the coral reef off the coast of the Riviera Maya is part of a genuine natural ecosystem useful in the fight against natural disasters.

The reef is indeed a natural barrier against hurricanes and tropical storms.

1. Snorkeling in Tulum

The town of Tulum is a rising destination in tourism thanks to its bohemian eco-chic atmosphere.

Tulum’s paradise beach is not only a dreamy spot to relax under the sun, but it also hosts a coral reef and incredible marine life.

The snorkeling spots here are abundant, offering extraordinary underwater encounters.

In Tulum, swimming with turtles, fish, and rays is entirely possible in a stunning setting, facing the Tulum ruins.

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere, south of Tulum, offers a true connection with nature and wildlife.

The numerous open-air cenotes around Tulum allow for snorkeling to observe the local fauna.

And finally, the underground cenotes provide an additional touch of magic to observe surprising geological formations.

Snorkeling Mexico

Sian Ka’an Biosphere

Sian Ka’an Biosphere is a nature reserve located south of Tulum.

❤️ For me, it’s the most beautiful snorkeling spot in the region to observe corals of all sizes and shapes.

It houses an impressive wildlife including turtles, dolphins, manatees, crocodiles, fish, and over 300 species of birds.

To reach the remote fishing village of Punta Allen, you’ll need to take a long bumpy track through the reserve’s jungle.

A boat tour in Sian Ka’an allows you to observe wildlife in their natural environment.

turtle in Sian Ka'an

Spotting dolphins, turtles and crocodiles in the heart of the reserve is quite common!

👉 If you’re up for the adventure, I highly recommend this excellent tour to Sian Ka’an.

Accompanied by a guide, you’ll see dolphins, crocodiles, turtles, and many birds during a boat tour.

Then, a snorkeling activity on the coral reef will allow you to observe colorful fish and maybe even rays.

Sian Ka'an

Sian Ka’an Boat Tour

Discover the wild beauty of Sian Ka’an by boat! Sail through turquoise lagoons, spot dolphins and turtles, and explore the mysteries of this preserved natural reserve. An unforgettable adventure in Mexico!

Book Now

Snorkeling facing the Tulum Ruins

The most easily accessible snorkeling spot in Tulum is the one located facing the archaeological site.

Here, you can see a rich marine life including turtles, many fish, and rays.

To access it, head to Tulum Beach and take a boat offshore from this beach.

First, you’ll visit the Tulum Ruins to see the backdrop of this archaeological site.

Then, your captain will take you to the reef where you’ll see underwater animals.

You’ll easily find tour vendors directly on the beach.

Negotiate the prices

Don’t be fooled by the price of this excursion, often offered at around 500 pesos initially.

With a little negotiation, you can easily bring the price down to around 250 MXN pesos.

Tulum ruins boat tour

🐟 Snorkeling in Tulum

Check out my comprehensive guide on the best snorkeling spots in Tulum!

You’ll find all my tips along with practical information to access them.

2. Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is a paradise for snorkeling. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef passes not far from the shore of the town.

Moreover, you can observe many tropical fish, sharks, and turtles swimming among the corals.

You can take a boat to the reef to observe the corals and the rich marine life.

I particularly recommend the Puerto Morelos fishermen’s cooperative, which offers snorkeling tours to the reef.

The great advantage of the fishermen’s cooperative is that they offer tours at much more affordable prices than the agencies in the town.

To find it, head to the blue house located between the main square and the lighthouse leaning over Puerto Morelos beach.

Expect a price of 350 MXN per person at the cooperative instead of 600 MXN per person at other agencies.

The village of Puerto Morelos is located just 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

So, it’s very easy to go there for the day to experience this unique opportunity to observe colorful corals and fish.

boat tour in Puerto Morelos

3. Snorkeling in Playa Del Carmen

The town of Playa del Carmen is located in the heart of the Riviera Maya and is therefore a must-visit destination when traveling along the Riviera Maya.

Although there are few offshore locations for snorkeling directly from Playa del Carmen, there are still two excellent spots worth noting:

  1. Playa Xpu-Ha located 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen
  2. Playa Coco Beach in the center of Playa del Carmen

Spot Playa Xpu-Ha

Playa Xpu-Ha is my favorite snorkeling spot in Playa del Carmen.

Even though it’s not located in downtown Playa del Carmen, it’s still easily accessible in less than thirty minutes from downtown.

Xpu-Ha beach is a paradise for snorkeling enthusiasts, but not only that!

Indeed, Xpu-Ha is a white sand beach lined with coconut trees and turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

The coral reef is just next to the beach, and you’ll have no trouble reaching the first corals by swimming.

The quantity and diversity of corals at Playa Xpu-Ha are impressive; you can observe corals of all colors and shapes.

The marine life there is also exceptional. It’s not uncommon to come across schools of tropical fish of over 50 fish!

Playa Xpu-Ha

How to access the reef?

The largest part of the Playa Xpu-Ha reef is located right in front of the beach restaurant.

The first blocks of the reef are just next to the shore of the beach, right in front of the massage stand located on the left of the restaurant.

Grab your mask and snorkel, head to the massage stand, and swim straight out. You’ll quickly encounter the first corals and schools of fish.

How to get to Playa Xpu-Ha from Playa del Carmen and Tulum?

Take the road between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. You’ll be at Playa Xpu-Ha beach in less than 30 minutes.

If you want to get there by colectivo (shared minivans), take a van between Playa del Carmen Tulum and ask the driver to stop at Playa Xpu-Ha.

The price of the colectivo trip between Playa del Carmen and Playa Xpu-Ha is 35 MXN pesos. From Tulum, the price is 45 pesos MXN.

Playa Xpu-Ha is a private beach. The access fee to the beach is 50 MXN pesos.

Make sure to choose the entrance to the Xpu-Ha Beach Restaurant. The other entrances are for beach clubs or hotels.


Spot Playa Coco Beach

To reach the snorkeling spot in Playa del Carmen, head to Playa Coco Beach located in front of the Reef Coco Beach hotel.

A small coral reef lies offshore from this beautiful tranquil beach in Playa del Carmen.

Playa Coco Beach is a stunning Playa del Carmen beach made of white sand with a few fishing boats moored at the entrance to the beach.

How to access the reef?

The reef is located behind the boats at Playa Coco Beach.

To reach the reef from the beach, enter the water near the boats and swim between the boats until you reach the reef.

Always proceed with caution when swimming among the boats.

Stay alert, and it’s best to have a safety float to signal your presence so that the boats can see you while you swim.

Once at the reef, you’ll see well-preserved corals and numerous species of fish that call it home.

This snorkeling spot in Playa del Carmen is relatively small but still in very good condition considering its location facing a highly urbanized city.

Always be mindful of neighboring boats navigating around the reef while you explore the underwater depths.

Free and close to the beach, the reef in Playa del Carmen is well worth a visit on a sunny day to enjoy an easily accessible snorkeling session.

How to get to Playa Coco Beach?

From downtown Playa del Carmen, head north along Quinta Avenida until you reach CTM Avenue.

From there, head towards the sea, pass by the Reef Coco Beach hotel, and take a small path around the hotel to access the beach.

You’ll arrive directly at the reef, where the fishing boats are moored.

4. Snorkeling in Cancun

For snorkeling in the Yucatan, Cancun offers numerous options ranging from coral reefs to paradisiacal islands and even an underwater museum!

👉 Snorkeling Guide in Cancun

You’ll also find my detailed guide on the best snorkeling spots in Cancun with all my tips!

Cancun Underwater Museum

MUSA is Cancun’s underwater art museum. It’s located offshore from Isla Mujeres on the Manchones Reef.

Nearly 500 environmentally neutral concrete sculptures have been submerged, created by international and local artists.

More than just a tourist attraction, the statues also aim to raise awareness about ocean and coral protection.

Corals can grow on this artificial habitat, and fish come to seek refuge.

The statues depict scenes from everyday life or dreams, objects, or artistic situations.

You can see human crowds at a standstill, a submerged car, bankers in strange positions, giant bombs…

Next to this underwater museum, you can also observe the Manchones Reef with many corals and colorful fish, rays, and even turtles.

To access the Cancun Underwater Museum, you need to take an excursion.

I recommend this excursion which will take you by boat to the museum area, and you’ll have enough time to observe the different statues.

Cancun Underwater Museum

Punta Nizuc

Punta Nizuc is another area in Cancun where you can see 33 statues from the underwater museum.

Located near the Club Med hotel, the reef and statues at Punta Nizuc are accessible on excursions.

You’ll be taken to a platform from where you can snorkel to observe the statues, corals, and fish.

The company Aquaworld organizes excursions every day for $50 USD to visit the Punta Nizuc area for snorkeling.

punta Nizuc

Isla Mujeres

The neighboring island of Isla Mujeres is surrounded by transparent waters, making it an ideal place for snorkeling.

If you want to snorkel in Cancun, going to Isla Mujeres allows you to discover incredible marine life living in the heart of the coral reef.

I can particularly recommend two snorkeling spots on Isla Mujeres:

  • El Faro
  • In front of the Mia Hotel

The first spot I recommend, “El Faro,” is only accessible via an excursion because you need to take a boat to get there.

Located near the lighthouse announcing Isla Mujeres, this point is crossed by the reef and you’ll find plenty of corals and tropical fish.

I even saw rays when I went snorkeling on the El Faro reef!

🐠 In front of the Mia Hotel

Regarding the other snorkeling spot I recommend, it’s located in front of the Mia Hotel on Playa Norte.

Head under the wooden bridge leading to the hotel to find plenty of fish.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy is the only virgin island in the Mexican Caribbean, inhabited only by the island’s wild animals.

Snorkeling on this paradise island is a unique opportunity to discover the rich marine life around the island.

You can observe colorful fish swimming in schools of dozens, turtles, starfish

The island is also an important nesting site for birds and turtles.

To access Isla Contoy, it’s mandatory to take an excursion and be accompanied by a guide.

Indeed, the island is protected, and the number of visitors is limited to 200 per day.

❤️ If you want to go to Isla Contoy, I recommend this excursion combining snorkeling, a visit to the island, relaxation time on Isla Contoy, and free time in Isla Mujeres.

Isla Contoy

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Another impressive experience to enjoy when snorkeling in the Yucatan is certainly swimming with whale sharks.

Whale sharks are the largest species of fish in the world! Contrary to what their name might suggest, whale sharks are indeed fish.

They come off the coast of Cancun during the summer months when plankton, their main food source, is abundant.

I was lucky enough to participate in an excursion to swim with whale sharks, and I must say it was very impressive to swim alongside these gigantic animals!

To snorkel and swim with whale sharks from Cancun, you need to go on an excursion.

❤️ I recommend this excursion where your captain and guide will accompany you to the whale shark area on a fairly rough boat ride.

You’ll then have the chance to jump into the water and swim alongside the whale sharks for an unforgettable experience.

whale shark

5. Snorkeling in Cozumel

The island of Cozumel is considered a paradise for snorkeling and scuba diving in Mexico.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world after the one in Australia, passes offshore from the island, and the marine life there is very rich.

In Cozumel, there are numerous reefs accessible for all skill levels.

To go snorkeling in Cozumel, you have two choices:

  1. From a boat
  2. From the beach

From a boat

Some reefs are quite far from the shore, and a boat is necessary to reach them.

Columbia Reef

The Columbia Reef is the best snorkeling spot on the island of Cozumel. I particularly recommend taking a tour there; the place is accessible for all skill levels.

Although the water is quite deep, the visibility is extremely clear, and you’ll always be safe.

The coral blocks of the Columbia Reef are significant and house many animals.

Of course, there are colorful fish, but also rays and even turtles at the Columbia Reef.

This is definitely the reef I recommend if you want to take a boat tour in Cozumel.

❤️ I recommend this tour if you want to enjot a boat tour with a snorkeling activity in Cozumel!

snorkeling Cozumel

El Cielo

Another extraordinary place on the island of Cozumel only accessible by boat is El Cielo.

You can see hundreds of starfish on the bottom of the shallow sea at this location (average depth of 1 meter).

Very easily accessible for beginners and children, El Cielo is another must-see in Cozumel.

El Cielo Cozumel

From the beach

If you want to go snorkeling from the beach, know that there are few public beaches in Cozumel.

Some will charge you an entrance fee and require a minimum consumption at the beach restaurant.

Playa Palancar

This paradisiacal beach with white sand and few waves is an excellent relaxation spot for an afternoon in Cozumel.

The snorkeling area is accessible to beginners, and you’ll observe some coral blocks with fish swimming around.

Playa Palancar

Playa Corona

This other sandy beach with few facilities is, however, private, and you’ll need to go through the beach bar to access it.

The reef here is beautiful as you reach the southern part of the Chankanaab Reef and see shallow corals.

Indeed, the Chankanaab Marine Reserve is located just north of this beautiful beach.

Playa Corona

Playa Dzul-Ha

The last snorkeling spot I recommend is a spot off the beaten path.

The reef at Dzul-Ha Beach is still a well-kept secret, yet it offers beautiful moments of snorkeling on the coral reef.

Head to the right of the palapa where you can enter the water without hurting your feet.

From there, head 45° against the current to reach the end of the reef.

Then, let yourself be carried by the current to observe the many corals and fish of the Dzul-Ha Beach reef.

Return to the beach through the same passage, to the right of the beach palapa.

6. Snorkeling in Akumal

Akumal is a small village located halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum where snorkeling is a must-do activity.

The main snorkeling activity in Akumal is swimming with turtles attracted by the natural underwater seagrass near Akumal Beach.

The Caleta Yal-Ku, located near Akumal, is also a cove attracting many colorful fish. Snorkeling there is an explosion of colors!


Swimming with Turtles

The main reason to visit Akumal is undoubtedly to experience the unforgettable opportunity of swimming with turtles.

Present in large numbers due to rich feeding grounds around Akumal Bay, sea turtles captivate visitors to this small village.

Moreover, Akumal Beach is an important nesting site for turtles on the Riviera Maya.

The Akumal Ecological Center (CEA) ensures the protection of these animals, their environment, and nesting sites.

To swim with turtles in Akumal, it’s now mandatory to be accompanied by a local guide who will assist you during the snorkeling activity.

This measure was implemented after numerous instances of visitors not respecting the animals or the corals by touching them.

In Akumal, the priority is the well-being of the animals and the respect for a unique ecosystem allowing flora and fauna to thrive in harmony.

turtle in Akumal

To swim with turtles in Akumal, you have two options:

  • On your own
  • Via an excursion to the Tulum ruins, swimming with turtles in Akumal & a cenote

To swim with turtles in Akumal on your own, head to Akumal Beach.

Access to the private beach in Akumal requires a fee of 120 pesos MXN.

You’ll easily find guides offering to take you snorkeling with turtles.

  • Prices:
    • Beach: 120 pesos MXN
    • Swimming with turtles: 500 pesos MXN.
    • Parking: 100 pesos MXN
  • Hours: Every day from 8 am to 5 pm

❤️ If you prefer to swim with turtles on a day trip, I particularly recommend this excursion.

Accompanied by a guide, you’ll be picked up directly from your hotel and go swimming with turtles in Akumal.

Then, you’ll head to a beautiful cenote and visit the nearby Maya ruins of Tulum.

Caleta Yal-Ku

Caleta Yal Ku, located a few minutes from Akumal, is a gem of the Riviera Maya for all snorkeling enthusiasts.

This natural cove is a paradise that houses hundreds of colorful fish.

To access Caleta Yal-Ku, there are two entrances. I recommend the one located at the entrance to the cove. It’s less crowded by groups and also cheaper.

Follow the blue and white signs as shown in the image below.

To get to Caleta Yal-Ku, you need to go to the village of Akumal by car or colectivo and then continue towards the sea.

  • Prices:
    • Adults: 300 pesos MXN
    • Children: 220 pesos MXN
    • Mask and snorkel: 100 pesos MXN
    • Locker: 100 pesos MXN
  • Hours: Every day from 9 am to 5 pm

I recommend going on a day without wind to avoid strong water currents in the caleta.

Moreover, on days with waves, visibility is reduced for snorkeling.

Caleta Yal-Ku

7. Snorkeling in Holbox

Holbox is not really the ideal place for snorkeling. Indeed, the seabed is shallow, without corals, and the fish are few.

However, there is a nature reserve accessible by boat where many marine animals can be found.

Cabo Catoche

Cabo Catoche is the northernmost point of Holbox Island and even of the entire Yucatan Peninsula.

Accessible by boat, this nature reserve is home to turtles, nurse sharks, rays, octopuses, and of course, many fish.

Snorkeling at Cabo Catoche is only possible through a boat tour to reach this area far from civilization and still well protected.

If you want to snorkel during your stay on Holbox Island, then a trip to Cabo Catoche is a must-do activity.

Cabo Catoche

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Swimming with whale sharks is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This activity, as magical as it is impressive, can be done from Cancun or Holbox Island.

Whale sharks are incredible creatures of the sea that need to be protected.

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world. Observing them will undoubtedly be a moment etched in your memory for life.

After about an hour’s journey on rough seas, you will reach the area where whale sharks are present.

During the summer months, they come off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula to find plankton, their favorite food.

From June to September, head to the central beach of Holbox to find a snorkeling excursion with whale sharks.

whale shark

Which excursion for snorkeling in the Yucatan Peninsula?

Snorkeling through an excursion allows you to go where coral reefs are most abundant and fish are plentiful.

I particularly recommend the following options:

  • Sian Ka’an: This excursion takes you into a wildlife reserve with breathtaking wildlife. After observing dolphins, crocodiles, turtles, and birds, you’ll go snorkeling on the reef.
  • Isla Mujeres: This excursion takes you to the Cancun underwater museum (MUSA).
  • Swimming with whale sharks: By choosing this excursion, you’ll experience a magical and unforgettable moment swimming with the world’s largest fish.
  • Cozumel: Visiting the island of Cozumel with an excursion, you’ll visit the most beautiful reefs of the island on a boat tour. You can explore them while snorkeling and discover exceptional marine life.
snorkeling excursions

Where to snorkel on your own?

For snorkeling from the beach, you can find several excellent spots on the Riviera Maya:

  • Xpu-Ha: Xpu-Ha beach is my favorite snorkeling spot on the Riviera Maya. Accessible directly from the paradisiacal Xpu-Ha beach, the incredible coral reefs harbor fish of all kinds.
  • Isla Mujeres: Isla Mujeres has a very good snorkeling spot with many fish accessible from the beach. It’s located under the wooden bridge connecting the Mia hotel to Playa Norte.
  • Cozumel: The public and free Palancar beach in Cozumel provides easy access to the reef and allows you to see fish swimming among the corals.
  • Playa del Carmen: Located in front of the Reef Coco Beach hotel, the small reef of Playa del Carmen offers beautiful opportunities for free snorkeling from the beach.
  • Caleta Yal-Ku: a snorkeling paradise, Caleta Yal-Ku is home to several hundred tropical fish in a natural cove.
Yucatan Snorkeling

Snorkeling in cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula

Cenotes are a geological feature of the Yucatan region not to be missed. There are many cenotes in Tulum.

The cenotes of the Yucatan formed as rainwater infiltrated the porous rock over the past millions of years, creating underground water pockets.

Over time, some of them saw their ceilings collapse to form open-air lakes. These are now the open cenotes.

You can snorkel there and observe the fish enjoying this fresh water in the middle of the jungle.

Other cenotes are underground and have spectacular geological formations with stalactites and stalagmites present by the hundreds or even thousands.

By snorkeling in underground cenotes, you can see the entrances to underwater caves, the few fish living in these dark places, and the impressive geological formations.

Cenotes in Tulum

Find my detailed guide on the most beautiful cenotes in Tulum !


Cenote Nicte-Ha

The Nicte-Ha cenote is a unique cenote thanks to its numerous water lilies in the middle of the cenote.

Snorkeling in the Nicte-Ha cenote is a must-do activity to discover the underwater world of cenotes.

Located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, the Nicte-Ha cenote is one of my favorite cenotes in the region.

  • Price: 300 pesos MXN
  • Hours: Every day from 8 am to 5 pm
cenote Nicte-Ha
cenote Nicte-Ha

Cenote Dos Ojos

The Dos Ojos cenote is a semi-open cenote, meaning that part of its ceiling has collapsed to let in light.

Its name “Dos Ojos” means “two eyes” in English. This comes from the fact that it is possible to enter through two different openings connected by an underwater cave.

Another large part is still underground, and you can see underwater caves with many stalactites and stalagmites.

Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts make the most of the cenote to explore its underwater parts.

  • Price:
    • Entrance: 400 pesos MXN
    • Entrance + guided tour: 600 pesos MXN
  • Hours: Every day from 9 am to 5 pm
cenote Dos Ojos

Cenote Corazón del Paraíso

The cenote Corazon, located just a few minutes from the center of Tulum, is an open-air cenote at the edge of the mangrove area of Muyil.

It owes its name “Corazon” (Heart) to its heart-shaped form, visible from above.

The cenote Corazon is a charming cenote in the heart of lush vegetation with completely transparent water.

It is the ideal place to observe the many fish and even some freshwater turtles swimming in the cenote during a snorkeling activity.

Small fish come to nibble on dead skin for a natural pedicure in a magnificent setting!

At the cenote Corazon, it is also possible to jump into the cenote from a platform.

There are also picnic tables if you want to have lunch on-site.

  • Price:
    • Adults: 200 pesos MXN
    • Children: 50 pesos MXN
  • Hours: Every day from 9 am to 4:30 pm
cenote Corazon

Underground River

Finally, in Playa del Carmen, it is also possible to explore underground rivers with thousands of stalactites and stalagmites.

During a magical exploration, you will snorkel to discover the entrances to underwater caves and the surprising geological formations underwater.

If you are interested in this experience, I particularly recommend this excursion where a passionate guide will explain the history and formation of these extraordinary places.

The guide will accompany you throughout the excursion to show you the most surprising places and guide you through this underground labyrinth.

Rio Secreto

What is the best season for snorkeling?

The best season for snorkeling in the Yucatan Peninsula is during the summer months.

Although summer is considered the rainy season, the rain showers typically don’t last all day and are often short, occurring in the late afternoon or evening.

Winter, on the other hand, is the dry season with generally good weather. However, there may be episodes of “cold fronts” during this time.

During these events, north winds can bring rough seas, and visibility for snorkeling can be greatly reduced.

Apart from these episodes, which may last 2 to 3 days, winter is also an excellent season for snorkeling in the Yucatan.

In any case, I recommend checking the weather forecast, especially the wind speed.

Wind speed has a significant impact on sea visibility. When there’s no wind, visibility in the water is excellent.

However, during windy episodes, sand on the seabed gets stirred up, quickly limiting visibility.

I particularly recommend using the excellent tool Windguru, which provides detailed weather and wind forecasts for specific areas.

Is it safe to go snorkeling?

Yes, snorkeling in the Yucatan is a safe activity as long as you adhere to basic safety rules.

When snorkeling, make sure to:

  • Remain constantly alert to your surroundings, especially to boats.
  • Use a safety float to signal your presence to boats.
  • Wear a life jacket if you’re not comfortable swimming.
  • Avoid leaving valuables on the beach while snorkeling.

When traveling to Mexico, it’s highly recommended to have travel insurance to protect yourself in case of any issues during your stay.

How to protect the marine ecosystems of the Yucatan Peninsula?

The coral reef is a natural ecosystem that is essential to protect during your snorkeling sessions.

For the conservation of this natural treasure and its inhabitants, it’s important to adhere to the following common sense rules:

🧴 Avoid using sunscreen, even if it’s biodegradable. Sunscreen pollutes the oceans, damages coral reefs, and harms marine animals. Opt for rash guards or t-shirts to protect yourself from the sun.

🦟 Avoid using mosquito repellent.

🪸 Do not touch the corals to avoid damaging them. Corals are very fragile living organisms.

🐟 Do not touch the animals, fish, turtles, starfish…

🍔 Do not eat or drink in the water.

🚭 Do not smoke in the water.

🗑️ Pick up all your trash on the beach.

Snorkeling in Mexico

What equipment to bring for a snorkeling session?

During a snorkeling session, don’t forget these essential pieces of equipment:

👙 Swimsuit

🤿 Mask and snorkel

or a full-face mask for added comfort

🛟 Safety float to signal to boats

👕 Rash guard to protect from the sun and cold currents

📷 Underwater camera

📱 or a waterproof smartphone case to capture the moment

Where to buy snorkeling gear in Mexico?

Know that snorkeling gear is not necessarily cheaper in Mexico than anywhere else.

In Mexico, you can find snorkeling equipment at Walmart or Chedraui supermarkets. However, the selection is limited, and prices are high.

If you’re looking for a specialized snorkeling store, I recommend Scuba Price.

They have all the necessary equipment, from masks to wetsuits to safety floats.

There are several shops in Mexico, including two in the Yucatan Peninsula, one in Playa del Carmen and one in Cozumel.

What animals to see during snorkeling activities?

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef hosts an exceptional wealth of marine life.

Snorkeling in the Yucatan is a unique opportunity to discover tropical fish of all colors.

The famous Sergeant Major (Abudefduf saxatilis) is my favorite fish with its yellow and black colors.

It’s very common to encounter them in schools of over 100 specimens during a snorkeling session in the Yucatan.

Another fish frequently encountered on the Riviera Maya is the Blue Surgeonfish (Acanthurus coeruleus). It’s beautiful and is, in fact, the species of Dory in the movie Finding Nemo.

Caribbean Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus) are very slim and elongated fish with different colors. They can be seen in many places in the Yucatan.

In addition to fish, the Yucatan’s marine life is populated by many marine animals such as turtles, rays, whale sharks, nurse sharks

Encountering them during a snorkeling session in the Yucatan is always an extraordinary opportunity.

snorkeling in Mexico

Other possibilities for exploring the underwater world of the Yucatan

Snorkeling is a must-do activity for exploring the underwater world of the Yucatan Peninsula. However, there are also other experiences to dive even deeper into their exploration.

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving allows you to dive to the bottom of the ocean to get up close to the corals and their inhabitants.

You can scuba dive in open water but also in cenotes to discover extraordinary geological formations.

Exploring underwater caves while scuba diving is an incredible experience to have during a trip to Mexico.

scuba diving


Freediving is breath-hold diving. There are freediving competitions in cenotes in the Yucatan due to their depth, which can reach over 90 meters.

If you want to try this practice, know that there are multi-day courses to learn freediving in cenotes.

If the experience of freediving interests you, inquire with Pranamaya agency in Playa del Carmen.

Submarine Tour

Finally, the last way to explore the underwater world of the Yucatan is much more comfortable and doesn’t even require getting wet!

Embark on a submarine on the island of Cozumel and explore the coral reef during an underwater journey.

You’ll dive to discover fish of all colors and learn more about them from the professional guide.

This experience is worthwhile for families or individuals who do not wish to snorkel.

I recommend this excursion to experience the submarine in Cozumel.

Sites to visit near snorkeling spots

Close to snorkeling spots, there are numerous archaeological sites, beaches, and natural reserves.

The Riviera Maya is home to hundreds of treasures to visit to understand the history, geography, and culture of this extraordinary country.

Renting a car in Cancun is a perfect way to explore the Yucatan Peninsula.

Tulum Ruins

Located near Tulum Beach, the Tulum Ruins are a must-visit to discover a well-preserved archaeological site.

The Mayan culture is always fascinating to understand, and the site is located in a breathtaking environment.

The main building of the Tulum site is perched on cliffs facing the Caribbean Sea.

To discover the archaeological site of Tulum and better understand the Mayan civilization, I recommend an excursion combining a visit to the Tulum site, swimming with turtles, and discovering a cenote.

Tulum ruins

Punta Sur on Isla Mujeres

The southern tip of Isla Mujeres offers a completely different landscape from its northern part.

In the south, there’s a rugged coastline with cliffs, contrasting with the paradisiacal beaches of the island’s north.

Punta Sur is also an open-air museum of statues depicting the Mayan civilization and their beliefs.

To explore Isla Mujeres and reach Punta Sur, I recommend renting a golf cart in the downtown area to tour the island independently.

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