Top Places To Snorkel In The Mexican Caribbean
Imagine brightly coloured coral as far as the eye can see, huge green sea turtles and manta rays swimming by, and tropical fish covering the sea bed below. This is the underwater world of the Mexican Carribean. The crystal clear waters here provide the best snorkelling experience in the whole of Mexico, and allow the most beautifully exotic sea life to grow.
As many of these snorkel areas are protected, you can’t wear traditional sunscreen. Instead, you must opt for a biodegradable option or go without. If you don’t have your own snorkel gear, don’t worry, at all of the snorkel spots in Mexico you can rent equipment from your hotel, resort, or an independent tour company for a very reasonable price.
With so many amazing options, the only problem is deciding where to go. That’s why I have put together this list of the top places to snorkel in the Mexican Caribbean.
Sitting in the middle of Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Akumal is one of the most popular snorkelling spots in Mexico. Akumal is famous because it’s the feeding ground of the green sea turtle, so this beautiful creature can be seen here all year round. This lovely little beach town has dedicated itself to the protection of the many sea turtles that grace its shores.
Photograph ©2016 thesaltyfern.com
Not only can you get up close and personal with the giant green sea turtle here, but spotted eagle rays, manta rays, angelfish, parrotfish and pufferfish are a common sight in Akumal. However, the jaw dropping array of animals isn’t the only spectacular thing about snorkelling here. Akumal also has a vast variety of coral, sea fans and anemones, including my all time favourite, the brain coral. Any trip to the Riviera Maya isn’t complete without a trip to Akumal to greet the resident green sea turtles.
Running along the side of the Yucatan Peninsula is the spectacular Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Puerto Morelos is very special, as here the reef stretches closer to the shore than in any other place in the Mexican Caribbean. This section of the reef was officially proclaimed a protected area in 1998, and since then many official tour companies have been set up to take people out on guided tours of the reef. To fully enjoy all the splendour of the Mesoamerican Reef, snorkelers must go out on a short boat trip with an accredited guide.
Photograph ©2016 Mexidivers
Because of its proximity to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Puerto Morelos is classed as one of the best snorkelling areas in Mexico, but that’s not the only reason it’s made it to this list. With daily sightings of seahorses, lobsters, sting rays and barracudas, and more vibrant coral than you could ever imagine, Puerto Morelos is definitely an underwater dream.
Cancun is home to one of the most mind-boggling and magical snorkel sites in the world, the MUSA Underwater Museum. This man-made spectacle began in 2009, when the first set of statues were submerged into the turquoise waters. Today there are over 470 life-sized sculptures hidden in the depths, so there are tonnes of haunting figures to discover. MUSA was originally built as an eco-project to extend the natural reef system, giving a new habitat to the many reef species found in the area. However, this project sparked international interest, and is now one of the bucket list places for many snorkelers and divers to visit in Mexico. This magical underwater museum is now the largest underwater attraction in the whole of the Mexican Caribbean, so definitely worth a visit.
Photograph ©2016 Jason DeCaires
If you prefer a more natural reef, then Cancun also has you covered. Punta Nizuc is a small snorkel area just off the coast of the Hotel Zone. This naturally beautiful area is home to sea turtles, lobsters, damselfish, angelfish, starfish and rays. It also has some of the most colourful coral and sea fans in the world. The best part about Punta Nizuc is that the waters are very calm, making it the ideal place for kids to snorkel.
Anyone visiting the Riviera Maya will hear about the fabulous diving and snorkelling available in Cozumel. This laid back island specialises in all things underwater for a reason. A short distance off the coast you will find the world famous Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Pair this with the crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea and you have one perfect setting to snorkel. Whether you choose to set out on a guided tour or simply go it alone, there are tonnes of amazing snorkel spots early accessible from Cozumel.
Columbia Reef is the best place to visit if you are looking for a guided tour. This spot reaches depths of up to 30 feet, making for some very extreme snorkelling. Scattered along the sea bed is gigantic orange coral stretching up 20 feet above the sea bed. Sightings of rays, turtles, giant anemones, queen conches and crabs are extremely common here.
Photograph ©2016 thesaltyfern.com
If you want a more relaxing beach snorkel experience then Dzul Ha is a great option for you. Found towards the right of the island, this quiet snorkel spot is the perfect place to go out on your own and explore the beautiful sea life of Cozumel. The reef in this area is extremely close to the shore and only reaches around 15 feet deep, so people of all ages will feel comfortable snorkelling here. Be prepared to see the amazing butterfly fish, fire coral, seahorses and even a few shrimp.
Have you snorkelled in any of the areas mentioned above? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!