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The Best Snorkel Spots in the Riviera Maya

Imagine leisurely swimming through crystal clear Caribbean waters, when suddenly a turtle swims up beside you, a family of rays glides along the sand below, and a school of brightly coloured fish flutter past. This is the magical underwater world of the Riviera Maya. As this amazing stretch of sea runs all the way along the Yucatan peninsula, it is home to the Great Mesoamerican Barrier reef, the second largest reef system in the world. The presence of this spectacular reef means there are countless breathtaking snorkel spots, the only problem is deciding which one to visit. That’s why I have put together this list of the top snorkel spots in the Riviera Maya.


Scuba diving at Comuzel, Mexico
Scuba diving at Comuzel, Mexico. Photo credit: shutterstock

Anyone who has previously visited the Riviera Maya will have heard about the fabulous snorkelling available in Cozumel. Just a short distance off the coast you will find the world-famous Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Add this to the laid back island lifestyle, warm turquoise waters and the jaw-dropping 30 foot depths, and you have the absolute perfect place to snorkel.

If you are looking for a more extreme snorkel experience, then you can join in on a guided tour and head out to the Columbia Reef. Here you will find sting rays, green turtles, giant anemones, crabs and even a few queen conches. One of the things the Columbia Reef is most famous for, are it’s giant orange corals that reach a gigantic 20 feet off the sea bed.

However, if a relaxing day snorkelling is more your style, then you can head to Dzul Ha, a quiet little snorkel spot found just off the right hand coast of Cozumel. Here the reed is extremely close to the coast, making it the ideal place for first time snorkelers. Be prepared to meet some butterfly fish, seahorses and even a shrimp or two.


The MUSA underwater museum in Cancun, Mexico
The MUSA underwater museum in Cancun, Mexico. Photo credit: youtube

Cancun is home to the world-famous MUSA Underwater Museum, the most magical and completely mind-boggling snorkel site you’ll ever see. Built in 2009, this man-made museum was originally an eco-project to extend the natural reef system in Cancun. Today it is home to over 470 life-sizes sculptures, which not only acts as a new habitat for thousands of reef species, but has become the biggest underwater tourist attraction in the Riviera Maya.

This fascinating museum has sparked the interest of snorkelers and divers worldwide, and has become a bucket list dive spot. The haunting figures and vibrant sea life definitely make this snorkel site a must see.

If you are looking for something a little more natural, Cancun also has the perfect snorkel site for you too. Off the coast of the popular Cancun Hotel Zone is a small area called Punta Nizuc. The calm waters here are home to some of the most colourful coral in the world. Sightings of starfish, lobsters, damselfish, giant sea fans and rays are also extremely common here.

Akumal, Riviera Maya

The Green Sea Turtle in Akumal, Riviera Maya, Mexico
The Green Sea Turtle in Akumal, Riviera Maya, Mexico. Photo credit: shutterstock

Located only 20 minutes away from the bustling town of Playa del Carmen you will find one of the post popular snorkelling spots in Mexico, Akumal. The reason this little beach town is so famous, is because it’s the feeding ground of the giant green sea turtles. Below the waves you won’t find white sand like the rest of the Riviera Maya, here you will find sea grass, the green turtle’s favourite meal.

Sightings of the turtles are common all year round, but they aren’t the only creatures to call this place home. Spotted eagle rays, pufferfish, parrotfish, manta rays and grunt fish are also common sights in Akumal. There is also a vast array of coral, anemones and sea fans to be found in the crystal clear waters. No trip to the Riviera Maya is complete without a visit to Akumal and it’s resident green sea turtles.

Puerto Morelos

The Barracuda
The Barracuda. Photo credit: shutterstock

Puerto Morelos is extremely special, as here the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system stretches closer to the shore than in any other area in the Riviera Maya. Since being named a protected area in 1998, the people of Puerto Morelos have set up special tour companies that give guided tours of the reef. Although you can swim out and reach the beginning of the reef, it is advised to take a short boat ride with an official guide, to enjoy the full splendour of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

Puerto Morelos’ close proximity to this amazing reef system makes this area a total underwater dream world. Be prepared to see barracudas, lobsters, sting rays, seahorses and beautiful fire corral. This amazing snorkel spot is classed as one of the best in Mexico, so it’s definitely worth a visit when in the Riviera Maya.

Are you excited to go diving or snorkling at the Riviera Maya? Chimu Adventures offers tailor-made trips to Mexico plus all encompassing trips to Central America, we are the Latin America Experts!

Written By chimu