Snorkeling Around Cancun

A vacation in Cancun is not complete unless you've spent some time splashing around the beaches that have made this destination such a highly sought after vacation destination.  But, there is more to this town than swimming and sunbathing.  Snorkeling is great here as well, you just have to know where to look.


You never have to worry about wearing a wet suit to keep you warm when you snorkel in Cancun.  Water temperatures stay in the low 80s in degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, while in the winter they are nearly always in the upper 70s.  Plus, the waters are stunningly clear in most places.  What you will need to be on the look out for are waves and currents.  Choppy waters and rip tides can make a day of snorkeling a perilous activity, so you'll want to check out the conditions regularly and make smart decisions regarding when is the right time to dive in. 

Because many of the town's resorts offer snorkel gear to their guests as a perk of staying with them, you'll probably give the sport a go for the first time in the beach nearest your hotel.  The beaches along the Hotel Zone are not the best in the area for snorkeling, but they are a fine introduction.  The water is very clear and you can see a few fish, but because theses beaches are so popular, you'll constantly battle visibility as people kick up sand and move around your area.  The best snorkeling in the Hotel Zone can generally be found down towards the southern end of the strip. 

You may want to consider putting your trust in a local tour operator and signing up for a guided snorkeling excursion.  These tour guides know all of the area's best snorkeling spots, and will take you out to some offshore locales that may not be feasible for you to reach otherwise.  Some will even take you to areas outside of Cancun such as to Holbox which is known for its whale shark migration route.  Others move inland and take their adventurers to snorkel in the cenotes.  

Snorkeling Sites

If you're looking forward to exploring below the water's surface you should consider a visit to Punta Nizuc National Park. This spot allows snorkelers to access the Mesoamerican Reef, which is the second largest in the world as well as a statue for the MUSA Underwater Museum. Warm waters, calm conditions, and a variety of sea life are what make this spot shine, where visitors might see everything from giant lobster and manta rays to barracuda, sergeant majors, and groupers. This snorkeling site is found within Cancun.

Manchones Reef is another place you might enjoy. A section along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, this spot is well-loved not only because it is a gorgeous plot of coral with vibrant sea life, but also because it is home to one of the MUSA exhibit pieces which places a life-sized sculpture in the sea for divers and snorkelers to see during their underwater explorations.

A third location to consider is Garrafon Reef Park. Clear waters, an abundance and variety of fish, and a reef combine to make a popular snorkeling site. Unfortunately, storms and an unending supply of visitors has paid its toll on the reef, which is not as healthy as it once was.

A fourth location where you can go snorkeling is El Farito. This site is a nice one if you happen to be in the area, but few would recommend you go out of your way to visit. The reef is home to several schools of fish and you may see a sea turtle or two, but there is also a lot of fire coral which can become a problem if the current is heavy and you are constantly being pushed into the reef. If you want to check it out, you'll find this site located on Isla Mujeres, in the northeastern part of Cancun.

Sac Bajo Reef is a fifth site to consider. Although there is no coral reef here, you can see fish swimming along in the current between the bay and the lagoon through a narrow inlet.

Glance through the following chart for a listing of 8 of the best locations to experience snorkeling in this area.

Snorkeling Sites Near Cancun
Site Location
Punta Nizuc National Park 4.2 mi. South of Central Cancun Beach Hotel Zone Mexico
El Farito 0.9 mi. South of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Cuevita 1.1 mi. South of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Sac Bajo Reef 1.4 mi. South of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Bahia de Mujeres 5.7 mi. East of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Manchones Reef 4.1 mi. South-Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Garrafon Reef Park 4.2 mi. South-Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
North Point 0.4 mi. North of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres

Snorkeling Services

If you're looking for a place that offers snorkel rentals, excursions, or similar services, you can check with Scuba Cancun. A family run dive center with nearly 35 years of experience, this is the oldest run operation of its king in the Riviera Maya. You can expect great service and knowledgeable guides from a team who really loves what they do. They are located within Cancun.

A second place worth knowing about is Carey Dive Center. Their snorkeling tours take you to the best parts of the reef in the National Marine Park after a ride on their comfortable dive boat. All tours include your equipment, a dive master as your guide, bottled water, and two stops.

A third option is Solo Buceo. For a quarter of a century this dive center has been offering some of the best training and excursions in the area. It may not be as well-known, but they have a passion for snorkeling as well and offer regular excursions for those who aren't ready to go for scuba. They're situated in Cancun Beach Hotel Zone, in the eastern part of Cancun.

Glance through the following table for details on 8 companies that offer services of interest to snorkelers.

Snorkeling Services In Cancun
Name Type Phone Location
AquaWorld Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 848-8326 6.3 mi. Southeast of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Cancun Scuba Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 221-6289 3.9 mi. East of Central Cancun Mexico
Carey Dive Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (998) 877-0763 2.1 mi. Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Dressel Divers Cancun Snorkeling Tour Operator (+34) 963 561 496 8.7 mi. Southeast of Central Cancun Mexico
Manta Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 849-4050 5.8 mi. Southeast of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Nautilus Diving Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 880-3195 5.6 mi. East of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Scuba Cancun Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 849-7508 3.5 mi. East of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Solo Buceo Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (998) 883-3979 6.0 mi. East of Central downtown Cancun Mexico

For more information concerning snorkeling, including tips and suggestions for both "old pros" and beginners, check out this detailed Caribbean snorkeling article.

To find the best snorkeling in Cancun, you make have to make plans to travel outside of the comfort of the Hotel Zone, but if you do you'll find the experience to be well-worth the trip and the money you spend if you sign up for a guided tour. 


Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.