Cozumel is known around the world for its excellent scuba diving, however, many agree that snorkeling here is best done by those with experience – and only after paying close attention to current water conditions.
The problem with snorkeling in Cozumel is that the currents can be strong so you can't just pick any beach on any given day and have a great time. While Chankanaab Park is usually calm and offers great underwater sites, if you go to most places, especially to the west side, you'll find the currents can get especially strong.
Interestingly, almost every tour group that specializes in snorkeling tours from mainland Mexico offers a sail to Cozumel for a few hours of snorkeling. Do they know something that snorkelers going on their own don't? The truth is, these tours take their guests to the offshore reef systems which feature visibility of about 200 feet deep, temperatures between the low 70s and low 80s in degrees Fahrenheit, and several hundred species of fish swimming about. Most importantly, there is a greater variation in the strength of the currents and these guides know exactly what to look for as they seek out a spot along the reef to deposit their passengers for an hour or so of snorkeling.
If snorkeling from the shore is more your style, don't be discouraged. Cozumel truly does offer some of the most stunning underwater scenery for you to explore. It is, however, highly recommended that you are a strong swimmer and you pay close attention to the conditions. As previously mentioned, this is especially true of the west coast, but also the north and east coasts. If you head to the southern shore, you'll find that while currents are still an issue, they are much more manageable because the force of the current pushes you towards the beach rather than out to sea.
If you're ready to experience what's down below you might enjoy Playa Corona. Thanks to possible issues with currents, this site is recommended for intermediate to advanced snorkelers. If you've got the skills, you can explore the reef here, interacting with a great diversity of sea life. This snorkeling site is found within the western part of Cozumel.
Chankannab Adventure Park is another option. An underwater statue called Chaak Mool rests at this snorkeling site, adding to the appeal already set forth by the diversity of sea life. Sightings might include sea fans lobster, sergeant majors, and octopus, though there is no coral.
A third site to consider is Dzul Ha. Recommended to many as a top snorkeling site, this spot will not disappoint. Beautiful and healthy coral reef host many different types of reef fish in addition to sea anemones, sea fans, and serpent stars. If you'll stay in the shallow part, you should wear sea shoes to protect you in the rocky areas, and as you go deeper flippers become necessary.
A fourth location where you can go snorkeling is Sunset Beach. Popular among dive and snorkel boat excursions, this spot is perhaps best loved because the current is strong enough to push you along for a drift snorkel without being so strong that you should be overly concerned for your safety. Underwater sites include coral heads, fan coral, and of course lots and lots of fish. If you're interested, this site is located in the western part of Cozumel.
Paradise Beach is a fifth option to consider. Strong currents make this reef a hard one to manage even for experienced snorkelers, and most settle for a guided boat trip so they can be sure someone is watching out for them. If you make it out on a day when the waters aren't so rough you may see spotted moray eels and seahorses along with large schools of fish.
The table just below enables you to learn more details regarding 11 of the most popular locations to experience snorkeling in this area.
|Playa Corona||6.1 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel|
|Chankannab Adventure Park||5.2 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel|
|Dzul Ha||3.9 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel|
|Sunset Beach||1.8 mi. South West of Downtown San Miguel|
|Paradise Beach||9.4 mi. South-Southwest of Central downtown San Miguel|
|Fiesta Americana Cozumel Dive Resort||4.0 mi. South West of Central San Miguel|
|12.9 mi. South-Southwest of Central downtown San Miguel|
|13.8 mi. South-Southwest of Central downtown San Miguel|
|3.2 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel|
|2.1 mi. South West of Central San Miguel|
|Playa Uvas||4.9 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel|
For some people, the most enjoyable snorkeling is accessed away from the shore.
If you're hoping to go snorkeling during a boating adventure, you can check with Cozumel Sailing. Cozumel Sailing offers deep sea fishing excursions, private charters, Tucan sailing adventures, and sunset sails. Some of the activities included on these trips include snorkeling, snorkel gear, complimentary lunch, an open bar, and occasional Spinnaker rides if the weather permits.
Another option worth investigating is Captain Ron's Cozumel Boat Charters. Captain Ron can take you on a fishing excursion, snorkeling adventure, leisure sail, or a sunset cruise. His crew is bilingual in English and Spanish, so you don't have to worry about a language barrier. They're located in downtown San Miguel.
Still another option is Albatros Charters. Albatros Charters sports 3 vessels: the 42' Chris Craft "Albatros", the 32' Intrepid "Frigate", and the 25' Boston whaler "Libra II". One of them will lead you on the El Cielo Day Cruise, a Sunset Cruise, or a customized snorkeling excursion.
Check this table for details on boat trips and day sails that offer snorkeling.
|Albatros Charters||(984) 872-7904||0.7 mi. South West of Downtown San Miguel|
|Captain Ron's Cozumel Boat Charters||(987) 872-5467||Downtown San Miguel|
|Cozumel Boat Trips||(987) 113-2774||3.5 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel|
|Cozumel Sailing||(987) 869-2312||1.6 mi. Northeast of Downtown San Miguel|
If you looking for a business that offers snorkel rentals, excursions, or similar services, you should check out Cozumel Marine World. Specializing in private charters for snorkeling tours as well as many other watersports, this operator knows where to find all of the area's best underwater sites. They are located within the western part of Cozumel.
A second company worth knowing about is Dive Palancar. The offer two daily snorkeling trips to three different reefs: the Colombia, Palanaca, and El Cielo. The trips take place aboard a glass bottom boat, so even if you decide to stay aboard you'll get to see a lot. Snacks, refreshments, and your snorkeling gear is included.
A third company worth contacting is Blue Angel. Their dive and snorkel comb trip is 11:00 a.m. daily. They're located within San Miguel, Cozumel.
The table right below summarizes some key facts about 16 places that provide services related to snorkeling.
|AquaWorld||Snorkeling Tour Operator||--||2.0 mi. South West of Central San Miguel|
|Babieca Dive Center||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(987) 872-0844||2.4 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel|
|Blue Angel||Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service||(987) 872-0819||1.5 mi. South West of Downtown San Miguel|
|Snorkeling Tour Operator||(987) 872-6143||Downtown San Miguel|
|Cha Cha Cha||Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service||(987) 872-2331||Downtown San Miguel|
|Cozumel Cruise Excursions||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(305) 767-2779||Downtown San Miguel|
|Cozumel Equalizers||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(987) 872-3511||0.4 mi. South West of Downtown San Miguel|
|Cozumel Marine World||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(987) 103-5690||1.9 mi. South West of Central San Miguel|
|Dive Palancar||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(987) 872-5556||9.6 mi. South-Southwest of Central San Miguel|
|Diving Adventures||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(210) 374-9141||Downtown San Miguel|
|Liquid Blue Divers||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(210) 807-3483||0.9 mi. South-Southeast of Downtown San Miguel|
|Pepe Scuba Dive Shop||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(987) 872-6740||1.9 mi. North-Northeast of Downtown San Miguel|
|Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service||(984) 745-0763||Downtown San Miguel|
|Sand Dollar Sports Diving||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(866) 663-3140||Cozumel|
|Scuba Du||Snorkeling Tour Operator||(987) 872-9500||3.7 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel|
|Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service||(987) 872-4414||Downtown San Miguel|
For more information concerning snorkeling, including useful tips and suggestions for beginners and "pros" read our comprehensive Caribbean snorkeling article.
If this trip will be your first time snorkeling, Cozumel may have to wait until you've gained some experience with the sport. One you do have few snorkeling trips under your belt, however, the beautiful marine landscape of this Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea is definitely one you'll want to make a point to see.
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