Snorkeling Around Riviera Maya

The Riviera Maya is comprised of the Caribbean Coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, which means warm, clear waters that are ideal for snorkeling.

The great thing about snorkeling in the Riviera Maya is that there is a lot of variety.  If you start up near Isla Mujeres you'll find that though there are not very many coral reefs to visit, there are whale sharks that migrate by the island between the months of June and September, and many tour guides specialize in making sure visitors get the chance to get as close to these, the largest fish in the sea, as they safely can.  

Back on mainland Mexico, you can move down the coast, visiting the best towns for snorkeling from the beach.  Puerto Morelos and Akumal are great for this, though you can give it a go off of any beach since they are all public spaced owned by the government.  

What really draws people to this area of the Yucatan Peninsula is the fact that the second longest barrier reef system in the world is located off the coast, which means you can spend weeks exploring from one send of the reef to the next.  Many tour operators offer trips out to the reef by boat on a daily basis, and have expert snorkelers available to show you where all of the best spots are while naming all of the different colorful fish you encounter, and pointing out unique coral formations. 

Another interesting opportunity in the Riviera Maya is cenote snorkeling.  These are natural sinkholes that connect to sources of fresh, clear water that come from under ground.  While divers will typically have the best experience going down deep and exploring the underwater caverns filled with stalagmites and stalactites, snorkelers will have plenty to see as well.  The great thing about cenote snorkeling is that waves and currents are not an issue, so it is rare that snorkeling is affected by the weather.  

Snorkeling Sites

If you want to explore below the water's surface you might enjoy Puerto Morelos Beach. A few thousand feet from shore is the second largest coral reef system in the world, and a snorkeling opportunity you won't want to miss. As a protected area, this reef is especially healthy and the biodiversity is astounding. This snorkeling site is located in Puerto Morelos, in the northeastern part of Riviera Maya.

Dos Ojos Cenote is another place you might enjoy. Two pools of water allow for double the snorkeling opportunity at this cenote. It is dark and cavernous, making a flashlight absolutely necessary, and there are parts of the cavern where the water is just inches from the roof giving you little room for error when it comes to finding pockets of air to breath. This site is not for everyone.

A third location to consider is Cristal Cenote. Clear waters surrounded by lush green scenery, this picturesque site is also fun for snorkeling thanks to tons of tiny fish that swarm about.

A fourth place to go snorkeling is Half Moon Bay Beach. Though the beach is rocky, the snorkeling here can be good on days when the surf is calm. Water shoes are recommended as you explore the reef set in about two feet of water because there are sea urchins in addition to rocks. If you want to check it out, this site is located in Akumal, Riviera Maya.

Motorcycle Reef is a fifth location to consider. For more than a decade a motorcycle has sat at the bottom of the sea here and now coral has grown over it and schools of fish, crabs, and rays make it their home.

Some basic information concerning 21 of the best locations to enjoy snorkeling in this area are listed below.

Snorkeling Sites Near Riviera Maya
Site Location
Yal-Ku Lagoon 1.1 mi. Northeast of Central Akumal
Puerto Morelos Beach 0.3 mi. East of Central Puerto Morelos
Dos Ojos Cenote 9.0 mi. Northeast of Central Tulum
Le Colonia Reef 2.4 mi. East of Central Punta Allen
Cristal Cenote The Riviera Maya, Southwestern part of Riviera Maya
Underground River 2.5 mi. Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos
Yal-Ku Lagoon Akumal, Central Riviera Maya
Yal-Ku Lagoon Akumal, Central Riviera Maya
Half Moon Bay Beach 0.7 mi. East-Northeast of Central Akumal
Dick's Reef 0.9 mi. East of Central Akumal
Morgan's Reef 0.8 mi. East of Central Akumal
Motorcycle Reef 0.8 mi. Southeast of Central Akumal
Tortuga Reef 0.6 mi. South-Southeast of Central Akumal
Xohken Reef 2.2 mi. Northeast of Central Punta Allen
Inha Reef 6.2 mi. South West of Central downtown Playa del Carmen
Cerebros 3.4 mi. East-Northeast of Central Playa del Carmen
Tajmahal Cenote Central Riviera Maya
Moche Reef 1.2 mi. East of Central Playa del Carmen
Regina Cenote The Riviera Maya, Southwestern part of Riviera Maya
Escondido Cenote The Riviera Maya, Southwestern part of Riviera Maya
Chenchomas Reef 3.8 mi. Northeast of Central Punta Allen

Snorkeling Boat Trips

Some people believe the most enjoyable snorkeling is accessed away from the shore.

If you'd like to snorkel during a boat trip, you should consider Yucatan F1. For a full day of fun, let Yucatan F1 do all the work as they take you on a sail up the coast at high speeds and for low prices.

Another option to consider is Fat Cat Sailboat. A small company that specializes in adventure tours on the seas of Mexico, Fat Cat is great for active families. They're located in the vicinity of La Gloria, in central Riviera Maya.

A third good option is Bleu Magic/Raiatea Catamaran. Hop aboard the biggest Catamaran in all of the Caribbean for the adventure of a lifetime. With Bleu Magic, you'll be able to spend a day relaxing as you sail, then diving in for a it of snorkeling, taking full advantage of the sea.

Some information concerning day sails and boat trips that offer snorkeling opportunities can be found below.

Day Sails and Boat Trips In Riviera Maya
Name Phone Location
Bleu Magic/Raiatea Catamaran (984) 803-4774 The vicinity of La Gloria, Central Riviera Maya
Blue Mystic Tour -- The vicinity of La Gloria, Central Riviera Maya
Fat Cat Sailboat (984) 116-3040 The vicinity of La Gloria, Central Riviera Maya
Robinson Crusoe Tour -- 0.4 mi. Southeast of Central Akumal
Snorkel Tour Cooperative Morelos -- Puerto Morelos, Northeastern part of Riviera Maya
Yucatan F1 -- The vicinity of La Gloria, Central Riviera Maya

Snorkeling Services

If you're looking for someone offering snorkeling gear, excursions or similar services, you might want to check with Dressel Divers Puerto Aventuras. The daily snorkeling trips from Puerto Aventuras venture to INAH Natural Reserve reef. There is an extensive coral population at this reef, including sponges and fan and brain corals. They are found within the vicinity of La Gloria, in the central part of Riviera Maya.

A second place worth knowing about is Reef Marina Diving. Offering a comprehensive snorkeling tour that brings guests out to swim and snorkel among the largest fish in the world, the Whale Shark, this is an experience unlike anything else around.

A third place to consider is Playa Scuba. An experience unlike anything else you'll ever do, this scuba center offers special snorkeling tours that get their guests out to swim with whale sharks. They're situated in downtown Playa del Carmen.

The following chart offers some key facts about 37 places that offer services related to snorkeling.

Snorkeling Services In Riviera Maya
Name Type Phone Location
AQUA SH2OP Watersports Equipment Shop (984) 147-0573 Playa del Carmen
Acuatic Tulum Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 871-2508 1.9 mi. East of Central Tulum
Akumal Dive Adventures Snorkeling Tour Operator (888) 425-8625 0.6 mi. East of Central Akumal
Akumal Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 875-9025 0.4 mi. Southeast of Central Akumal
Akumal Dive Shop Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 875-9030 0.4 mi. Southeast of Central Akumal
Almost Heaven Dive Shop Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 871-0633 0.2 mi. North-Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos
Aqua Excursions Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 802-8323 Akumal, Central Riviera Maya
Aquanauts Puerto Aventuras Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 873-5041 Puerto Aventuras, Central Riviera Maya
Bahia Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 116-4963 Xpu Ha, Central Riviera Maya
Brecko's Watersports Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 0.6 mi. Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos
Cyan-Ha Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 803-2517 0.2 mi. South of Central Playa del Carmen
Dive Life Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (551) 357-2569 Downtown Playa del Carmen
Dive Mike Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 803-1228 Downtown Playa del Carmen
Dive Puerto Aventuras Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 873-5031 Puerto Aventuras, Central Riviera Maya
Dive Puerto Morelos Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 0.1 mi. North-Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos
Dorado De Playa Maya Snorkeling Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service -- 1.9 mi. East-Southeast of Central Tulum
Dos Ojos Snorkel Cave Snorkeling Tour Operator -- The Riviera Maya, Southern part of Riviera Maya
Dressel Divers Playa Del Carmen Snorkeling Tour Operator (+34) 963 561 496 2.8 mi. South West of Central Playa del Carmen
Dressel Divers Puerto Aventuras Snorkeling Tour Operator (+34) 963 561 496 The vicinity of La Gloria, Central Riviera Maya
Mexico Blue Dream Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 803-0660 Downtown Playa del Carmen
Phantom Dive Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 879-3988 Downtown Playa del Carmen
Phocea Mexico Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 873-1210 Downtown Playa del Carmen
Playa Scuba Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 803-2403 Downtown Playa del Carmen
Reef Marina Diving Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 873-4120 1.6 mi. South West of Central downtown Playa del Carmen
Reef Snorkeling Tour Snorkeling Tour Operator -- Puerto Morelos, Northeastern part of Riviera Maya
Scuba Caribe Dive Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (212) 555-5557 Puerto Aventuras, Central Riviera Maya
Scuba Libre Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 803-2671 Downtown Playa del Carmen
Scuba Playa Snorkeling Tour Operator -- Downtown Playa del Carmen
Scuba Tulum Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 115-2336 0.1 mi. East-Southeast of Central Tulum
Sealife Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 0.2 mi. South of Central Playa del Carmen
Snorkel Guides Found On Beach Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 0.4 mi. Southeast of Central Akumal
Snorkeling Adventure Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 4.2 mi. North-Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos
Snorkeling Puerto Morelos Snorkeling Tour Operator -- Puerto Morelos, Northeastern part of Riviera Maya
Studio Blue Carmen Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (987) 872-4414 Downtown Playa del Carmen
Tank-Ha Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 873-0302 Downtown Playa del Carmen
Wet Set Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 871-0198 0.4 mi. Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos
Yucatek Dive Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 803-2836 Downtown Playa del Carmen

To learn more about snorkeling, including tips and suggestions for both "old pros" and beginners, read our exhaustive guide to snorkeling in the Caribbean.

From Cancun and Isla Mujeres down the coast to Tulum and including Cozumel, great snorkeling opportunities abound in the Riviera Maya.  The sport comes with a lot of variety, so whether you are a newbie who wants to keep it simple or someone who prefers adventure and mystery as you explore under the sea, there is something to be gained from a snorkeling trip to this region of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

 

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