Snorkeling Around the Yucatan Peninsula

Photo credit: © Stewart
 

The Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is a great destination for tourists interested in watersports.  Snorkeling is especially popular because it involves very little training and is a rewarding, and some would say magical, experience. 

Maps

Not every town in the the Yucatan Peninsula is ideal for snorkeling, but no matter where you stay, you'll typically find that you are within easy reach of some of the most stunning snorkeling sites in the world.  Conditions are almost always ideal, with visibility typically being over 60 feet and the waters never lower than the mid-70s in degrees Fahrenheit, though waters in the low 80s are more common.  

The sites you may see vary from place to place.  Though common sites include sea turtles, barracudas, rays, and hundreds of varieties of rainbow colored fish, there are some places where you might see octopus, nurse sharks, and up in the Isla Mujeres and Holbox between the months of June and September you can even snorkel with whale sharks.

Some places like Akumal and Puerto Morelos are great for snorkeling right from the beach, while Cozumel, Playa Del Carmen, and Cancun are places where you'll want to book a tour that will take you to an offshore reef.  There are even unique snorkeling opportunities, like the cenotes around Tulum where you can snorkel in fresh water sink holes. 

Though every beach may not be the best for snorkeling, you always have the opportunity to give it a try, thanks to the fact that all property is controlled by the Mexican Federal Government and open to the public.  

Snorkeling Sites

If you're ready to experience below the water's surface you might enjoy visiting Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Part of the national park, this is a natural wonderland for snorkelers looking to explore an authentic underwater habitat. The cut is a channel that acts as a highway for fish swimming from one side of the reef to the other. This snorkeling site is located within southern the Yucatan Peninsula.

Chinchorro Bank Biosphere Reserve is another place you might enjoy. One of the most pristine coral reefs in the world thanks to the limited access allowed to it by the government, this site features such unique sea life as black coral and conch. You'll also be able to spot rays, eels, sponges, and a great many tropical fish.

A third site 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 Chunyaxche Lagoon. If you're looking for a different snorkeling experience, this is the site for you. Rather than coral, it is mangroves you're peeking through in order to glimpse sightings of the fish that live here. If you want to check it out, this site is located in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Chankannab Adventure Park is a fifth location to consider. 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.

Some basic details about 53 of the best places where you can go snorkeling in this area are listed in the chart below.

Snorkeling Sites Near the Yucatan Peninsula
Site Location
Hol Chan Marine Reserve 5.7 mi. West-Southwest of Central San Pedro Belize
Chinchorro Bank Biosphere Reserve 25.6 mi. East-Southeast of Central Mahahual Mexico
Yal-Ku Lagoon 1.1 mi. Northeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Le Colonia Reef 2.4 mi. East of Central Punta Allen Mexico
Cristal Cenote The Riviera Maya, Southeastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Chunyaxche Lagoon 13.8 mi. South West of Central Tulum Mexico
Chankannab Adventure Park 5.2 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Dzul Ha 3.9 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Sunset Beach 1.8 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Garrafon Reef Park 4.2 mi. South-Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Manchones Reef 4.1 mi. South-Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Puerto Morelos Beach 0.3 mi. East of Central Puerto Morelos Mexico
Dos Ojos Cenote 9.0 mi. Northeast of Central Tulum Mexico
San Pedro Reef 0.7 mi. East of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
San Pedro Reef 1.3 mi. East-Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
San Pedro Reef 2.1 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Mexico Rocks 1.7 mi. South of Central Ambergris Caye Ambergris Caye
San Pedro Reef 13.1 mi. North-Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
San Pedro Reef 0.8 mi. East of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
San Pedro Reef 0.8 mi. East of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Playa Corona 6.1 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Fiesta Americana Cozumel All Inclusive 4.0 mi. South West of Central San Miguel Cozumel
Punta Nizuc National Park 4.2 mi. South of Central Cancun Beach Hotel Zone Mexico
Xohken Reef 2.2 mi. Northeast of Central Punta Allen Mexico
Chenchomas Reef 3.8 mi. Northeast of Central Punta Allen Mexico
Angelita Cenote The Riviera Maya, Southeastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Regina Cenote The Riviera Maya, Southeastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Escondido Cenote The Riviera Maya, Southeastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Bahia de Mujeres 5.7 mi. East of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Palancar Reef 12.9 mi. South-Southwest of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Columbia Reef 13.8 mi. South-Southwest of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Paraiso Bajo 3.2 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Cozumel plane wreck 2.1 mi. South West of Central San Miguel Cozumel
Playa Uvas 4.9 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Paradise Beach 9.4 mi. South-Southwest of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
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
North Point 0.4 mi. North of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Yal-Ku Lagoon 1.1 mi. Northeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Yal-Ku Lagoon 1.1 mi. Northeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Half Moon Bay Beach 0.7 mi. East-Northeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Dick's Reef 0.9 mi. East of Central Akumal Mexico
Morgan's Reef 0.8 mi. East of Central Akumal Mexico
Motorcycle Reef 0.8 mi. Southeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Tortuga Reef 0.6 mi. South-Southeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Moche Reef 1.2 mi. East of Central Playa del Carmen Mexico
Inha Reef 6.2 mi. South West of Central downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Cerebros 3.4 mi. East-Northeast of Central Playa del Carmen Mexico
Tajmahal Cenote 1.2 mi. Northwest of Central Xpu Ha Mexico
San Pedro Reef 4.6 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
San Pedro Reef 12.4 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Underground River 2.5 mi. Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos Mexico

Snorkeling Boat Trips

Cozumel Sailing

For some people, the most enjoyable snorkeling is experienced away from the shore.

If you'd like to go snorkeling during a boat trip, you might want to contact Cozumel Sailing. Cozumel Sailing features a variety of activities upon their vessel Tucan, a 35' Trimaran that can accommodate up to 28 people. Their dedicated crew is friendly and knowledgeable.

Another option to consider is Blue Tang Tours. For those embarking on a sailing tour aboard the Sirena Azul, you are in for a treat. The 40' "Blue Mermaid" is a beautifully built boat that can accommodate up to 20 guests comfortably. They're located in San Pedro, in southern the Yucatan Peninsula.

A third good option is Fat Cat Sailboat. Fat Cat offers an array of snorkeling and beach tours on one of their sailboats or speedboats. Both can take you where you want to be, complete with an on the seas lunch and drinks.

Take a moment to read this table for information concerning boat operators that offer snorkeling.

Day Sails and Boat Trips In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Phone Location
Albatros Charters (984) 872-7904 0.7 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Bleu Magic/Raiatea Catamaran (984) 803-4774 0.9 mi. South-Southeast of Central La Gloria Mexico
Blue Tang Tours (507) 519-6000 0.9 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Captain Ron's Cozumel Boat Charters (987) 872-5467 Downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Cari'Bean Tours (501) 601-8586 0.2 mi. East-Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Cozumel Boat Trips Sunset (987) 113-6107 3.5 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Cozumel Sailing (987) 869-2312 1.6 mi. Northeast of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Fat Cat Sailboat (984) 116-3040 0.9 mi. South-Southeast of Central La Gloria Mexico
Holbox Collection (998) 267-9836 0.3 mi. South of Central Downtown Holbox Holbox
Holbox Island Tours (984) 875-2028 0.3 mi. South of Central Downtown Holbox Holbox
Mexican Caribbean Tours (998) 267-7845 0.3 mi. South of Central Downtown Holbox Holbox
Reef Runner (501) 226-2172 San Pedro, Southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Ambergris Caye
Robinson Crusoe Tour -- 0.4 mi. Southeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Snorkel Tour Cooperative Morelos -- Puerto Morelos, Eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
VIP Holbox (984) 875-2107 0.0 mi. North of Central Downtown Holbox Holbox
Whale Shark Tours by Holbox Travel (866) 262-8621 0.3 mi. South of Central Downtown Holbox Holbox
Yucatan F1 -- 0.9 mi. South-Southeast of Central La Gloria Mexico

Snorkeling Services

White Sands Shop

If you looking for someone offering snorkel rentals, excursions, or similar services, you should check out Portofino Snorkeling. On the Bacalar Chico snorkeling adventure, you can explore the northern region of Ambergris Caye and do a complete loop of the island; three special snorkel stops will be chosen especially for you. The Caye Caulker Day Sail explores a neighboring island, marine life and coral gardens. They are located in southern the Yucatan Peninsula.

Another company catering to snorkelers is Dressel Divers Puerto Aventuras. The Dressel Divers boats will take guests to the best snorkel sites in the area. With daily snorkeling trips, guests have plenty of opportunity to take a peak into the underwater world of the Caribbean.

A third place to consider is Reef Adventures. Explore the Great Barrier Reef in all of its glory. This operator offers daily trips to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Tres Cocos, Shark Ray Alley, and Mexico Rocks as well, so no matter what type of snorkeling you want to do, they can help you make it happen. They're located in San Pedro, in the southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Some key facts concerning 86 companies that provide snorkeling services can be seen in the following chart.

Snorkeling Services In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Type Phone Location
AQUA SH2OP Watersports Equipment Shop (984) 147-0573 Playa del Carmen Mexico
Acuatic Tulum Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 871-2508 1.9 mi. East of Central Tulum Mexico
Adventures in Watersports Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 226-3706 San Pedro, Southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Ambergris Caye
Akumal Dive Adventures Snorkeling Tour Operator (888) 425-8625 0.6 mi. East of Central Akumal Mexico
Akumal Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 875-9025 0.4 mi. Southeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Akumal Dive Shop Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 875-9030 0.4 mi. Southeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Almost Heaven Dive Shop Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 871-0633 0.2 mi. North-Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos Mexico
Amigos del Mar Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (501) 225-2706 0.8 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Aqua Adventures Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 236-4316 0.2 mi. South-Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Aqua Excursions Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 802-8323 3.4 mi. Northeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Aqua Scuba Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 226-4775 0.6 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Aqua Scuba Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 670-4775 San Pedro, Southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Ambergris Caye
AquaWorld Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 848-8326 6.3 mi. Southeast of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
AquaWorld Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 2.0 mi. South West of Central San Miguel Cozumel
Aquanauts Puerto Aventuras Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 873-5041 0.9 mi. South of Central La Gloria Mexico
Aquatic Sports Belize Watersports Equipment Shop (501) 226-4601 San Pedro, Southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Ambergris Caye
Babieca Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (987) 872-0844 2.4 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Bahia Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 116-4963 0.2 mi. East-Southeast of Central Xpu Ha Mexico
Belize Diving Adventures Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 226-3082 0.1 mi. East-Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Blue Angel Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (987) 872-0819 1.5 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Brecko's Watersports Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 0.6 mi. Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos Mexico
Cancun Scuba Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 221-6289 3.9 mi. East of Central Cancun Mexico
Captain Tony's Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 2.0 mi. Northwest of Central Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Carey Dive Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (998) 877-0763 2.1 mi. Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Cha Cha Cha Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (987) 872-2331 Downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Costa Maya Cruise Snorkel Excursion Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 0.5 mi. East of Central Costa Maya Mexico
Costa Maya Tours Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (813) 435-3148 1.0 mi. South-Southwest of Central Costa Maya Mexico
Cozumel Boat Trips Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (987) 113-6107 3.5 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Cozumel Cruise Excursions Snorkeling Tour Operator (305) 767-2779 Downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Cozumel Equalizers Snorkeling Tour Operator (987) 872-3511 0.4 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Cozumel Marine World Snorkeling Tour Operator (987) 103-5690 1.9 mi. South West of Central San Miguel Cozumel
Cyan-Ha Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 803-2517 0.2 mi. South of Central Playa del Carmen Mexico
Dive Life Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (551) 357-2569 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Dive Mike Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 803-1228 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Dive Palancar Snorkeling Tour Operator (987) 872-5556 9.6 mi. South-Southwest of Central San Miguel Cozumel
Dive Puerto Aventuras Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 873-5031 0.9 mi. South of Central La Gloria Mexico
Dive Puerto Morelos Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 0.1 mi. North-Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos Mexico
Diving Adventures Snorkeling Tour Operator (210) 374-9141 Downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Dos Ojos Snorkel Cave Snorkeling Tour Operator -- The Riviera Maya, Eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Dressel Divers Cancun Snorkeling Tour Operator (+34) 963 561 496 8.7 mi. Southeast of Central Cancun Mexico
Dressel Divers Cozumel Snorkeling Tour Operator (+34) 963 561 496 10.6 mi. South-Southwest of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Dressel Divers Playa Del Carmen Snorkeling Tour Operator (+34) 963 561 496 2.8 mi. South West of Central Playa del Carmen Mexico
Dressel Divers Puerto Aventuras Snorkeling Tour Operator (+34) 963 561 496 The vicinity of La Gloria, Eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Ecab Explorer Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 871-0257 0.2 mi. North-Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos Mexico
Ecologic Divers Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 226-4118 0.8 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Holbox Island Tours Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 875-2028 0.3 mi. South of Central Downtown Holbox Holbox
La Islena Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 1.8 mi. North-Northwest of Central Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Liquid Blue Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (210) 807-3483 0.9 mi. South-Southeast of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Mahahual Dive Centre Snorkeling Tour Operator (983) 203-2992 0.3 mi. North-Northeast of Central Mahahual Mexico
Manta Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 849-4050 5.8 mi. Southeast of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Mexico Blue Dream Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 803-0660 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Nautilus Diving Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 880-3195 5.6 mi. East of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Paradise on the Caye Rentals Watersports Equipment Shop (918) 237-0114 4.1 mi. North of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Patojo's Scuba Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 226-2283 San Pedro, Southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Ambergris Caye
Pepe Scuba Dive Shop Snorkeling Tour Operator (987) 872-6740 1.9 mi. North-Northeast of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Phantom Dive Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 879-3988 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Phocea Mexico Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 873-1210 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Playa Scuba Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 803-2403 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Portofino Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 226-5096 6.6 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Reef Adventures Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (971) 506-5242 1.0 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Reef Marina Diving Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 873-4120 1.6 mi. South West of Central downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Reef Snorkeling Tour Snorkeling Tour Operator -- Puerto Morelos, Eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Riviera Maya Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 253-4092 1.6 mi. North-Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos Mexico
Sand Dollar Sports Diving Snorkeling Tour Operator (866) 663-3140 Cozumel Cozumel
Scuba Cancun Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 849-7508 3.5 mi. East of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Scuba Caribe Dive Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (212) 555-5557 0.9 mi. Southeast of Central La Gloria Mexico
Scuba Du Snorkeling Tour Operator (987) 872-9500 3.7 mi. South West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Scuba Libre Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 803-2671 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Scuba Playa Snorkeling Tour Operator -- Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Scuba Tulum Snorkeling Tour Operator (984) 115-2336 0.1 mi. East-Southeast of Central Tulum Mexico
Sea Hawk Snorkeling Tour Operator (998) 877-1233 0.1 mi. West-Northwest of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Sealife Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 0.2 mi. South of Central Playa del Carmen Mexico
Searious Adventures Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 226-4202 San Pedro, Southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Ambergris Caye
Seven Seas Resort Dive Shop & Pier Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 226-2382 San Pedro, Southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Ambergris Caye
Snorkel Tour Cooperative Mujeres Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 1.9 mi. Northwest of Central Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Snorkeling Adventure Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 4.2 mi. North-Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos Mexico
Solo Buceo Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (998) 883-3979 6.0 mi. East of Central downtown Cancun Mexico
Studio Blue Carmen Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (987) 872-4414 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Studio Blue Cozumel Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (987) 872-4414 Downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Tank-Ha Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 873-0302 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Tequila Beach Tours Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (983) 117-3519 0.6 mi. Northeast of Central Mahahual Mexico
Toucan Watersports Snorkeling Tour Operator -- 1.5 mi. Northeast of Central Mahahual Mexico
Wet Set Diving Adventures Snorkeling Tour Operator (855) 333-6222 0.4 mi. Northeast of Central Puerto Morelos Mexico
White Sands Shop Snorkeling Tour Operator (501) 226-2405 0.8 mi. Northeast of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
XTC Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (983) 839-8865 0.7 mi. North of Central Xcalak Mexico
Yucatek Dive Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (984) 803-2836 Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico

To learn more about snorkeling, including helpful suggestions and tips for beginners and "pros" read our extensive discussion of snorkeling in the Caribbean.

All along the Caribbean coast, the best thing about the the Yucatan Peninsula is the variety.  Whether you prefer to take a boat out to an offshore reef, jump in and snorkel from your favorite beach, or head to the interior to explore a cenote, the snorkeling in this region of Mexico is like no where else. 

 

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