Snorkeling in Cancún

by CaliCase Team on March 17, 2023

Snorkeling at Cancun

Cancún is a very popular destination for snorkeling. Its crystal-clear waters and lively marine life make it a top activity to experience while visiting Cancún. Whether you're a seasoned snorkeler or a beginner, Cancún offers a wide range of options for exploring the underwater world. In this post, we'll explore some of the best snorkeling spots in Cancún, including the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and Isla Mujeres, as well as provide tips on how to make the most of your snorkeling experience. If you want to learn more about snorkeling destinations, visit our "15 Best Snorkeling Destinations in the World" article.


Is it Safe to Snorkel in Cancún?

Snorkeling in Cancún is generally safe, but it's important to take precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Be sure to follow any rules or guidelines set by tour operators or park rangers, and be aware of any potential hazards in the water, such as strong currents or jellyfish. It's also a good idea to wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid, especially if you're not a strong swimmer.
You can review the last travel advisory updates on Mexico Travel Advisories which are published by the US Travel State Department guidelines.


Whale Shark Snorkeling In Cancún

Whale Shark Snorkeling

You can snorkel with whale sharks in Cancún, which is a unique and unforgettable experience for any adventure seeker. Here are some details about snorkeling with whale sharks in Cancún.


When Is the Best Season

Whale shark season in Cancún typically runs from May to September, with the peak season being from mid-July to mid-August. During this time, whale sharks migrate to the warm waters of the Caribbean to feed on plankton, which makes for a great opportunity to see them up close.


Where to go

The main area for whale shark snorkeling in Cancún is off the coast of Isla Mujeres, a small island located about 20 minutes by boat from Cancún. There are several tour operators in Cancún that offer snorkeling tours to Isla Mujeres, and many of them also offer whale shark snorkeling tours during the season.


What to expect

Whale shark snorkeling tours usually last about 6 hours and include transportation to and from the marina, a boat ride to Isla Mujeres, snorkeling gear, and a professional guide. Once you reach the whale shark feeding grounds, you'll have the opportunity to snorkel with these gentle giants in their natural habitat. Whale sharks can grow up to 40 feet long, but they are harmless to humans and typically swim near the surface, making them easy to see.


Safety guidelines

To ensure the safety of both the whale sharks and the snorkelers, there are strict guidelines that must be followed during the tour. These guidelines include not touching the whale sharks, maintaining a safe distance, and not using flash photography. Additionally, all tour operators must be licensed by the Mexican government and follow specific regulations to ensure the safety and protection of the whale sharks.

Overall, snorkeling with whale sharks in Cancún is a unique and unforgettable experience that is both exciting and educational. If you're interested in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, be sure to book a tour with a reputable and licensed tour operator during the whale shark season.

Snorkeling in Cancún: Exploring the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

Cancún boasts several coral reefs, including the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest coral reef system in the world. Here are some interesting facts about the coral reefs in Cancún:

  • The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is composed of over 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk, and more than 500 species of fish.
  • The Palancar Reef, located off the coast of Cozumel, is known for its vibrant coral formations and diverse marine life, including schools of colorful fish, sea turtles, and rays.
  • Other popular coral reefs in Cancún include the Manchones Reef, home to the Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA), and the Chitales Reef, known for its large schools of fish and vibrant coral formations.

    Snorkeling at the Isla Mujeres

    Isla Mujeres


    Located just a short boat ride away from Cancún, Isla Mujeres is a beautiful island known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning coral reefs. Here's what you can expect when snorkeling in Isla Mujeres:

    • Swim among schools of colorful fish and admire the beautiful coral formations.
    • Keep an eye out for sea turtles, which are a common sight in the waters around Isla Mujeres.
      The Garrafon Reef Park is a popular snorkeling spot in Isla Mujeres, offering a variety of marine life and a unique underwater sculpture garden.

      How to get to Isla Mujeres?


      • By ferry

      The most popular way to get to Isla Mujeres is by taking a ferry from Cancún. There are two ferry companies that operate from two different ports in Cancún: Ultramar and Magana. The Ultramar ferry leaves from Puerto Juarez, which is located about 30 minutes north of the Cancún hotel zone, and takes about 15-20 minutes to reach Isla Mujeres. The Magana ferry leaves from Punta Sam, which is located about 25 minutes north of the Cancún hotel zone, and takes about 25 minutes to reach Isla Mujeres. Both ferry companies have frequent departures throughout the day and offer round-trip and one-way tickets.


      • By private boat

      Another option is to take a private boat to Isla Mujeres. This is a more expensive option, but it offers a more personalized experience and the opportunity to explore the island at your own pace. There are several companies that offer private boat charters from Cancún, and prices vary depending on the size of the boat, the duration of the trip, and the number of people in your group.


      • By catamaran

      If you're looking for a more leisurely way to get to Isla Mujeres, you can take a catamaran tour from Cancún. These tours typically include snorkeling, a visit to Isla Mujeres, and lunch on board the catamaran. Prices vary depending on the tour company and the duration of the tour, but they generally range from $70-$100 per person.


      Snorkeling at Puerto Morelos

      Puerto Morelos

      Puerto Morelos is a small town located about 20 minutes south of Cancún and is known for its quiet, laid-back atmosphere and beautiful beaches.

      Here are some of the highlights of snorkeling in Puerto Morelos:

      • The Puerto Morelos National Reef Park is a protected marine reserve home to a variety of marine life, including colorful fish, rays, and even nurse sharks.
      • The park offers several snorkeling tours, ranging from shallow-water snorkeling to deeper dives for more experienced snorkelers.
      • The coral formations in Puerto Morelos are particularly stunning, offering a beautiful backdrop for your snorkeling adventure.

      How to get to Puerto Morelos?


      • By taxis

      They are readily available in Cancún and can take you directly to Puerto Morelos. The cost of a taxi ride can vary depending on your starting location and the time of day, but it generally costs around $20-$30 USD.


      • By Public Bus

      Taking a public bus is a more affordable option and is a great way to experience local life. From Cancún, take the R1 or R2 bus from the ADO bus station in downtown Cancún or from a stop along Tulum Avenue in the hotel zone. The bus ride takes about 45 minutes and costs around $1 USD per person. Ask the driver to drop you off at the Puerto Morelos stop.

      Snorkeling at Cozumel

      Cozumel Island

      Cozumel is a gorgeous island situated off the northeastern coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula, celebrated for its magnificent coral reefs and translucent azure waters. See our full article about snorkeling at Cozumel with the best snorkeling spots, the species you can find and to get there.
      Here are some of the best locations for snorkeling in Cozumel:

      • The Palancar Reef is one of the most popular snorkeling spots in Cozumel, offering vibrant coral formations and a diverse array of marine life.
      • The Chankanaab National Marine Park is another popular snorkeling spot in Cozumel, featuring a variety of coral formations and marine life, including sea turtles and colorful fish.
      • The waters around Cozumel are particularly clear, offering excellent visibility for snorkelers.

        How to get to Cozumel?

        The most common and affordable way to get to Cozumel from Cancún is by taking the ferry from Playa del Carmen. The ferry ride takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather and sea conditions.

        Snorkeling at Cancún Underwater Museum

        Snorkeling at Cancun Underwater Museum MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) in Cancún is a unique and unforgettable experience that combines art and marine life. Here are some things to keep in mind when snorkeling at MUSA:

        • MUSA is an underwater museum located off the coast of Cancún that features over 500 sculptures and installations.
        • The sculptures at MUSA are made from materials that encourage the growth of coral and other marine life, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and diving.
        • Snorkeling at MUSA is suitable for all levels of experience, as the water is shallow and calm.
        • The marine life at MUSA is diverse and includes a variety of colorful fish, sea turtles, and other marine creatures.
        • Snorkeling tours to MUSA are available from Cancún and typically last several hours. Some tours may include additional stops at nearby reefs or beaches.
        • Snorkeling at MUSA is a unique and unforgettable way to explore the underwater world of Cancún while also experiencing the intersection of art and nature.

          Snorkeling in Akumal

          Akumal Bay

          Snorkeling in Akumal, a small beach town located about an hour south of Cancún, is a popular activity that offers visitors the chance to swim with sea turtles and explore the vibrant marine life of the Mexican Caribbean. Here are some things to keep in mind:

          • Snorkeling tours to Akumal are available from Cancún and typically last several hours. Some tours may include transportation, equipment rental, and the guidance of an experienced tour guide.
          • The water at Akumal is shallow and calm, making it suitable for snorkelers of all levels of experience.
            The marine life at Akumal is diverse and includes a variety of colorful fish, sea turtles, and other marine creatures.
          • Swimming with sea turtles at Akumal is a popular activity, but it's important to practice responsible tourism by keeping a safe distance from the turtles and not touching or disturbing them in any way.
          • Akumal is also home to several nearby coral reefs that offer excellent snorkeling opportunities.

          Snorkeling in Cancún hotel zone

          Cancún hotel zone

          You can snorkel in the Cancún hotel zone, but the options for snorkeling in this area are limited compared to other parts of Cancún. Here are some details about snorkeling in the Cancún hotel zone.


          Snorkeling spots

          There are a few spots in the Cancún hotel zone where you can snorkel, but they are not as popular as other areas like Cozumel or Isla Mujeres. The most popular spots for snorkeling in the hotel zone are the beaches at Punta Nizuc and Playa Delfines, which have calm and clear waters that are suitable for snorkeling.

          What to expect

          The snorkeling experience in the Cancún hotel zone is not as impressive as other parts of Cancún, but you can still see some marine life like colorful fish and coral formations. You can bring your own snorkeling gear or rent gear from a local vendor on the beach.

          Snorkeling tours

          If you're looking for a more extensive snorkeling experience in the hotel zone, you can book a snorkeling tour with a local tour operator. These tours usually include transportation to and from your hotel, snorkeling gear, and a professional guide who can take you to the best snorkeling spots in the area.

          Overall, while the options for snorkeling in the Cancún hotel zone are limited, you can still enjoy a decent snorkeling experience at spots like Punta Nizuc and Playa Delfines. For a more extensive snorkeling experience, consider booking a snorkeling tour with a local tour operator.



          We hope this guide has been helpful in planning your upcoming snorkeling trip to Cancún. With so many incredible spots to explore in the Caribbean Sea, you're sure to have an unforgettable experience. However, it's important to be mindful of the impact sunscreen can have on the delicate coral reefs. Some chemicals found in sunscreen, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, can be harmful to marine life and cause damage to coral reefs. When packing your sunscreen, be sure to choose a reef-safe option that doesn't contain these harmful chemicals. Additionally, wearing a rashguard or wetsuit can also help to protect your skin and minimize your sunscreen usage. Remember to pack your swimsuit and camera, and get ready for an unforgettable snorkeling adventure in Cancún while doing your part to protect the delicate ecosystem of the Caribbean Sea.

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