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Surrounded by shallow reefs, calm clear waters, and rugged limestone, Cozumel Island is located off the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, just a short ferry ride from Playa del Carmen on the Mexican mainland.
An underwater heaven on earth, Cozumel is home to some of the world’s most spectacular snorkeling spots in the Northern Hemisphere. Every year thousands of savvy snorkelers travel to Cozumel to take advantage of the island’s bath-like waters, magnificent climate, and abundant marine life.
Palancar Reef is part of the protected marine ecosystem and a haven for marine explorers. One of the reef’s most healthy and popular snorkeling spots, Palancar Gardens, has a visibility of 30m (100 feet). It is incredibly colorful, vibrant, and filled with angelfish, groupers, moray eels, barracudas, parrotfish, jacks, and nurse sharks. Dotted with starfish, Palancar Gardens is rich with reef life that can be seen for miles due to the clear, calm waters.
The reef in front of the popular Money Bar is a popular destination for both experienced snorkelers and beginners. Filled with sea fans, colorful fish, and manta rays, this reef is in pretty shallow waters, about 3-5m deep (10-15ft), making it enjoyable for snorkeling adventurers of all ages and levels.
Chankanaab Reef is a great spot for both snorkeling and diving, featuring colorful coral formations and a variety of marine life, including angelfish, parrotfish, and octopus. Visitors can reach the reef by taking a snorkeling tour by boat or driving to the park and snorkeling from the shore.
Located just off the coast of San Miguel de Cozumel, Paradise Reef is a popular spot for beginner snorkelers. The reef features colorful coral formations and a variety of marine life, including moray eels, stingrays, and trumpetfish. To get there, visitors can take a snorkeling tour by boat or swim out from the nearby beach.
Dzul Ha Reef is a great spot for snorkeling and diving, featuring colorful coral formations and a variety of marine life, including seahorses, sea turtles, and eagle rays. Visitors can reach the reef by taking a snorkeling tour by boat or swimming out from the nearby beach.
A hidden gem, Playa Corona is very popular among locals. Some say this beach is not as widely known to tourists because some of the better coral clusters sit a little bit further offshore. For this reason, Playa Corona is better for more experienced swimmers, or at least those that have already gotten their “fins” wet.
An excellent snorkeling spot for families and first-time snorkelers, Chankanaab Beach Park is a well-equipped park run by the municipality of Cozumel. The entrance costs $23 for adults and $19 USD for children to access major events like the annual Ironman swimming portion, the Park is the place to swim with the dolphins. Check the Chankanaab Park Website to book your entrance.
If you’re looking for a great day of beach fun, Punta Sur is the place. Snorkelers can expect to get very close to prized coral reefs along the southern edge of the Park, where thousands of sea turtles nest each year. It’s not uncommon to snorkel alongside juvenile green sea turtles or loggerheads.
The area in front of Casa del Mar Hotel beachfront and dive-boat pier is a great place for snorkeling. Easily accessed from town or by any of the cruise ship piers, this house reef area has a nice low ledge of coral at about 25-30 feet deep. This small wall of coral is a great nursery area for juvenile fish, small eels, huge queen conchs, and invertebrates.
To learn more about snorkeling destinations, visit our "15 Best Snorkeling Destinations in the World" article.
While snorkeling in Cozumel, visitors can expect to see a wide variety of marine life, including:
These are just a few of the many species you can find while snorkeling in Cozumel. Be sure to keep an eye out for other creatures such as eels, starfish, and a variety of tropical fish!
Cozumel is located 86 km (53 mi) or 2 hours and 12 minutes from the Cancun International Airport. Visitors can take a ferry from Playa del Carmen, which operates 365 days a year and runs every hour on the hour. Several ferry companies operate this route, including Ultramar, Winjet, and Barcos Caribe. The ferry ride takes approximately 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the company and weather conditions. The ferry terminal is located right in downtown Cozumel, at the extension of Av. Lic. Benito Juarez, across from Palmeras Restaurant.
The average ferry ticket prices are $10 per adult and $6 USD per kid.
See the latest updated ferry schedules to Cozumel on UltramarFerry.com.
This tour is offered by many companies and takes visitors on a guided snorkeling tour of some of the island's best reefs, including Palancar Reef and Columbia Reef. Prices range from around $40 to $80 USD per person, depending on the tour company and the length of the tour.
Visitors who prefer a more personalized experience can opt for a private snorkeling tour. Many companies offer private tours that allow visitors to choose their own itinerary and spend more time at the locations they're most interested in. Visitors will have a dedicated guide who can help spot different marine life and provide personalized attention. Prices for private tours range from around $450 USD, depending on the length of the tour and the number of people in the group.
It's important to note that some locations may require a small marine fee, which costs approximately $6 USD.
Cozumel has a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round, ranging from 77°F (25°C) in the winter months to 86°F (30°C) in the summer months. The water temperature is warm and comfortable for swimming and snorkeling, ranging from 79°F (26°C) in the winter to 84°F (29°C) in the summer.
Cozumel experiences distinct wet and dry seasons. The wet season runs from May to October, with the most rainfall occurring in September and October. Visitors can expect daily rain showers during this time, with a mix of sunny periods. The dry season runs from November to April, with less rainfall and more sunny days. December to February is considered the high season in Cozumel, with many tourists visiting the island during this time due to the cooler and less humid temperatures.
It's important to note that Cozumel is in the hurricane belt and can be affected by tropical storms and hurricanes from June to November. Visitors should check the weather forecast before visiting and be prepared in case of a hurricane warning.
Cozumel is a world-renowned snorkeling destination with clear waters, abundant marine life, and stunning coral reefs. Visitors can enjoy a variety of snorkeling tours, from guided boat tours to private tours. With warm temperatures year-round and distinct wet and dry seasons, visitors can enjoy the island's natural beauty and snorkeling spots all year long.