Mexico is known for world-class all-inclusive resorts and stunningly beautiful white sand beaches. With a rich culture situated in a warm tropical climate, it is no wonder that this is a top vacation destination amongst Americans. Cancun is located in the Gulf Of Mexico which leads way to the calmer currents in these relatively protected waters.
The waters in this part of Mexico are favored by many experienced snorkelers and divers around the world. Full of life, you can expect to come face to face with some of the most exotic marine life including sharks, rays, and turtles.
Located close to the equator means that this is a great vacation destination throughout the entire year. There are however many appealing incentives to go in certain months. November to February have more mild temperatures which create an appealing escape if coming from colder climates. Traveling here between June and August allows you to be a part of whale shark season. Snorkeling alongside these gentle giants will undoubtedly be the highlight of your trip.
Cancun offers many different places to snorkel and explore the underwater world. Offering up some of the best snorkeling in the world this is an area not to be missed. Below is a list of the must-see spots.
Quick Answer: 8 Best Snorkeling Spots in Cancun
1. Musa (Underwater Museum)
This is one of the best snorkeling destinations in the whole world. This is an underwater museum that has been developed over many years starting in 2009. Musa has been created by sinking 500 full sized sculptures making an eerie sight (this number is also growing as there are more sunk every year). There are also coral reefs that house many species of fish and marine life.
If you can only snorkel at one destination this should be it. You can get tours that know exactly where to find everything from turtles to rays and everything in between. Not only will you see the statues but also many other sights. There is a sunken Volkswagen Car, a Beetle Car and a few others including The Cross of the Bay, Man on Fire, Dream Collector, and El Bacab. Water here can range from 10 to 20 feet in depth. It is a high visibility location year round and offers great snorkeling and diving.
2. Punta Nizuc
This snorkeling spot sits on the south tip of the island. There is a floating platform that you can launch from which puts you in the middle of the action without having to swim. Just keep in mind that there is a $10 entrance fee for the Marine Park which includes access to the dock.
Much like the other spots in Cancun, the waters here are warm, clear, and full of life. In fact, there are 37 types of coral, 230 kinds of flora, 100 species of fish and 4 kinds of turtles live in this area. This area also has 16 statues which are in only 3 feet of water. This makes Punta Nizuc great for all ages and skill level divers. Waters are crystal clear and are easily accessed from a floating platform.
There are tours in this area that can give you access to places you would never think to look. Most come with a speedboat that shuttles you to these spots. Also, with these tours, you are nearly guaranteed to see everything from turtles to dolphins.
While not technically in Cancun, Cozumel is a small island located just off the coast of the city. A short boat trip will land you in one of the best snorkeling spots in the area. Cozumel has many tourist stands making this a great shopping hub. It is also home to some of the most picturesque beaches you will ever see. You can also count on seeing the many colorful tropical fish that call this area home.
Snorkeling here can be done from the beach instead of a boat trip to the water. This is a great spot to appreciate all the many colors underwater. The impressive coral formations are found even in the shallowest of waters allowing this to be a great spot for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike. The natural gardens found in these diverse and vibrant reefs stretch all along the entire coastline of this small island.
There are many day trips you can book from this island including some that take you by boat to a natural sand bar in the ocean. Grabbing your snorkel gear you can grab a handful of sardines and feed the wild stingrays that naturally congregate to this area. With hundreds of rays all around you, snorkeling here guarantees memories for a lifetime.
4. Isla Mujeres
This is an amazing place for snorkeling. It is known for its turtles, sharks and laid back vibes. The beaches are ideal with white sand and ample room for the entire family. Isla Mujeres is across the bay from Cancun which means it requires a short boat ride. But this just means you spend the whole day exploring this paradise.
There is more to this area than just snorkeling. It is only 5 miles long by a half mile long meaning you can spend a day here and fully explore it. You can explore ruins that were built by pirates. They have a nice walking path that features trees that give you shade – excellent for a break from long days on the beach. This place also has a place on the southern shore that has cliffs along the water’s edge
Just like other places in Cancun there are guided snorkeling tours from the Isla Mujeres. By using these tours you can be sure to see sea life that has been on your bucket list including whale sharks and giant rays.
If you are just diving off the coast you will be able to see vibrant fish including turtles if you are lucky. The island has everything you will need for an entire day. It has places to eat and showers and restrooms.
This is one of the best snorkel and dive spots in all of Cancun. It is also one of the most visited places in the area, but don’t let this deter you from going. There are taxis that have routes to this beach and are exceptionally inexpensive (ranging from 20 to 50 pesos depending on where you start – $1.1 to $2 USD). This is a better option than driving since the parking lot fills up early in the day.
Akumal has everything nearby you need for the entire day. Bring a day bag and you can walk to snack bars, restaurants, and even supermarkets. There is also a Wellness Resort where you may be able to use their spa or even get a massage. The beach also has toilets and showers for when you’re done your day.
This is also a beach that caters to beginners and inexperienced snorkelers. There are many huts and establishments that offer rental gear that make it easy to jump into the water. This is a beach where you may want to bring your own mask, snorkeling fins, and dry snorkel. The entrance to the water is from a white sand beach which also makes this ideal for children.
Pro Tip: Check out our guide to choosing your snorkel.
There are two snorkel areas that you can explore. Water in both areas is calm and crystal clear. The first ranges from 3 to 7 feet deep and encompasses around 10 yards. This is where you can see turtles and rays that call this place home which you are basically guaranteed to see on any given day. For this reason, it can get a bit busy. For fewer people swimming with you head to the beginner reef. It ranges from 3 to 20 feet deep and features more coral than turtles. This is a larger area which gives you more room to yourself.
If your desire is to take your snorkeling experience to new extremes, this is the place to go. This area is famous for being home to some beautiful Mayan ruins that are built on a cliffside. The reefs around this area house some of the most beautiful reefs in the area. Get a thrill from swimming through a beautiful cenote.
With a rich underwater life, this is a must see snorkeling area. With sponges and bright purple sea fans that dance with the current, this is one area you will want your underwater camera. There are many fish that call this area home including parrot fish, butterfly fish and even barracudas. Many larger aquatic animals frequent this area too such as stingrays, spotted eagle ray, and sea turtles.
There are many beautiful things that draw people to this area above water as well. Trek through the jungle, walk through caves or take a stroll through the Tulum archeological site. Offering something for everyone this is somewhere you may want to allow a couple of days for.
7. Isla Contoy
This place has everything to make a great day of snorkeling – even if you’re only in Cancun for a week. Water here ranges to no more than 9 feet and features lots of sights. You can count on seeing queen conchs, coral, and even sea turtles. If you are a bird lover there are over 150 species of birds in this location as well. Trails allow you to walk this area and explore the scenery from a unique perspective.
Be sure to get here early as it is a protected National Park. This means they limit the number of people who can visit to protect the wildlife. In other words, this will be a great place if you are looking to get away from huge crowds of people. It will feel as if you are in this magical place all by yourself.
Pro Tip: Use biodegradable sunscreen to protect the reefs and fish you are swimming with.
This beach has many guides and places to get food. It takes a boat that leaves at 9 am so plan on being early. You can skip breakfast as the boat has a place to eat as well. This is the best way to explore this area as the guides will drop you in the perfect spot – and these packages include all the gear you need for the day.
8. Puerto Morelos
This fishing village is located right in the middle of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen making its location virtually unbeatable. The coral reef in this area is one of the most preserved in the area making it a great place to do some snorkeling. The reef here has beautiful sea grass that makes it a desirable area for exotic sea life such as barracudas, rays and turtles.
With many colorful fish living in these tall grasses it is sure to provide some memorable snorkeling. You will want to ensure you have a life vest if you are snorkeling from the shore as the reef sits about 400 yards from the shore. Your swim will quickly be rewarded with many parrotfish, triggerfish and butterfly fish to swim alongside.
Cancun is one of the most visited vacation destinations in Mexico. It offers some of the best snorkeling in the world where you can see everything from turtles to stingrays to whale sharks.
The warm tropical waters of Mexico are virtually unbeatable. Once getting a glimpse of all the underwater world has to offer in this area, you will likely not want to do anything else. This is why it is recommended that you know what to wear and bring it along with you.
After some exploring in this area, you will likely want to take your underwater experience even farther by trying your hand at scuba diving. With a trip to this area it is important that you prepare similar to how you would for a dive holiday bringing your own gear along with you.
Have you gone snorkeling through the tropical waters in the Gulf Of Mexico? Tell us about your favorite Cancun snorkel spot in the comment section below.