Tequila Tales from an All Inclusive Addict
February 12, 2014

Snorkeling in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera

Looking for snorkeling in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera? ​I often get asked for a resort in Cancun that has great snorkeling. 

I usually reply with two answers: 

1. The best snorkeling is away from people so you won't find it on a white sandy beach where people hang out and the waves are strong (so not in Cancun).

2. There’s only one good snorkeling in Cancun resort and it’s not the most popular resort choice for people. 

Club Med has hands down the best snorkeling in Cancun right off of it’s beach.

This is actually the area that many of the Cancun snorkeling tours take you to but a bit farther into the ocean. 

It’s worth it for a quick snorkeling trip from Cancun.

Isla Mujeres is also good for snorkeling but it’s what I consider a deep water snorkel meaning that every place I have snorkeled at Garrafon Park has been quite deep so it has a different feel than snorkeling at a reef. If you happen to be on Isla Mujeres you can access Garrafon Park directly from the beach. 

Isla Mujeres is a good place to learn to snorkel.

Puerto Morelos area has good snorkeling also.  You won’t likely be taken to this area unless you are staying at a resort nearby.

Akumal is good for walk out snorkeling and seeing turtles. This is prime sea turtle area so if you come here snorkeling you’ll have a better chance at seeing turtles than anywhere.

Playa del Carmen is popular because of it’s proximity to Cozumel.  You’ll be snorkeling on the same reef – just a different area of it than you would be if you stayed on Cozumel.  There are a number of different areas for snorkeling (and diving) this reef and each tour operator will have his own spot so you could tour this reef numerous times and never go to the same place.


Cenotes are natural underground rivers or sink holes or caves and are found on the Mayan Riviera.  It’s a unique snorkeling experience to snorkel in a fresh water cenote – the perfect thing to do on a rainy day!  It's thought that there are 7,000 cenotes or sinkholes on the Mayan Riviera. 

Ik-Kil or the Sacred Blue Cenote is located near Chichen Itza.  This is a deep cave-like cenote with a wooden stair way that you descend from ground level to access the water.  This is a popular cenote that you'll sometimes get to visit as part of a Chichen Itza tour where you'll have time for a quick swim. It is also available for snorkeling and diving.

Dos Ojos is located near Tulum.  Dos Ojos is actually two circular cenotes where swimmers, snorkelers and divers can explore almost 500 meters of underwater caves. This is where IMAX filmed Journey into Amazing Caves! This was my first cenote snorkeling experience!

Sac Aktun or the Gran Cenote is also located near Tulum. This is a great cenote for swimmers, snorkelers and divers to see fish and turtles because this is an open and cave cenote.  You'll also see great stalactites and stalagmites here! Great Cavern dives!  This is one of my favorite!

Cenote tips:  For most cenotes you will be swimming, snorkeling or diving in underground, lit caves so be prepared to decend a stairway (in many cases) into the cave and be in cooler water than you may expect.  It's a good thing to have good equipment because once you start, the only way out is the end. Pack light - only bring along what you can keep on you or safely leave with your tour guide.

If you snorkel in a cave, you won’t see large fish as in open water but you will see the cave formations and smaller creatures that live in the dark - and maybe bats and other cave creatures.

Snorkeling Tips:

1.  Consider bringing your own equipment.  If you have your own equipment I would certainly recommend bringing it because the number one complaint I get is about using other people’s equipment.  This is especially true if you plan to snorkel on your own from the resort.  While many resorts will supply you with equipment, it will be well used and only yours for a limited time.

2.  Never snorkel alone or without someone spotting you.  I know it looks harmless but for any of us who have been caught up in a current or situation where we felt uncomfortable, we know the only safe thing to do is to always been within the sight of someone else.

3.  Weather can affect what you see that day.  What I mean is that if the ocean has been churned up or if something’s going on that the fish aren’t out, your expedition may be less than you hoped for.  Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it.

4.  National Parks – be prepared that if you are snorkeling in a marine national park on a tour, you may be asked to pay a small park fee.  This could be in addition to your tour fee.

5.  Do not touch the coral!  Coral is living but when you touch it you can kill it so hands off!  Besides, it can be very sharp and will cut you quickly so stay away.

6.  Wear all natural sunscreen to protect both yourself and the coral.  You may not think you need it while snorkeling but you do. If you can find Tropical Sands or Coral Safe products these are highly recommended.

A Short List of Resorts With Good Snorkeling

Barcelo Maya is a large resort made up of different sections. There is snorkeling off one area of the beach at this resort.

Akumal Beach Resort is a small quiet Mexican resort on the beach of Akumal – where you will find turtles! 

A unique snorkeling experience when the turtles are there laying their eggs.  Akumal is where a lot of snorkeling tours come so you will be surrounded by good snorkeling.

Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Hotel & Spa – while this is not on my list of favorite resorts, it certainly does have good snorkeling in many spots so if you have children who want to learn or do a lot of snorkeling, this resort offers it right off it’s rocky beach areas.

Club Med in Cancun tops the list of snorkeling in Cancun resorts.  Club Med also features a lot of unique activities such as their circus and trapeze activities!

Need more help about snorkeling in Cancun and the Mayan Rivera, feel free to call me at 1-877-505-5515 or fill out our price comparison quote request form!

About Sharon

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