The 19 Top Places for Snorkeling in Mexico in 2023
If you love being in the water and exploring the underwater world, you will love snorkeling in Mexico, and in this post, I will share all the most spectacular snorkeling spots you can find.
I lived in Mexico for the past 12 years (and I have no intention to leave this beautiful country) and I have traveled all over the places where I have snorkeled and dived as much as I could. I haven’t seen it all but I am working on it. 🤩
There is so much to love about Mexico from tropical beaches, sunny weather all year round, great food, but also fascinating culture and bustling colonial cities, a thriving nature with incredible outdoor opportunities of all sorts.
And snorkeling in Mexico is one of them.
Although Cozumel is considered one of the world-class diving spots ( and snorkeling) in the world, there are so many other amazing spots to explore marine life both on your own or with boat tours.
The best snorkeling spots in Mexico are found along the country’s Pacific coastline and in its Caribbean Sea waters. So here below I am going to talk about each of the top Mexico Snorkeling spots.
➭ Make sure you get to the end of this article for more practical tips on the places you plan to visit!
The best snorkeling in Mexico
The best snorkeling in the Riviera Maya
The Riviera Maya is famous for many reasons. The resort towns along the coast of this region are known for their luxurious hotels and lively nightlife.
But there’s more to the Riviera Maya than just partying. There are plenty of things to do here if you’re looking for adventure as well as relaxation.
Some of these include visiting Mayan ruins like Coba, Tulum, or Chichen Itza, taking surf lessons in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, zip-lining through jungle canopies in Akumal Bay, or exploring underground caves at Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum.
The main attraction here is definitely snorkeling at Akumal Bay which is one of the most recommended spots for snorkeling tours in Tulum and the Riviera Maya region because it offers plenty of opportunities to spot marine life such as turtles, stingrays, and sharks!
1. Snorkeling in Akumal Beach
Akumal is a small beach town about 40 minutes south of Playa del Carmen and 30 minutes from Tulum. Akumal Beach is one of the most popular places for snorkeling in Mexico.
That is for two simple reasons:
✔ It’s home to friendly turtles who would always return to the same spot every day so you can see them in their natural habitat together with different kinds of colorful fishes.
✔ You can reach the snorkeling area from the shore without the need for a boat.
This beach has some great snorkeling on its western side. There are lots of rocks that you can swim between for some great sightseeing opportunities. The water here is shallow so it’s perfect for families with small children or those who don’t like deep water.
Pro – you can swim with the sea turtles
Con – it is always very crowded
2. Half Moon Bay
If you want to avoid crowds and noise without compromising on the fun of a memorable Mexican snorkeling adventure, Half Moon Bay will be perfect for it. You can swim directly to the coral reef, and there are so many amazing marine species to see here as well.
The best way to access the beach is to drive past Akumal Beach and continue towards Caleta Yalku until you find La Lunita restaurant.
There is a large reef between 50 and 100 yards offshore with a great wealth of marine life which makes up for the lack of turtles. (or maybe you are lucky and you will see them as well).
The water is calm and not very deep so it’s an easy snorkeling adventure.
After your amazing adventure in the water, you can enjoy a delicious lunch with incredible views of the ocean.
3. Caleta Yal Ku
This sheltered cove is one of the most popular snorkeling sites in the Riviera Maya. The water is clear and shallow, with lots of fish and corals.
There is no beach, but rocky platforms where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful surrounding. It makes a great day trip from Tulum. Read more on my detailed guide to the Yal Ku lagoon.
4. Casa Cenote
Casa Cenote is another one of the most popular snorkeling spots in Mexico, or at least on the Riviera Maya.
It’s located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, and is known for its sneaky shape that you can see from the aerial view.
The cenote has a depth of about 8 meters and it’s one of the preferred cenotes for beginner divers for its relatively shallow waters but it’s also great for snorkeling.
Also, it’s located right opposite a beach with access to the barrier reefs. So you can get two snorkeling spots in the same place.
5. Cenote Dos Ojos
Dos Ojos (Two Eyes in Spanish) is one of the most visited cave cenotes in Mexico. This cenote has two openings connected by an underground river. Snorkeling in one of those cenotes is one of the most popular activities for the spectacular crystal clear waters.
But there are many other amazing cenotes along the Riviera Maya where you can
Tulum is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico, and it’s no wonder why.
From a lazy fishermen’s town, it turned into one of the trendiest touristy towns in Mexico, in less than 10 years and it keeps growing despite the unpleasant safety accidents that are happening in the past weeks.
Regardless of all the fuss about Tulum, the town is filled with beautiful beaches and cenotes nearby that are great for snorkeling!
Snorkeling in Tulum can be done from paradise beach, close to the Mayan ruins! You can just walk to the vendors’ boot and sign up for your snorkeling trip.
It’s just 1h and 15 minutes but full of amazing sights of the local marine life.
Other great spots for snorkeling from Tulum are the Sian Kaan biosphere and the amazing cenotes near Tulum
SNORKELING IN MEXICO
The best snorkeling in Cancun
Cancun is one of the most touristy cities in Mexico, built in the 70s for tourism only. It’s located on the east coast of Mexico, 70 km from Playa del Carmen and in front of the spectacular island of Isla Mujeres.
The city is famous among the spring-breakers crowd for its party scene, but it’s much more than that.
Its white-sand beaches, warm weather, and clear blue waters put Cancun on top of the most visited places in Mexico and a popular destination for tourists from around the world.
Stay in one of the giant all-inclusive resorts in Cancun along the beach to enjoy spectacular views of the most turquoise waters you will have ever seen.
And of course, with these spectacular waters, snorkeling is one of the most popular among the many things to do in Cancun.
7. Snorkeling in Punta Playa Delfines
If you want to do some snorkeling in Cancun from the shore, the only place is at the end of the 21 km beach in Punta Playa Delfines.
Just keep in mind that in order to get there the closest access to the beach is by Playa Delfines, and then you will have a nice walk along the beach until you reach the snorkeling point.
Or you can stay in one of the hotels nearby or get a day pass.
Right around that corner after Punta Delfines, you also have great snorkeling spots right in front of the luxury hotel NIZUC Resort & Spa, which is also one of the most high-end hotels in Cancun.
Otherwise, you need to join boat tours that will take you to the coral reefs between Isla Mujeres and Cancun.
Here below are the most popular tours.
8. Snorkeling with whale sharks
If you’re looking for an adventure while on vacation in Cancun in July and August, you should consider swimming with whale sharks!
Whale sharks are some of the biggest marine creatures and yet innocuous. They don’t attack humans and you can easily snorkel or dive with them (without touching them please!)
This experience allows you to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures without disrupting their natural habitat or harming them in any way.
🤩 Planning a tour to swim with whale sharks?
Book your tour in advance here with my favorite company VIATOR
9. Underwater Museum (MUSA)
The Cancun Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA) is located between the Cancun Hotel Zone and Isla Mujeres, about 25 miles south of Cancun.
It’s a popular snorkeling spot but also one of the top places for beginner or non-certified divers who are looking to explore the beautiful reefs and see some unique underwater art.
In fact, it offers some of the best and most unique snorkeling in Mexico.
This museum was created to attract coral growth and support marine life. It’s filled with over 100 sculptures made from cement and iron rebar.
The sculptures include both abstract and realistic representations of fish and other sea creatures.
Visitors can swim through the underwater sculpture garden filled with corals, sculptures, and even an old WV Beetle now covered in marine life.
SNORKELING IN MEXICO
10. Snorkeling in Cozumel
Cozumel is one of the most popular islands in Mexico and one of the top diving spots in the world.
The beautiful island is located in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen.
Snorkeling in Cozumel is an amazing way to explore its pristine waters and their inhabitants if you don’t dive but will love to explore the underwater world.
The island boasts crystal clear turquoise water and vibrant coral reefs that are home to some of the world’s most colorful marine life. If you’re looking for a place to snorkel with your family or friends, Cozumel is sure to please!
There are several ways to get to Cozumel, including flying into Cancun International Airport or taking a ferry from Playa del Carmen going to San Miguel de Cozumel.
You can also take a ferry from Playa del Carmen going to Tulum and then from there take another ferry going to San Miguel de Cozumel.
The best snorkeling tours in Cozumel include:
► Snorkeling tour to Palancar – Columbia – El Cielo Reef – spectacular half-day snorkeling tour to the top snorkeling spots in Cozumel! BOOK NOW ON VIATOR
► Invisible Boat Snorkeling Adventure Cozumel – awesome boat tour on a transparent boat and best snorkeling spots – BOOK NOW ON VIATOR
► Snorkeling tour to Palancar- Columbia – El Cielo + beach club access – Enjoy a fun snorkeling adventure and relax at one of the best Cozumel Beach Clubs – BOOK NOW ON AVIATOR
SNORKELING IN MEXICO
11. Snorkeling in Majahual
If you want to get away from it all and experience the Caribbean Sea at its best, head to Majahual. This small fishing village is located on the southern Caribbean Mexican Coast of Quintana Roo, right before the more popular Bacalar, just over an hour away from Chetumal and a few hours from Cancun.
The best snorkeling spot in Majahual is the Majahual Beach from where you can easily go snorkeling on your own.
If you don’t have your own snorkeling gear (which I always recommend) you will definitely find one of the diving shops on the beach promenade.
Majahual Beach is a popular place for diving, but it’s also a great place for snorkeling on your own because it’s not very deep, and there are lots of fish and marine life to see there.
If you don’t feel comfortable snorkeling on your own you can always join an organized snorkeling tour where a trustworthy tour guide will take you snorkeling to the top places.
🤩 Book your snorkeling tour in Mahahual in advance?
Book your tour in advance here on VIATOR
SNORKELING IN MEXICO
Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos
Puerto Morelos is a laid-back town on the Riviera Maya, with a spectacular beach right in front of the mesoamerican barrier reef, great boutique hotels, and delicious restaurants.
Despite being on the popular Riviera Maya it seems that mass tourism hasn’t made it here yet and you can appreciate the quiet and tranquillity.
Here is where you can find incredible snorkeling if you join a tour with local experts.
SNORKELING IN MEXICO
Snorkeling in Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur, located at the southern tip of Mexico’s western coast, is one of Mexico’s largest states and offers plenty of options for snorkelers who want to explore its waters.
The long and narrow peninsula features a spectacular mix of ecosystems from the central rocky desert to mountain ranges and oasis to the mindblowing coastal views on the Pacific Ocean
On the other side, towards the Mexican mainland coast we have the Gulf of California and the sea of Cortez, also called by Jacque Custeau the World’s Aquarium, with its incredible wealth of marine life.
This is indeed a paradise for snorkelers and divers and offers some of the most amazing underwater adventures.
Its warm waters and the variety of fish make it a great place for snorkelers, with amazing opportunities to see marine life like whale sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and manta rays.
Here are the top snorkeling spots in Baja California Sur.
12. Cabo Pulmo
If you are landing in Los Cabos, one of the top resort towns in Baja California, my best advice is to rent a car and explore this beautiful Mexican state, one of the safest and easy to get around.
Discover Cars Mexico Review
Browse through international and local car rentals and find the best deal.
One of the best snorkeling spots in Cabo is the Cabo Pulmo National Park. Located at 1h 30 minutes drive from Cabo San Lucas, this park offers an amazing opportunity to see marine life while snorkeling over coral reefs that have been protected since 1996.
This park has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO because of its biodiversity and importance as a marine reserve.
You can then move on to the next snorkeling spots by car. Keep in mind that transportation in Baja California Sur is not as efficient as in the rest of Mexico.
So a car would be a great help and sometimes the only way to move around.
You may want to read about my Road trip to Baja California Sur to learn more about driving in Baja.
13. Snorkeling tour to Isla Espiritu Santo from La Paz
Isla Espiritu Santo is a 2-hour boat ride from La Paz and it makes a great full-day boat tour from la Paz.
The waters around Espiritu Santo Island are clear and calm, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling.
The coral reefs off the coast of Isla Espiritu Santo are home to over 40 species of corals and more than 500 different types of fish, including humpback whales (in winter), sea lions, and manta rays.
The highlight of the tour is without a doubt the snorkeling and swimming with the sea lions but overall it’s a fun day in the water and on a nearby beach.
🤩 Book your snorkeling tour to Isla Espiritu Santo from La Paz, Baja California
Book your tour in advance here on VIATOR
14. Snorkeling in Playa Balandra
Playa Balandra is in my opinion one of the best beaches in La Paz and it may be safe to say one of the best beaches in Mexico.
It is known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and pristine white sand, surrounded by rocky deserts and spectacular sunsets.
Playa Balandra has soft white sand and transparent shallow water that makes it ideal for snorkeling and suitable for kids and adventurers.
There are several reasons why Playa Balandra is one of the best snorkeling spots in Mexico.
✔ it has an easy-to-access shoreline and plenty of good snorkeling spots that you can reach on your own.
✔ It has a wide variety of marine life.
✔ there are no crowds on weekdays.
✔ it’s free.
15. Whale sharks from La Paz
While the whale shark season runs from July through August in Cancun, in La Paz is in winter from December through March.
During this time, many tour operators offer snorkeling trips that take you to the best locations for spotting these humongous creatures. If you have to pick one snorkeling tour I definitely recommend swimming with whale sharks.
🤩 Book your snorkeling tour to swim with whale sharks from La Paz, Baja California
Book your tour in advance here on VIATOR
SNORKELING IN MEXICO
Best snorkeling spots in Huatulco
Huatulco is another popular beach resort and it’s definitely one of the best places to snorkel.
The town is located on the Pacific coast, in Oaxaca state, which is usually renowned for it is incredible surfing spots in Puerto Escondido.
Huatulco is a more upscale resort town with all-inclusive hotels and more protected beaches where instead of swells you can find calm waters rich with incredible marine life.
That’s why among all the things to do in Huatulco, snorkeling is definitely one of them.
Let’s see where are the top snorkeling destinations in Huatulco and its surroundings.
🤩 Book your tour to the best bays in Huatulco
Book your tour in advance here on VIATOR
16. Cacaluta Bay
Cacaluta Bay is at the southern end of Huatulco Bay and has some of the best snorkeling in Mexico. This bay has crystal clear water with its white sandy beach.
The area belongs to the protected Huatulco Marine park and although you can get to see it by an organized tour like the one I mentioned above, you can also explore it on your own by land.
Just ask a taxi driver to take you to the entrance of Cacaluta Bay and then make your way through the jungle.
I haven’t been there myself (yet!) but this post from a fellow explorer will explain more about how to get there.
17. La Entrega
La Entrega Beach is located in Huatulco Bay and it’s a very popular spot among locals and visitors for its protected bay and beach facilities.
It is easy to reach either by taxi or your own car if you have a car rental and there are a lot of restaurants where you can have a nice meal after your snorkeling adventure.
You should bring your snorkeling gear including fins to help you move faster in case of any currents and enjoy some snorkeling along the coastline.
Snorkeling in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo (Guerrero)
Zihuatanejo is a popular beach town in the state of Guerrero.
The town was founded in 1531 by Spanish conquistadors. Its name “Zihuatanejo” means “place of the black plantain,” which refers to a type of banana tree that grows in the area.
The town is located on the Pacific Coast, and it’s well known as a great spot for snorkeling and diving.
18. Playa las Gatas
Some of the best snorkeling in Zihuatanejo is at Playa las Gatas. You can reach this beach by kayak or boat from Zihuatanejo bay.
You can find great tours organized by local agencies.
SNORKELING IN MEXICO
19. Snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a pretty and popular touristy city on the pacific coast of Mexico in Jalisco state, and one of the first that put Mexico on the map for beach vacations and the top LGBTQ-friendly destination in the world (according to Gaytravel.com).
The best snorkeling spots in Puerto Vallarta are only reachable by boat tours, but they are all worth the money. Here below I will share the top ones.
If you want to plan your vacation ahead of time it’s advisable to book your tours in advance as soon as you have your flight ticket
► Yelapa Waterfall & Majahuitas Snorkeling Tour from Puerto Vallarta – Book now on VIATOR
► Las Caletas full-day tour – Book now on VIATOR
► Luxury Yacht & Snorkel in Puerto Vallarta Book now on VIATOR
Is it safe to snorkel in Mexico?
Snorkeling in Mexico is relatively safe in most areas but it’s impossible to generalize as every beach and reef has its own characteristic with more or less current situations that constantly vary.
My 2 cents of advice are:
✔ Always snorkel with a buddy and if you are traveling alone hire a guide or join a tour.
✔ Use a floating device for boats to see you if you are not with a group, or you are in a remote area.
✔ Wear a life jacket even if you can swim, you never know what can happen, especially if you go far off the shore or you are alone.
✔ Tell people around you where you are going. If you travel alone, tell the beach guardian or somebody on the beach.
✔ Use a rash guard to protect you from the sun, as the sunscreens in Mexico sometimes are not allowed (like in Cozumel) or are not enough.
✔ Do not drink alcohol before snorkeling or before getting in the water in general. Why is it dangerous, as this authoritative site explains, “alcohol removes inhibitions, reduces coordination, numbs the senses, particularly sight, sound, and touch leading to unsteadiness and inability to climb or swim making it hard to get out of trouble.”
What part of Mexico has the best snorkeling?
That is difficult to say because there are so many amazing snorkeling sites in Mexico as you could see in this article. However I dare say Cabo Pulmo, Islas Marietas, and Palancar in Cozumel are probably the winners.
The best snorkeling in Mexico: final thoughts
That’s all on the best snorkeling in Mexico! Hopefully, this post has given you some insight into the many great snorkeling spots that Mexico has to offer.
If you have never tried snorkeling, you should. It’s fun, relaxing, and rewarding, even if you’re a total beginner! And, even if you aren’t a good swimmer.
You just need to float, and you can use the help of floating devices.
Many snorkeling spots that we are talking about in this post will provide life jackets for your safety.
You just need some basic equipment like goggles, fins, and a snorkel to go see all the underwater wonders hidden beneath the surface of Mexico’s crystal clear waters!
You may find equipment rentals pretty much everywhere but I suggest you should get your own.
Mexico’s natural wonders are countless, and half of those are hidden under the water. So you don’t want to miss all the snorkeling tips I am going to share in this post. 🙂
Also and very important to know, that the country has a history of preserving the environment.
Both local communities and federal institutions are actively protecting the fragile ecosystems trying to keep the impact of the human presence under control.
Here below I am sharing my top articles about the above-mentioned destinations in case you want to plan your trip and you are looking for practical information from a local ( which would be me 😜)
►Best cenote tours from Tulum
►The perfect 3 to 10-day Tulum itinerary
►The best hotels on the beach in Tulum
Cancun and Isla Mujeres
► The complete Isla Mujeres travel guide for 2022
► 21 reasons to visit Puerto Morelos
► 13 Puerto Vallarta tips for first-time travelers
► 31 Things to do in Puerto Vallarta
► Puerto Vallarta vs Cancun
✨ Mexico Travel Planning Guide ✨
👉 Do I need travel insurance to travel to Mexico?
I would do it if I were you. You never know what can happen and know that no matter what, you will be covered with any expenses will give you peace of mind, and make your travel worry-free. You can check out SafetyWing which I have used and find it affordable and comprehensive and also Travel Insurance Master which is great because you can insert all your information and what kind of insurance you need and their system will pull out the best insurance for your need.
🚰 Can I drink tap water in Mexico?
No, you can’t! Maybe in some areas or in some homes where they have installed water filters but to be on the safe side, I would say, never drink tap water in Mexico. Carry a water bottle with you and fill it up where you find available potable water sources. Most of the hotels have those.
🚗 Is it safe to drive in Mexico?
The short answer is: depending on where you are. Although in general if you stick to the main roads and don’t drive at night you should probably be safe. In lesser tourist areas you should probably check the local news to stay up to date. Driving in the Yucatan Peninsula is easy everywhere, even at night, although I would still avoid it. I recommend Discover Cars because the site offers the option to compare prices among different car rentals and you can add their own full coverage.
Read more on my guide on Renting a car in Mexico.
📱 Will my phone work in Mexico?
It will probably work, especially if you have a European or US phone, but your roaming rates may be to the stars (check with your SIM provider). Even if have an affordable international rate, you will be much better off by buying a Mexican SIM Card. It’s cheap, easy to set up, and it will keep you connected with your friends, family, and, more important, google Maps so you will never get lost!
🤕 Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?
The short answer is, yes it is. However, there are parts of Mexico that are indeed troubled and you should avoid for now, and others that are super safe and easy to travel around.
Regardless of where you are you should always use some common sense rules such as, never flaunting expensive clothing, accessories, electronics, or money and keeping a low profile.
Read more on my detailed guide on safety in Mexico. If you are traveling to a specific destination I have got you covered as well:
💉 Do I need any vaccine to travel to Mexico?
No, there is no vaccine requirement (of any kind) to travel to Mexico
🇲🇽 Do I need a visa to travel to Mexico?
If you are coming from the US or Europe you don’t need a VISA to enter Mexico. Once you get in you need to fill out a form that you need to keep with you until you leave. If you don’t have it you will pay a fine.
Although the tourist visa for US and European travelers used to be 6 months long which you could easily renew by leaving the country for a couple of days and going back, nowadays they have been stricter. You may be asked how you would sustain your living and other similar questions. Sometimes they even ask you to show your credit cards.
It seems odd but they can do that. If you intend to stay longer than a usual couple of weeks’ vacation time, just be honest and explain your plans. If you are not from the US, check this site to see if you need a visa
💸 Where do I find the best travel deals for Mexico? 💸
A trip to Mexico can be expensive if you love to travel with all the comforts (like I do). There are a few tricks that will help you find the best deals. Here are my tips:
👉 DON’T travel in the high season, which is Holy week, Christmas and winter in general, and August.
👉 Book months in advance to find early booking discounts
👉 Use aggregators such as Discover Cars to find price comparisons and VRBO for vacation rentals!
👉 Look for packages flights+hotels on Expedia.
👉 Check on Booking.com or Hotels.com for hotel deals
Isabella, author, editor, and founder
A passionate traveler and photographer, in love with life and adventures, Isabella is the founder and editor of Letstraveltomexico where she shares her love for Mexico, a fascinating country that she’s proud to call home. When she’s not exploring a new place you will find Isabella in a cafe, writing on this blog, or on her other sites Boundless Roads, Mexico Cenotes and Ruins and Letstraveltocancun.com where she loves to share her travels on and off the beaten path in Mexico and around the world.