Among all the incredible places to visit and things to do, Tulum snorkeling is for sure one of the most incredible experiences that you should include in your Tulum trip.
Let’s be honest, Tulum is mainly famous for its glamourous hotels, boho-chic lifestyle, yoga retreats, and eclectic cuisine.
However, the trendy Mexican Caribbean town is much more than that. Tulum is surrounded by incredible natural places and it makes a great base for some of the best outdoor activities especially snorkeling.
Whether you love to travel on your own or you prefer joining a tour in this post I will tell you all about it and when you finish reading it you will know exactly where to find the best Tulum Snorkeling Spots.
BEST TULUM SNORKELING TOUR: EDITOR PICK!
👉 Kayaking and Snorkeling Experience through Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve – 5⭐ 230 Reviews
TULUM SNORKELING TOURS
The best snorkeling tours in Tulum
1. Kayaking and Snorkeling through Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 230 Reviews
Duration: 6 hours
► Kayaking and Snorkeling through Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve BOOK NOW
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a nature-lovers paradise and UNESCO-listed site, home to mangrove-lined canals, open cenotes, and colorful marine life.
This tour is the best option for outdoors enthusiasts who like to stay in movement all the time.
You will explore the biosphere while kayaking and snorkeling so that ensuring you don’t miss any of the highlights.
A local guide will share educational details about the reserve and wildlife.
2. Snorkeling Tour in Three Ecosystems near Tulum
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 88 reviews
Duration: 7 hours
► Snorkeling Tour in Three Ecosystems BOOK NOW
This Tulum snorkeling tour will take you to three amazing different places — Casa Cenote, Tulum Bay, and Cenotes Saac Actum — with a tour guide.
The reefs at Tulum bay offer one of the best snorkeling in Tulum right off the beach, then Cenote Manatee and Cenote Saac Actum are two very different but gorgeous cenotes where you can explore the underwater world and their unique ecosystems.
3. Cenote Triple Adventure Tour in Tulum
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 169 reviews
Duration 4 hours
► Cenote Triple Adventure Tour in Tulum BOOK NOW
Cenote Triple Adventure Tour is another amazing snorkeling filled activity from Tulum and includes three spectacular cenotes, the newly opened Zemway, the more popular semi-open Grand Cenote, and Casa Cenote (also called Cenote Manatī) that I mention quite a few times in this post, just because it’s one of the most loved by travelers.
While you will be able to enjoy tranquil swimming and snorkeling activities in Grand Cenote and Casa Cenote, you will be able to challenge yourself and get an adrenaline rush at the Cenote Zemway where you will find two platforms for jumping.
If you are not up for it, worry not, because there is also a lower platform and stairs for easy access to the water.
4. Day Trip to Isla Contoy + Isla Mujeres quick visit (2 snorkeling spots)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1 Review
Duration 10 hours
► Day Trip to Isla Contoy BOOK NOW
This is not one of the most popular sites for snorkeling in Tulum. In fact, it’s quite further away but if you love untouched nature you must visit Isla Contoy, an uninhabited island with the purpose to preserve its delicate environment and monitoring the birds nesting there.
You will be accompanied by a certified local guide throughout the guided tour and will learn about the local flora and fauna preservation, besides two incredible snorkeling stops and some free time to enjoy the island.
5. Half-Day Sea Turtle and Cenote Snorkeling Guided Tour
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 268 Reviews
Duration 5 hours (approx)
This snorkeling tour from Tulum includes two of the most popular snorkeling spots in the area. One is the Akumal beach that I will talk about later on, where you can swim with the friendly turtle in their natural habitat, and the other is a spectacular cave cenote.
This tour is one of the top-rated and therefore one of the most recommended if you are interested in the above-mentioned locations.
6. Tulum Ruins Private Tour with Turtle and Cenote Snorkeling
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 106 Reviews
Duration 7-8 hours (approx)
If you have limited time in Tulum and you want to squeeze in a day of as many activities as possible, this tour is for you. It includes:
✔ Tulum Ruins
✔ The popular cenote Dos Ojos
✔ Swimming with the turtles in Akumal
Besides, it’s a private tour so you will have the guide all for yourself and they can tailor the schedule to your liking.
7. Sian Kaan Lagoons Through Muyil Ruins & Cenote Escondido
4.5⭐ 12 Reviews
Duration 7-8 hours (approx)
► Sian Kaan Lagoons Through Muyil Ruins & Cenote Escondido BOOK NOW
This is a unique tour off the beaten path where you will spend a day navigating through the Mayan canals of the Sian Ka’an Lagoon, visit the Muyl Ruins, and will end the amazing day with a visit and snorkeling in the cenote Escondido.
The tour is capped at 6 participants which is great and the snorkeling equipment is provided and included in the price.
8. 3-in-1 Discovery Combo Tour: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling Plus Cenote and Caves
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1979 Reviews
Duration 7-8 hours (approx)
► 3-in-1 Discovery Combo Tour: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling Plus Cenote and Caves BOOK NOW
This is one of the top-rated and most complete tours available in Tulum perfect for those who are short of time OR want to get all the most important stuff out of the way so that they can enjoy the Tulum beach, relax, and party.
Because that is also part of the Tulum Experience, let’s not forget (says somebody who never does that!)
Anyway, this tour will take you to explore the Tulum archaeological site with a tour guide, then you will check out the best snorkeling in Tulum from the shore, and then you will move on to live the magic atmosphere of a cave cenote where you can swim and snorkel as well.
After about 8 hours of exploring you will be taken back to your nice hotel in Tulum.
9. Private Tulum Snorkeling and Sailing Experience
4.5⭐ 4 Reviews
Duration 1 hour 30 minutes (approx)
► Tulum Private Snorkel and Sailing Experience BOOK NOW
This is one of the tours described below where you snorkel by the Mesoamerican barrier reef right in front of Tulum Beach.
You will snorkel among sea corals and colorful fishes.
Then you will sail up to the Tulum Ruins where the captain will show you the famous ruins of the Castle in Tulum. See the ruins from a rare up-close perspective on the water.
A short tour but full of adventures!
TULUM SNORKELING SPOTS
The best Tulum snorkeling spots
1. Snorkeling in Tulum Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve
One of the most incredible places to snorkel in Tulum is the Sian Kaan biosphere.
Located on the eastern shore of the Yucatan Peninsula, 20 minutes away from Tulum, Quintana Roo, Sian Ka’an has been declared a biosphere reserve on January 20th, 1986.
In 1987 it was then proclaimed a UNESCO world heritage site. Its extension is of more than 600 thousand protected hectares of land, ocean, sinkholes, lagoons, mangroves, and wetlands.
There are several ways to visit the Sian Kaan biosphere, but if your purpose is snorkeling I would suggest you join one of the incredible tours available. Here below you can find some of the best snorkeling tours to Sian Ka’an.
Top tours in Sian Ka’an
👉 Kayaking and Snorkeling Experience through Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
5⭐ 230 Reviews
👉 SIAN KAAN ADVENTURE TOUR
5⭐ 472 Reviews
2. Snorkeling in Tulum cenotes
Cenote Triple Adventure Tour– 5⭐ 169 Reviews
👉 BOOK NOW
One of the great advantages of staying in Tulum is that you are close to the most amazing cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, some of them are close enough to reach by bike for some others you will need a taxi, a car rental or you can join one of the amazing cenote tours from Tulum.
Snorkeling is one of the most common activities to do in a cenote, for those who don’t do scuba diving. You may not see many fishes, but the rock formations and the underground landscapes together playing with the light coming from the surface is something remarkable.
The best cenotes for snorkeling are:
Cenote Corazon – an heart shaped open cenote at only 10 minutes drive from Tulum on the way to Felipe Carrillo Puerto
Cenote Escondido and Cristalino – at only 10 minutes biking from Tulum on the way to Felipe Carrillo Puerto
Grand Cenote – one of the most popular and busy, Grand Cenote is a beautiful semi-open cenote, perfect for swim or snorkeling.
Cenote Taak bi ha – amazing cave Cenote, much loved by scuba divers but also great for snorkeling. It’s at 30 minutes drive from Tulum on the way to Playa del Carmen. Its crystal clear waters are incredible.
Cenote Dos Ojo
Cenote Azul – another great place for cenote snorkeling also located close to Taak Bi ha.
Browse through international and local car rentals and find the best deal.
3. Snorkeling from Tulum beach
Some of the best snorkeling in Tulum Mexico can be done from the beach. In fact, not many people know that not far from the beach you can find some barrier reefs where you can snorkel with sea turtles and other colorful marine creatures, even manatees if you are lucky.
There are boat tours available from Playa Paraiso to take you up to the coral reef in Tulum where to swim and discover Tulum sea life. Who doesn’t want to swim with a sea turtle, right?
You will enjoy the pristine and calm waters of the Caribbean sea and then move on to see the Tulum Ruins from the boat, which is a great perspective for amazing photos.
This is a great Tulum snorkeling tour and relatively inexpensive. A 2 hours tour will cost around 400 MXN depending on how many people are on the boat.
Best snorkeling spots near Tulum Mexico
4. Akumal Beach (closest beach to Tulum for snorkeling with turtles)
The only problem with Akumal is that the beach is always very crowded and you will find a lot of obstacles before getting to the beach.
Let me explain.
The beach in Mexico is free, all beaches are public in Mexico, BUT in Akumal, they have made it almost impossible to access the beach for free. That’s because you need to trespass on private properties and they charge you for that.
It’s only 5 USD and it usually comes with the use of lockers and bathrooms which may come in handy anyway.
Then you may find some locals who will try to persuade you to buy a tour. Keep in mind that to swim with the sea turtles in Akumal it’s not mandatory to hire a guide if you stay within the first 150 feet from the shore.
You can see the cords that will limit the area where you can go unaccompanied.
Regardless, the best way to snorkel with the sea turtles in Akumal is not later than 9 – 10 am before the groups arrive.
If there are too many people disturbing the sea turtles, the water becomes murky and it’s less enjoyable overall.
If you want to go with a Tulum snorkeling tour I would recommend this private tour which is more likely to avoid crowds.
5. Caleta Yalku
If you continue driving from Akumal beach towards the residential area you will bump into Yalku Lagoon, one of the most incredible places for snorkeling near Tulum and Playa del Carmen (literally halfway in between).
The Yalku lagoon and cenote is a natural pool filled with a wealth of sea life and a great snorkeling spot.
You can check out my guide to Yal-ku lagoon to learn more about prices and practical tips.
6. Casa Cenote
Casa Cenote is another great snorkeling spot near Tulum, located only 10 Km from the town.
It is an open cenote where also many inexperienced scuba divers try their skills because of the shallow water and easy access.
And for the very same reason, you can expect to see quite a good amount of sea life while snorkeling.
INTERESTING FACT – Casa Cenote is also called Cenote Manatee because a family of manatees was living in its tranquil waters. However, they have recently disappeared, probably disturbed by the increasing number of tourists, they may have found a more tranquil place.
Besides snorkeling in the cenote, you can also check out the coral reef from the beach right across the road and enjoy a delicious lunch in the Casa Cenote hotel restaurant.
That is if you go on your own. That is why I always suggest you should get your car rental and explore the Riviera Maya at your own pace.
Tour to snorkel in Casa Cenote
7. Grand Bahia Principe
Right in front of grand Bahia Principe Hotels, one of the few Tulum all-inclusive resorts, there is a spectacular barrier reef and an amazing place for reef snorkeling on your own without the need of a guide.
Although staying at the Bahia Principe may be a great way to enjoy the spectacular beach and its snorkeling, it is not necessary.
In fact, you can just access their beach club Kay Beach Club for only 15 USD which you can use as a credit for your food, and use the club facility.
Besides being a great snorkeling spot it is also one of the best day trips from Tulum.
The island of Cozumel is one of the top destinations for divers for being right in front of the mesoamerican reef the second largest in the world, full of marine life with colorful fish and corals.
But it’s also great for snorkeling too and it’s full of amazing snorkeling spots around the island where local guides will be happy to take you.
If you want to go snorkeling on your own though, it is also possible. Just drive along the southern coast on the way to the ocean side and you will find many amazing spots for great snorkeling adventures.
Since there are many things to do in Cozumel you can either go for a day trip, join a tour to Cozumel or spend a few days in one of the cute Cozumel Airbnb or Cozumel all-inclusive resorts.
How to get to Cozumel from Tulum?
From Tulum, you can get to Playa del Carmen either by bus or minivans and from there you can find the ferry leaving for Cozumel every 30 minutes.
Read a more detailed guide to getting to Cozumel in my article.
9. Snorkeling with whale sharks from Cancun
Now, this is a bit of a stretch because from Tulum to Cancun it’s about 2 hours drive (one way). However, I really wanted to include the whale sharks tour from Cancun as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you should have if you haven’t done it before.
Usually, the tours include transportation from Tulum so you don’t have to worry about it. Just consider a full day tour leaving early morning and getting back to your hotel around 7/8 pm.
► Snorkeling with Whale Sharks from Tulum BOOK NOW
PS – make sure you check your pick up point with the operator some of them cannot pick you up at your hotel for many different reasons
Tulum snorkeling trips: final thoughts
So if you made it to the end of this post I guess you found a lot of interesting information. I really hope it was helpful and you are now ready to travel to Tulum like a pro!
You noticed that snorkeling in Tulum is one of the best activities that you can do, whether it is with a snorkeling tour or on your own you can find plenty of options to swim by the barrier reef in front of the Riviera Maya or in a magical cenote.
Whatever you decide, I hope you will have a blast but make sure you follow the basic rules to respect the environment and leave only footprints behind!
SNORKELING IN TULUM
How to be a good traveler and respect the environment
This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t talk about the basic rules to help preserve the environment from human exploitation.
We destroy it just by existing, I know but there are ways to limit our impact on the fragile ecosystem. here are some ideas, if you have more, please let me know.
✅ Shower before entering in a cenote.
🚫 Do not use any sunblock or mosquito repellent before swimming either close to the reefs or in the cenotes.
🚯 Do not litter. Always keep your trash with you and throw it in the next bins or in your home/hotel
🚫 Don’t be loud and respect your surroundings in general
🚫 In the cenotes do not cling to the roots, stalactites, and stalagmites or do any harm to the environment
🚫 Do not touch the coral with your hands or the fins ( be careful when you use them)
✅ Always ask for permission when entering a cenote or any natural place
Home to ancient spirits called Aluxes the Mayan territories have been inhabited by these spiritual creatures. So asking permission is a form of respect for them for entering their home. It’s good enough to do it in your mind. They will protect you as well.
Is there a reef in Tulum?
Yes indeed, just in front of Playa Paraiso you can reach it by a short boat trip. Tours are available as I mentioned above or you can head to the beach and book directly with the fisherman in their tour kiosk. Tulum has indeed some of the best snorkeling in Mexico
Should I bring my own snorkel to Tulum?
The snorkel gear is provided most of the time or you can rent it for a small cost. However, I would always bring mine with me. It’s not heavy and it’s much better for hygiene purposes.
Does Tulum have a seaweed problem?
Sometimes it does, depending on when you are traveling. However, it’s difficult to know ahead of time because the sargasso normally makes quite a sudden entrance.
I wouldn’t worry too much though because there are so many things to do in Tulum and many amazing places that even if there is seaweed on the beach you can still have a blast!
Are there swimmable beaches in Tulum?
Tulum has basically two endless beaches one on the north side on the way to the Tulum ruins and another one on the south on the way to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere and Punta Allen.
Both sides of Tulum beaches are completely swimmable, except for the time when the sargasso invades the water but that’s seasonal.
Otherwise, Tulum beach has very easy access to the water which is quite shallow for the first 20 mt. (60 feet) and then goes deep but there aren’t many currents.
How long is the ride from Cancun to Tulum?
From Cancun Airport to Tulum there are about 73 miles ( 1 hour 30 minutes drive)
You can check out my post on how to get from Cancun to Tulum and back for more detailed information.