South of Cancun on the eastern tip of the Yucatan, the snorkeling at Riviera Maya offers numerous snorkel dives spread from Puerto Morelos in the north to Tulum in the south. The Riviera Maya (also known as the Mayan Riviera) is a long stretch of coast located south of Cancun running south to close to the Belizean border. The snorkeling dive sites are relatively acces...
South of Cancun on the eastern tip of the Yucatan, the snorkeling at Riviera Maya offers numerous snorkel dives spread from Puerto Morelos in the north to Tulum in the south. The Riviera Maya (also known as the Mayan Riviera) is a long stretch of coast located south of Cancun running south to close to the Belizean border. The snorkeling dive sites are relatively accessible by Mexican Highway 307 that runs parallel to the coastline. The best Mayan Riviera snorkeling dive sites are described below from the north heading down to the south.
Puerto Morelos snorkeling dive sites are popular for excellent biodiversity. The best snorkeling is the boat-accessed Puerto Morelos National Marine Park. Alternately, there is the shore-accessed Acamaya Reef.
Playa del Carmen snorkeling dive sites are known for dead coral reefs and limited marine life. While this is a popular tourist area, it is not really recommended for its snorkeling.
Off the Riviera Maya coast is the island of Cozumel. With a dozen good snorkeling dive sites, Cozumel is easily accessible by ferry from Playa del Carmen. Once out on Cozumel, the most popular snorkeling dive sites are the Chankanaab Reef, the Paraiso Reef and the Palancar Reef.
Akumal snorkeling dive sites are popular for the several coves worth exploring. There are a half dozen good destinations to spend a couple days diving. Look for the barrier reefs protecting some of the coves if you are a strong swimmer.
Xel-Ha snorkeling is known for its protective fresh-water cove. While there is limited coral growth, there are numerous reef fish to observe.
Tulum snorkeling dive sites offer sand flats and shoreline breakwall rocks to explore. If you are an experienced snorkeler, there are good coral heads further offshore.
The best Riviera Maya snorkeling is off the scenic Xpu Ha Beach. It is located south of Puerto Aventuras. Use the Xpu Ha 2 parking area. The Xpu Ha Beach area is known for good beach bars, too.
Alternately, try snorkeling at Paamul Beach. It is a small bay to the north of Puerto Aventuras, only about 20 minutes from Akumal.
After a long day of snorkeling, try heading to the Mamitas Beach Club or the Canibal Royal Club in North Playa del Carmen.
To reach the snorkeling in Riviera Maya by air, you will need to fly into Cancun International Airport (Aeropuerto de Cancun - CUN). Some of the hotels provide shuttle vans or there are shuttle vans to be hired down to Riviera Maya. Renting a car to drive around can be hazardous do to the potential for unwarranted police stops resulting in required immediate cash payments. An alternative airport option is to fly into Aeropuerto Internacional de Cozumel (CZM) and take the ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen. From there, you can take a much shorter shuttle van down to Riviera Maya.
Note: while snorkeling off the Mayan Riviera, keep in mind that from November through March you might encounter bull sharks right off the beach.
Overall, Riviera Maya is the 5th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 39 snorkeling dives in Mexico. Several of the better snorkeling spots are nearby Riviera Maya including Cozumel, Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve, Puerto Morelos and Xel-Ha.
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