Northeast of Cancun, the snorkeling at Isla Mujeres is well-suited for beginners with colorful corals and plentiful marine life. This small island is located about 8 miles off the northeast shore of Cancun and is reached by ferry boat.
Most first timers to Isla Mujeres will start off with snorkeling in El Garrafon Natural Reef Park where there are plenty of small reef fish to observe in the shallow waters. Plus, there are many other activities on-shore to enjoy in the park. The El Garrafon Reef is a shallow fringing reef accessible from the beach. The waters range from shallows to 20 feet deep. The quality of coral, marine life and visibility improve has you head further offshore.
The most unique Cancun snorkeling dive site is off the southwest tip of Isla Mujeres where there is an underwater sculpture park known as Museo Subacuatico de Arte. This underwater museum of 400 life size sculptures. This boat-accessed underwater art show in the Museo Subacuatico de Arte (MUSA) covers about 1,000 square-feet.
Also the southwest tip, the Los Manchones Reef is one of the best snorkeling dives off the island. Located near Playa Norte, this is a boat-accessed snorkeling dive site. The water depth ranges from 10 to 25 feet deep and there is healthy coral growth. This dive site is known for some wave action so make sure to go on a calm day.
Just south of Los Manchones Reef and MUSA, the El Jiguero snorkeling dive site is located on the southern tip and has scenic reefs to enjoy. This boat-accessed snorkeling dive site has a patchy reef that is typically known for low-visibility due to surf action. The water depth ranges from 18 to 30 feet deep.
Around the southern tip on the southeast end of Isla Mujereus, the Tavos Reef is a popular dive destination, but it can be subject to higher wave action since it is less protected. This boat-accessed snorkeling dive site has water depth ranging from 20 to 50 feet deep. The reef runs perpendicular to the coast and has nice coral heads. During Tavos Reef snorkeling, you may encounter angelfish, grunts and snapper.
On the northwest coast, the El Farito snorkeling dive site is boat-accessed and has beautiful reefs to explore that are teeming with marine life. The water depth ranges from 10 to 20 feet deep and the visibility is usually pretty low. Located off the north end of Isla Tiburon and off the lighthouse, this dive site can be crowded at times since it is close to many dive shops.
During Isla Mujeres snorkeling dives, you may encounter blue tangs, angelfish, snapper, moray eels and occasionally 8-10 foot bull sharks. In addition, there are boat tours during the summer out to snorkel with whale sharks and manta rays.
To reach the Isla Mujeres snorkeling by air, you will first need to fly into Cancun International Airport (Aeropuerto de Cancun - CUN). Then, you will need to take a taxi from the airport to the ferry boat dock. There is a quick ferry boat ride (30 min) from Playa Tortugas in Cancun out to Isla Mujeres.
Overall, Isla Mujeres is the 4th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 40 snorkeling dives in Mexico.