20 Best Snorkeling Spots in Cancun | 2024 (with Photos)

Nataša Obradovic

Nataša Obradovic - Travel Writer

Published: August 25, 2023

Hey there! I'm Natasha, and I'm thrilled to share with you the top 20 snorkeling spots in Cancun for 2024, complete with breathtaking photos. Get ready to dive into the underwater wonders of Cancun and create unforgettable memories!

Best Snorkeling Spots in Cancun

Did you know that Cancun, Mexico is one of the best snorkeling locations in the world? Snorkeling in Cancun is so popular that there are more than 20 awesome spots to delve into the underwater world in and around Cancun.

From tranquil lagoons to vibrant coral reefs, Cancun offers an array of captivating underwater landscapes to explore, and we will list the top 20.

Get ready to encounter tropical fish, graceful rays, and even majestic sea turtles as we guide you through great snorkeling destinations in Cancun, Mexico.

Grab your snorkel gear and prepare for an unforgettable snorkeling adventure in Cancun.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Chichen Itza

Top Choice Hotel

Ritz-Carlton Cancun

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Le Chique

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Coco Bongo

Best Time to Visit

October to April offers the best weather.

Average Temperature

Warm all year round, perfect for beach vacations.

Transportation Options

Taxi, bus, rental car, bike, walking, shuttle, ferry

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Cancun, Mexico - a city that truly captures the essence of tropical paradise. From pristine, turquoise beaches to vibrant nightlife, this sun-kissed destination has everything you could dream of for a memorable vacation. My top recommendation for spending time in Cancun would be to explore the mesmerizing underwater world of the Great Mesoamerican Reef. Strap on your snorkeling gear and dive into the crystal clear waters, where you'll be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colorful fish and stunning coral formations. And when you're ready for a break from the ocean, indulge in the vibrant local cuisine. Don't miss out on devouring mouthwatering dishes like ceviche and tacos al pastor, bursting with flavors that perfectly capture the heart and soul of Mexico.

To truly immerse yourself in the local culture, take a trip to the energetic downtown area. Stroll through bustling markets and let your senses come alive with the sights, sounds, and aromas of Cancun. Get to know the friendly locals, who are always ready to share their stories and recommendations. For a dose of history and culture, visit the El Rey Ruins, where you can wander through ancient Mayan temples and learn about the fascinating heritage of the region. End your day by experiencing the vibrant nightlife that Cancun is famous for. From salsa dancing to beachfront bars, there is no shortage of options to dance the night away and create unforgettable memories. In Cancun, every minute spent feels like an adventure, leaving you with a lifetime of cherished experiences.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Passport
  2. Travel insurance
  3. Comfortable walking shoes
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Swimsuit
  6. Beach towel
  7. Lightweight clothing
  8. Hat
  9. Sunglasses
  10. Camera

What Not to Miss

  1. The beautiful beaches: Cancun is famous for its stunning white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy the breathtaking ocean views.

  2. Chichen Itza: Don't miss the opportunity to visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Explore the impressive pyramids, learn about Mayan history, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the region.

  3. Snorkeling or diving in the Great Mesoamerican Reef: Discover the incredible underwater world of the Great Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest coral reef system in the world. Grab your snorkeling or diving gear and witness the dazzling marine life and vibrant coral formations.

  4. Xcaret Park: Experience a unique blend of nature, culture, and adventure at Xcaret Park. Swim in underground rivers, learn about Mexican traditions, and get up close and personal with animals at this ecological wonderland.

  5. Cenotes: Explore the natural sinkholes called cenotes, which are formed by collapsed limestone. Take a refreshing dip in these crystal-clear water pools and marvel at the magical surroundings.

  6. Traditional Mexican cuisine: Indulge in the flavors of Mexico by trying local dishes such as tacos, tamales, and ceviche. Don't forget to experience the authentic Mexican street food scene for a true culinary adventure.

  7. Isla Mujeres: Take a short boat ride to the picturesque Isla Mujeres and enjoy its laid-back ambiance. Stroll along the charming streets, visit beautiful beaches, and explore the vibrant local culture.

  8. Coco Bongo: Dance the night away at Coco Bongo, a legendary nightclub known for its energetic shows and vibrant atmosphere. Enjoy an unforgettable night of music, acrobatics, and non-stop entertainment.

  9. Playa Delfines: Visit Playa Delfines, a famous beach known for its iconic "Cancun" sign. Capture stunning photos, relax on the soft sandy shores, and embrace the beauty of the Caribbean Sea.

  10. Shopping in the Hotel Zone: Don't miss the chance to explore the shops and boutiques in the Hotel Zone. From luxury brands to traditional handicrafts, you can find a wide range of souvenirs and mementos to take back home.

What to Avoid

  1. Scams: Be cautious of street vendors or individuals offering deals that seem too good to be true.
  2. Drinking tap water: It is recommended to drink bottled water or use water purification methods.
  3. Overexposure to the sun: Protect yourself with sunscreen, hats, and appropriate clothing to avoid sunburn.
  4. Excessive partying: While Cancun is known for its nightlife, it's important to drink responsibly and be aware of your surroundings.
  5. Unsafe areas: Stay away from isolated or poorly lit areas, especially at night.
  6. Engaging in illegal activities: Abide by the local laws and regulations to avoid any legal troubles.
  7. Poorly reviewed tour operators: Do some research before booking tours or excursions to ensure a reputable and reliable operator.
  8. Wearing flashy jewelry or displaying expensive items: Minimize the risk of theft or attracting unwanted attention by keeping valuable items discreet.
  9. Swimming in unsafe areas: Pay attention to warning signs and currents to avoid dangerous situations while swimming.
  10. Ignoring safety precautions: Follow safety guidelines and instructions, such as using life jackets during water activities.

1. Explore the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, also called the Great Maya Reef, runs parallel to the coast of the Mexican Caribbean and offers an extraordinary underwater experience.

As the second-longest barrier reef in the world, stretching over 1,000 kilometers, it boasts an incredible diversity of sea life and captivating coral formations.

Snorkelers exploring this underwater world will encounter a vibrant tapestry of colorful tropical fish, graceful rays, and other marine life.

The crystal-clear waters and excellent visibility make the coral reef a haven for both advanced and beginner snorkelers.

2. Discover Sea Creatures and Art at Punta Nizuc

Punta Nizuc

Located at the southern tip of the island, Punta Nizuc is the closest offshore reef from the Cancun Hotel Zone and one of the best snorkeling spots in Cancun.

This renowned destination is famous for scuba diving and snorkeling trips. Its protected waters are brimming with vibrant marine life and its clear and shallow waters offer an ideal snorkeling experience for both experienced and beginner snorkelers.

Punta Nizuc also hosts one of the galleries of the extraordinary MUSA Underwater Museum, showcasing captivating underwater statues and installations.

3. Underwater Statues in the Cancun Underwater Museum

Cancun Underwater Museum

The Cancun Underwater Museum, known as MUSA, is an exceptional cultural attraction and a remarkable snorkeling spot.

Located off the coast of Cancun, MUSA offers a unique experience for snorkelers, with over 500 life-sized underwater statues creating an otherworldly environment.

Snorkelers can swim among the art installations, marveling at the merging of art and marine life.

The sculptures provide a habitat for a diverse array of marine species, making it a captivating snorkeling destination for nature enthusiasts.

4. Aktun Chen

Aktun Chen

Spanning 3 hectares of the Yucatan Jungle, this natural rainforest theme park seamlessly blends an underground cave network with exhilarating above-ground adventures.

You can immerse yourself in one of the cenotes, or underground caves, then venture into the captivating caves for exploration. Swim and snorkel in the enchanting underground rivers and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Beyond snorkeling, you can also experience an adrenaline rush as you zip line through the lush treetops, or opt for an ATV ride amidst the verdant foliage. Moreover, there is an on-site zoo, where encounters with crocodiles and a massive boa constrictor await.

5. Sea Turtles Near Akumal

Sea Turtles Near Akumal

Within a convenient 1.5-hour drive from Cancun, Akumal presents a plethora of diverse snorkeling spots at Half Moon Bay, Jade Bay, and Aventuras Akumal.

"Akumal'' means “place of turtles” in the Mayan language, due to the hundreds of sea turtles who arrive every summer to lay their eggs on the soft white sands.

The Yal-Ku lagoon here represents a fascinating blend of freshwater and saltwater, creating a distinct ecosystem that hosts colorful fish, mollusks, and other captivating underwater creatures.

From May to November, the prime snorkeling season, encountering sea turtles becomes highly probable, particularly when exploring near the Akumal Beach area.

Akumal beckons snorkelers with its varied snorkeling sites and the thrilling opportunity to witness these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.

6. Day Trip to Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres

A mere 15-minute ferry ride away from Cancun, Isla Mujeres offers an accessible getaway to the underwater world. While snorkeling directly from the beach in Isla Mujeres is possible, the underwater scenery mainly consists of sand, limiting the visual appeal.

For a more rewarding snorkeling experience, visiting Garrafon Natural Reef Park and Beach Club is highly recommended.

Some snorkel tours will take you to a private beach club, where you'll have time to relax and enjoy a few drinks.

Besides providing options for kayak rentals, thrilling zip-line rides, and swimming with whale sharks (between May and September), the park also serves as an excellent snorkeling spot.

7. Guided Tour of Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy

Located approximately 19 miles north of Isla Mujeres, Isla Contoy remains one of the hidden gems as a snorkeling destination.

The only way to get to Contoy is via a guided tour which includes round-trip transportation and can be booked through your hotel or hostel.

With a strict limit of only 200 visitors per day to preserve the island's pristine beauty, Isla Contoy provides an ideal spot for snorkelers seeking a serene ocean experience away from the crowds.

This tropical oasis promises new adventures with each subsequent exploration, ensuring an ever-enchanting experience for those who venture to its shores.

8. Areas near Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Located just a 45-minute car ride away from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen beckons snorkeling enthusiasts with its abundance of colorful fish and stunning natural coral reefs.

The crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea provide excellent visibility for snorkelers.

When it comes to snorkeling in Playa Del Carmen, there is one standout spot situated beyond 46th Street in the northern direction, where a natural coral reef offers an exceptional snorkeling experience for visitors.

Immerse yourself in the underwater beauty and discover the mesmerizing marine world of Playa Del Carmen.

9. Snorkeling Trip to Cozumel

Snorkeling Trip to Cozumel

Cozumel, a short 45-minute ferry ride away from Cancun, has a shallow reef that is a snorkeler's paradise and never fails to impress.

Renowned oceanographer Jacques Cousteau declared Cozumel as "one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas in the world," and its snorkeling opportunities are equally exceptional.

The shallow depth of the crystal-clear and calm waters of Cozumel unveils a mesmerizing underwater realm filled with breathtaking coral formations and brightly colored tropical fish.

Prepare to be enchanted on your day trip as you immerse yourself in the pristine waters and incredible sea life, discovering the extraordinary beauty that lies beneath the surface.

10. Nurse Sharks and Stingrays at Ixlache Reef

Stingrays at Ixlache Reef

Situated approximately 3 miles north of Isla Mujeres, the Ixlache Reef serves as a common stop on snorkeling tours to Contoy and Whale Sharks.

This captivating location is adorned with stunning fan corals and teems with a diverse array of fish species, creating a mesmerizing underwater spectacle.

The sandy bottom surrounding the corals at the reef is a favorite for stingrays, eagle rays, nurse sharks, and other sea creatures.

There are also numerous shipwrecks that have become integrated into the reef ecosystem. As you explore, you can witness remnants of ancient galleons and various ship artifacts.

11. The Cenotes of the Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya

The Riviera Maya is a tropical paradise renowned for its stunning snorkeling spots, making it a dream destination for underwater enthusiasts.

With its crystal-clear turquoise waters, the Riviera Maya offers a kaleidoscope of vibrant coral reefs, exotic marine life, and hidden cenotes (natural sinkholes).

The Riviera Maya cenotes are natural underground caverns filled with pristine freshwater. They provide an otherworldly snorkeling experience, allowing visitors to swim among stalagmites and stalactites while marveling at the unique geological formations.

12. Barracuda Reef

Barracuda Reef

Situated approximately 30 kilometers south of Cancun, Barracuda Reef ****is easily accessible and known for its abundant marine life and vibrant coral formations.

As you dip beneath the surface, you'll be greeted by schools of tropical fish, stingrays, barracudas, and more sea life gliding through the water.

The crystal-clear visibility allows you to fully appreciate the beauty of the reef and its inhabitants.

Whether you're in the mood for scuba diving or snorkeling, this Reef provides a fantastic opportunity to explore the wonders of the underwater world.

13. Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos, a charming fishing village nestled between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, offers an idyllic escape from crowded tourist destinations.

One of the main attractions of Puerto Morelos is the exceptional sea turtle snorkel experiences it offers. Visitors have the unique opportunity to witness these majestic creatures up close.

Puerto Morelos Beach is a great place to relax and soak up the sun's rays. For a truly luxurious experience, you can dine at a private beach club, savoring delicious cuisine.

You can also take a walking tour through the heart of downtown, where you can discover quaint shops, and vibrant markets, and experience the genuine warmth of the locals.

14. Garrafon Natural Reef Park and Beach Club

Garrafon Natural Reef Park

Snorkeling at the Garrafon Natural Reef Park offers a wonderful view of the incredible coral ecosystem of Mexico's Caribbean.

Part of the largest reef system in the world, the Great Mayan Reef, the region offers abundant marine life as well as shallow depths ideal for novices and experienced divers alike.

You can take a break to relax and enjoy a great lunch at the local beach club.

The Reef offers high visibility and plenty of opportunities to see colorful fish and corals while being sheltered against strong currents.

15. Snorkel or Scuba Dive at Manchones Reef

Manchones Reef

Manchones Reef boasts a huge coral reef over 800 meters long, primarily composed of stag horn and elk horn corals.

Apart from its breathtaking coral formations, Manchones Reef also offers stunning beaches where you can bask in the warm sun and take a refreshing swim.

Furthermore, this protected reef extends into the MUSA, a marine protected zone dedicated to preserving the natural and aquatic resources within its habitat.

Manchones Reef is also home to some of Cancun's greatest dive sites, offering thrilling underwater experiences for scuba divers.

16. The Submerged Caves at Xel-Há


Xel-Há, located on the Riviera Maya south of Playa del Carmen, boasts a vast inlet teeming with colorful marine life and an abundance of vibrant coral reefs.

As you snorkel through the crystal-clear waters, you'll have the opportunity to swim alongside tropical fish, explore submerged caves, and witness the stunning underwater ecosystem in all its glory.

Many snorkeling tours offer round-trip transportation and the option to combine a snorkeling adventure at Xel-Há with a visit to the captivating Mayan ruins of Tulum.

17. Discover the Wonders of Xcaret


Situated about 75 kilometers south of Cancun, Xcaret Park is an eco-archaeological park that offers a variety of snorkeling spots that showcase the region's natural beauty.

Xcaret Park boasts stunning underground rivers, cenotes, and a vibrant coral reef teeming with marine life. The park provides all the necessary snorkeling equipment, making it accessible to both beginners and experienced snorkelers.

Beyond the snorkeling experience, Xcaret Park offers a multitude of attractions and activities, including cultural performances, a replica of a Mayan village, and lush jungle trails to explore.

18. Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul (meaning "Blue Cenote") ****is one of the larger cenotes in the Riviera Maya and offers crystal-clear waters with incredible visibility, allowing you to marvel at the captivating underwater landscape.

As you immerse yourself in the tranquil turquoise waters, you'll be surrounded by impressive stalactites and stalagmites, creating an otherworldly atmosphere.

While Cenote Azul may not boast the same level of marine biodiversity as the Mesoamerican Reef, its serene and surreal ambiance makes it a must-visit destination for snorkel enthusiasts.

19. Discover the Heavenly Beauty of Playa Paraiso

Playa Paraiso

A heavenly spot for snorkelers can be found near Playa Paraiso—a safeguarded beach bordered by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world's second-largest coral reef.

This magnificent underwater paradise awaits just a short distance from the shore, offering crystal-clear ultramarine waters teeming with an array of marine life.

20. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an official Biosphere Reserve, Sian Ka’an is one of the most impressive protected areas in Mexico.

This place is home to a tropical forest, savannahs, lagoons, and mangrove-lined canals, as well as some of the best snorkeling in the Riviera Maya, thanks to the incredible cenotes, coral reefs, and transparent turquoise waters.

You can also go bird-watching, visit ancient Maya sites, and find various snorkeling trips to spot manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, and other sea creatures.

FAQs About the Best Snorkeling in Cancun

Let's also explore some FAQs about the best snorkeling spots in Cancun and the region

Where is the best snorkeling in Cancun?

The best snorkeling in Cancun can be found in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is one of the largest in the world and offers fantastic snorkeling opportunities.

One popular spot is the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA), where you can snorkel among over 500 submerged sculptures.

Another great location is the Puerto Morelos National Reef Park, known for its vibrant coral formations and diverse marine life.

Is there any good snorkeling in Cancun?

Yes, there is excellent snorkeling in Cancun. The region offers ideal conditions for snorkeling enthusiasts.

From the bustling beaches of Cancun itself to the underwater museum and coral reefs, there are plenty of options to explore the underwater world.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced snorkeler, Cancun offers the best snorkeling tours in the Caribbean Sea.

What month is best to snorkel in Cancun?

The best month to snorkel in Cancun is generally between May and September. During these months, the weather is warm, and the ocean visibility is at its best.

The water temperatures are also comfortably warm, ranging from the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (mid-20s to high 20s Celsius).

Does Isla Mujeres have good snorkeling?

Yes, Isla Mujeres has good snorkeling opportunities. Located just a short boat ride from Cancun, the island offers pristine waters for snorkelers to explore.

The Garrafon Natural Reef Park is a popular snorkeling spot on Isla Mujeres, known for its great coral formations.

The nearby El Farito Reef and the underwater sculpture garden known as Manchones Reef provide even more snorkeling options.

Can you go snorkeling in the Cancun Hotel Zone?

Snorkeling within the Hotel Zone is not recommended due to the potential hazards posed by turbulent waters.

Moreover, the underwater scenery in this area is predominantly sandy, with limited visibility.

If you want to enjoy snorkeling without venturing too far from the Hotel Zone, you can book a tour to Punta Nizuc or Puerto Morelos for a more fulfilling snorkeling experience.

Summing Up: Best Snorkeling Spots in Cancun

Cancun offers great snorkeling spots and a diverse range of breathtaking underwater experiences.

From the captivating depths of Punta Nizuc and Puerto Morelos to the vibrant coral gardens of Isla Mujeres and the unique Underwater Museum, the best Cancun snorkeling spots showcase the wonders of the Caribbean Sea.

Embark on a snorkel tour and discover why Cancun remains a top destination for underwater exploration. Remember to book your snorkel tour in advance so you can secure a spot on this adventure.