The beaches of Cancun are well-known for their beauty, but there's a whole other world beneath the surface of the sea that's just as, if not even more spectacular. Snorkeling is a fantastic opportunity to explore and learn about the ocean and its creatures. You don't need any prior experience or to be a good swimmer to participate in this sport either, so you don't need to take swimming classes before your trip to Mexico.
Besides the impressive Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which runs parallel to the Mexican Caribbean coast, there are countless snorkeling spots on the waters of Cancun, where you can observe a variety of fish, corals, sea turtles, among other marine life.
Below are some of the best places to go snorkeling in Cancun, so make sure to include them in your itinerary.
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MUSA - The underwater museum
An underwater museum may sound like a strange concept, but these underwater sculptures are not harming the environment in any way. They're built of coral-friendly materials and help decrease the impact of tourists on other dive sites in the vicinity. If it's your first Cancun snorkeling experience, you are about to be amazed.
The gallery was founded in 2009 and has three locations: Punta Nizuc, Punta Sam, and Manchones. While snorkelers may enjoy the first two from the surface, a bit of SCUBA diving experience is typically suggested for Manchones, which is near Isla Mujeres, because it is too deep to view it properly from the surface.
Xel-HA - the natural water park
Xel-Ha is one of the most beautiful places in Cancun. A natural water park situated 65 miles south of Cancun, where freshwater inlets and lagoons meet the ocean, providing a unique habitat where a diversity of marine species can be seen.
Because here you can snorkel, float down a slow river on an inner tube, go swimming in a cenote, or even jump over a cliff if you are bold enough, it's a fantastic location to spend the entire day without getting bored. There are also lockers and towels, bathrooms and changing facilities, as well as eateries at Xel-Ha so that snorkelers can enjoy all the amenities they need.
Cozumel Island is known for being Mexico's best diving destination, but it's also a fantastic snorkeling spot. You can take a boat from Playa del Carmen or join an organized day excursion to get there, as the island is situated 12 miles off the shore.
From the coast, there are a few nice snorkeling sites. The beaches on the west side of the island, which face the mainland, are typically quieter and contain more marine life, so there is a lot to see there, and you can take your time enjoying the experience. A few parks, such as Chankanaab Park, which claims to contain the world's only inland reef, provide unique snorkeling opportunities as well.
Cenote Dos Ojos
Cenotes are sinkholes created in the limestone that makes up the Yucatan Peninsula's bedrock. There's quite an abundance of cenotes around Cancun, and many of them are interesting to explore with snorkel gear.
One of the most impressive ones is Dos Ojos, which translates to "Two Eyes" in Spanish and took its name because it is made up of two caves. The cenote is located just south of Akumal, and not only can you observe various fish species here, but the unique geological structures with sunlight streaming through in certain areas make it a fascinating place to explore while snorkeling.