Best Snorkeling in Mexico – Beautiful Places to Explore
As there are so many beautiful places to choose from, I have narrowed down the best snorkeling in Mexico to a few spots. Each spot has unique characteristics that set it apart from the rest.
At some of these spots, I discovered impressive landscape features such as rock formations, sinkholes, or beautiful coral reefs. At others, I was amazed by the marine life that calls those waters home. Regardless of the reason, each of these spots is a snorkeler’s paradise in its own right.
I have always been fascinated by Mexico with its vibrant culture, rich history, delicious cuisine, and traveler-ready beaches. It is a large country in North America. Even though it’s not an island, enormous parts of it are bordered by water. This makes it ideal for people like me who love the ocean and all it has to offer.
Mexico sports the Pacific Ocean on its west and south sides and the Caribbean Sea on the southeast end. The Gulf of Mexico lies on the eastern border of this country. The abundance of beaches and areas surrounded by water makes this destination the ultimate snorkeling spot.
During my travels, I found out why Mexico is so popular among snorkelers and scuba divers. There are many reasons but the main reason is largely due to the climate and marine life. The waters here are teeming with fish and aquatic animals. Additionally, the coral reefs are so impressive that you’ll want to book a return visit.
Mexico has a tropical climate. This means that the temperatures throughout the year fall within the 50°F and 90°F range. This is generally considered to be very pleasant and perfect weather for snorkeling all year round.
Best Snorkeling in Mexico – My Top Spots!!!
1. Cenote Dos Ojos
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Let’s kick off this list with one of my absolute favorite places to snorkel in Mexico – Cenote Dos Ojos. Bear in mind that this spot is best for experienced snorkelers and scuba divers have right of way here.
A cenote is a natural landscape formation that creates a sinkhole or a pit. Dos Ojos in Mexican means Two Eyes, and that is where this spot gets its name.
Cenote Dos Ojos consists of two separate cenotes that are connected. If the tide is right, you can swim between the two. This spot is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum and is a diver’s paradise. It is frequented by divers and snorkelers alike.
If you are good at holding your breath, you can try to find your way as far down as your body will allow you to go with a snorkel.
The water is crystal clear and a very bright blue. It is also refreshingly cool and calm in the caverns. Take note that the steps down into the water are slippery and some areas are very deep. However, there are shallower areas as well as spaces to jump into the water from low ledges.
Snorkelers will find the first cenote more inviting as it is brighter and therefore you will be able to see more. Although there are fish, this spot is more famous for its landscape characteristics. Look out for the impressive caves, stalactites, stalagmites, and natural formations.
Snorkelers that emerge from the water every now and again will also see birds, iguanas, and other jungle animals that pop in for a visit. There is also a bat cave which is accessed by swimming through a narrow tunnel. This is an absolute must-see and offers some of the best snorkeling in Mexico if this is your first visit to a Mexican snorkeling spot.
2. Playa Las Gatas
This spot is immensely popular among snorkelers due to the abundance of fish species that will swim around you as you explore the underwater vistas.
The calm water here is fairly shallow and there are beautiful coral reefs, caves, and crevices to explore, which makes this a family-friendly snorkeling spot.
This spot is ideal for families as it has a protected beach area with many restaurants and sunbeds so that you can spend an entire day lazing by the water.
There are safe spots to swim and beautiful areas to explore when snorkeling. It is also ideal for those that would like to take a boat to deeper waters as boats depart from the Zihuatanejo’s pier fairly regularly on a daily basis.
This means that you can experience the type of snorkeling you want, whether that it is splashing around in the shallows with your children or venturing further offshore for more impressive ocean vistas.
Snorkelers can expect to see pufferfish, angelfish, and eels.
3. Akumal Bay
Marine life takes center stage at Akumal Bay and that is why this is such a popular snorkeling spot in Mexico. It can get fairly busy here during the tourist season, so just keep that in mind when booking your travel dates.
Akumal Bay has a picture-perfect white sand beach almost a mile long. This makes it perfect for an all-day beach trip with swimming and snorkeling scheduled right into the mix. But get there early to avoid the crowds if you’re traveling in season.
Akumal Bay is on the Riviera Maya and is close to Tulum and Playa del Carmen. The reason for its popularity is due mostly to the green sea turtles that feed on the seagrass beds located in this marine spot.
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I was happy to discover that the sea turtles here are used to people. Therefore, I swam right alongside them – a dream come true! Just be careful not to disturb the turtles and don’t touch them or interfere with their actions. They are peaceful creatures and will happily swim with you if you respect their boundaries.
Snorkeling gives you a first-hand experience with the turtles, and you’ll also see plenty of stingrays. But, as they can be dangerous, it is best to view them from a distance and keep out of their way.
If you are after marine life then this is a must-visit location as it offers some of the best snorkeling in Mexico you’ll ever experience.
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This island is perfect for travelers that are looking to explore the beautiful waters of Mexico and the abundance of marine life it offers.
Experienced or novice snorkelers will find paradise right here with 30 miles of underwater beauty to explore. The island has dive shops dotted all over, so it is easy to rent all the equipment you’ll need. I enjoyed Cozumel particularly because of the island vibe and the different spots for snorkeling.
Cozumel offers snorkeling spots right by the beach, which is best for inexperienced snorkelers. Those that are looking for a little more adventure or more experienced snorkelers can hire a guide. Guides and tours are available to take snorkelers to the Mesoamerican Reef.
The snorkeling spots accessible from the beach need to be chosen carefully. It is best to pick areas that are rocky instead of sandy as they are more likely to contain fish and other marine life.
The Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system that can be accessed from Cozumel. It is part of the second-largest coral reef system in the world and offers plenty of marine life to see and the impressive reef itself.
If you’re snorkeling at the reef, you are likely to see fire coral, butterflyfish, shrimp, and seahorses.
5. La Paz
I absolutely adore marine animals, and just as Akumal Bay is famed for its green turtles, La Paz is well-known for the whale sharks that frequent this spot. That is mainly why I enjoyed this spot so much, but it has other wonderful qualities too.
La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur in Mexico and is a beach lover’s paradise. It is known for its seafront and there are lots of restaurants and bars that are dotted along the beach. The reason why La Paz is such a sought-after snorkeling spot is because of the whale sharks and other marine life that call this place home.
The whale shark is a very big fish, and not really a whale, and they tend to feed in La Paz. It is best to go out on a boat if you’re looking to see some whale sharks and other marine animals.
Of course, even though the whale shark is not a whale, other whales also frequent these waters with grey whales, humpback whales, and the scarcely-seen blue whale also coming to snack in these parts.
Snorkeling allows you to see underwater vistas that cannot be seen from dry land, but La Paz is perfect for those that want to experience a beach holiday as well as fantastic snorkeling. It is a bustling place filled to the brim with comforts, hotels, and restaurants, and the snorkeling opportunities are abundant – particularly with a guide to take you out on a boat.
6. Museo Subacuático des Artes
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On Isla Mujeres lies the Museo Subacuático des Artes, also known as MUSA. This is a man-made underwater museum – I know, it does sound fantastic, and it is. At a depth of approximately 28 feet, an unbelievable sight awaits you – more than 500 life-sized sculptures clustered on the ocean floor.
This museum can only be experienced if you are willing to either snorkel or scuba dive. Because it is such a unique museum and can only be experienced underwater, it is very special. There are two snorkeling options available. The first is to snorkel at the Gallery of Punta Nizuc and this is an educational experience suitable for both adults and children.
Snorkelers opting for this experience will see plenty of fish as well as reefs and, of course, more than 35 sculptures.
The Paradise Adventure takes snorkelers along the Nichupté Lagoon which houses a lot of aquatic fauna and flora. Snorkelers that opt for this adventure will experience the Mesoamerican Reef as well. This area boasts some of the best places to snorkel in Cancun.
The MUSA is one of the most impressive man-made underwater attractions in Mexico. For this reason it is hugely popular among tourists and locals alike.
7. Cabo Pulmo Marine Park
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The best snorkeling in Mexico depends on what you’re looking to see. If it is fish, and lots of it, Cabo Pulmo Marine Park should be your first port of call. The best way to ensure that you find the very best snorkeling spot here is to join a tour. The Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort offers at least two tours daily, which is why it should be your first stop.
This spot is located in the Cabo San Lucas area and boasts more than 800 species of tropical fish, marine mammals, and invertebrates. This is possibly one of the most spectacular underwater spots when it comes to marine life.
The California Sea Lion is a protected species here and you can spot several while snorkeling, and even swim alongside them. The only hard coral reef in North America is also located here and is well worth a visit.
This unique underwater location is breathtakingly beautiful and it is perfect for slightly less experienced snorkelers as you can only explore these waters with a guide.
However, because you’ll have a guide and be on an organized tour, it is more likely that you’ll see beautiful creatures, schools of fish, and impressive underwater landscapes as they’ll know which spots and sites are best for snorkeling.
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Huatulco is on the Pacific Coast of Mexico and it boasts beautiful bays and is absolutely teeming with aquatic life. The bays are home to several coral reefs and other coral formations. An incredible number of fish and other marine animals call this stretch of Mexico home.
Snorkeling in Huatulco is a favorite pastime because there is something to suit everyone. You can easily access some great snorkeling spots from the beaches, but it is also possible to venture further offshore by boat. Going out on a boat is a good way to see some truly impressive sea creatures.
Snorkelers can expect to see parrotfish, starfish, seahorses, moray eels, and octopi. Those that go out by boat may also catch glimpses of larger species such as humpback whales, manta rays, and whale sharks.
The bays are beautiful and relatively undeveloped, which is why the waters here are also great for snorkeling. Those that haven’t found their sea legs and are hesitant to head to deeper waters can splash around in the shallows. There are also several places where you can head into the water from the bays to snorkel.
For those that want to take to the waters from the beach-side, La Entrega is the best spot. It is easy to paddle along the rocky side of the bay and you’re still sure to see some beautiful fish.
Mahahual is a very touristy spot in Mexico. Therefore I found it to be very busy and the beaches are crowded at times. However, when it comes to snorkeling, Mahahual is perfect. Although it is a fishing village, it is popular among tourists and the passengers of cruise ships.
Mahahual is part of the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve and boasts an impressive coral reef which is why snorkelers are so likely to happen upon a great number of fish and other aquatic animals.
It is possible to snorkel with turtles at this spot and snorkelers can head into the water from the beach or venture further offshore by boat. You can expect to see green, white, and Carey turtles here. Snorkelers will also see brain corals, fan corals, parrotfish, lobsters, snappers, and many other tropical fish species.
This spot also has an abundance of seagrass, mangroves, and other reef accessories which makes it an interesting place to explore underwater.
Best Time of Year to Snorkel in Mexico:
For the best snorkeling in Mexico, the ideal time of year to visit is during their cooler season, which is between November and March. Mexico is the coolest between November and January. During this time, temperatures range between 72 and 79°F and water temperatures average 79°F.
Mexico’s rainy season is from June to October. It may be unpleasant to snorkel then as this season accounts for up to 90% of Mexico’s annual rainfall. Cyclones are also common in September and October, particularly on the Caribbean coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
Bear in mind that it is very hot in Mexico from June to August and that their high season stretches from December to January. It will be cheaper to visit the best snorkeling spots in Mexico between May and November.
For these reasons, I suggest booking travel dates in November. The weather will be pleasant, it will be more affordable, and your snorkeling conditions will be ideal.
Snorkeling in Mexico is one of the most popular activities that this area offers. I myself enjoy the abundance of marine life and impressive coral reefs that Mexican snorkeling spots offer. This is why I tend to gravitate towards Akumal Bay, Huatulco, and the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park.
However, regardless of what you’re looking to see, these spots truly offer something for everyone. As there are so many options to choose from, you can easily find a spot perfectly suited to your interests and level of snorkeling experience.
We would love to hear from you!
Is this the best snorkeling in Mexico? Or have you been to any other locations not listed here? If you have let us know in the comments what your experience was like and if you have any other tips for anyone looking to go snorkeling in Mexico. Thank you for reading!