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Snorkeling In The Yucatan Peninsula

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Snorkeling In The Yucatan Peninsula

Snorkeling In The Yucatan Peninsula
Snorkeling In The Yucatan Peninsula

The Yucatán Peninsula is situated in Southeastern Mexico and it separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. Yucatan lies east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a northwestern geographic partition separating the Central America from North America.


The weather in Yucatan is highly changeable depending on time of year. The best time of the year to travel to the Yucatan is September when the summer ends before the rain starts. It is still hot, but not too hot. This is the time of the year when destinations become less crowded and accommodation cheaper.

The water in the Caribbean Sea is still very warm and it feels as if you are taking a hot bath instead of swimming. The warmer the water, the greater abundance of aquatic life you see when snorkeling.

During the rainy season, it can rain everyday, all day but if you are lucky enough, you may get by with no rain at all. Rainy seasons occur from October to January and from April to July. 

Yucatan lies within the Atlantic Hurricane Belt and is vulnerable to large storms coming from the east. Nortes (strong storms) can quickly descend on the Yucatán Peninsula any time of year. These storms pummel the area with heavy rains and high winds but are short-lived and clear after about an hour.


The Yucatan Peninsula is full of excellent places for snorkeling for both beginners and experienced divers.

If snorkeling is the primary goal of your trip, it would be best to bring your own snorkeling gear or buy it in the specified shops instead of relying on the hotels' equipment, which may leak (masks) or be overused (regarding sanitation) – in one word useless.

When to go snorkeling in the Yucatan

September appears to be the best month for snorkeling but any time from July to January is good too.

You will not be able to go swimming if the waves are high. You need calm water for snorkeling. If the water is calm in the morning, it doesn't have to mean that it will be calm all day long. If the water has been wavy today, you can hope for calm waters the following day.

Besides calm water, snorkeling is dependant on the wind too. Windy weather means wavy sea and when the ways reach a certain height, snorkeling is out of the question.

Waves affect visibility too, which gets reduced because of the sediment in the water.

On a good, sunny day in the summer, the light is up until 5. At the end of September, visibility starts to reduce at about 4.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a small-sized island good for a one-day side trip but also for spending the entire vacation there. The location is good for both beginners and experienced divers as well as for family snorkeling.

Docks are full of boats and guides waiting just for you to take you out. Tours usually last for three hours and may include lunch or dinner in the price.

Experienced snorkelers should not waste their time with the guys at docks. They better found a dive shop and booked their tour there.

There are quite a few popular diving sites at Isla Mujeres

Cave of the Sleeping Sharks

At this location, at a depth of 60-70 feet, you can see harmless Nurse Sharks resting. It may be exciting to swim pass them. Other sharks, like Bull, Black Tip, and Gray Reef Sharks can also be seen at this location.

Media Luna, at a depth of 30-40 feet, is on the Caribbean side of the island. The destination offers a wide range of coral, arches, and ridges, as well as large sea anemone, spiny sea urchins, and lobsters.

The Navy Boat Shipwreck & Shrimp Boat Wreck, at a depth of 70 ft, is home of Green Morey Eels, Nurse Sharks, Rainbow Parrot fish, schools of Cobia fish, Groupers, Amber jacks, Snappers, Shells, Stone fish and Lobsters.

Tavos Reef, at 35 feet, is a small reef where you can see Gray and White-Tip Reef Sharks and one of a kind lime stone formations with lots of crevices & tunnels.

Punta Sur is an excellent location for watching dolphins and sea turtles.

Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox is not so famous for coral reefs as the gulf seabed is primarily seaweed, branch coral, and sand/clay. On a good day, visibility is at 10 - 15 ft.

The location is famous for swimming and snorkeling with Whale Sharks, the world's biggest fish. It is essential to book a tour to be able to do experience this adventure.

Whale sharks are harmless and the best time of the year to see them would be from May to September.

If already on the island, it is essential you visited the island Yalahau Spring where you can find a crystal clear spring referred to as the fountain of life.

Snorkeling the Mayan Riviera

Mayan Riviera is a great place for seeing squids, sea turtles, octopus, snakes, barracudas, stingrays and different fish including dolphins.

For good snorkeling in the Mayan Riviera, you would need to find where the coral is. Where there is sand, snorkeling is not so good. For good snorkeling, look for a natural beach. They can be found at resorts in between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. They are all generally within walking distance of coral reefs as resorts usually try to build around sandy beaches.

Places for snorkeling

Akumal is a good place for snorkeling and there are many resorts and hotels in the area.

It is possible to snorkel anywhere along the coast but it is best to go out straight from where the boats are docked to the seagrass where you are most likely to see sea turtles. Along with the usual reef fish, it is likely you will see octopuses, stingrays, sea turtles or the amazing "Wall of Fish".

In Akumal, it is possible to go snorkeling by yourself or with a guide.

El Dorado resort, south of Akumal, has an excellent snorkel beach. There are other resorts in the vicinity and the whole stretch of coast is great in certain spots.

Other good places for snorkeling around Akumal are Yal Ku Lagoon and Half Moon Bay as well as Mr. Cancun's Reef.

If on vacation in Playa del Carmen, a good snorkeling spot would be Kan Tun Chi, which is located across the highway from the Barcelo Mayo resort on highway 307. Kan Tun Chi is a group of 4 cenotes with some craft stands and a small cantina for beers.

Other famous cenotes are Dos Ojos, on HW 307 further south past Kan Tun Chi, 54 km south of Playa del Carmen and Coba, on the road that runs off of HW 307 as well as Gran Cenote and Actun Ha.


Cozumel is one of the top five dive destinations in the world. What is so special about this place are tall reefs lining the southwest coast and creating amazing, towering walls for exploration. The water on the western shore is as calm as an aquarium, unless a front is blowing through. 

There is over 30 kilometers of reefs, water visibility up to 200 feet, and over 200 species of tropical fish to see. Since fishing is not aloud in Conzumel, you are more likely to see bigger fish there than elsewhere.

There are plenty of places to go off the shore for snorkeling.

There are many locations where there is deep water as soon as you go out a few yards with an excellent visibility.

Snorkel spots in Cozumel

Dzul Ha is a great location in Cozumel where you can rent equipment if you don't have your own. There is also a bar and a grill a few palapas to sit under.

However, if the current is strong and you are not a very good swimmer, you may end up being sucked out from the island but you will eventually hit the mainland or will be picked up by a passing boat.

Chakanaab is another good location around Conzumel. In four diving shops at the location, it is possible to rent all the necessary equipment.

While Chankanaab is an eco-park with the necessity of paying admission fees wherever you go, Dzul Ha is a free road-side attraction that you park at and jump in the water.

Laguna de Colombia is a lagoon at the south tip of the island offering interesting snorkeling.

Isla de la Pasion is a small island with secluded beaches and rocky shorelines. There are none facilities there since it is a state reserve for which you would need dive charter to take you there.

Hidden Worlds Cenote Park

Hidden Worlds Cenote Park is located in the heart of the Yucatan’s underwater cenote region, the only place in the world where such cave systems are found.

Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park attractions include the unique Skycycle, ziplines and rappel, as well as the original and some of the best cavern diving and snorkeling expeditions in the region.

There are 6 scheduled snorkel tours daily with the best places being underground rivers of Tak Be Ha, Tak Bi Luum and Hilario's Well.

Whichever place you choose, have a great snorkeling experience!

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