7 of the Best Places for Snorkeling in Riviera Maya

The Riviera Maya is a stretch of Caribbean coastline on Mexico’s northeastern Yucatán Peninsula. The region is famous for its crystal clear, warm waters and proximity to the Mesoamerican Reef. This reef is home to 105 different types of coral and 262 species of fish. There’s also a wide variety of snorkeling spots from which to choose. So, whether you want to don your mask and fins and explore ancient ruins, underwater museums or cenotes, here are some of the best places for snorkeling in Riviera Maya.

7 of the Best Places for Snorkeling in Riviera Maya

1. MUSA: Underwater Museum

MUSA is the world’s largest underwater museum. This underwater museum of art is an artificial reef that features over 500 sculptures from some of Mexico’s most prominent artists as well as some impressive international names. The artists constructed the statues from coral-friendly materials to help stimulate coral growth. Once you reach Arrecife Mesoamericano, you’ll see around 30 MUSA sculptures, including The Gardner of hope, Time Bomb, The Last Supper, and the Reclamation.

Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo / Mexico - September 2016: MUSA - The Museum of Underwater Art in Isla Mujeres near Cancun in Mexico

2. Chankanaab Park

Chankanaab is a protected national park that stretches 9km across the south coast of the island of Cozumel. The world Chankanaab is Mayan for “small ocean” or “small sea” and refers to the lagoon inside the park. There are underwater sculptures to explore, colourful corals, and tropical fish.

3. Banco Chinchorro

Banco Chinchorro is the biggest atoll in Mexico and is home to numerous snorkeling sites. It is one of the best places to snorkel in the Northern Hemisphere. Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve comprises open water, sea grass beds, mangroves, sand beaches and coral reefs and is one of the most outstanding marine sites in the region. The west side of the biosphere is suitable for all levels, with colourful reefs protected from the open ocean. One of its main attractions is swimming with crocodiles! Yes, really! Banco Chinchorro is one of the few places in the world where you can encounter the American Crocodile.

4. Cenotes dos Ojos

One of Yucatan’s most popular sinkholes is Cenotes dos Ojos. With incredible water visibility and spectacular light effects, this is one of the most unique places for snorkeling in Riviera Maya. Cenotes are deep water cavern-like sinkholes with a surface opening created by a natural collapse. The water in the cenote comes from the rain and underground rivers, so their constant water temperature means you can snorkel here all year round.

Cenote Dos Ojos in Quintana Roo, Mexico. People swimming and snorkeling in clear blue water. This cenote is located close to Tulum in Yucatan peninsula, Mexico.

5. Cozumel Island

Cozumel Island’s south and west coasts have some terrific snorkeling spots where you’ll see turtles, stingrays and sea stars. Jaques Cousteau, the famous oceanographer, named it one of the best places in the world to dive. Cozumel’s water temperature and visibility maintain great conditions throughout the year, so you can snorkel here all year round.

Turtle with Angelfishes, Cozumel

6. Tulum Ruins

Tulum is famous for its 13th-century, walled Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park. This park overlooks the sea, and the waters here are clear and calm. From the beach, you can get straight into the action, and you’ll see barracudas, surgeonfish, sergeant majors and blue tangs. You might be able to spot rays too.

A snorkeler diving down to get a better look at some coral in the beautiful tropical blue Mexican ocean near Riviera Maya on vacation.

7. Akumal

Akumal is one of Mexico’s most famous places for snorkeling on the Riviera Maya. It is also one of the best places in Mexico to go swimming with green turtles and stingrays. There are two areas to explore: the seagrass beds (which are popular with visiting turtles and rays) and the barrier reef, which is home to shoals of grunts, blue tang, parrotfish and butterflyfish, as well as yellow stingrays and spotted eagle rays.

Green sea turtle Chelonia mydas, resting on the sand with snorkelers swimming above, Akumal Bay, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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