Isla Mujeres is a Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, 13 kilometres off the coast of Cancún on Mexico’s northeastern Yucatán Peninsula. This whole area is famous for its crystal clear, warm waters and Mesoamerican Reef. The Mesoamerican Reef is the world’s second largest barrier reef system (the Great Barrier Reef is the biggest). It is home to 105 different types of coral and 262 species of fish. On Isla Mujeres, there’s a wide variety of snorkelling locations from which to choose. So, whether you want to explore underwater museums, reefs or lighthouses, here are some of the best places for snorkelling in Isla Mujeres.
7 Best Places for Snorkeling in Isla Mujeres
1. MUSA: Underwater Museum
MUSA is located off the southern coast of Isla Mujeres. It is the world’s largest underwater museum and comprises an artificial reef with over 500 sculptures from some of Mexico’s most famous and international artists. The artists constructed the statues from coral-friendly materials to help stimulate coral growth. As you snorkel around Arrecife Mesoamericano, you’ll see around 30 MUSA sculptures, including The Gardner of hope, Time Bomb, The Last Supper, and the Reclamation.
2. Playa Norte
If you don’t want to take a boat ride to an off-shore snorkelling spot, then head to Playa Norte on the north of the island. This sandy beach with palm trees has incredible crystal clear visibility and no currents, so it is a safe and calm spot for beginners and young children. As you snorkel, keep your eyes peeled for exotic, colourful fish which hang out just 200 feet into the water.
3. Garrafon de Castilla
Garrafon de Castilla is located on the south of the island, close to MUSA. It is the beach club of Hotel Garrafon de Castilla, and it just so happens to be an excellent spot for snorkelling in Isla Mujeres. Like Playa Norte, you don’t have to take a boat to see marine life. You can snorkel right off of the beachfront. You have to pay an entry fee of around 100 pesos per person ($5 USD).
4. El Farito (Lighthouse Reef)
El Farito is a popular snorkelling spot in Isla Mujeres just 5 minutes offshore by boat. The unique highlight of this snorkel spot is a small abandoned lighthouse. The waters are relatively shallow, which allows sunlight to reach the bottom reflecting gorgeous light and vivid colours. Due to the shallow waters and relative calmness, it’s a great place for beginners and children to enjoy some safe snorkelling.
5. Garrafon Natural Reef Park
Garrafon Natural Reef Park is also located at the southern end of Isla Mujeres. Here you’ll find some of the most beautiful coral and marine life in the area. This is another shallow snorkelling spot – maximum depth of 12 feet (3.6 meters) – making it ideal for beginners, nervous swimmers and children.
6. Manchones Reef
Manchones Reef is a terrific snorkelling spot on Isla Mujeres, thanks to its excellent visibility and a wide variety of marine life. A part of the Manchones Reef overlaps with MUSA, the underwater museum, so you’ll see a few of the statues and sculptures too, including the “Cross of the Bay”. This sculpture is in honour of those who lost their lives at sea. Due to the shallow water and calm currents, Manchones Reef is another perfect place for inexperienced snorkelers or those who just want a relaxing underwater experience.
7. El Meco Reef
El Meco Reef is a popular snorkelling spot located in the blue waters between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. The reef features shallow waters and an abundance of marine life, making it a perfect spot for both experienced and beginner snorkelers. However, you have to take a boat to get to it. If you don’t have your own boat, many tour operators take you from Isla Mujeres to the reef on a day trip.