Playa del Carmen is a resort town along the Riviera Maya stretch of the 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 snorkelling 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 snorkelling in Playa del Carmen.
7 Best Places for Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen
1. MUSA: Underwater Museum
Located 90km north of Playa del Carmen is MUSA, the world’s largest underwater museum. This incredible snorkelling spot is worth the two-hour drive. The underwater museum of art is 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. Snorkelling around Arrecife Mesoamericano, you’ll see around 30 MUSA sculptures, including The Gardner of hope, Time Bomb, The Last Supper, and the Reclamation.
Akumal is located just 25 minutes away from Playa del Carmen. It is a lovely little beach town and is famous for its green sea turtles. If snorkelling with these beautiful creatures is on your bucket list, then you need to come here. The seagrass that grows on the seabed in Akumal attracts green sea turtles all year round. Plenty of other creatures also call this place home, for instance, spotted eagle rays, manta rays and needlefish.
3. Chankanaab Park
Located directly across the water from Playa del Carmen is Chankanaab. This protected national park stretches 9km across the south coast of the island of Cozumel. To get here, you take a one-hour ferry ride. 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 too.
4. Puerto Morelos
Located around 40 minutes north of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos is a beautiful town that retains some of its original fishing village charm. On the surface, the place seems super laid back, but underneath the waves, a vivid world is waiting to be explored. Just swim a few meters offshore, and you’ll come to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest reef system in the world.
5. Cenotes dos Ojos
Located less than an hour away by car is one of Yucatan’s most popular sinkholes; Cenotes dos Ojos. With incredible water visibility and spectacular light effects, this is one of the most unique places for snorkelling near Playa del Carmen. 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, therefore, their constant water temperature means you can snorkel here all year round.
6. Jardin del Eden
Some 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmin is Jardin del Eden where you can snorkelling in fresh water. Jardin del Eden is a cenote, a clear-water sinkhole lagoon surrounded by forest. It is home to a whole host of unusual freshwater fish and plant life including damselfish, wrasses, mini catfish and brightly-coloured tetras.
7. Tulum Ruins
Located one hour south of Playa del Carmen is the Insta-famous town of Tulum, which is also famous for its 13th-century, walled Mayan ruins. This archaeological site at Tulum National 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.