Spot

Puerto Morelos


Puerto Morelos, a charming and still typically Mexican fishing village, stands out from its more sumptuous neighbors, Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Its coral reef, listed as a Marine Park and stretching for miles in parallel with the coast, is probably the most beautiful and best preserved in the Riviera Maya. On the nearby reef and seagrass, you will see rays, turtles, barracudas and dozens of other fish.
How to get there?

Puerto Morelos is at the heart of Riviera Maya, half way between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. By car, it takes about 35 minutes from either town. After leaving federal route 307, drive the 1.5 remaining miles to reach the village and park near the centre. Many collective taxis (known here as "vans" or "collectivos"), constantly travelling along the federal route 307, stop at Puerto Morelos. There is one every five minutes or so and the price is 25 pesos ($1.5) per trip and per person from Playa del Carmen, and 35 pesos ($2) from Cancun. Regular buses stop at the same places and are a little cheaper, but are less frequent.

There are three options for exploring the spot:

- On your own, by swimming from the shore. This option is reserved for strong swimmers, since the beach and the reef are about 400 yards apart. There is an entrance fee for the Marine Park ($3 per person). Use a buoy to signal your presence.

- By taking a one- or two-hour snorkeling excursion with a guide. You can reserve the excursion on the sea front at Puerto Morelos. The price is $25 per person, including equipment. A life jacket must be worn.

- By taking a full-day excursion, including 3 or 4 snorkeling stops on the reef, a lunch break on the beach, with other activities possible. The price is $80, all inclusive. A life jacket must be worn.

Water entrance

If you are taking part in an excursion, follow the guide. You enter the water from the guide's boat. If you are on your own, walk up the beach to the north (left as you are facing the sea) for about 500 yards from the town centre, shown by the main landing stage. Don't forget that this option is reserved for strong swimmers in good physical condition. Swimfins and signaling buoys are required.

Aerial view

Exploration

The Puerto Morelos reef can be divided into two areas. The barrier reef, about 400 yards from the shore, which you can identify from the beach because of the waves breaking there (a white line), and the area between the beach and the reef, made up of sea grass of varying depths. If you are part of an excursion, you will be dropped off at both areas in succession (follow the guide).

Snorkeling Report Puerto Morelos Mexico
Coral reef at Puerto Morelos

If you are on your own, get into the water at the beach. As you make your way towards the open sea, the water level rises quickly to reach a dozen yards or so. As you continue, the seabed rises little by little to form a coastal bench covered with sea grass (↕6-12ft/2-4m). The sea grass is the best place to see green turtles (they are much more timid here than in Akumal, and it is hard to get near them) and several species of ray (southern stingrays, yellow stingrays or spotted eagle rays).



Continue on towards the barrier reef. The sea bed is more and more covered in coral. Some areas have been colonised by purple sea fans swaying in the current. Look for flamingo tongue snails, particularly elegant little gastropods. Nearer the reef, the coral is denser. You will soon spot superb elkhorn coral beds touching the surface of the water. This reef-building coral is vital to life in the Caribbean reefs. It is fragile and strictly protected, so you must not touch it. The coral area is the richest in fish with groups of dozens of sergeant major fish, shoals of grunts, butterflyfish and parrotfish. As you make your way along the coral beds, you are likely to spot an ocean triggerfish or an impressive great barracuda lurking beneath the water surface.

Always watch out for divers' boats sailing in the area, and don't try to go to the other side of the reef.

Restaurants & accommodation

There is a wide choice of supermarkets, snack bars and restaurants at Puerto Morelos (near the beach and in the village streets). Many fish specialities are served in the restaurants. A wide range of accommodation is also available in the area, near the sea front.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
    Intermediary level
  • Maximum depth
    20ft (6m)
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a sandy beach (or from a boat)
  • Potential Dangers
    Stingrays, boats
  • Lifeguard
    No
  • Visitor numbers
    Medium
  • Access costs
    Free or excursion price (approx. 25$ pp.)
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes, inexpensive
  • Public toilets & showers
    No

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling Puerto Morelos

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Green sea turtle
Chelonia mydas
Southern stingray
Dasyatis americana
Yellow stingray
Urobatis jamaicensis
Spotted eagle ray
Aetobatus narinari
Great barracuda
Sphyraena barracuda
French angelfish
Pomacanthus paru
Ocean Triggerfish
Canthidermis sufflamen
Atlantic blue tang
Acanthurus coeruleus
Stoplight parrotfish
Sparisoma viride
Smooth trunkfish
Lactophrys triqueter
French grunt
Haemulon flavolineatum
Bluestriped grunt
Haemulon sciurus
Yellowtail blue snapper
Paracaesio xanthura
Scrawled filefish
Aluterus scriptus
Bermuda chub
Kyphosus sectatrix
Banded butterflyfish
Chaetodon striatus
Sergeant major
Abudefduf saxatilis
Smallmouth grunt
Haemulon chrysargyreum
Schoolmaster snapper
Lutjanus apodus
Lobster
Permit
Trachinotus falcatus
Elkhorn coral
Acropora palmata
Venus sea fan
Gorgonia flabellum
Purple sea fan
Gorgonia ventalina
Calamar de récif des Caraïbes
Sepioteuthis sepioidea
Show all species
You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?
  • nmchick52

    Will the snorkel conditions here typically be different last 2 weeks of July vs mid-to late
    August? Also would you recommend this over Akumal for snorkeling? Thanks!

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