Tulum Reef

written in collaboration with AbsoluteAdventure (4 spots)

Tulum is mostly famous for its picturesque archeological park, a set of Maya ruins built upon a cliff over the turquoise Caribbean. However, few people know that a nice snorkeling spot is located a couple of hundred meters from there, in front of Tulum main beach. On this spot, known as “Tulum Reef”, you will get an interesting overview of Caribbean reef life.
How to get there?

Tulum is located on the southern part of the Riviera Maya, about 40 miles (60km) south of Playa del Carmen and 80 miles (130km) south of Cancun. All the group taxis (known locally as vans or “collectivos”) and ADO buses that travel non-stop along federal route 307 stop in this city. Once in town, take a taxi to the beach. If you are driving your own car, turn left at the first crossing before entering the city (Coba Avenue).

Water entrance

For reaching the spot, you have to book a snorkeling tour with a local agency. Boat tours (approx. 1 hour) usually start with a short sail to the north of the lagoon, to enjoy one of the most stunning view on Tulum ruins. On the way back, your boat will stop on the reef for a 20 to 30 minutes snorkeling session.

Aerial view


The area to explore is enclosed by the beach and the barrier reef, which are distant of 200 to 300m in this part of the lagoon. It covers sandy, grassy and coral seabed, relatively rich in underwater life. Some areas have been colonized by sponges and purple sea fans swaying in the current.

Snorkeling Tulum Mexico
Snorkeler in Tulum Reef


The coral area, close to the barrier, is the richest in fish, with schools of doctorfish tang, sergeant major, several species of grunts, butterflyfish, parrotfish, and some impressive barracudas waiting their next prey under the surface. If you are lucky, you could spot a sea turtle, a stingray, or a spotted eagle ray. Nevertheless, if you want to be sure to swim with green sea turtles, head to Akumal, where turtle encounters are guaranteed.

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

Restaurants and accommodation

There is a wide range of restaurants and snack bars are dotted on the beach and the area alongside it, so you can get something to eat and drink at low prices.

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
    All levels
  • Maximum depth
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a boat
  • Potential Dangers
    Currents, boats
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
    Excursion price
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes, budget

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

  • Al2Be3Si6O18

    You state, Under Water entrance:
    “For reaching the spot, you have to book a snorkeling tour with a local agency.” Do you HAVE TO? One can’t swim or boat on their own to the reef”?

    • Guillaume

      Regarding the distance and the currents you may encounter between the beach and the reef, swimming to the reef is not recommended. If you have your own boat, you can of course reach the reef without booking a tour.