written in collaboration with AbsoluteAdventure (4 spots)
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).
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.
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.
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.
Type of spot
Level of difficultyAll levels
Water entranceEasy, from a boat
Potential DangersCurrents, boats
Access costsExcursion price
Restaurants nearbyYes, budget