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Puerto Morelos, a charming Mexican fishing town, offers a stark contrast to its neighbor, Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Its coral reef, listed as a Marine Park and stretching for miles along the coast, is probably the most beautiful and best preserved in the Mayan Riviera. On the reef and seagrass, you will see rays, turtles, barracudas, lobsters, and dozens of colorful reef fish.

Queen angelfish at Puerto Morelos, Mexico
The Queen angelfish, one of the most beautiful fish in the Caribbean, is frequently sighted at Puerto Morelos.

How to get to Puerto Morelos snorkeling spot?

Puerto Morelos is at the heart of Riviera Maya, halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen (35 minutes by car). After leaving Federal Route 307, drive the 1.5 remaining miles to reach the town and park near the beach.

Many collective taxis (known here as “vans” or “collectivos“), constantly traveling along the Federal Route 307, stop at Puerto Morelos. Regular buses also serve the town.

There are two options to snorkel at this location:

  1. From the shore. This option only gives access to the nearshore snorkeling area (snorkeling area 1 on the map below). From the jetties and the leaning lighthouse, walk north along the beach for about 300 meters to reach the public beach.
  2. By taking a guided boat snorkeling tour to the barrier reef (snorkeling area 2 on the map below). Different options are available, from a 1-hour tour (1 location) to full-day tours, including lunch. Tours can be booked on Puerto Morelos seafront. A life jacket is mandatory.
Puerto Morelos Marine Park snorkeling map
Puerto Morelos Marine Park snorkeling map.

Water entrance for snorkeling Puerto Morelos

If you want to snorkel the nearshore areas (snorkeling area 1 on the map above), enter the water from the public beach. The recommended snorkel entry is in front of Beach Club Ojo de Agua.

If you take part in a barrier reef tour (snorkeling area 2 on the map above), you will enter the water from your boat. It is not allowed to swim from the beach to the barrier reef.

Puerto Morelos snorkeling tips

Puerto Morelos features two main snorkeling areas:

1. The shallow inner reef areas near the beach (shore access, snorkeling area 1 on the map)

In this area, the gently sloping seabed is covered with sand, seagrass, and small corals (↕6-12 feet/2-4 meters).

The seagrass beds are the best place to spot green sea turtles (they are much rarer here than in Akumal Bay) and several species of rays, including Southern stingrays, Yellow stingrays, and Spotted eagle rays.

Yellow stingray in Puerto Morelos
Yellow stingrays (Urobatis jamaicensis) are frequently sighted in Puerto Morelos seagrass meadows.

In some places, you will find rocky areas covered with sponges, sea fans, and small corals, attracting interesting marine life like reef fish, shrimp and sea anemones.

2. The barrier reef, about 400 meters from the shore (boat access, snorkeling area 2 on the map)

On the barrier reef, the sea bed is covered with coral. Some areas feature hundreds of purple sea fans swaying in the current. On the sea fans, look for Flamingo tongue snails, the small colorful gastropods feeding on their polyps.

Elkhorn coral at Puerto Morelos coral reef
Puerto Morelos coral reef, one of the healthiest in the country, features beautiful elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata).

The Elkhorn coral, one of the most important reef-building coral in the Caribbean, is one of the highlight of the barrier reef. Some of them almost touch the surface of the water.

The barrier reef hosts a fantastic diversity of fish including hundreds of Sergeant major, shoals of French grunt, as well as several species of Butterflyfish and Parrotfish.

As you make your way along the coral beds, you are also likely to spot an Ocean triggerfish or an impressive Great barracuda, also common in the seagrass nearshore.

Great barracuda in Puerto Morelos
Great barracudas (Sphyraena barracuda) are common in Puerto Morelos, even in shallow areas.

In the northern part of the location, a small underwater cenote (difficult to find, ask locals on the beach) can also be snorkeled.

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

There is a wide choice of supermarkets, snack bars, and restaurants in Puerto Morelos, both near the beach and in the village. A wide range of accommodation is also available in the area, especially on the seafront.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Arrecife Puerto Morelos
  • Maximum depth20 feet/6 meters
  • Water entranceFrom the shore or from a boat (for boat tours to the barrier reef)
  • Potential DangersStingrays
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree from the shore, or snorkeling tour price (from 25$ per person)
  • Restaurants nearbyYes

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.