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 species.
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 per trip and per person from Playa del Carmen, and 35 pesos from Cancun. Regular buses stop at the same places and are a little cheaper, but are less frequent.
It is not allowed to snorkel Puerto Morelos reef freely from the shore anymore. There are only two options to explore this spot:
If you are taking part to a snorkeling tour, follow your guide. You enter the water from the guide’s boat.
The Puerto Morelos reef can be divided into two areas. The barrier reef, about 400 meters 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. You will be dropped off at both areas in succession (follow the guide).
The reef flat is 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).
When you move to the barrier reef, the sea bed is more and more covered in coral. Some areas have been colonized 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.
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.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Small reef with colorful fish
Level: Free shore access
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Freshwater pools with rocks, algae and fish
Shallow rocky lagoon with colorful fish
Shallow seagrass beds with turtles and stingrays
Shallow reef with coral and colorful fish
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