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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.

Snorkeling boat at Tulum Reef, Mexico
Snorkelers at Tulum reef.

How to get to Tulum Reef snorkeling spot?

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).

Tulum reef snorkeling map, Mexico

Entering the water at Tulum Reef

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.

Tulum Reef snorkeling tips and recommendations

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.

Coral reef at Tulum Reef, Mexico
A “forest” of black sea rod (Plexaura homomalla) in Tulum.

The coral area, close to the barrier, is the richest in fish, with schools of doctorfish tang, sergeant major, several species of grunt, butterflyfish, parrotfish, and some barracudas waiting for 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 almost guaranteed.

Snorkeling at Tulum Reef, Mexico
Snorkelers at Tukum Reef.

Always watch out for boats sailing in the area, and don’t try to go to the outer reef.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

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.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a boat
  • Potential DangersCurrents, boats
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

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.