Riviera Maya Snorkeling

Snorkeling Riviera Maya

Ultimate Riviera Maya Snorkeling Guide to snorkel (almost) for FREE

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Best Snorkeling in the Riviera Maya

Mexico introduces snorkelers to an extraordinary diversity of underwater environments. The Riviera Maya, in particular, offers an unequalled diversity of snorkeling spots. And we are about to tell you the best snorkeling in Riviera Maya.

Along the Riviera Maya runs the second largest Coral Reef Barrier in the world known as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and because of this, there a lots of different spots you can visit the Riviera Maya Snorkeling along the Caribbean coast. Not only for that… there are also plenty of bays and little beaches with Coral Reef formations that are really nice to visit with beautiful colors all along. 

The most commun way to explore the Riviera Maya Snorkeling spots is to book a tour with one of the many tour agency in Cancun. If you are on a budget, or if you prefer to explore the coral reef with more freedom and on your own pace, read further to discover the places where you can ALMOST Riviera Maya snorkel for FREE. Meaning without taking a tour, all the transport and entrance fee are to be payed 😏

Where is the Riviera Maya?

Riviera Maya is a stretch of beachfront towns south of the Cancun. Popular cities in the Riviera Maya include Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Morelos, and ,Puerto Aventuras Akumal, Xcacel, Xel-Ha, and Tulum. 

Riviera Maya Snorkeling exists since 1992, and with over 20 years of experience we know how to make you feel great in the Caribbean. In all our tours we consider the fun, but also the safety and we follow all regulations. It has more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) of beach, more than 400 world-class hotels, impressive cenotes and natural reserves and a tourist offer for all tastes, needs and budgets.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS), the largest coral reef in the western hemisphere and the second in the world, runs along practically the entire coast of the Mexican Caribbean. A natural wonder that makes the waters of places like Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, and Akumal, among many others, the perfect setting for an unforgettable dive. Or, simply, put on a mask, tube, and fins and enjoy the beauty of this submerged wonderland that offers all kinds of treasures at a very shallow depth.

Snorkeling in Puerto Aventuras Mexico

Puerto Aventuras

Called  Playa del Carmen’s little-known neighbor, Puerto aventuras is considered as a small town off the beaten track and one of the prettiest residential towns in the whole of the Riviera Maya. With its impressive marina, stunning residential areas, friendly locals and laid back island vibes, this is one of a place to visit while staying in Playa del Carmen. The government of Puerto Aventuras has built a faux reef just meters from the shoreline, which attracts droves of brightly colored tropical fish. The access to the beach is free (unless you want to enjoy one of the beach club and their amenity). Great for a Puerto Aventuras snorkeling day.

Access to Puerto Aventuras

There are 2 ways to access the Puerto Aventuras beach.

_ The first, and most commonly use, is to walk through the Omni hotel. This hotel is situated right next to the main town square, and is impossible to miss when walking or driving into Puerto Aventuras. Simply walk through the main entrance, past the pool, and down the little steps onto the beach. From there, you simply head to your left, and you will see the hidden beach right in front of you.

_ The second access route is a little trickier to see. There is a small, unmarked access point just to the left of the Omni hotel. Walk through this passage, and you’ll be brought out onto a stretch of beach just to the left of the Omni Hotel beach area.

As a free Riviera Maya Snorkeling experience, just beyond the faux reef, is the very real Mesoamerican reef. You can swim out to this amazing underwater world straight off the beach, simply walk through any of the three spaces in the barrier. A few more meters, and you’ll be slap bang in the middle of a vibrant, magical underwater playground. Gigantic brain coral, vibrant sea fans, lots of tropical fish, crabs, sea horses, rays and even haunting manglar forests all call this reef home.

Private safe Transportation to Puerto Aventuras Mexico

Hotels in Puerto Aventuras

If you decide to stay in Puerto Aventuras, check the list below of the best hotels and Mexico snorkeling resorts resorts.

Riviera Maya Snorkeling from the hidden beach of Puerto Aventuras is a must, and is perfect for both first-timers and seasons swimmers alike.

Snorkeling in Xpu Ha Beach


Nestled right between Playa del Carmen and Tulum is an oasis most tourists drive right by. Xpu Ha is the quintessential white sandy beach and turquoise waters we all think of planning a Mexico vacation. Xpu Ha is a delight for beach lovers looking for that Caribbean post card scene. Wade out into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean and be swept away by the freedom of the sea. Beachside restaurants offer fresh fish tacos and ice cold beer making Xpu Ha beach an easy place to put your beach chair for the day. Great Playa del Carmen snorkeling spots.

How to get to Xpu-Ha?


  • Cancun Hotel Zone: 62 miles / 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Playa del Carmen: 17 miles / 24 minutes
  • Tulum: 23 miles / 31 minutes
  • Merida: 195 miles/ 3 hour 20 minutes

Public Transportation: If you don´t have a car you can easily take the colectivos. The price to Xpu Ha is 30 pesos each way. They will ask you where you want to go when you get on. The driver should remember this and let you off by the side of the highway. The walk from the highway to the beach will take about 5 minutes to walk. If you are going to walk back late in the day you might want mosquito spray for the walk.

Driving directions to Xpu Ha: Drive south on the 307 Highway to KM 265. It takes about 20 minutes to drive. It is 25km. from Playa Del Carmen.  There is a parking lot but it does get tight if you arrive later in the morning on the weekends. Parking is free.

To access the beach, you have to pay an entrance fee of 50 pesos and for the same price, you can camp on the beach!

You can also prefer to use the beach club facilities for 200 pesos. From this small paradise beach in the Riviera Maya Snorkeling experience, you can go snorkeling off shore and see some coral formations and fishes that are not actually part of the coral reef barrier. It is a quite shallow area and sometime you will swimm very close to the corals so be very carefull not to kick it with your fines. Be carefull as the current can somtime be strong.

Hotels in Xpu-Ha

If you decide to stay in Xpu-Ha, check the list below of the best hotels and Mexico snorkeling resorts.

Snorkeling in Akumal Mexico


Akumal, the most famous and busiest spot in the Mayan Riviera. Facing a white sandy beach lined with coconut trees, the crystal-clear waters are the guarantee (despite the high visitor numbers and the restricting turtles sighting rules) of a great Riviera Maya Snorkeling experience.

It is not allowed anymore to snorkel with the turtles without a guide in Akumal. To sight the turtles, you’ll have to sign up for a tour. Tours are carried out in groups of max. 6 people plus an authorized guide, and follow one of the two snorkel trails set in the bay. Life jackets are mandatory, to prevent snorkelers to skindive too close to the turtles. Swimming and sighting of sea turtles is only permitted from 9am to 5pm.

But, you can do a Riviera Maya snorkel freely heading to the right of the beach, venture a few meters off the shore and see many big corals and friendly colorful fish. Is you get lucky, you will see one of the turtle wandering further than the protected zone! You can also spot graceful eagle rays, crabs, groupers, angelfish and grunt fish all blissfully enjoying the crystal clear water. Here you will find the best snorkeling in Mexico resort.

How to get to to Akumal?

Getting to Akumal from Playa del Carmen or Cancun couldn’t be easier, you can take the public transport, a taxi or your own car for get the best Riviera Maya Snorkeling

Car_ Simply slide onto the highway in Playa del Carmen, and head towards Tulum. After a scenic 20 minute drive, you’ll see the exit to Akumal on your left hand side. Follow the road down towards the beach for another 2 minutes, and you’ll see a car park just before the OXXO convenient store on your right-hand side. All day parking costs only $50 pesos which is roughly $2.50 USD.

Taxi_ You can pre-order a cab from your hotel, or you can easily hail one down from any main street in Playa del Carmen. The cost of the ride largely depends on the mood of the driver, but you’re looking at around $250 pesos ($13 USD) each way.

Colectivo_ This is Playa del Carmen’s answer to public transportation and it’s a breeze once you know how it works. These 15 seater minivans can be found on Calle 2 with 15 Avenue, and take around 30 minutes to reach Akumal, depending on how many stops they make. Every van has air conditioning, and will only set you back $25 pesos ($1.50 USD) per person.

The access to the beach cost 100 pesos for an unique Riviera Maya Snorkeling.

Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is famous for being protected under the National Marine Park list. It is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef…the second largest reef in the world. The coral reef has been preserved since 1998. What does that mean? It means that the marine life in this reef has been protected to grow and thrive. You are likely to see angelfish, butterfly fish, lobsters, barracudas, and many more swim through the colourful coral on the ocean floor.

Know more about Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos

Hotels in Puerto Morelos

If you decide to stay in Puerto Morelos, check our post of the best hotels and resorts in Puerto Morelos Mexico. Why noy enjoying a snorkeling resort Mexico trip?

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Xcacel beach


Xcacel is a beach located in the state of Quintana Roo, 20 kilometers from Tulum and 46 kilometers from Playa del Carmen. This beach is a natural paradise lost in the Riviera Maya. The area is a protected nature reserve since 1998, it is home to many fauna and flora. The beaches of Xcalcel are considered very important throughout the country due to the large number of turtles that are in this area and because of the protection of the animal since 1983. Xcacel is a sea turtle sanctuary that has been consolidated for some years as a tourist attraction in the Riviera. If you are looking for a quiet escape, this is the place for you! Before going, check all the rules of Xcacel beach to get well prepared! 

The snorkeling is not the best but the sea landscape is very different with flat corals area, shells, many sting rays and turtles! The visibility is excellente as the beach is nested in a bay away from strong winds and currents. 

There is also a small cenote Xcacelito where you can go for a deep if you get sick of the beach and salty water.

xcacel beach

How to get to Xcacel Beach ?

If you have a car, in 20 minutes you can reach the nature reserve by federal highway 307, which runs along the entire coast. If you do not have a car you can go by bus, it takes place in Tulum Pueblo (in front of the 7 eleven supermarket on federal highway 307). The trip to Xcalcel costs $ 30 mxn per person and lasts approximately 25 minutes.

Xcacel is 38 minutes from Playa del Carmen, as from Tulum, you can get there by car or bus. Do not forget to notify the driver to get off at Xcalcel-Xcacelito.

Xcael beach Entrance fees

  • Quintanaroenses: $24.00 pesos
  • Nationals: $40.00 pesos
  • Internationals: $81.00 pesos

Xcacel Beach is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00 hrs Monday: CLOSED

xcacel restrictions

Snorkeling tours

Snorkeling in the Riviera Maya

In case you want to visit the Mexican reef in a different way, you can also book a boat tour for snorkeling near Playa del Carmen. These are the most commun snorkeling tours:

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Book your trip

Are you ready to book your trip?  .Here are the websites you can use to book your trip, get inspired with the best things to do in your destinations and travel smarter.

  • Kiwi.com– A great website to book your flights. It has good airfares but you need to search regulaly as the prices are constantly changing
  • Booking.com – The best website to book your accommodation, you can book and cancel free up until a certain point, especially when your plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Airbnb – You can get some really nice places to stay here. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
  • Hotel.com – Huge choice of hotels with  free cancellation up until a certain point. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Agoda – Agoda is very good if you are searching hotels, resorts, houses. They always have attractive promotions.  
  • Xcaret Group – Xcaret Group is the most famous theme park in the Riviera Maya. If you visit Cancun, check their prices here to get good discounts.
  • Viator – If you need to find inspiration about things to do in Cozumel, check on Viator to see the tours they offer for diving and other activities
  • Rental Cars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals. 
  • Yacht Rental – If you are thinking of spending time in a paradise beach destination with friends or family, this is a good option to enjoy the beach life.
  • Sailing Trip – For cruising holidays, book a sailing trip, they have many trip destinations, lehghts and standing.
  • Dive the World – If you are a diver, book a diving trip with them. They have dive packages everywhere in the world with very attractive prices.
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