The warm crystal clear waters and large reefs make Cancun snorkeling some of the best in the world. Snorkeling involves swimming along the surface of the water, while wearing goggles (eye mask), snorkel to allow you to breathe and fins for ease of swimming. A life jacket and wet suit may also be worn, for safety and warmth. By swimming near the surface of reefs, you are able to observe the vast sea life that lives in the water just off shores of Mexico, without the need for all the equipment and certification of scuba diving. You will be able to observe many types fish, sea urchins, starfish, and maybe even turtles, jellyfish and sting rays! Some of the best locations for snorkeling in Cancun and the surrounding areas include:
- Punta Nizuc - At the northern tip of the Gran Arrecife Maya lies Punta Nizuc which contains the largest reef in the Western hemisphere and one of the largest in the world.
- El Gerrafon National Park - Another popular reef that houses the Cave of the Sleeping Sharks. Although it is rare to see the sharks nowadays, as the large amount of visitors have scared them off, there is still a vast amount of other sea life to observe.
- Great Mesoamerican Reef - Located in Puerto Morales about 10 minutes from Cancun, great snorkeling can be performed due to the close proximity of the reef to the shore as well as the size of the reef (about 15 km long). For as little as $20 per person, you will be taken out to the reef on a fishing boat, and led around the reef by a guide for about 2 hours of snorkeling. The guide will snorkel with you and show you where all the sea life hides, as well as point out things that you would likely miss.
- Xel-Ha - Xel-Ha offers a more calming snorkel experience than the open sea, due to the lack of currents and waves. You will be able to float down a long stream where vast amounts of fish and even rays are present. Snorkeling at Xel-Ha is only one of many activities which visitors can take part in at the park.
- Xcaret - Similar to Xel-Ha, Xcaret is an attraction unto itself that offers many activities including snorkeling. Snorkel in the vast lagoon, or in the underwater caves. This is recommended for first time snorkelers as the calm waters and the leisure of exiting the lagoon make it easier to get accustomed to the mask and snorkel. Like Xel-Ha, Xcaret is a very popular tourist location near Cancun, therefore, there will likely be a vast amount of people present.
There are many other locations for snorkeling in Cancun, the ones listed above are simply the most popular. Asking some of locals will perhaps allow you to find a more isolated or less populated area for snorkeling, which will make it easier to see a great deal of fish.