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Top 5 Snorkel Spots in the Yucatan Peninsula

February 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Are you in search of an amazing snorkel tour for your next holiday in the Yucatan Peninsula?  You are in luck!  The Yucatan offers snorkeling enthusiasts a wealth of incredible spots that will fascinate and amaze anyone, from beginners to the most experienced divers.  From offshore snorkeling along the Mayan Riviera’s coral reef to the one-of-a-kind sinkholes, known locally as cenotes, below is a list of the Snorkel Shops Top 5 places for your next snorkeling adventure in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Xel-Ha

xelha_logoXel-ha, pronounced Shellha, is a 22-acre ecological park located near the town of Tulum.  The park is first on the list because it is an ideal spot for children and novice snorkelers.  Underground rivers/ or cenotes feed a lagoon where fresh water meets the sea.  This mergence creates the ultimate snorkeling experience.  The lagoon remains calm, so snorkeling is easy and for a very small fee, snorkelers can feed the fish.  Make sure that you have your underwater camera ready because this is the best way to see a swarm of fish at one time!

There is more to Xel-ha than snorkeling. You can spend the entire day exploring the Mayan ruins, resting in a hammock on the beach, enjoying food and drinks at one of the many restaurants, swimming with the dolphins, or exploring the fresh water cenotes.

While snorkeling you may see barracudas, groupers, skip jacks, snappers and sting rays, which can be up to 5 feet in diameter!

Cozumel

imagesThe island of Cozumel has miles of world famous reefs located about 7 miles away from mainland Mexico.  The island is fortunate to have between 150 – 250 feet of visibility year-round and over 80-degree water temperatures.  This makes for a spectacular under water show with over 500 luminously colored coral and marine life.

Snorkeling and diving fans flock to Cozumel year after year because of the unspoiled and famed coral, which was a big part of the Mesoamerican barrier reef.  Snorkelers can swim alongside the different coral mounds, through caverns and beside coral walls that can descend to over 500 feet.

The island is great for all snorkelers – no matter the skill level.  The drifting currents make for an easy ride around the beautiful coral reef and since Cozumel ranks within the top 5 worldwide destinations for divers and snorkelers, the Snorkel Shop thinks it’s worth a visit for your next snorkeling adventure!

Akumal

If you are staying in Cancun or Playa del Carmen and don’t feel like taking a ferry to Cozumel for your snorkeling exploration, Akumal is a very popular spot for locals and tourists.  With its caves, lagoons and reefs, Akumal offers plenty of snorkeling for all skill levels.      

Depending on where you choose to snorkel in Akumal, your adventure could get a little wild.  For example, a bit north of Akumal Bay is an area rich with angelfish, lionfish, sea turtles, sting rays and sponges.  A bit further north to Yal Ku Lagoon lays another amazing Akumal snorkeling spot, but beware of triggerfish, known to inhabit the lagoon.  They are territorial and have an extremely painful bite!  Most first time snorkelers stick with Akumal Beach. Here the reef is shallow and on a clear day visibility is high.  Just make sure you maintain a safe distance from the part of the reef marked by buoys. This part of the reef encompasses bright, red, stinging corals.  It has been nicknamed the “fire reef” and the sting is painful and has the potential to be deadly, so watch out!

All areas are littered with restaurants, hotels and shops, so bring some money and enjoy your day.

Isla Mujeres

imagesA short ferry ride off the coast of Cancun is a local paradise named Isla Mujeres or “Island of Women.” This island is a part of the largest barrier reef formation in the northern hemisphere called the Great Mayan reef. Snorkelers of all skill levels enjoy the many riches provided by this underwater world.

Beginners usually choose to snorkel at Garrafon Natural Reef Park.  Here the waters are shallow and the currents are mild.  Snorkelers of all ages and abilities swim in this tropical fish tank. There is an admission fee to the park, but it gives you full use of the deck chairs, pool, showers and sea platforms. There are snack bars, restaurants and rental shops that should take care of all of your needs while at the park. Zip lines, dolphin swims and guided tours are also available.

If a reef park does not seem like the place to go to soothe your snorkelling desire, don’t fret because there are many smaller snorkeling locations around Isla Mujeres.  Los Manchones  is for the more experienced snorkeler. There are coral formations here, but the good stuff is way below the surface.  Other noteworthy snorkeling spots include, Garrafon de Castilla, the MUSA or the Underwater Museum, El Farito and The Virgin of the Bay.

Isla Holbox

Holbox is the perfect place for snorkelers wanting an experience that is a bit outside of the box. This tropical island is home to hundreds of stunning marine life to gaze upon including whale sharks!

These stunning, harmless creatures feed on plankton and the occasional small fish. They have sleek, spotted bodies that glide through the water.  The average size of a whale shark is a little over 30 feet and weighs about 9 tons.  Between June and September, professional English speaking divers take snorkelers out to swim with the sharks around the island. Tour prices are reasonable for this once in a lifetime experience.

Whale sharks love areas that are rich in plankton and warm.  Though they have been spotted on the western coast of Australia in the spring, Holbox is recognized as the whale shark’s primary home.

Snorkelers may also see giant manta rays, manatees and sea turtles while swimming with the whale sharks. The lagoon on Holbox inhabits many fascinating seabirds and colourful fish. That’s why so many nature lovers and snorkeling aficionados choose the island for their marine adventure.

If you don’t want to swing it on your own contact our friends at The Snorkel Shop in Playa del Carmen.

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