snorkeling in playa del carmen

Top Spots For Playa del Carmen Snorkeling 2018

cenote snorkeling

One secret that many people don’t realize is that for a great Playa del Carmen snorkeling experience you don’t need to travel very far out of Playa!

There’s so many great places in and around Playa for a snorkeling that it can be overwhelming trying to decide which to try. I will provide you with my current review for 2018 to understand your options and decide if you would rather try to do something guided or on your own. Something local or a little out of town. A cave and cavern cenote experience or are you in search of sea turtles? Let me start off with the 2 best spots and why:

  1. Playa del Carmen Reef Snorkeling
  2. Cave and Cavern Cenotes

Playa del Carmen Reef Snorkeling

In my opinion, this is the best snorkeling experience in Playa. Just a short boat ride off the coast of Playa to the reef area and you are certain to see all kinds of exotic fish, sea turtles and sometimes manta rays. Although it is not far off the coast of Playa it is best to do this with a guide who can take you directly to the best spots on the reef. It is possible to do solo reef snorkeling just off  Coco Beach in front of the Canibal Royal  Beach Club. I would not recommend this for inexperienced snorkelers, however, because to swim out to the reef area you will need to pass through a boating area. I had a good friend who used to enjoy spearfishing in this spot and claimed it was teaming with fish and sea life.

Every time I have taken a guided tour to the reef I have seen sea turtles and new fish I had not seen before and always loved it because it was easy and close to home.

Cave and Cavern Cenotes

I have heard that there may be as many as 7000 cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula area, many not yet discovered! You may already know that there are 2 different kinds of cenotes. One is the Swimming Hole type like the Jardin of Eden which is a popular destination for swimmers and snorkelers. I really like this cenote as a swimming hole but actually prefer the cavern type for snorkeling and exploring.

In the cavern cenote tour from the The Snorkel Shop you get to visit the best local cenotes that are close by but not everyone knows about. You will see amazing underwater rock formations and chasms along with the spectacular stalactites and natural beauty of the location. I would recommend Jardin of Edin for people who like to swim and the snorkeling is not that important, and perhaps a guided tour in one of Playa’s cave or cavern type cenotes if you really want an incredible adventure.

Ok so you might be wondering what are the spots that I do not recommend anymore to people for snorkeling in and around Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya? Well perhaps to say these are the worst is a little strong but I will explain why I do not like either of these two spots now in 2018.

  1. Akumal
  2. Cozumel


Some years ago, Akumal used to be an incredible place to go see the giant sea turtles swimming in their natural habitat on any given day. Sadly, as with many natural places here in the Mayan Riviera greedy tour operators tried to exploit this by putting thousands of people in the water and trampling the natural habitat of the turtles. Now in 2018 a lot of  the turtles have been scared off but if you go early in the morning before a lot of other people arrive and stir up the water, limiting visibility, you will glimpse these amazing sea animals. Luckily, now in 2018 there are restrictions in place to protect the turtles and commercial tours to snorkel with the turtles have been limited. It is still possible to go solo without a guide and try to find the turtles but has become very complicated with vendors trying to trick you and tell you have to rent life jackets or buy a tour.

Akumal snorkeling


Remember, no matter what you are told by those on the beach trying to make money, you are allowed to enter the water and look for the turtles. I don’t recommend Akumal anymore to people because it is certain you will be harassed and not certain you will see sea turtles. I also feel like these poor turtles should be left alone after being bothered so much and It’s pretty easy to find turtles in a sea or reef guided snorkel tour. There is also Yal Kul Lagoon located in Akumal which is a nifty spot to visit for swimming and snorkeling, although don’t expect to sea any turtles or much fish there.

Best Playa del Carmen Snorkeling Tours