Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Many of the things that make Playa del Carmen and the surrounding area unlike any other vacation hotspot worldwide are its rich flora and fauna both on land and in water. Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen is an excursion that travelers absolutely cannot miss out on during their getaway. 

Luckily for guests, snorkeling can be done in more than one body of water; the grand Caribbean Sea or the endless amount of cenotes in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Puerto Morelos, and Tulum. So if you are looking for things to do in Playa del Carmen, snorkeling deserves to be at the top of your list. 

Is there good snorkeling in Playa del Carmen?

Yes, there is some good snorkeling in Playa del Carmen especially on a windless sunny day where you will generally have better visibility.

Playa del Carmen sits just in front of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef which is the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere. This reef stretches 700 miles along the East coast of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras as is home to hundreds of species of tropical fish and an abundance of marine life.

Can you snorkel off the beach in Playa del Carmen?

Yes, as the beach town is located in front of one of the worlds largest reef systems all you have to do is swim 50 to 100m out into the ocean in reasonably shallow water to find the reef.

As Playa del Carmen experiences mild currents running from North to South snorkeling is very safe, but it is important to keep an eye out for boats and jet skiis. It is also important that you use correct snorkel gear including fins as this will make swimming much easier.

What Can You See?

It is not unusual to see green sea turtles or even loggerhead turtles on the reefs of Playa del Carmen. Quite often snorkelers will spot large barracudas hovering over the corals looking for small fish to prey on. The Caribbean has a number of different fish species, and if you have a keen eye you may spot a lobster or an octopus.

The Caribbean has over 500 different fish species, and if you have a keen eye you may spot a lobster or an octopus. Another common animal you will spot while snorkeling are members of the ray family including bull rays, eagle rays, and sting rays. Large 2-meter tarpon also patrol the reefs in small groups and are an impressive sight.

You would have to be very lucky to spot sharks on the reefs of Playa del Carmen as they have unfortunately been heavily fished.

If you are lucky you may spot a harmless nurse shark searching for crabs and other small animals to eat. During the winter months pregnant female bull sharks spend 3-5 months hanging around the reefs before heading south to give birth in the safety of the mangrove forests.

Take a Guided Snorkeling Tour

snorkeling in Playa del Carmen

There is no way to choose a bad tour, especially when it involves snorkeling, but there are ways to design your experience into everything you love and more! At Sandos Caracol and Sandos Playacar, we have two trustworthy options for you! 

Playa del Carmen is one of the few places in the world where you have the opportunity to snorkel in both cenotes (natural sinkholes in the jungle) and the ocean. Scuba Libre is our in-house dive-center where you can sign up for day trips to snorkel cenotes or the coral reefs of the area. You can even organize SCUBA dives, catamaran tours, boat tours, and other water sports with professional and experience tour guides.

The Best Snorkeling Spots in Playa del Carmen  

The Best Snorkeling Spots in Playa del Carmen  

The reason snorkeling in the Riviera Maya is so popular is because there are so many different locations to see different things each time. In fact, many snorkeling tours include multiple locations ranging from underground cenotes to the wide-open Caribbean Sea. Here are some of the most popular locations in and around Playa del Carmen: 

Jardin del Eden

This beautiful Cenote located just 10 minutes away from Playa del Carmen is ideal for those wanting to see a variety of different fish. 

Snorkeling Jardin del Eden


Get ready to wade in the mesmerizing turquoise Caribbean waters because not only will you have fish swimming by your feet, but you will also have the chance to see the majestic Akumal turtles that visit every year. 

Snorkeling in Akumal

Cenote Azul

An open cenote that, apart from a wonderful snorkeling location, provides fun for the entire family so that each member can get the most of the one of a kind experience. 

Cenote Azul

Snorkeling on your Own

We know that tours with people you don’t know can be distracting, so if taking a tour isn’t something that you and your travel crew want to do, don’t worry because there are plenty of opportunities to snorkel on your own. 

Whether or not you bring your own gear or rent it from a place on the beach to start snorkeling from shore. All you will need to do is pick a quiet spot, put on your gear, and start swimming. Remember always to respect the little creatures swimming by you, look but never touch. 

There is also great snorkeling around Playa del Carmen such as Puerto Aventuras where you can combine a private tour to see Mayan ruins. Cancun is also the spot to see whale sharks as these gentle giants congregate around Isla Mujeres and Holbox during the summer.

What to Bring

Snorkeling Playa del Carmen area

You should always prepare for a day off the resort and know the essentials you need; even if you take a tour with Scuba Libre where they have you covered the entire time with snacks and drinks, it is still recommended to take a few essential items such as: 

  • Beach clothes 
  • Bathing suit 
  • Biodegradable sunscreen 
  • Hat 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Backpack 
  • Waterproof case (for taking photos)
  • Comfortable shoes 
  • Life jacket

Turtles Playa del Carmen

There are so many things to do during your vacation and so many different places to do them. What makes Playa del Carmen special for snorkeling vs. Cozumel or other places? 

Well, one of the main reasons is due to its diverse locations. Going from place to place within and or close to Playa del Carmen and seeing new species is easy. After some time enjoying one location, all you have to do is hop in the car, travel 10 minutes, and you are in what seems to be a whole new world. 

Hotels in the Riviera Maya

A day off the resort, enjoying the wonders of the Riviera Maya, should be rewarded with incredible amenities and services to enjoy after. With two locations in Playa del Carmen: 

Sandos Caracol- An eco-friendly hotel situated within the jungle, complete with traditional performances, cenotes, a gran waterpark, and so much more. 

Riviera Maya

Sandos Playacar- The ideal location for a true beach getaway situated on an endless white sand beach complete with international cuisine, activity programs, and a high-class spa and gym.

Sandos Playacar snorkeling

These two incredible hotels offer the perfect vacation for travelers of all ages and are guaranteed to surpass all of your expectations from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. 

So if you are looking to make your next vacation one remember, make sure to experience snorkeling in Playa del Carmen. By booking now, you can save big on your next getaway! 

Share this article