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15 Best Snorkeling Destinations in Mexico (2024)

best snorkeling beaches in mexico
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When it comes to world-class snorkeling, Mexico is hard to beat. From the Sea of Cortez to the Yucatan’s cenotes, Mexico has the perfect destination for everyone. The food is excellent, the accommodations are affordable, the locals are friendly, and the snorkeling is unmatched.

If you’re looking for the best places to snorkel in Mexico, look no further. In this article, we’ll explore 15 of our favorite snorkeling destinations in Mexico to help you plan the tropical vacation of your dreams!

Baja California Sur

  • 1. Playa Balandra

    La Paz is one of my favorite cities in Mexico, and a major reason is that it’s so close to some incredible snorkeling spots. One excellent day trip from the city is Playa Balandra. This beach is just 30 minutes away, and it’s got some of the clearest water in North America. The water stays shallow all the way across the bay, which makes it an ideal place for families and children. I’ve seen turtles, an array of colorful fish, and even eels at this beach!

    Playa Balandra
  • 2. Isla Espiritu Santo

    La Paz is the gateway to the Sea of Cortez, which is a snorkeler’s paradise. This area has hundreds of islands where you can swim in pristine water and enjoy solitude. The closest island to La Paz is Isla Espiritu Santo, which is just 15 miles away by boat. This island has a number of protected coves that are perfect for marine life – which means they are perfect for snorkeling!

Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay

  • 1. Yelapa

    One of the most popular destinations for foreigners in Mexico is Puerto Vallarta (PV), which is a vibrant and beautiful city. The downtown beaches in PV aren’t ideal for snorkeling, but Banderas Bay has a number of sheltered coves with clear, calm water. One of the best-kept secrets in the area is Yelapa, a small village with a beautiful beach that’s only reachable via boat. Yelapa is located inside a protected bay, so it’s a great spot for snorkeling.

  • 2. Punta Mita

    Punta Mita is a resort area that is home to some of PV’s most luxurious hotels. But even if you’re staying in the city, Punta Mita is well worth a day trip via boat or taxi. Punta Mita is located at the northwestern end of Banderas Bay, right next to the Pacific Ocean, so the water is exceptionally clean. In the winter, it’s a great place to watch for humpback whales, which come here every year to give birth.


  • 1. Isla Mujeres

    Cancun is world famous for its party scene, but just a short ferry ride away is Isla Mujeres, a relaxed island with beautiful beaches and clear water. The island is known as one of the safest destinations in Mexico, and it’s home to some of Mexico’s most famous coral reefs. The island has become a hotspot for snorkeling and diving, and it’s one of the best places in the world to see sea turtles, swim with dolphins, or catch sailfish.

    Isla Mujeres
  • 2. Cancun Underwater Museum

    Many tourists enjoy visiting museums while on vacation, but have you ever been to an underwater museum? Off the western coast of Isla Mujeres is the Cancun Underwater Museum, a large museum located entirely underwater. The museum features three exhibits and over 500 statues – all submerged between ten and twenty feet deep. It’s part of Cancun National Park, and the entire museum is dedicated to conservation.

  • 3. Isla Holbox

    If you want a chill vacation on a postcard-perfect beach, you can’t find a better destination than Isla Holbox, located a few miles northeast of Cancun. With crystal-clear waters, stunning beaches, no cars, and low crime, Isla Holbox is the perfect place to wind down. The island is famous for its abundant bird life, but the real highlights are found beneath the waves, where you can swim in bioluminescent waters and snorkel with whale sharks.

    Isla Holbox

Riviera Maya

  • 1. Playa del Carmen

    The northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is known as the Riviera Maya. This part of Mexico is famous for coral reefs and clear water. Heading south from Cancun, the first major snorkeling hotspot is Playa Del Carmen. Also known as “Playa,” this thriving beach town is one of the fastest-growing communities in Latin America. In Playa, you are never more than a few minutes walk from a perfect Caribbean beach with fabulous snorkeling.

  • 2. Cozumel

    A short boat ride from Playa del Carmen is Cozumel, the largest island on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Cozumel is surrounded by a diverse ecosystem of coral reefs that are home to over 1,000 species of marine life. These coral reefs are part of the second-largest reef in the world, which stretches all the way to Belize. The snorkeling and diving here are so good that the entire economy is based on it.

  • 3. Tulum

    An hour south of Playa del Carmen is Tulum, one of the most unique archeological sites in the world. Tulum is an ancient Mayan city complete with pyramids, but the thing that sets it aside from other ruins is that it overlooks a beautiful Caribbean beach. Tulum is one of the only places (if not the only) in the world where you can snorkel alongside an ancient Mayan pyramid. If you want to experience pre-Columbian history and snorkel at the same destination, Tulum is the place to go.

Yucatan Cenotes

  • 1. Cenote Azul

    The Yucatan Peninsula offers another unique snorkeling experience that you can’t find anywhere else on earth: the chance to snorkel in a cenote. A cenote is a natural sinkhole that results from the collapse of limestone bedrock. The cenotes fill with rainwater, which is usually extremely clear since it’s been filtered through the ground. Cenote Azul is close to Playa del Carmen and has several blue-colored pools of varying depths. The water is around 75 degrees, so it’s a great place to cool off on a hot day.

    Cenote Azul
  • 2. Cenote Dos Ojos

    Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the most interesting places to swim in Mexico. It’s made up of two sinkholes 70 meters in diameter that are connected by a 400-meter-long passageway. The site has one of the largest underwater cave systems in the country. You can choose to snorkel in the sinkholes or even dive through the underwater passageway.

Cabo San Lucas

  • 1. Cabo Pulmo National Park

    Cabo San Lucas is one of the busiest tourist centers in the world, but there are some hidden snorkeling gems just out of town. Cabo Pulmo National Park is less than two hours from Los Cabos, but it’s home to spectacular empty beaches, crystal-clear water, and the only coral reefs in the Sea of Cortez. The park is a haven for marine life – it’s an excellent place to spot sharks, humpback whales, sea turtles, and whale sharks.

    Cabo Pulmo National Park


  • 1. Playa Santa Cruz

    Travelers who like to take the road less traveled will enjoy Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. The best place in Oaxaca for snorkeling is Huatulco, a region on the Pacific coast that’s famous for its nine protected bays. The most popular beach in Huatulco is Playa Santa Cruz, where you can find golden sand, clean water, and gentle waves. It’s a short walk from the harbor and some of the nicest hotels in town.

  • 2. Parque Nacional Huatulco

    Just west of the town center is Huatulco National Park. Here, tropical rainforest grows right down to the beach, and the water is home to an abundance of sea turtles, whales, and dolphins. The best beaches in the park aren’t accessible via road, so the ideal way to experience this slice of paradise is to book a catamaran day tour from Huatulco Harbor. Don’t forget your mask and a hammock!

    Parque Nacional Huatulco


With so many amazing options, one of the greatest challenges about traveling to Mexico is choosing where to go. Personally, my favorite snorkeling destination in Mexico is La Paz. La Paz has tons of options for dining and accommodations, but it’s not nearly as crazy or expensive as major tourist hotspots like Cabo or Cancun. Best of all, there are dozens of remote and beautiful snorkeling spots to pick from just a short taxi or boat ride from town. The Sea of Cortez is abundant with marine life, and you can always find your own personal slice of paradise on one of the nearby beaches or islands.

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