Puerto Morelos snorkeling is spectacular because the reef in front is declared a National Marine Park . It is less visited and therefore healthier than Cancun ’s reef. It’s usage has been controlled and is one of the best kept secrets of the Meso-American Barrier Reef. It is rich in biodiversity including many species of coral and fish.
The snorkel guides must be certified by the park authority which means they are experienced professionals. The best time to go snorkeling is at midday on sunny days when visibility is greatest. Early morning is also a good time as you can see the fish come alive and at this time of day and there are not too many boats that have brought people out to disturb the fish.
To go snorkeling in Puerto Morelos, you have three options:
1 – The easiest way is to book through your hotel or other sales agent. This typically includes transportation and sometimes lunch. This can be the most expensive option, costing up to 80 USD per person, depending on what is included. Sometimes they will take you to the reef just in front of their resort, which is not always the best place for snorkeling. Check with other guests to see if this is for you.
2 – You can also walk to the dock and book with the co-operative there. The co-operative is a group of qualified guides who work together. Be sure to check that your guide is fluent in English if that is important to you. You will be put on the next boat that goes out. They will take you to the two common shallow sites where you can see all of the other boats. They charge 25 USD per person and take note that a life jacket is mandatory with the first two options.
3 - You can choose one of the local dive shops. They have more options available to you. Dive shops typically have better equipment, include drinking water and wetsuits. This could be important to you if you tend to get cold in the water, which typically happens on the second site. Dive boats have permission to go to different places to snorkel inside the marine park. This means you can go to see more fish and fewer people. Also, some dive shops offer skin diving instruction on the shallow dive sites which means you can ditch the life jacket and discover more of the marine life! That can definitely lead to a better experience. Prices can range from 15 to 40 USD. Also, if you want rent or purchase any equipment, or go beyond snorkeling and try scuba diving, you would already be in the right place.
Please note that whichever option you choose you cannot take with you any shells, corals or any other item from the reef as a souvenir.
You should ALWAYS get a new SEMARNAT bracelet when buying a tour to the reef, even if you don't get in the water. This is because you're entering a national park. The fee is used to protect the area, keep it properly maintained and it helps pay for the hard work of the park-guards and administrative personnel amongst others.