Dive or Snorkel, Cancún
There are many organized snorkel trips throughout Cancun. The "hot spots" include Isla Mujeres, Xel Ha and X-Carat. Kerry and I brought our own equipment hoping to get a little snorkeling in around our hotel. To our dismay, although the water is clear and the sand is white there wasn't any aquatic life directly off the hotel zone coast. The reefs aren't around here so don't bother. The snorkel trip we booked through Garrafon was a little disappointing, although there is a reef and there was some sea life here to observe. I'm a certified diver so I was hoping for a little more vibrancy and color. The tide was also a little rough on the day we went out and we had to wear life jackets so we couldn't do any skin diving off Isla Mujeres. I hear that Cozumel is the place to go for diving and snorkeling. Next time I think I would try Xel Ha or X-Carat for a snorkel trip.
Equipment: If you go on an organized trip or an eco park like Xel Ha, Garrafon or X-Carat they will provide your snorkel equipment. If you want to try snorkeling from your hotel beach (not recommended we couldn't see anything) bring your own mask and snorkel.
Snorkeling at Xel Ha was definetly an experience I will not forget. I had so much fun as David and his dad tried to teach me the art of snorkeling. At first I just stayed above the water, just putting my face down in the water when I swam. Then as I became more comfortable I started to actually dive down into the water and look at some of the neatest views I had ever seen. I loved the exotic fish and the real pretty coral that I saw under the water. They were really mind numbing. I had never swam with fish like that, unless you count my childhood memorie of swimming in the James River. But I would recommend this for anyone. It is quite resonable price wise, and is just really fun overall. Sorry this is another generic photo, until I get my photo from David's dad of me and him snorkeling together.
Equipment: You can bring your own snorkel and goggles, but they have their own included.
We went on two snorkeling tours off of Punta Nizuc and Isla de Mujeres. We also snorkeled at various points along the coast south of Cancun.
The tours were done through Aquaworld. They took us out in snorkeling groups of ten people or so led by guides. Life preservers were required, apparently by the government -- I found it made things a little uncomfortable in the choppier water off Isla de Mujeres. The guides kept everyone together, so sometimes people were in the way of each other. Still, we saw squid, barracuda, and beautiful reef formations.
If you want to go on a tour, a good alternative to Aquaworld may be Scubamex in Paamul.
I prefer trips that simply take you out on a boat and let you go. But I understand the reason for the policies, given the damage to the reefs that have already been inflicted by too many humans. Some of the reefs are roped off to prevent further damage.
We also went to the areas of Cancun. From what we have heard, There are numerous sites, including Paamul, Akumal (and the Yalku Lagoon), and Xpu-Ha that will give you a great experience if you want to snorkel offshore.
Xpu-Ha has been called the best beach on the Mayan riviera. It is a beautiful sandy beach, with snorkeling right off shore. You may have to research how to get there since large resorts have taken over much of the area (as with all of Mexico, the beach is open, the way to get to the beach may not be).
Paamul is a rocky area. You have to swim out a small distance to get past the shallow areas. Go to the Northside of the bay - near Scubamex.
Akumal is beautiful. For snorkeling, drive out past the condos on the North part of the bay. You can find beach access just before you get the the Yalku Lagoon. The Lagoon itself is worth experiencing for the parrot fish and the work that has been done to protect the environment -- there is a small admission fee there.
Equipment: If you have room in your luggage and want to snorkel more than once, it is best to bring your own equipment. The quality may be better than what you will be given on a snorkeling tour (I was not impressed with the free aquaworld snorkels) and you will have a lot more flexibility.
Use only BIODEGRADABLE sun block. Most commercial sunblocks will harm the reefs -- snorkeling tours or such places as the Yalku Lagoon do not permit them. Even if biodegradable formulas are not absolutely required, help protect the reefs for future generations by using environmentally friendly products and not touching them. We have lost too much of them already.
I thought the beaches and oceans would be dirty in Cancun but they were beautiful. So far everywhere I have been in the gulf is beautiful. And I heard Cancun as the second largest coral reef in the world so go figure it was the best snorkeling EVER!!!
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Equipment: They will supply all equipment or of course you are welcome to bring your own.
If you enjoy Snorkeling, then you should give it a try in Cancun. We took a trip to Isla Mujeres (arranged by the hotel as a freebie for staying there) that included a snorkelling excursion off the coast of the island. It was a refreshing break from the oppressive heat of Mexico.
Cancun may be lacking shallow snorkeling reefs because they dropped us off in water that was probably 30 feet deep. You could easily see the bottom and if you got tired of looking at the fish you could catch the rising bubbles of the divers below you.
I'd like to go back and do some diving here in the future.
Equipment: Equipment was provided by our boat but if you have your own I would recommend bringing it. There's nothing like your own gear to make the trip more comfortable and enjoyable.