PLACES TO SNORKEL
Akumal is a great place to snorkel, there is a dive shop in Akumal, a nice beach, food, and hotels. You can take a car there or take a colectivo or walk in off the highway which is not a long walk.
You enter Akumal through a set of arches then the road winds north. On the right is the dive shop and the main beach. You can snorkel anywhere along the coast there but go out straight from where the boats are docked then to the right where the seagrass is and that is where you are most likely to see a sea turtle.
Along with the usual reef fish found here there are many octopuses [if you know how to find them], stingrays, sea turtles and if you are lucky the “Wall of Fish” might still be in the vicinity. The Wall of Fish is an amazing spectacular with thousands of silver fish that swim in a circle making a large doughnut. The wall is about 20 feet thick. In the middle of the doughnut is a very large barracuda.
You can snorkel Akumal by yourself or with a guide. Look for a guy by the name of Alejandro who works at the CEA [Centro Ecologico Akumal]. He will charge you $10.00 for a guided snorkel trip [no boat] and he speaks good English.
You can also rent a car, take a taxi, or take a tour [equipment and guide provided] and drive down to Yal Ku Lagoon, just north of Akumal which is also an excellent place to snorkel. You can take the collectivo to Akumal then take a taxi for the last leg of the trip. You can walk but it is a long walk. This is a great place to take kids snorkeling!
Half Moon Bay is another good snorkel location in Akumal. When you arrive at the white arch in Akumal, take the road to the left [same road to Yal Ku Lagoon], approx. a half mile north. There is a nice bar/restaurant called the “La Buena Vida”. You can snorkel in Half Moon Bay in front of the restaurant. We saw turtles here.
If you stay at Rui Palace or near there then you can try snorkeling Mr. Cancun’s Reef which is an okay spot [do not go out of your way to get here unless you are staying neraby]. Facing the ocean you would go to the right [South] and follow the beach past most of the hotels until you hit some large rocks. Past the rocks is Mr. Cancun’s reef.
If you are staying in Playa del Carmen or somewhere on the Mayan Riviera and the wind is creating unfavorable snorkeling conditions in the sea then you can try swimming/snokeling at Kan Tun Chi which is across the highway from the Barcelo Mayo resort on highway 307. You can take a collectivo or a taxi to get there. If you stay at Barcelo you can walk there from the resort.
Kan Tun Chi is a group of 4 cenotes with some craft stands and a small cantina for beers.
Dos Ojos is another cenote also located on HW 307 further south past Kan Tun Chi. It is 54 km south of Playa del Carmen.
On the road that runs off of HW 307 and into the jungle taking you to Coba and beyond are Gran Cenote and Actun Ha.
You can dive or snorkel at these cenotes and there is an enterance fee to get in to each park. To dive you have to have a certified guide.
In Cozumel an excellent location is Dzul Ha. Take the ferry to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen and take a taxi or rent a scooter from the pier. The taxi is $5.00. There is a nice bar and grill there and a few palapas to sit under. There are also lockers to put your valuables in. They rent snorkel equipment here.
The current here can be strong sometimes and if you are snorkeling without a boat and you are not a strong swimmer you could get into trouble. However if you get sucked out away from the island you will eventually hit the mainland. You would most likely be picked up from a passing boat that would spot you if you were in distress.
The fish are bigger around Cozumel because fishing is not permitted unlike the mainland coast.
NOTE: If you do rent scooters, note the sobriety checkpoint about half way to Dzul Ha. First offense for a tourist can be as light as a warning or a tough as the rest of your vacation money.
Another good location in Cozumel is Chakanaab which is a $10.00 taxi ride from the pier.
There are 4 dive shops there and you can rent everything you need. It is $10/person to get in to the park and $6 for mask, snorkle and fins for the day.
SNORKELING WITH CHILDREN AND BEGINNERS
Probably the best places to take children snorkeling is either Xel-Ha or Yal Ku Lagoon. Xel-Ha provides the snorkeling gear and life jackets must be worn by all.
Xel-Ha is an Eco park with excellent food services and numerous lifeguards on duty at all time. We have seen sea turtles, stingrays, sea-horses and LOTS of other marine wildlife snorkeling there. It is a great place to spend the day for all ages.
You can take a tour that includes Xel-Ha or you can take a taxi or colectivo to get there.
Another interesting thing about Xel-Ha is that Xel-Ha ruins are located a short walk south on the highway from the main entrance to the Eco Park. This ruin site is unique amongst Mayan ruin sites because it has a cenote with a sweat lodge still intact.
The principle occupation of the Mayans who once lived there appears to be the harvesting of conch shells to be crushed and burnt to create an ingredient for mortar used in building. When the Maya lived there it is likely that the only trees left standing were there for fruit bearing.
During the period that the small city flourished it is conceivable that there was a great demand for their product with the probability that much of it went inland carried on small tributaries that opened up after the rainy season each year.