Trip Ideas - 14 min read

10 BEST Cozumel Snorkeling Spots (For Families And Singles!)

Margaret Carter

Margaret Carter, Updated September 26, 2022

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Cozumel, Mexico, is a beautiful island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the State of Quintana Roo. It’s a well-known vacation spot due to the fantastic weather, decadent food, white sand beaches, top-notch resorts, and snorkeling opportunities, but you’ll want to go between March and June to avoid the rainy seasons! You can also go during the winter months if you don’t mind a bit of chill in the air in the evenings. 

As Cozumel is a Caribbean island, it’s surrounded by gorgeous reefs with dozens of fish species and beautiful coral in warm waters teeming with sea life. You can bring your own snorkeling gear and explore the reefs along the beaches, or sign up for one of the many guided tours, heading out on a boat to offshore reefs that are more than worth the excursion!

Below, you’ll find the top ten destinations for snorkeling in Cozumel, as well as a few suggestions on where to book, but don’t forget to sit back and relax along one of the beautiful beaches with a Pina Colada in one hand and a good book in the other for a reset while you’re there. Many of these places are great for an afternoon in Cozumel if you come in on a cruise ship, too. 

It’s up to you whether you want to book through the cruise or wander around until you find a cheaper option on the island. Just be sure to make it back to your cruise in time to depart! Unless you decide you want to stay and enjoy the island for a bit longer. We wouldn’t blame you one bit!

1. Chankanaab Park

Credit: Vlad Tchompalov / Unsplash

Location: Chankanaab, 77688 Quintana Roo, Mexico | Hours: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Saturday | Admission Cost: $26 per Adult, $18 per Child 4-12, Free 3 and Under

Named Cozumel’s top attraction, Chankanaab is an adventure park located inside the National Reef Marine Park. They have ecological tours, a sea lion show with manatees, snorkeling and scuba diving tours, dolphins to swim with, a spa, and a tequila and mezcal tour!

The reef at Chankanaab has been heavily damaged due to tourism, but efforts are underway to rebuild it using artificial sculptures reminiscent of an underwater museum. Even with a dwindling reef, you’ll still get the chance to see many different species of fish. You’ll have the option of snorkeling with family and friends right off the beach or joining one of their many tours available and heading further out to one of the places listed below, so feel free to choose whether you’d like to spend an hour or three on a boat as opposed to chilling on the beach between snorkeling breaks! 

While you’re there, keep in mind that this is a very popular spot for tourists to visit, so the waters may be a bit crowded during peak hours. It’s best to snorkel near the beach as soon as they open or an hour before closing. 

Best Booking Option: All Inclusive Beach Adventure with Snorkeling by Cucurumbe Tours. Prices start at $42.33 for three hours! 

2. Punta Sur Eco Beach Park

Credit: Dorian D1 / Unsplash

Location: Autopista Km. 30 Sur Matamoros Norte-Centro-Sur, Guaycura, San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Saturday | Admission Cost: $26 per Adult, $18 per Child 4-12, Free 3 and Under

Punta Sur is an Eco Park with over 250 acres of natural landscape to traverse and explore, including lagoons perfect for snorkeling. It’s on the southernmost point of Cozumel and has a gorgeous beach and a beautiful reef. While the reef is half the excitement, you’ll need to be a good swimmer and wear a mandatory life jacket if you head out that way. 

It takes nearly half an hour of swimming to make it out to the coral-laden reef system, which you’ll see is marked with a white buoy out in the water. Starting at that point, you can let the current carry you from one end of the reef to the other while you watch the sea life dart in and out of the coral. The visibility is excellent, so it’s entirely worth the effort, but it’s not an experience for newbies. 

Once you’ve finished snorkeling and taken a well-deserved break along the beach, be sure to check out the Mayan ruins and alligator pit. Punta Sur is the kind of place where you want to spend an entire day exploring and not miss a bit of it! 

Best Booking Option: Cozumel Ultimate Island Jeep, Punta Sur and Snorkel Excursion S1115. Prices start at just $79.99 for this 5.5-hour trip! 

3. Dzul Ha

Credit: Fernando Jorge / Unsplash

Location: The Money Bar Beach Club, Carr. Costera Sur Km 6.5-Sur, Zona Hotelera Nte., 77675 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Hours: 7:00 am to 9:30 pm Daily| Approximate Cost: $45+

Dzul Ha is a reef accessible from The Money Bar, a rustic beach club with old-fashioned umbrellas, great food, heavy-handed drinks, and a thatched hut along a white sandy beach with chairs. Many people go just for the drinks, but most head that way for the spectacular snorkeling. There are giant schools of fish, plenty of fan coral, large manta rays, and even the occasional sea turtle!

Those who frequent Cozumel often say that if you only go on one snorkeling excursion, make sure it’s this one. You can rent snorkeling gear from The Money Bar or bring your own and spend hours in the water. Even better, the beach club has excellent service, so if you want to take a break, head on in for a bite to eat before securing your snorkeling mask back in place. 

When you go, make sure your sunscreen is biodegradable. The reef is in good shape, but certain sunscreens can do heavy damage over time. The Money Bar also offers a spectacular six-hour Jeep tour and a five-hour Dune Buggy adventure, so don’t feel as if you’ll only snorkel on the property. There’s plenty to see and do!

Best Booking Option: 3 Reefs Cozumel Snorkeling Tour by Cozumel Snorkeling. This tour costs $49 per kid ages 1-12, and $59 per adult. 

4. Playa Palancar

Credit: James Lee / Unsplash

Location: Playa Palancar, 77687 Quintana Roo, Mexico | Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Daily | Approximate Cost: Free Entry, $10-$35 per Person for Snorkeling

Playa Palancar is another excellent beach club in Cozumel, with superb food and tasty Caribbean drinks. It’s also home to one of the best snorkeling destinations on the island. In fact, many snorkeling tours will take you to Playa Palancar to showcase how beautiful the waters surrounding Cozumel can be. 

When you get there, you’ll have the option of signing up for a reef tour, and we highly recommend it. You’ll see three different reefs with all the equipment provided. If you’d rather stay near the beach, be prepared for tons of fish! There are only a few species that call this area home, but they’re are so many of each you won’t feel as if you’d missed out. 

Snorkeling equipment rentals are only $10, but for an additional $25, you get the boat tour, which is money well spent! Even better, most cruise lines use other places to book, so this area is relatively calm and roomy compared to the more crowded excursion setups. 

Best Booking Option: Cozumel Snorkeling Tour – Palancar, Columbia, and El Cielo Reefs by Cozumel Tours and Excursions. Prices start at $59 for this four-hour trip. 

5. San Miguel 

Credit: Alisa Mathews / Unsplash

Location: San Miguel de Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico | Hours: Varies on Access Location | Approximate Cost: Free Entry

San Miguel is the largest city in Cozumel and home to many of the best snorkeling destinations on the island because the water is calm and protected from the waves on this side. The town is lively and has a lot to offer, including a Mayan Bee Sanctuary, Coral Reefs Monument, Capilla Santa Cruz, and tons of really cool snorkeling options. 

In San Miguel, you can bring or rent your snorkeling equipment and go your own way on any public beach, or take a glass bottom boat snorkeling tour for only $49, which is one of the top excursions on the island. You’ll also find ATVs for rent, so if you want to find a semi-private beach to go snorkeling for the day, your transportation will kick off the fun. 

While San Miguel doesn’t have a specific place to snorkel, it offers your best bet for getting to all the coolest snorkeling areas, as well as finding the perfect tour for you and your family at the right price. If you show up to Cozumel on a cruise ship, you’ll land in San Miguel, making everything easily accessible. 

Best Booking Option: Invisible Boat Snorkeling Tour by Cozumel Tours. Prices for this start at $49 for three hours, but you can rent the boat for a private tour for $850. 

6. El Cedral

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Location: El Cedral, 77687 Quintana Roo, Mexico | Hours: Varies on Access Location | Approximate Cost: Free Entry

El Cedral is a historic town in Cozumel that is steeped in culture. It’s not very large, but they have some of the best tequila around and excellent snorkeling access. Here, it’s your best bet to join a tour to get out to Paseo El Cedral Reef. It won’t matter where you go because every part of the reef is gorgeous and teeming with sea life. 

If you’re looking to see a specific area, check the schedule. They’re closing down reefs in rotation for two months at a time to keep them healthy, as too much tourism tends to have a negative impact on the coral. That said, you won’t be disappointed with any part of it. It’s perfect for drifting, and you’ll see everything from sea turtles to stingrays and dozens of tropical fish species. You’ll also have a chance to see nurse sharks, giant green moray eels, and even porcupine fish! 

You can turn El Cedral into an entire vacation or head there for the day. There are great restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and plenty of sites to see inland when you’re done with your snorkeling trip. Even better, it’s not a trendy tourist spot, so you’ll get the authentic Cozumel experience. 

Best Booking Option: Reef Snorkel Adventure Cozumel by Snorkel El Cielo. The trip costs $37.49 per person. 

7. El Cielo

Credit: Vlad Tchompalov / Unsplash

Location: Carretera a Punta sur salida el cielo, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Hours: 24/7/365 | Approximate Cost: Free Entry

El Cielo is a beach half a mile out on the western side of Cozumel with beautiful white sand, an ocean floor studded with sea stars, and plenty of stingrays hanging about. Unlike many other beaches and destinations on this list, the only way to get to El Cielo is by boat. That said, you can rent a kayak on the island and make it there on your own if that’s your preference. 

The reef off the coast of El Cielo is considered one of the most diverse in the world. It’s protected, allowing it to thrive and making it an amazing experience. Because of this, don’t be surprised if you run into hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, and dolphins during your dip in the water. Just stay calm and don’t touch the sea life. 

When you get there, you’ll find out why it’s called El Cielo, which translates to Heaven in English. We highly recommend joining a tour of the area to get the most out of your time there, especially if you only have a few hours or a day in Cozumel due to a cruise schedule. 

Best Booking Option: El Cielo Cozumel Snorkeling Tour by Cozumel Cruise Excursions. The excursion is $40 per child and $50 per adult for 4.5 hours. 

8. Villablanca Reef

Credit: James Lee / Unsplash

Location: Across the Street from C. 5 Sur 241, Adolfo López Mateos, 77667 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Hours: Varies on Booking | Approximate Cost: Free Entry

Located directly across from the Villablanca Hotel, Villablanca Reef Wall is one of the most intense snorkeling experiences within Cozumel. For this reason, it’s not recommended for beginners. Intermediate snorkelers should be fine for the most part, but make sure you have a buddy with you. 

The main issue is that this is where cruise ships dock, and the current can be tricky, dragging you underneath one, which is not a good position to find yourself in, even under the best circumstances. It’s always best to go out with a professional instead of swimming out from shore since they’ll know more about the currents and what’s allowed in the area. 

The reef itself is low, so you’ll be going a bit deeper than some of the other locations require if you want to see the immaculate coral, with all the basket and barrel sponges, as well as black gorgonian and other really neat specimens. This is another reason that it’s better to take a tour or be well versed with a snorkel. You’ll also see plenty of divers in the water, as this is a prime spot for scuba diving as well! 

Best Booking Option: Villa Blanca Snorkeling Tour by Cozumel Snorkeling. This tour costs $49 per kid ages 1-12, and $59 per adult. Hours vary. 

9. Playa Corona

Credit: Fernando Jorge / Unsplash

Location: Carretera costera sur km 10, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Approximate Cost: $36+ per Person

Playa Corona is located at the Playa Corona Beach Club, a small bar and restaurant off an old access road. It’s just south of Chankanaab, so it doesn’t get nearly as much attention from tourists. While the sand is beautiful, there isn’t much of it, and the deck is small. Don’t let any of this dissuade you! The reef starts right at the shore and is perfect for kids and beginners, with easy access in and out of the water. 

For those more experienced or wanting a longer snorkel, the reef is pretty extensive, and you’ll have plenty of room and time to explore it all. You’ll see lots of coral, as well as tons of sea life, like turtles, rays, and tropical fish. Just be careful not to touch the coral and give any sharks a wide berth. 

When you’re done snorkeling, grab a beer and a bite to eat. The prices at Playa Corona Beach Club are great, even if the whole thing is a bit outdated. The food is also delicious and incredibly fresh. This is the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon in Cozumel. 

Best Booking Option: No need to book a tour. 

10. Columbia Reef

Credit: Fernando Jorge / Unsplash

Location: Avenida Rafael E. Melgar, Av Lic Benito Juárez con, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Hours: Varies on Booking | Approximate Cost: $59+ per Person

Columbia Reef is one of the best places in Cozumel for scuba diving, but it also has a shallow portion that makes for a fantastic snorkeling experience. Due to the ecological factors near the reef, it’s one of the healthiest in the area. It’s located between Palancar Deep and the Colombian Pinnacles, towards the coast, offering abundant sea life and astounding coral. 

The location protects it from the harsher waves and storm surges, creating a natural nursery for many species around the island. This also makes it great for beginner snorkelers and kids. You’ll find turtles, barracudas, filefish, grunts, snappers, green morays, octopuses, and juvenile nurse sharks. Because it gets ample sun, you’ll also see the coral flourishing, especially of the Lettuce variety. 

Keep in mind that this site is located within a National Preserve, so you’ll only be able to access it with a licensed operation, and you won’t be able to touch or take anything you see. Fishing is also strictly prohibited, and the divers and snorkelers allowed are restricted to certain volumes. 

Best Booking Option: Cozumel Snorkeling Tour – Palancar, Columbia, and El Cielo Reefs by Cozumel Tours and Excursions. Prices start at $59 for this four-hour trip. 

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