With its stunning coral reefs, a wealth of incredible wildlife, and crystal clear waters, it’s no small wonder that you’re looking for the best snorkeling in Cozumel.
After all, Cozumel is an island oasis that can be found in the Caribbean Sea, right near Playa del Carmen.
And while this place is next-level iconic because of its epic dive sites, snorkeling Cozumel has a lot to offer visitors too.
Trust me, I should know. I have been to Cozumel more times than I can count. And I want to share my epic picks with you for the best Cozumel snorkeling spots in the area.
This way, you can truly enjoy your vacation and see all of the incredible coral reefs that this magnificent place is known for.
So, stop stressing and start enjoying this island oasis like a real local.
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Not sure which Cozumel snorkeling tour is right for you? 🤿 Then book this glass-bottom boat tour to Paradise Reef for an amazing experience! 🦈
Best Snorkeling in Cozumel
⭐️ Rating: 4.3/5.0 (34 Reviews) Price: $110 per person Duration: 6 hours 📍Meeting Point: Reception module inside the downtown pier terminal at Playa Mia Operator: Playa Mia Grand Beach Park Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!
For the ultimate best snorkeling in Cozumel, always start with el Cielo. See, the name translates to “sky” but in this instance, we’re talking about “heaven”.
After all, Playa el Cielo is located in southwest Cozumel, within the area’s official marine park.
But, rather than being a conventional beach, it’s more of a sandbar. So, alabaster-white sand coats the sea bed, while sapphires-hued water washes up against the shore.
And, best of all, this habitat features countless starfish of all different sizes.
Plus, sometimes you might even cross paths with a sting ray or turtle.
“Very good day, the crew is in a very good mood and knows how to convey it! Too bad we are a lot in the group because we were a bit on top of each other during the snorkeling. But apart from this small flat, nothing to say I recommend?”Mathea (read more reviews now)
However, you can only get down to the sandbar via boat – which only adds to the secret vibes of this stunning beach.
And this snorkel by catamaran to Cielo Bay and Beach tours sails down to the sandbar from the main harbor.
Once there, you’ll experience drift snorkeling in this thin slice of paradise. But, first, you’ll have a safety briefing from a PADI-certified guide.
Additionally, all gear is included and you’ll be able to feast on an exquisite buffet lunch (with beer or margaritas) after your snorkeling trip ends.
In fact, El Cielo is often visited in tandem with two other reefs that we’ll mention below.
|One of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico
|Prone to crowding due to popularity
|Swim with starfish, stingrays, and manta rays
⭐️ Rating: 4.5/5.0 (560 Reviews) Price: $65 per person Duration: 4 hours 📍Meeting Point: Office at Via Del Colosseo 24 Operator: Maybe Tours Cozumel Quintana Roo México Details: Read more on Viator Now!
To any of my eagle-eyed homies out there. Did you see another snorkel stop mentioned on the el Cielo tour?
Because Palancar Reef is located only a couple of minutes north of this aforementioned starfish menagerie.
Again, it’s situated in the Cozumel Reefs National Park. But, unlike el Cielo, this reef includes a ridge of coral that are surrounded by colorful fish, rays, and turtles.
“Everything was wonderful as a recomendation check first the details of the travel agency to knows the name and search for it at the ferry station :)”Francia (read more reviews now)
So, keep your eyes peeled for grey angelfish, sergent majors, snappers, damselfish, and more.
On occasion, you might even get super lucky and spot a nurse shark swimming by. Plus, turtles and stingrays also make regular appearances.
Now, officially, the reef includes spots like Palancar Gardens and Horseshoe Caves.
And a snorkeling trip will introduce you to both, as your leader explains what to look out for.
For example, this Cozumel snorkeling tour to Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo reefs is led by expert local guides.
And as with all snorkeling in Mexico destinations, sunscreen is not permitted unless it’s biodegradable and certified as reef-safe.
|The selected tour is a small group
|Palancar typically receives a current that isn’t always suitable for anxious swimmers, non-swimmers, and kids
|Palancar is one of the top Cozumel reefs, abundant with a variety of marine life
|A marine fee is an additional $6 USD per person
⭐️ Rating: 5.0/5.0 (5 Reviews) Price: $125 per person Duration: 2 hours 📍Meeting Point: Marina Fonatur (Muelle Combinado) Operator: First Lady Charters Cozumel Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!
Again, you might have spotted another Cozumel snorkeling spot lurking in the tour description above.
And that’s because Columbia Shallows Reef rounds off this trio of epic spots for the best snorkeling in Cozumel.
Now, as the name suggests, this is a shallow stretch of coral. So, with a maximum depth of 30 feet, you can get up close and personal with coral, reef fish, and – maybe – even a sea turtle.
Heck, eagle rays sometimes even pass by while scoping out their next meal.
Just be aware that both tours mentioned above include a stop at Columbia. In fact, most Cozumel snorkel tours include all three spots as part of their itinerary.
But, if you want to have a more exclusive experience then you could consider booking a private charter boat and snorkel day trip.
In fact, this activity permits up to 6 participants and is awesome for a couple, small group, or family visiting Cozumel.
“Wonderful crew, went above and beyond. Couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. Took us to the most awesome corral reeves, saw the starfish and went to swim with the mantarays. To top it off thry prepared lunch for us that was out of this world. I can’t wait to see the pictures they took of us. We will be back!”Anonymous (read more reviews now)
So, while cruising to the marine park, you can relax on the deck while eating fruit and homemade guacamole.
Then, after snorkeling, you’ll receive ocean-fresh ceviche that is prepared that very day.
|A private charter enables you to snorkel at your own pace
|Have a say in which spots you stop at
|Have a say in which spots you stop
|Note the suggested private tour lasts for 4 hours, not a full day
⭐️ Rating: 4.3/5.0 (12 Reviews) Price: $54.99 per person Duration: 1.5 hours 📍Meeting Point: Stingray Beach Operator: Stingray Beach Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!
Meet, swim with, and feed the cartilaginous cousins of sharks in Cozumel at Stingray Beach!
Essentially, this is a bay where coral is undergoing conservation while providing a habitat for these beautiful and gentle sea creatures.
See, when you snorkel and swim with stingrays you’ll first get an introduction to them and their environment while in waist-deep water.
Here, the stingrays might brush your legs with their wings. However, fear not – they cannot sting you.
Once acclimatized, you’ll enter the deeper section of the swimming zone and snorkel alongside the rays.
Plus, it’s possible to help feed the stingrays at select times – making for one of a kind experience while enjoying the best snorkeling in Cozumel.
“Amazing experience with great guides. Learned a lot about stingrays and nurse sharks . It’s highly recomendable for kids and adults . It includes 2 parts , the first will allow you to feed the stingrays and the second snorkel with stingrays and nurse sharks . It’s super safe !”Tharyn (read more reviews now)
Plus, during August and November, you might even see stingray pups taking their first swim.
Furthermore, sharks occasionally make an appearance among the torrents of reef fish that can be found in the area.
Then, after your encounter, you’re welcome to hang out at the beach club which has a fun water trampoline that kids will love.
So, all in all, Stingray Bay is where you can enjoy the best snorkeling in Cozumel for all my fellow wildlife-loving explorers out there.
|Gear is included, including water shoes
|Lockers and towels are not provided so arrive prepared (you do receive a wet bag)
|Family-friendly and available to kids aged 4+
⭐️ Rating: 5.0/5.0 (312 Reviews) Price: $30 per person Duration: 2 hours 📍Meeting Point: El Cid La Ceiba Beach Hotel Operator: Safe Tours Cozumel Details: Read more on Viator Now!
Situated just south of San Miguel, Paradise Reef (Paraiso Reef) is the most iconic snorkel spot in the Cozumel Marine Park.
In fact, the reef is divided into Shallow Paraiso and Deep Paraiso.
Naturally, the former is a popular spot for less confident snorkelers and kids. In contrast, Deep Paraiso is preferred among scuba divers.
Either way, you’ll be able to spot tons of Damselfish, trumpet fish, butterfly fish, and spotted moray eels when you venture out into the water.
Meanwhile, seahorses are also sometimes sighted, as are nurse sharks and eagle rays.
Now, this Cozumel coral reef snorkeling by glass bottom boat tour lets you experience the best snorkeling in Cozumel if you only have time for a short visit.
Because at just 2 hours long, this trip doesn’t demand a whole day out of your Yucatán Peninsula itinerary.
“Wonderful experience with family. We had 74 year olds to 4 year olds with us and had the best time on this excursion. Julian, our guide, was very friendly and helpful during this outing. Pointing out eagle rays, lobsters, and bringing up sand from 45 feet below for our little guy so he could touch the bottom of the ocean. The rest of the crew were great and 2 hours is plenty of time to explore the wonders beneath. They even take photos with a special camera to capture memories being made. Overall wonderful experience, will do again next time we come to Cozumel.”John (read more reviews now)
This top-rated snorkel tour also stops at both Paraiso sites as well as the Villa Blanca Reef.
In fact, because the locations are so close, you get more time in the water and spend less time on the boat than with other excursions further south.
|Need to pay $8 USD per person for marine and pier fees
|Wide variety of marine life
|Short trip for a quick visit
⭐️ Rating: 4.0/5.0 (149 Reviews) Price: $39 per person Duration: 3-4 hours 📍Meeting Point: Chankanaab Operator: Chankanaab Details: Read more on Viator now!
Located on the west coast, Chankanaab is a full-blown water park with a beach, reef, massage center, tons of family-friendly activities, and so much more.
So, you’ll pay an admission fee and then be able to explore as much as you wish.
Then, once you’re in the compound, you can hop into the ocean at the beach or snorkel until your heart’s content.
Because resident fish include blue tangs (Dory) and sergeant majors. Plus, you have the option to upgrade to swimming with the dolphins if you feel so inclined.
“Everyone was so nice food was good drinks were better. The water was amazing as always the air was perfect in March.”Mark (read more reviews now)
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Chankanaab offers the best snorkeling in Cozumel for younger kids. After all, the reef here is shallow and the beach is maintained with children and families in mind.
And while you can purchase an admission ticket to the adventure park alone, this ultimate all-inclusive Chankanaab package is a great option since it includes snorkel rentals, locker access, and a buffet lunch with drinks.
Additionally, you’ll have the freedom to roam around the entire archaeological area before making use of the beach, tropical gardens, and various other facilities.
Plus, the site is equipped with all your fave comforts including restaurants, restrooms, and showers.
|Probably less appealing if you’re traveling without kids
|Good value if you spend the whole day at the complex
⭐️ Rating: 4.5/5.0 (145 Reviews) Price: $59 per person Duration: 1 hour and 45 minutes 📍Meeting Point: Carlota Beach Club Operator: Cozumel Tours and Excursions Details: Read more on Viator Now!
Villa Blanca is another sweet snorkeling spot that is just a short trip from San Miguel.
And because this is one of the spots for the best snorkeling in Cozumel that is the sister reef of Paraiso, the reef’s maximum depth is 40 feet, making it accessible to nervous swimmers and kids alike.
However, there are deeper spots that are popular with intermediate and advanced divers too.
And while you’re here you can expect to spot angelfish, jacks, muraena, black grouper, and pelagic fish.
Plus, there are several shipwrecks you’ll be able to see from the surface. Therefore, you can stay bone dry and still explore the reef during this invisible boat snorkeling adventure in Cozumel.
See, the nifty thing about this tour is that it’s only a 1-hour, 45-minute excursion with a boat that is entirely transparent.
And, no, we’re not talking about your typical glass-bottomed boat: this is the 2.0 version.
“This was an amazing experience!! The crew was awesome! Very attentive and knowledgeable both in the boat and while snorkeling. I definitely recommend!!”Kalista (read more reviews now)
Therefore, if you’re traveling with non-snorkelers then they can come along for the ride and have a decent look at some marine life too.
However, if you don’t have time for a tour, you can always snorkel off the beach near Tikila Bar. But, additional care must be taken while here as the area is heavily trafficked by boats.
Therefore, joining a group tour is generally a safer bet.
|Cool to see shipwrecks
|Strong currents can affect Villa Blanca at times
|This tour gives you the option to see the underwater world without getting wet
|Lots of boat traffic
8. Dzul Ha Reef
⭐️ Rating: 4.0/5.0 (4 Reviews) Price: $107 per person Duration: 10 hours 📍Meeting Point: Pick Up Included Operator: Cancun Sightseeing Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!
Located south of San Miguel, Dzul Ha is a shallow reef that reaches depths of between 10 and 15 feet.
Therefore, you can expect to find the likes of triggerfish, parrotfish, and blue tangs fluttering around the reef while enjoying the best snorkeling in Cozumel.
In fact, this might just be the best Cozumel snorkeling if you want to spot lobsters and crabs.
Plus, different types of rays are sometimes found here – such as eagle rays during winter. And then there’s always the chance of seeing turtles.
In fact, you can easily access this Cozumel snorkeling spot from the beach. After all, the Money Bar Beach Club rents out gear if needed (they make a mean ceviche too).
However, this Cozumel reef adventure is pretty rad too. See, this tour departs from Playa del Carmen and is a solid option if you’re looking for a fun snorkeling trip.
“Romantic funny cool good time.”Ryan (read more reviews now)
See, after setting sail from the mainland, you’ll head to Dzul Ha. Afterward, it’s onwards to Casa Blanca and Dalila before finishing up at Palancar Reef.
|Wide variety of marine life
|Prone to strong currents – exercise caution and keep an eye on kids
|Accessible from the beach, San Miguel, or the mainland
|Marine park fee of $30 USD applies on top of tour price
⭐️ Rating: 5.0/5.0 (17 Reviews) Price: $119 per person Duration: 4-5 hours 📍Meeting Point: Beach Bum Cozumel Details: Read more on Viator Now!
Right around the corner from el Cielo, you’ll find Punta Sur Eco Park.
In a nutshell, this 247-acre reserve includes coral reefs, beaches, lagoons, forestland, and a super cool Mayan temple.
FYI, this is also one of the best places to spot local wildlife like crocodiles, herons, and nesting turtles.
However, snorkeling here takes place far away from the crocs at the Punta Sur Shallows.
So, in addition to turtles, you’ll spot parrotfish, moray eels, and lobsters. Also, be on the lookout for nurse sharks and stingrays too.
Pro Tip: Explore Punta Sur by electric bike! See, this guided excursion gives you a bit of everything, including croc-watching and time to snorkel with the fish.
Plus, this package includes the use of a bike, helmet, and snorkel equipment. Even better, snacks are thrown in to help keep you going.
“Loved the trip. It was a perfect way to see Punta Sur. The tour guides and equipment were top notch.”Suzanne (read more reviews now)
This way, you’ll have a better chance of spotting a variety of marine and terrestrial wildlife that call this region home.
|Excessive wind can lead to temporary bans on snorkeling and swimming
|Opportunity to explore the wider eco-park and see other creatures
|Reef is a 20-minute swim from the beach, making it safer to swim as a group
10. Santa Rosa Wall
⭐️ Rating: 5.0/5.0 (117 Reviews) Price: $70 per person Duration: 4 hours 📍Meeting Point: Tortugas Snorkel Center and Beach Bar Details: Read more on Viator Now!
Now, the Santa Rosa Wall is a drop-off within the Great Mayan Reef, close to Palancar Reef.
Perhaps the most famous coral wall in the marine park, Santa Rosa is especially popular for Cozumel dive trips.
However, it also provides epic snorkeling in the shallow segments and is easily home to the best snorkeling in Cozumel.
There, with depths from 30 feet, you’ll glide alongside moray eels, triggerfish, parrotfish, and cowfish.
It’s also common to see all sorts of rays as well as maybe, maybe, a friendly nurse shark.
As with the Palancar and Colombia shallows, the Santa Rosa Wall is only accessible via boat.
So, for a seriously unreal experience, book a private boat snorkel excursion.
This way, you can relax during the journey down south and feel more comfortable snorkeling within your private group.
Oh, and the selected company throws in a stop for ceviche and chilled margaritas at el Cielo once you’ve finished snorkeling.
“Amazing family experience! The reefs, the sandbar, the starfish…all exceeded our expectations. We saw stingrays, turtles, starfish, sand shark, and thousands of fish. The staff were kind, knowledgeable and accommodating. The food and drink were surprisingly awesome! Top rating all around.”Fredrik (read more reviews now)
Actually, this is another place for drift snorkeling (and diving) which adds another layer of excitement to the incredible activity.
|Fun conditions for experienced snorkelers or divers
|Current is moderate to high most days – hence making a private tour safer for groups with inexperienced snorkelers
|Outstanding visibility and a plethora of marine life to see
⭐️ Rating: 5.0/5.0 (14 Reviews) Price: $86 per person Duration: 4.5 hours 📍Meeting Point: Avenida Rafael E. Melgar Operator: Sea Scooters Details: Read more on Viator Now!
Known locally as Two Boats or Two Sunken Ships, this is the best snorkeling in Cozumel if you wanna see some cool shipwrecks.
After all, these sunken boats are located on the sea bed just north of San Miguel.
Of these, the larger is a Mexican navy patrol military wreck coming in at about 85 feet long and sitting at a depth of around 20 feet.
Therefore, you can spot it from the surface. You’ll also see a wide variety of coral and sponges growing on the wreck, in addition to lobsters, moray eels, and schools of barracuda that regularly frequent the area.
And if you feel like a bit of a swim, you can visit the second of Two Boats, where stingrays and eagle rays are known to loiter.
Now, it’s important to consider that although accessible from the beach in front of La Monina Restaurant, it’s a long and demanding swim.
In which case, I strongly recommend visiting Two Boats by sea scooter.
Essentially, this is an upgraded snorkel experience with a nifty motor to propel you through the water.
Actually, these cost a pretty penny to buy, making the tour awesome value if you want to try one out before committing to owning one.
“This tour (excursion) is awesome, and it includes much more than what is described on Viator. First you go snorkeling to see fish and other marine life such as rays. (I saw a huge stingray – called an “eagle ray” – flapping its wings as it glided underwater), then to two sunken ship wrecks via sea scooters, then you shower and change and take a group taxi (included) to a place where they show you how they make – and you get generous tastes of – homemade chocolate, homemade tortillas with pumpkin seed salsa, and many varieties of Tequila, both unflavored and flavored. Finally, you stop for lunch. The activities are fabulous, as are the guides. By the way, there were even some first-time snorkelers on the tour, and they did fine with the sea scooters. This excursion was definitely worthwhile!”Lisa (read more reviews now)
And after an exhilarating snorkel around the two wrecks, you’ll dry off during a brief cooking class that is accompanied by homemade tequila (optional).
|See marine life plus two sunken shipwrecks without needing to dive
|Sea scooters are not recommended for younger children
|Tour also includes a cooking class, tequila tasting, and a tasty lunch
12. Playa Corona and Skyreef Beach Club
Now, this spot south of Chankanaab is home to the best snorkeling in Cozumel without a tour.
See, Playa Corona and Skyreef are a pair of beachfront restaurants that are home to shoreside snorkeling.
Here, the swimming area is clearly marked with buoys to protect you from passing boats and rough waters.
Therefore this is a super safe snorkel spot for kids. After all, the water entrance is shallow and sandy, with a reef in the shallows.
Additionally, there is rarely any current to contend with.
So, stop by and enjoy an area inhabited by juvenile reef fish like angelfish, blue tangs, and butterflyfish. You also may see the odd octopus if you’re lucky.
Plus, either restaurant will rent you snorkel gear. They also offer deals that include food and drinks too. Or, you can add on a sweet massage for a post-snorkel treat.
Staff are also mellow and treat you well, so feel free to ask any questions.
Plus, they get additional brownie points for restrooms with showers. Just be sure to remember your towel!
|Less chance of seeing rays, sharks, and turtles here
|Great amenities to turn this into a full day
|Slightly less exciting snorkel experience without the boat ride
Best Snorkeling in Cozumel FAQ
Where is the best snorkeling in Cozumel?
The best snorkeling in Cozumel can be found in El Cielo, Villa Blanca Reef, and Colombia Reef.
Is Cozumel a good place for snorkeling?
Cozumel is an excellent place for snorkeling since the area is home to amazing reefs and extremely clear waters.
There are also a ton of super accessible spots along the western part of the island that visitors will love.
Where can I snorkel off the beach in Cozumel?
Punta Sur is a great place to snorkel off the beach in Cozumel.
After all, there is a government-operated ecological reserve here that features large tracts of the pristine jungle, next to a large lagoon, that is home to a wide array of wildlife.
Where is the Most Beautiful Place to Snorkel?
Some of the most beautiful places to snorkel include:
- Baa Atoll, Maldives
- Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
- Koh Tao, Thailand
- Punta Mita, Mexico
- Maui, Hawaii
- Great Barrier Reef, Australia
- Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia
- Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Map of the Best Snorkeling in Cozumel
Not sure which Cozumel snorkeling tour is right for you? 🤿 Then book this glass-bottom boat tour to Paradise Reef for an amazing experience! 🦈