Cozumel Snorkelling: Your Essential Guide

Located not too far away from the island of Playa Del Carmen, the stunning island of Cozumel is a diving and snorkelling paradise. This island of Mexico is probably best known for its gorgeous white powdery beaches and the crystal clear waters that surround it.

cozumel snorkelling

Cozumel happens to be where you’ll find the Western Hemisphere’s largest barrier reef, and as all snorkelers know, this is ideal for seeing some of the most diverse marine life ever!

In this guide we’ll be showing you where some of the best snorkelling spots can be found around Cozumel, helping you plan your itinerary that much more efficiently.

Best Places to Snorkel around Cozumel Island

Paradise Reef

Although Paradise actually consists of three separate reefs that lie parallel to the coastline, its explored as one diving destination. The waters here reach a maximum depth of 45 feet, and since the dive sites can be accessed a mere 600 feet from the shore, the snorkelling opportunities here are virtually endless.

Paradise Reef is home to an abundance of marine life including shellfish, coral in all shapes and sizes, and a stunning array of fish species. If you’re keen on trying night diving, this should definitely be one of your first (if not only) considerations.


The Cozumel National Coral Reef Marine Park is where you’ll find the impressive snorkeling site of Palancar. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular recreational activities in these waters as they feature some of the most breathtaking underwater scenery. In these waters, you should be able to easily spot the local variety of shark species and of course the plentiful supply of barracuda.

Palancar cozumel

El cielo Cozumel

El Cielo

Aptly called the ‘Home of the Stars,' El Cielo is a very popular snorkelling and diving spot in the Caribbean, even more so for beginner snorkelers. Because the waters here are so shallow and provide snorkelers with excellent visibility, it’s easy to lose yourself by just staring at the beautiful underwater scenery. Once you submerge your head, your breath will be taken away by the sight of the ocean floor, literally covered with thousands of starfish.


Dzul-Ha is a snorkelling site which is best known for its large populations of lobsters, crabs, and huge varieties of fish species living in these waters. The waters here are a mere 10 to 15 feet deep, making them ideal for snorkelling. After you’re done exploring the underwater wonders, it’s time to head off to the nearby restaurant and bar on the beach for a delicious snack and a refreshing cocktail!


If you’re looking to experience the thrill of swimming with dolphins, there’s simply no better place to do it that in the waters of Parque Chankanaab. Nearby, the ancient Mayan ruins and the trek through the lush jungle will keep you entertained and amazed when you’re not under the water.

The waters of Chankanaab only go about 70 feet in depth and can be entered merely 350 yards from the shore, making it an ideal spot for beginner snorkelers and divers to get their ocean legs into gear. Make sure you check out the beautiful, bold coral formations that house a huge variety of marine life, including the cute and captivating collection of clownfish that live in these waters.

Columbia Reef

The drop of 0 to 80 feet into the waters at Columbia Reef might seem a little daunting at first, but once you get over that initial hesitation, snorkelling in these waters will offer you some of the most spectacular views. The waters of Columbia Reef are renowned for their stunning underwater caves, tunnels, and caverns, but make sure you get the opportunity of checking out the pinnacles of coral and marine animals.

Villa Blanca

Just off the west coast of Cozumel lies the impressive Villa Blanca, a reef unlike any other. There’s a slope that features a wall covered with soft sponges and sea fans, but the highlights are usually found in the huge schools of fish that make their way through these waters. If you’re a beginner diver, stick to entering the reef via a short boat ride. More advanced divers can try their hand at entering the reef from the beach.

villa blanca snorkelling

Cozumel Palace

Featuring massive collections of cuttlefish, stingray, and eel, the waters surrounding Cozumel Palace are fantastic for snorkelling. Keep in mind that this diving site doesn’t have a beach from which it can be entered, so a mandatory boat ride out into the deeper waters is the only way to get to Cozumel Palace.

Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind regarding Cozumel Palace is the fact that it’s a very rocky area, which means that you’ll have to gear up with some aqua socks to help avoid nasty stings from the sea urchins at the entrance and exit sites.

Should I Bring My Own Snorkeling Equipment?

It’s much cheaper to take your own snorkelling equipment to the island of Cozumel, but you’ll also be able to rent the gear should you prefer not to take your own. There are a lot of dive shops on the beaches that rent out perfectly proper snorkelling gear that isn't priced ridiculously high.

What Is the Best Way to Get Around Cozumel?

Taking a taxi from one point of the island to the other can end up being a very costly way of commuting around Cozumel. Renting a car, scooter, or even a bike is a much better option and will cost you a lot less when you’re traveling from one snorkelling site to the other.

What Reefs are best for Snorkeling?

Although Cozumel has a lot of reefs, not all of them are suitable for snorkelling and scuba diving. The shallow reefs are ideal for snorkelers, while some of the very deep reefs are reserved for experienced scuba divers. To make the most of your Cozumel experience, find out what you snorkelling skill level is, and then stick to diving in spots suitable for your level of experience.

Final Thoughts

Underwater life in Cozumel is abundant, and with its wide variety of coral reefs to explore, you’ll ever have a hard time finding the perfect spot to go snorkelling in. It can be one of the most relaxing and rewarding adventures you’ll ever undertake.

We sincerely hope that this guide has helped you realize where some of the best snorkelling spots around Cozumel can be found, and that you are now armed with all the information you’ll need to plan a rocking snorkelling adventure in Cozumel!

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