Isla Mujeres Snorkeling (Complete Travel Guide 2024)

written by local expert Anna Faustino

Anna is a co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years. She has spent time living in Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain and is our local expert in these areas. Her expertise on travel, gear, and building businesses have been featured on Foundr, Business Insider, Yahoo Travel, and more.

If you’re looking for the perfect beach getaway and a tropical destination to enjoy fun, exhilarating water sports, then Isla Mujeres, Mexico is the way to go.

Isla Mujeres snorkeling opportunities are vast, making it an ideal destination to enjoy the stunning marine life.

This small island is filled with gorgeous beaches and fun snorkeling spots that travelers of all ages will enjoy. Whether you’re a family wanting to swim with the turtles or the adventure seeker looking to be up and close to whale sharks, Isla Mujeres is the place for you.

However, we know how overwhelming planning a trip can get, especially when you’re unfamiliar with Isla Mujeres and its wide variety of snorkeling tours and spots.

Our team in Adventure in You have spent a lot of time both traveling AND living in Mexico and Isla Mujeres was one of the destinations we frequented.

With that in mind, in this article, we will share what you must know about snorkeling in Isla Mujeres.

Underwater shot at Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Enjoy your snorkeling experience in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Isla Mujeres Snorkeling Guide

One of the top reasons why Isla Mujeres is a must-visit for snorkeling. It is because there are so many spots you can head to. There will be a snorkeling spot in Isla Mujeres for everyone, whether you’re with children or looking for the ultimate solo adventure!

What’s great about Isla Mujeres is the beaches all around the area. Fortunately, yes, you can definitely snorkel on their beaches, though it will depend on which beach you’re heading to.

Moreover, snorkeling on your own from the beach won’t be an amazing experience since the reefs aren’t close to shore. That’s why it’s best to take a snorkeling boat tour!

We recommend swimming and snorkeling on the north and west sides of Isla Mujeres. These two areas are known for their beaches with soft, white sand and calm, turquoise waters. The Playa Norte (North Beach) is one of the best and most popular beaches in the Caribbean for snorkeling off the beach as there is a small reef nearby.

The eastern shore, while spectacular, is rocky with very strong currents. Therefore, this isn’t suitable for snorkeling. In fact, there are warnings posted throughout the shore. It’s best to swim and snorkel on other beaches around Isla Mujeres.

While this is primarily a snorkeling guide, scuba diving in Isla Mujeres is also a possibility! To help you plan your trip, here are all the spectacular snorkeling spots in Isla Mujeres you should add to your itinerary:

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1. Playa Norte

For those who prefer snorkeling off the beach rather than taking a boat ride, Playa Norte is where to be. This is located in the north of the island and is a very popular beach among locals and tourists.

Playa Norte is perfect for snorkeling because it has white sandy beaches, crystal clear visibility underwater, and no currents. It’s a perfect combination for snorkelers, especially beginners and children.

Because of how accessible this beach is, this is where we spent a lot of our time snorkeling and swimming.

A beautiful sunset in Playa Norte

2. Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA)

MUSA is the largest underwater museum in the world, situated on the southern coast. Additionally, there is an artificial reef with over 500 sculptures from famous and international artists from Mexico!

The statues are made of coral-friendly materials, stimulating coral growth. Don’t miss this unique museum trip, where you will be amazed at MUSA sculptures. It includes the Time Bomb, The Last Supper, and Reclamation.

Visiting the underwater museum in Isla Mujeres is one of the coolest experiences and is definitely something we recommend. The team behind it is working hard to preserve marine life in the area and these attractions are doing just that.

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3. Garrafon de Castilla

Garrafon de Castilla is near MUSA, which is the Hotel Garrafon de Castilla’s beach club. It is a popular snorkeling spot known for its clear waters and abundant marine life. Visitors can expect to see colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and coral reefs.

The park itself offers snorkeling, kayaking and zipline experiences. The park also has facilities such as restrooms, showers, changing rooms, lockers and a bar-restaurant.

It’s dubbed as one of the best snorkeling spots in Isla Mujeres. You can snorkel off the beach, paying the entrance fee for the park.

5. El Farito

Also called the Lighthouse Reef, this is another popular snorkeling spot that only takes a 5-minute boat ride to get to. The spot’s unique highlight is the abandoned lighthouse and calm, shallow waters. It’s great for beginners and children, too!

The waters by lighthouse reef is very clear and is a popular spot with lots of colorful fish and corals. Here, you can expect to see a variety of tropical fish, sea turtles, and other underwater creatures in the clear waters.

As mentioned, the reef features shallow waters which means that the light shines through, allowing you to see a lot of vibrant colors as you swim through.

A beautiful shot of tower in El Farito
Snorkeling while seeing the beautiful lighthouse reef in El Farito

6. Manchones Reef

Manchones Reef in Isla Mujeres, Mexico is a popular snorkeling spot known for its diverse marine life and clear waters. When snorkeling here, you can expect to see a variety of tropical fish, colorful corals, and other underwater creatures.

Manchones Reef is known for its healthy coral reefs and vibrant sea life, offering snorkelers an unforgettable experience. It is important to follow proper snorkeling guidelines and to respect the delicate ecosystem while exploring the reef.

The Manchones Reef is very popular for its clear visibility and the variety of colorful fishand marine life you can see when snorkeling. Part of this area will overlap with MUSA so you can hit two birds with one stone. Therefore, you can also check out some of the artistic statues, like the “Cross of the Bay.”

7. El Meco Reef

This popular snorkeling spot is located between Isla Mujeres and Cancun though you will need to ride a boat. Don’t worry, there are many Isla Mujeres tours you can avail to get to this beautiful and marine life-filled area.

The underwater museum MUSA has placed a few sculptures in the El Meco reef to further add to the area.

We’ll be tackling snorkeling tours in Isla Mujeres below, so continue reading!

Editor’s Note: What Not to Do in Isla Mujeres

It is important for us to note that Garrafon Natural Reef Park is a popular snorkeling spot in Isla Mujeres, however we DO NOT recommend snorkeling here. Here in Adventure in You, we do not support any establishment which has animals in captivity.

Sadly, Garrafon Natural Reef Park offers swimming with dolphins as a tourist attraction. If you’re unfamiliar with why this is bad, check out this article on reasons why you shouldn’t swim with dolphins.

Best Isla Mujeres Snorkeling Tours

While you can go snorkeling from the beach, you can get the complete experience when joining a tour. Professionals will take you to the best spots to jump right into and teach you how and where to snorkel to appreciate Isla Mujeres’ unique beauty.

Tours are already pre-planned and consist of professional guides whose goal is to keep guests safe as they enjoy the tour. All you need to do is join them!

Here are some of the top Isla Mujeres snorkeling trips that give you the bang for your buck:

1. Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres

One of the best snorkeling tours in Isla Mujeres is swimming with whale sharks. Whale shark season runs from May to September so if you’re there during these months, definitely make the most out it. We recommend going on this small group snorkeling tour where you get to snorkel with these gentle giants, two people at a time.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which we 100% recommend to do if you happen to be in Isla Mujeres during this time. This specific tour includes a pick up from either Cancun, Tulum, or Playa del Carmen as well as lunch on a boat.

Whale sharks are such majestic creatures and seeing them in the wild is an experience like no other. Hands down, this is one of the best snorkeling opportunities in Isla Mujeres!

A beautiful shot of whale shark in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

2. Isla Mujeres Unlimited Snorkel

This tour will be leaving from Cancun, going to Isla Mujeres where you will be taken to the top two snorkeling spots in the area.

This tour comes at an affordable price as it already includes a round-trip transfer from your hotel, unlimited snorkeling, as well as a light breakfast and lunch buffet!

3. Snorkeling Adventure in Isla Mujeres

You’ll be on a luxurious catamaran as you sail through Cancun to the beautiful Isla de Mujeres, where you’ll be snorkeling in the MUSA and Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

At an affordable price, you’ll be whisked away to a spectacular island for an unforgettable snorkeling session. Moreover, a lunch buffet and open bar are included! You’ll be partying with loved ones as you sail in a spacious boat. It doesn’t get any more luxurious than that!

4. Isla Mujeres Catamaran Tour

What many love about this fun catamaran tour isn’t just the calm ride and Instagrammable photo opportunities on the boat. Also, it’s all the fun snorkeling in turquoise waters on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Your guide will be sprinkling fish food into the water as you snorkel so you will be surrounded by all the exotic fish and marine life. It’s a sight to behold!

This tour starts from Cancun and includes all transfers and transportation!

An aerial shot of sails in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

5. Isla Mujeres Trimaran Cruise

This is a fun day tour where you’ll be cruising on a trimaran on the Caribbean sea. Create new memories with your family and friends as the professional staff will care for your needs, and also, from the snorkeling opportunities down to a delicious lunch feast.

Riding the trimaran is a fun memory, along with the various aquatic activities you can do in the clear waters of Isla Mujeres. An open bar is included so you can turn the day into an awesome party with friends!

6. Isla Mujeres Full-Day Sailing Trip

This is an excellent tour for a group of friends because of all the fun activities, scrumptious lunch, and open bar!

You will be sailing via Catamaran to Isla Mujeres, where you will then have the chance to snorkel in the beach club. After a fun afternoon of water activities, you can enjoy drinks at the open bar or shop ’til you drop into downtown Isla Mujeres.

Sails in Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Boats along the pier of Isla Mujeres

Frequently Asked Questions: Isla Mujeres Snorkeling

Can you snorkel off the beach in Isla Mujeres?

Yes, you can snorkel off the beach in Isla Mujeres, however, not all the beaches on the island are great for snorkeling. Playa Norte (North Beach) is one of the most popular snorkeling spots in Isla Mujeres as it has a small reef nearby.

Avoid snorkeling in the beaches on the eastern shores of Isla Mujeres due to the currents.

Does Isla Mujeres have good snorkeling?

Yes, expect excellent snorkeling opportunities! It’s one of the top destinations for water activities and water sports enthusiasts with the Great Mayan Reef (Mesoamerican Barrier Reef) the second largest reef worldwide.

With crystal clear turquoise waters and fantastic reefs, you can easily explore the natural beauty in the waters of the Mexican Caribbean.

Can you snorkel off the beach in Playa Mujeres?

Yes, it is possible to snorkel off the beach in Playa Mujeres! The shallowness makes underwater sculptures more visible, which is why you can find many people snorkeling and immersing themselves in the natural wonders the area offers.

However, just like snorkeling off other beaches in Isla Mujeres, you may have a more limited experience compared to taking a full excursion with a boat tour.

How much is snorkeling in Isla Mujeres?

This will depend on whether you plan to snorkel off the beach or join a boat tour. Snorkeling off the beach is usually free, as the hotel can provide the equipment without charge or with a minimal fee.

Joining a boat tour will allow you to truly explore the beautiful marine life and reefs that Isla Mujeres offers. The tour rate depends on its inclusions and where you’ll be snorkeling in, but on average, it will cost US$50-85 for an entire day of snorkeling fun. This is worth the price, as it already includes the following:

1. Hotel pick-up and drop-off
2. The boat
3. Lunch and drinks (usually buffet-style)
4. Fully sanitized snorkeling gear
5. Dock fees and Marine Park Federal Tax (worth US$15)

Do note that the tour rate also depends on the timing. If you plan to visit during whale shark season from May to September, the rates increase and a small group tour will cost about US$130 per person.

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