A vacation visit to the coastal destination of Cancun is not complete without jumping into the warm, turquoise waters of the surrounding Caribbean waters to explore the numerous coral reefs and the incredible underwater treasures that the region has to offer. In addition, shallow waters, nearby islands and warm tropical water offer numerous opportunities to explore and discover the dazzling marine life.
However, while snorkeling in Cancun is very enjoyable and easy, without some basic skills, good equipment, and knowledge about the dangers and conditions of the ocean, a first time snorkeling experience can be a bit miserable, scary and even potentially dangerous.
Familiarize yourself with our insider tips that will ensure you are prepared to get the most out of some of the best snorkeling in the world, and get into the water to explore this fascinating Caribbean underwater paradise.
1. Make sure you have good equipment
Make sure your mask fits well
Masks come in different sizes and shapes, and can be adjusted to the size of your face and head. Be sure to check beforehand that the mask you will use is a good fit and that there are no leaks.
A fogging mask is a serious impediment to an enjoyable snorkel tour because you can’t see very well through it. You may be surprised to learn that the number one reason for a foggy mask is a dirty mask.
Before wetting the mask be sure to cover the inside with either an anti-fog spray or with your own saliva. Rinse before getting into the water.
Get a new, dry snorkel
Spend a bit more and rent or buy a dry snorkel, or at the least, a snorkel with a splash guard. One of the least pleasant experiences is having a flood of water come down your snorkel. A dry snorkel has a special valve on top that seals shut when your snorkel goes underwater (like with a wave, or when you tilt your head to the side). It will also have a special purge valve at the bottom of the snorkel so that it is easy to blow water out of the tube.
Make sure your fins fit well
Fins are essential for safety, give you a tremendous amount of swimming force and will save you a lot of energy. Be sure to fit your fins beforehand. You do not want them to be either too tight or too loose, so having adjustable straps is always the best option.
Where to get your snorkel gear
If you need snorkel equipment you may want to purchase your own in one of the big convenience stores like Walmart, Costco, Mega or Chedraui. Equipment is also available for rental in certain public access snorkel spots. If you take a tour the equipment is almost always included.
2. First practice with your equipment
Put on your gear
Practice will always help you better manage your equipment and ensure a much better experience once you are in the water. Try on your mask and fins and adjust them until they feel comfortable on your head and feet. Breathe through your snorkel to get used to having it in your mouth.
Practice in a pool or calm, shallow sea
Pick a spot like a swimming pool or calm shallow sandy beach to get a feel for breathing through your snorkel. It takes a while to train your body into becoming comfortable breathing through a snorkel with your face in the water. Don’t worry about what you look like. Being comfortable and safe is important if you want to enjoy your snorkel experience.
3. Be fully prepared
Snorkeling is a low impact activity that does not require a huge amount of physical effort. It does however mean that you will be spending a lot of time in the water and the sun.
Pack eco-friendly waterproof sunscreen, a towel, hat and sunglasses. If your skin is sensitive keep your long-sleeve dry fit T-shirt on at all times. Also, be sure to hydrate constantly.
Underwater cameras can make for some incredible photos. If you already have a favorite camera, you might want to consider adding a simple waterproof bag for your adventure.
4. Learn basic snorkeling skills
Always remain relaxed
Swim slowly! Exhaustion is a common problem for first time snorkelers. Only swim at a speed that allows you to breathe slowly and easily through your snorkel. Use your fins to move you through the water.
Understand ocean conditions
Understanding the basics of how the ocean moves and your place in the movement is essential for safety. The more swimming experience you have the better you will enjoy snorkeling. Get out into the sea and practice as much as you can.
Do not touch
Coral reefs are exceedingly beautiful but also extremely fragile. Never touch the coral. Constant touching will damage and eventually destroy the reef. Sharp or poisonous corals can also cause serious injury.
5. Take a tour
While public access snorkeling options like Punta Nizuc are plenty, you may want to consider booking a tour to see some of the region’s more popular and attractive sights. On tour you will almost certainly be accompanied by an experienced guide which is a great help for first time snorkelers. Guides are also very knowledgeable about the region and can quickly point you to any special attractions or marine life that may be passing by.
The tropical Caribbean waters of Cancun are teeming with colorful marine life like sea turtles, rays, eels, big groupers, barracudas and an array of brightly colored tropical fish. You can even do some whale shark snorkeling north of Contoy Island. The turquoise blue Caribbean water is incredibly transparent, with legendary visibility of more than 100 feet, very calm and comfortably warm.
If you are looking for things to do in Cancun and want to enjoy some really incredible snorkeling opportunities then make sure you try it here. Cancun is definitely one of the best snorkeling spots on our planet.