The Best Places to Scuba Dive and Snorkel on the Riviera Maya
Have you ever dreamed of visiting the Mesoamerican barrier reef (the world’s second largest, after Australia’s)? Have you ever wished to experience a diving or snorkeling site that evokes an underwater cave? These are the cenotes and coastal regions where you can do so, without sacrificing proximity to Playa del Carmen’s legendary Fifth Avenue.
Gran Cenote is a local favorite for a reason. Its namesake sinkhole is easily accessible, due to its location between Tulum and Coba, and features dramatic rock features and columns that beautifully dapple the shafts of sunlight above, along with an extensive network of intriguing chambers and passages.
Cenote Dos Ojos
Comprising two interconnecting cenotes, this site shares Gran Cenote’s popularity among divers and snorkelers, thanks in part to its own dramatic rock features and networks — in this case, blocking out some of the light and creating a dark, remote atmosphere that evokes a cave.
This Tulum cenote is notable not just for its formations and marine life, including schools of beautiful fish, but for its setting in a lush tropical jungle — making it a favorite spot of paddleboarders and others who prefer staying above the surface to descending into the waters.
Few Riviera Maya towns feature a stretch of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef quite like what you’ll encounter at Puerto Morelos. The town’s National Marine Park is extremely well-protected, both in terms of the physical reef itself and the creatures who populate it, including eels, rays, green sea turtles, crabs, and nurse sharks.
This is the dive site you’ve invariably seen in countless ads for not just the Riviera Maya, but Mexico itself. MUSA (that’s short for “El Museo Subaquàtico de Arte,” or “The Subaquatic Art Museum”), as the name suggests, holds an art collection — in this case, more than 500 permanent life-sized sculptures of buildings and human figures.
If you’re more interested in history than art or nature, you may prefer Banco Chinchorro, whose seafloor is home to not just reefs of black coral populated by angelfish and eagle rays, but a shipwrecked Dutch galleon.
If you're ready to dive into these cenotes for yourself, check out the latest offers at Mahekal Beach Resort and start planning your stay.