Snorkeling in Cozumel
The Caribbean island of Cozumel, Mexico is one of the most popular scuba diving destinations in the world and offers consistently warm waters that are crystal clear and allow divers long range visibility to see a large variety of marine life that includes over 500 fish species like the splendid toad fish, butterfly fish, parrot fish and angelfish, as well as sea turtles, dolphins, manatees and more.
Cozumel is not only a favorite destination among scuba divers but also for snorkeling enthusiasts. The Meso american barrier reef that lies off the coast of Cozumel is one of the largest reefs in the world, second only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Snorkeling just 200 to 500 yards from the shoreline visitors can view a plethora of marine life in addition to huge stovepipe sponges and the beautiful coral formations that comprise the reef and provide living space for marine life of all kinds.
The pristine coral formations that are home to a plethora of marine life include coral caverns with walls that drop over 500 feet and mountains of live coral outcroppings and mounds that form in the shallow warm water. Scuba divers and snorkelers frequent the area so much that even the fish are friendly!
Cozumel is located about 7 miles from mainland Mexico and ocean currents around the island provide a free ride to snorkelers and also keep the water clean and nutrient-rich for coral formation and abundant marine life. These currents flow north to south around the island and can be very powerful and downright dangerous, which is why visitors should consult experienced professionals about which places are best for their particular level of experience with snorkeling.
Most of the beautiful coral formations are located on the western side of Cozumel where they are more protected from Caribbean Sea storms and tidal surges that can be very destructive to delicate coral life. The reef’s protection from storms and human interference, as well as crystal clear water and abundant sunlight allow nature to produce huge coral formations that rise 400 feet and more above the ocean floor.
Although snorkeling will allow visitors to view the beautiful coral formations their real beauty lies deep within the reef which requires scuba diving equipment and the requisite diving experience.
No matter what level of experience, snorkeling in Cozumel provides an opportunity to view many beautiful living coral formations some of which exist in very shallow waters and all of which are home to a large variety of marine life that includes fish, eels, dolphins, stingrays, crab, lobster, manatees and more.
Ocean currents are more gentle on the south end of Cozumel than anywhere else on the island and tend to push swimmers and divers back toward the island, whereas the north end of the island experiences strong currents that pull them away from the island and out to sea.
For this reason, it is recommended that those who are new to snorkeling stick to the southern end of the island for familiarizing themselves with the sport and that only experienced divers and strong swimmers snorkel off the northern end of the island where the currents are stronger, unpredictable and much more dangerous.
There are numerous places to enjoy snorkeling around Cozumel and one of the most popular is at the Chankanaab Lagoon that is located within the Chankanaab National Park. For beginning snorkelers, Chankanaab features 20 foot shallow coves that are home to numerous living coral formations and a variety of marine life. The Lagoon also provides opportunities for nearby offshore scuba diving and the Park offers numerous amenities that include restaurants, massages, gifts, sea lion shows, crocodile farm, swimming with dolphins and plenty of places for resting on the beach.
Paradise Reef is also popular for novice snorkelers and offers day and night dives along the reef that is home to the Splendid Toad fish that grows to 16 inches long and large marine life like rays and sea turtles that make every snorkeling adventure complete. Food can be brought to attract angels, yellow tails and tangs and adjacent coral formations teem with tropical fish, octopi and lobsters.
San Francisco Reef is the shallowest wall dive in Cozumel and the reef is divided into three sections divided by sandy stretches of 150 to 180 feet. The reef is home to a large variety of marine life and larger species of rays and sea turtles. Looking over the edge of the wall in one section reveals a drop into infinite nothingness that many are experiencing for the first time.
More experienced snorkelers and divers will appreciate Palancar Reef which features the Deeper Big Horseshoe that consists of coral formations rising over 100 feet from the ocean floor and only 20 to 25 feet below the water’s surface.
The Santa Rosa Wall is also for more advanced divers who will enjoy riding the strong current past massive sponges and under huge coral overhangs while maneuvering caves and swim-through tunnels that are home to multiple marine species that include giant spotted eagle rays with wingspans up to 10 feet.
Cozumel offers snorkeling and scuba diving adventures for enthusiasts with every level of experience that create memories of a lifetime and keep visitors coming back to this beautiful Caribbean tropical island paradise.