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Carol Flanigan

My Reviews

Snorkeling in the Mayan Riviera

by Carol Flanigan last updated on 07/08/2008 Disclaimer

The 70 miles south of Cancun that comprise the Mayan Riviera provide some of the best snorkeling spots in the world. The coral reef that runs along this coast is one of the world's longest, second only to the Great Barrier reef off of Australia.

There are many opportunities for snorkeling from simply donning mask and fins and snorkeling right off the beach at your resort, to all day excursions that stop in several locations and include a wonderful catamaran ride and grilled lunch prepared on the boat or on a beach.

Some of the best snorkeling that I have experienced in the Mayan Riviera has been associated with the natural parks of Xel-Ha and Xcaret. Both of these are all day excursions that include round trip transportation from your resort and an all inclusive package that will include your snorkeling gear (if you don't bring your own), as well as food, beverages, towels and lockers in the park.

Xel-Ha is usually combined with a stop at the ruins of Tulum where you can enjoy the amazing views of the only Mayan fortress built by the sea and used by the Mayans as their port of entry for the Caribbean. Then on to Xel-Ha Park, one of the world's largest natural aquariums where the salt water of the Caribbean and the fresh water of the inland river meet, offering a wonderful variety of fish and sea life. You can spend the day floating in an inner tube or enjoy the wonderful lazy river snorkeling. Then stop for a cool drink and lunch and watch the dolphins, or go swimming with them!

A very different snorkeling experience is available at Xcaret, an amazing eco-archaeological park. Here you can swim in the underground river caves, enjoy the opportunity to do off shore snorkeling and swim with the dolphins. Xcaret was created to promote love and respect for nature and Mexico's cultural heritage. "Xcaret" means "small inlet" in Maya and for over a thousand years it was a very important Mayan port and ceremonial center. You will find plenty to enjoy for an entire day, topped off with the Mexican Spectacular show that highlights the ball games played thousands of years ago and the music and dance of Mexico.

One of my most recent snorkeling experiences in this wonderful coral reef was a half day catamaran snorkel/sail from Puerto Aventuras, at the very southern part of the Mayan Riviera. After pick up at my hotel and a comfortable bus ride to the boat, the friendly, English speaking crew greeted us at boarding with the question, "Would you prefer steak or lobster for lunch?" We were then told that we could relax on the sun-filled decks or in the shade of the interior of the boat. And, relax we did while the catamaran sails billowed in the wind and reminded us why we came to this wonderful destination. After about an hour of sailing, we stopped at the snorkeling spot, lessons were provided for first time snorkelers. The rest of us got on the provided gear and into the water we went. As always, I was amazed at the beauty and abundance of the salt water fish that you see. After about 45 minutes in the water with the guide, we returned to the boat and as advertised the steak and lobster lunch was waiting, along with the cervesa (beer) and margaritas. A nap in the sun was in order as we headed back to Puerto Aventuras and took the bus home. What a wonderful day!

Snorkeling is just one of the wonderful ways to enjoy the Caribbean waters of the Mayan Riviera. Give me a call and I will help you choose just the right combination of sun and fun for your Mexican honeymoon.

This review appears on Riviera Maya.