In some of the more popular resort areas, like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, a boat trip or snorkeling tour is as easy as stepping out of your hotel onto the sand. Guides have all the equipment ready and waiting. Whether you prefer being on the open sea or diving through underground caves, the Mexican Caribbean has plenty of water activities to appeal to everyone.
Grab A Paddle
Around Cancun and Riviera Maya, the calm water is perfect for activities like kayaking and paddleboarding, as well as motorized options like jet skiing and adrenaline-filled sports like flyboarding. Snorkel off the coast or embark on a trip to the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA), located in the water surrounding Cancun and Isla Mujeres, where more than 500 life-size sculptures are sprawled across the sand. For a different, yet just as exciting experience, try stand-up paddleboarding in Bacalar’s lagoon, "Lagoon of Seven Colors."
If you’d rather not use paddles, you can drive your own speedboat through the canals of the Nichupté lagoon. Cancun’s jungle tour allows visitors to admire the majesty of the mangroves. The tour ends at Punta Nizuc where you can snorkel and admire the reefs with colorful fish and other types of marine life.
Some of the best diving in the Mexican Caribbean are located around Isla Cozumel—rated as one of the top 5 dive sites in the world—where 40 different dive sites plunge to depths of 30 meters, or 100 feet.
The shallow water surrounding Mahahual, in Grand Costa Maya, offers prime views of colorful coral reefs and sunken ships. Mahahual is also known for its sport fishing, with Xcalak offering fantastic fly fishing year-round.
Two hours south of Cancun, in the eco-destination of Maya Ka’an, you’ll come across a mix of Mayan culture and beautiful bays, coastal lagoons, and jungle in UNESCO World Heritage site Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. The largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, the reserve not only boasts beautiful beaches where you can snorkel, but also crystal-clear canals that are tucked away in the jungle. This place is perfect for taking a boat ride and letting yourself be carried away by the soft current.
Explore the Mexican Caribbean’s Cenotes
The world's largest underground river system, the Great Maya Aquifer, runs beneath the Mexican Caribbean, dotting the region with natural limestone sinkholes called cenotes. The Cenotes Route in Puerto Morelos encompasses more than 57 cenotes, but the region is dotted with more than 2,500 cenotes, 407 flooded caves and cave systems. Guided tours through the jungle often include a trip to the more popular cenotes, where you can spend the day swimming, snorkeling, diving, or even ziplining and rappelling at adventure parks.