Cozumel Snorkeling On Your Own -- Shore Trips
You don't need to fork out the dough for a boat trip tour to enjoy great snorkeling on Cozumel. In fact, the typical $40/person snorkeling boat tour will likely take you to the very same spot you could reach just as easily from shore.
Here's the straight skinny from our Cozumel snorkeling experts on the best put-ins for a private, do-it-yourself snorkeling experience from shore.To get to any of these spots all you've got to do is grab a cab or rent a car -- both considerably less expensive
Shore Snorkeling on the North End of the Island (Coral Princess, Melia, Playa Azul, Cozumeleño, etc.)
The North End of the island is recommended snorkeling only for strong swimmers with advanced skills. This is because the currents can be strong here as well as unpredictable.
We took a check out dip in front of the Coral Princess, where we'd heard rumours that the snorkeling was good. We estimated the current close into shore to be around 2 KNOTS 1 mile per hour.
However, when we swam south against the current and around a little point we found ourselves caught between two currents that made it difficult to move either north or south. So we pushed out to sea 30 yards or so and caught yet another current coming back to the Coral Princess that was at least 2-3 KNOTS miles per hour.
Snorkelers on the north end of the island should also be aware that the currents here will always be pushing out into the channel towards Cancun --not towards land as they do on the south end of Cozumel.
Our dip at the Coral Princess led us to decide not to recommend this area for your average snorkeler -- and most certainly not for children. For this reason, we didn't sample other spots on the north end where conditions would have been similar.
For strong, experienced swimmers who want to try their luck here, there's a nice wall close into shore with lots of sponges and schools of fish. Out a bit further where you'll see purple under the water, you'll find grass instead of coral. If you know how to look into grass for the critters and can deal with the currents at the same time, you may enjoy this trip.
Southern Shore Snorkeling
There's good snorkeling from Plaza las Glorias on the southern edge of downtown all the way to Playa Corona beach club which perches near the fringe of Little Yucab reef.
Currents are a factor on the south end of the island as well. But they will tend to be much gentler than anywhere else on the island.
Unlike on the north end, where forces tend to pull you out to sea, on the south coast of Cozumel you'll be pushed back towards the beach.
For this reason, this whole corridor is recommended for beginning through intermediate snorkelers. But any level of skill will enjoy these trips.
Here are some easy put-in spots for checking out the underwater scenery south of town:
PLAYA CALETLA/SNORKEL CENTER/SAND DOLLAR ENTRANCE AREA
The snorkeling isn't good right at the Caletita beach. B but there's a nice little sandy put in right next to the lighthouse. So if the current is going south, you can put in here, and drift the .6/10 of a mile down to the Sand Dollar put in (see below). If you're pooped out, you can get out right here and walk back along the sidewalk to where you started. Or continue on another 2/10 miles and get out at the Snorkel Center (see below.)
The Money Bar Beach Club
Taxis drop offs and pick ups are very easy from this well-known snorkeling spot once known as Dzul Ha. If you're driving yourself, head south on the main road. About a half mile beyond all the congestion and the new traffic light they put in a few months back (only one south of town) you'll see overhead roadway signs and a road that veers off to the right at a 35 degree angle. This is the old beach road. Follow this for about a mile until you hit it.
In fact, quite a few cruise ship-arranged snorkel tours take you out from the Money Bar dock. You'll see lemming schools of them bobbing around out there and can feel very smug about getting the same views on your own, in peaceful solitude and for a fraction of the price.
You may or may not be asked to pay a cover charge for using a covered table and chairs. Depends on the time of the year and how crowded they are. In any case, plan to order a round or two of drinks during your stay at the club and consider lunch as well. We haven't tried the lunches at the little palapa-covered area at the extreme north end of the club. But we've asked other customers about them and they seem well satisfied with the quality and the price. This has become a popular spot for cruiseship snorkel tours. To avoid the crowds here, plan to snorkel between 9 and 10:30 AM or after 4 PM.
There are one easy entrance to the water where dive boot are not required. The wide, circular stair entrance, however, is extremely slipperly.
What you'll find-- There's is still beautiful snorkeling in front of this hotel. But the particularly interesting marine and plant life will be found to the south of the hotel
Fiesta Americana has a easy entrance from the big staircase. Take this staircase to head out to the buoys (but no further). Then drift south with the current and get out before the pier. If you want to drift further south than the pier, the strong current will take you almost to the entrance of Chankanaab. (See Old Chankanaab Road Next.) So if you pass the pier, you will have to angle into shore and walk back.
Just park your car or jump out of the taxi and walk on through to the beach area. If you plan to stay for awhile and use one of the shaded tables, just order something if a waiter comes around. At non-busy times of the year it's unlikely a waiter will come by. If you want something to drink, you can go find one.
The Old Chankanaab Road
This was the old entrance to the famous park which is now further south on the main road.No chairs under palapas here but lots of low trees offer shade close to the water and there's easy, partially sandy put ins for 50 yards.
Chankanaab National Park
How to Get There--One of the don't miss attractions of the island, any taxi will take you here. Or if you're in a car, just drive south out of town on either the new road or the old ocean-side one and follow the signs to Chankanaab (CHAHN-kah-knob).
Corona Beach Club
How to Get There: Continue on the old beach road going south from Chankanaab for approximately 9/10 mile.
Another funky little beach club where they have shaded tables down by the water and an easy,
No-booties necessary as they have a track through the sand into the water right in front of the club. Clean bathrooms, outdoor shower.High season this year they were charging a cover charge of $2/person in addition to anything you order in the way of drinks or food. But it's worth the price of admission if you love snorkeling
This spot has good close to shore snorkeling and for strong swimming free divers, some excellent 10-20 ft walls 50 yards or so out from the beach.
East Coast "Wild Side"
Next SNORKEL TOURS