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Snorkeling from Shore


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#1 j13sellers

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 06:48 AM

Hi all,

My soon to be wife and I are travelling to Cozumel May 29-June 5 2010. We would love to do some snorkeling but don't want to go out for a day excusion on a boat. I was wondering if anybody had some info on good snorkeling you can reach from the shore.
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#2 Jean Mc

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 10:32 AM

There are many good snorkeling sites on the north and south of town. Up north, try the area around Playa Azul north past the old Sol Cabanas and also in front of the Coral Princess Hotel. South of town, try Dzul Ha, now the Money Bar, or Corona Beach. For a shorter boat trip, go down to Palancar Beach and arrange a trip out to the reef. It's very reasonable.
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#3 mslf500

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 01:13 PM

Playa Las Casitas snorkel area:

While there are many places to snorkel, few are as close to the center of town as this one is. It is perfect for the cruiser that wants to do it on his own and then have time to shop and eat in town. There is an excellent snorkeling area at Playa las Casitas, directly across from the naval barracks. If you don't have your own gear, you should rent some from one of the dive shops in town on the oceanfront road. If your friends don't snorkel, they can wait for you at the palapa bar located at this site.

After Hurricane Wilma, the large chunks of concrete removed from the destroyed Puerta Maya pier were placed in this area to create an artificial reef. The depth varies from 10-20’. There are numerous fish and, if you can get deep enough, you might find a lobster under the structures. The current in this area runs north to south most of the time. (This opposite of the rest of the area due to what is known as a "recirculating eddie").

Start the trip by swimming straight out from shore to the northernmost yellow “nun” buoy. Turn left and swim south toward the second yellow nun buoy and you will swim directly over the artificial reef. There are also two sunken PT type boats in this area of about 45’ in length. When you get to the aforementioned second yellow buoy, turn west (right and away from shore) and head out to the third yellow nun buoy. In 20-35’ of water the first boat will appear. It is pointing almost due south. Again, you will find a good number of fish. Some of these fish might be large. To locate the second boat, use the bow of the first boat as a clock (with the bow being 12 o’clock) and swim 30-40 yards at 11 o’clock. This boat is in 30’ feet of water. If you are a decent snorkeler, you can make it down to the tops of the boats.

A few words of caution. Be aware of your surroundings. Verify the current direction before you start your trip. If you do make it out to the sunken boats, take note that it is a long snorkel back to shore. Keep an eye out for boats and the numerous sailboarders that may be there in the late afternoon. A dive float or sausage is a good idea to have so the boats can see you.

Several other possible snorkel adventure trips include:


Head to the north end of the island and enter the water just south of Coral Princess hotel. The current usually runs South to North (left to right as you face the mainland) Jump in and the current will take you North past Fontan, Miramar, Nah Ha, Peninsula. You can get out almost anywhere you see some steps and take the paved "bike path" back to your car. In this area you will see lots of fish. It’s a 30-45 minute snorkel to Nah Ha. If you go far out from shore, keep an eye out for fishing and dive boats if you are more than 100 yards from shore. This is a blast to do at night as a lot of creatures come out you normally won’t see during the day. Another option would be to enter in this general area and snorkel until you get tired. Then let the current carry you back to your initial starting point.

Cozumel Caribe (aka the Bate's Hotel) has decent snorkeling and good food. It is a beach bar and restaurant and is located on the North end.

To the south, the Money Bar and Corona Beach Bar. The area in front of the closed Piratas Beach Club gets OK reviews but the entry is difficult.

The Playa Palancar boat trip also gets good reviews and is about $30 pp for a couple of hours.

If the winds are calm, then the Punta Sur/Celarain Park is another good option. They have platforms out in the water so you can rest and work your way pretty far out. There is a fee for this park.
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#4 CZMDM

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 07:27 PM

If you are going to snorkel off-shore I would strongly recommend using a dive float with a flag that has a minimum height of 2 feet. The same type of marker required for shore diving in the States. This float would be even more important if you plan on "really" snorkeling (swimming down to the bottom, spearfishing or swimming down to an object) as you would be impossible to see from a fast running craft. As someone who works on and has owned several off-shore boats I can say that I have had many close encounters with snorkelers that surface directly in front of a boat. A snorkeler in the open water with even just a mild chop is sometimes very difficult to see until you are right upon them. Last spring I found a body at the surface and I thought it was a t-shirt until I was right up on the guy. From the boat he looked more like a boogy board than a snorkeler. I would not trust just using a sausage as it will float flat, unlike when a diver surfaces and the buoy is vertical and is very easy to see. As you can see from the threads regarding boating safety and lost divers, there are a lot of terrible boating practices going on here on an everyday basis. If you have not read these threads I would suggest that you might browse through them if you are considering snorkeling off-shore. The last thing you want to be is a statistic on an accident report.

Personally after many years of snorkeling all over the island and the many close calls I have had with boats I would never snorkel very away from the shore line without a support boat. It can be done, will be done, but I firmly believe it is an accident waiting to happen. There are really a lot of fun safe spots to snorkel...the sea wall from Puerto Abrigo to the North, the Money Bar, the small reef at the shallow Paradise near the marina Caleta. On the West side you would be surprised to see how many animals are in shallow waters that are close to the shore line that most people never use. Forget snorkeling on the East side as the bottom is mostly sand, there can be rip, it is turbid and even the reefs IMHO are not worth seeing as they, except for a couple of exceptions, are just rubble fields. The only thing I like about diving or snorkeling the East side is that I have a friend who is very good at finding small packs of Lemon Sharks and that can be a rush as they are rather large and aggressive. I have had several encounters with Bull Sharks over there, but only diving.

There are many great places to snorkel in the waters that surround Cozumel. Whatever you do have a great time and please make safety your primary concern.
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