Puerto Morelos Reef National Park, part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, was designated a protected area in 1998. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The reef’s proximity to Puerto Morelos’ shore and protected status provide for some of the most accessible and highest quality reef snorkeling in the region.
One of the protected species found in the marine reserve is elkhorn coral, an important reef-building species found in the Caribbean that has declined dramatically in recent years. While snorkeling in the national park, keep an eye out for elkhorn coral. You can also expect to see a kaleidoscope of fishes (parrotfish, angelfish, grunts, damselfish, etc.), brightly-colored anemones, brain coral, and sea fans swaying in the currents.
The best way to visit the reef is to hire a boat at the main pier in town. The price is $20-$25 USD per person for a 2-hour guided tour + $2 per person for the park entrance fee. Boats usually take 8-10 people out at a time unless you pay for private tour. On windy days, expect currents while swimming along the reefs. Life jackets are mandatory.
If you happen to be in Puerto Morelos or close by, it’s well worth taking a couple of hours to explore the underwater world just off shore.