Puerto Morelos is a small port town in Mexico on the Caribbean Coast close to Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Puerto Morelos is 38.5 kilometers from Cancun and 35 kilometers from Playa del Carmen, midway between the two cities.
It is a peaceful and serene escape that retains its laid-back small-town charm despite all the developments in recent times. More importantly, it is a snorkeling and diving hub for one of the world’s best marine reefs. There are many dive sites in the Puerto Morelos Reef National Park. You will find turtles on the coastal beaches. There are freshwater sinkholes too – Playa del Carmen and Las Mojarras are the most popular. Mangrove forests are very close.
The beach stretches for 20 kilometers all the way to Punta Nizuc, beyond which there is Playa Delfines. It is a quiet stretch, away from the glamour and glitz of busier Cancun beaches. The tourist infrastructure, though, is advanced. Scattered you will find many condos, villas, boutique hotels, shops, and restaurants.
Puerto Morelos – Quick Facts
|Puerto Morelos||Small town south of Cancun with miles of pristine beaches.|
|Location||38.5 kilometers from Cancun and 35 kilometers from Playa del Carmen|
|The Town||A small laid-back town with boutique hotels, villas, local shops, and restaurants.|
|Mesoamerican Barrier Reef||The world’s second-largest coral reef system.|
|Activities||Snorkeling, swimming, diving, catamaran tours, cenote diving.|
The marine terminal at Puerto Morelos is the oldest and biggest seaport in Quintana Roo. It can handle containers.
The Small-Town Feel
Most tourists visiting Mexico and even those coming to the Mayan Riviera chose to stay in large resorts and busier places like Cancun. Even Playa del Carmen attracts thousands of tourists. You will find Puerto Morelos completely different.
It is a laid-back, friendly small town. You will get an island feel here as the city has just 15 blocks in length and 4 blocks in width. There are no big hotels or resorts. In La Colonia, you will find many local shops. See the whitewashed buildings and the colorful markets. The local connection will be much stronger here. You will get to know the real Mayan Riviera, as it was before the tourism revolution.
Puerto Morelos Reef Park is the 2nd largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Puerto Morelos is a protected site since 1998.
Puerto Morelos National Reef Park
You will find the corals at Puerto Morelos much closer to the surface, unlike other sections of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. In fact, they come up almost on the surface, only about 300 yards from the beach. Ocean waves break here tumbling over the coral reef. Enjoy the sounds and sights relaxing on a lounge chair at the beach.
The water inside the reef is always calm because of the waves breaking earlier. You can wade through the water easily with a drink in hand.
Look out for lobsters, barracuda, start fish, and conch shells. There are more than 500 species of marine life in the reef. You cannot go swimming to the reef from the beach, but you can reach up to the place where the waves break up. You have to wear a life jacket and apply eco-friendly sunscreen while snorkeling. It is mandatory.
Diving And Snorkeling
You can either just skim the surface or go deep down. There are cenotes and wrecks that advanced divers can explore. While they can do a challenging dive, there are ample easy dives too for beginners in the shallower sections. You have a chance to see eagle rays, lobsters, crab, turtles, and many schools of colorful fish.
- 2 wrecks – a large pelagic and a smaller navy boat.
- Many dive shops here.
Guided boat trips offer snorkeling on the reef. Remember, you cannot snorkel to the reef from the beach on your own. Snorkeling is allowed only with an accredited guide. Park wardens can pick you up and issue a fine if you are on your own.
They are sinkholes with clear groundwater. Many of them are deep and large, while others are just small passages through cave systems. You will find many cenotes inland along the road to Vallarta. You will enjoy swimming here in the blue crystal-clear water.