Cozumel Snorkeling and Playa Del Carmen Snorkeling tours are very comparable in quality from my experience as a casual snorkeler. Cozumel is more famous and some people say the seadives are better than Playa. But if you are staying in Playa you have the ability to easily try an exciting cenote dive or snorkeling adventure you could not do in Cozumel. Because so many people think Cozumel might be a better destination for snorkeling it has become very commercialized and crowded with snorkeling tour groups all around the best reef areas. I think this is why when I tried snorkeling in Cozumel I saw less fish and smaller fish. The coral reef formations were larger than the reef off the coast in Playa but sadly, it would seem, that the hordes of snorkelers have had an impact on the quality and quantity of the sea life at the more popular snorkeling sites.
My experience with snorkeling in Playa Del Carmen was different. Although the coral reef formations were smaller there were way more large and colorful fish and massive sea turtles lurking around the reef. There were fewer snorkeling tour groups in the area we went and I think that’s why there was more to see including really interesting sea vegetation. The preservation of the coral reef, as many people know, is the most important thing for the fish and other sea life since it is estimated that 25% of the worlds fish species live on coral reefs.
The other disadvantage of Cozumel Snorkeling is the 50 minute ferry ride over from Playa. After waiting 15-30 min for the ferry to embark sometimes you can be in for a rough ride depending on how rough the sea is on any given day. Besides the the 2 or 2.5 hours you will need for the commute from Playa there are the sea conditions to consider. I have made the trip many times and on several occasions many people including myself were getting sick off the back of the ferry. Because I love Cozumel so much for cycling it’s worth it for me but for a snorkeling adventure I prefer staying in Playa and taking a spectacular and fun cenote or sea tour .