Snorkel with Whale Sharks Playa del Carmen

Whale Sharks – try a Whale Shark tour in Playa Del Carmen

Whale sharks are one of the most fascinating creatures in our oceans.  Experiencing one of these docile giants up close with one of this year’s whale shark tours in Playa Del Carmen is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.  From June to September is whale shark season in the  Yucatán, as these gentle giants come to feed on the algae blooms in the area’s warm tropical waters.

The whale shark, so-called because of its great size and feeding habits, is the largest known fish still swimming in the oceans of the world.  Whale sharks are slow moving filter-feeding fish that feed much like baleen whales, by drawing water into their mouths and filtering out the tiny plankton on which they survive.

Whale sharks are the largest non-mammalian vertebrate, with reports of fish more than 46 feet long, weighing over 60 tons.  These huge sharks, called carpet sharks because of their intricate, carpet-like color patterns, may be huge, but they are completely harmless to humans.  The warm waters of the Yucatán are the perfect habitat for these warm water loving creatures.

Whale sharks can be found plying the clear, warm waters along the Yucatán in many exotic locations, including the world snorkeling destination of Isla Mujeres just 8 miles from Cancun with its stunning coral reefs and Isla Holbox in the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, across the Yalahau Lagoon, just north of the Yucatán in Quintana Roo, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

The Yucatán is famous for whale shark tours.  Wherever you go, be sure there is a whale shark tour available not far from where you’re standing!  A whale shark tour in Playa Del Carmen, Isla Holbox or Isla Mujeres is sure to be the highlight of any trip.  Snorkeling with these huge and gentle creatures as they slowly cruise the warm surface of these tropical waters is an experience no one can forget!

cozumel snorkeling

Cozumel Snorkeling vs. Playa Del Carmen Snorkeling

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 seacozumel snorkelingdives 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.

the-sea-lovers-tour-playa-del-carmenMy 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 .


playa del carmen snorkeling

Caribbean Fish Of The Riviera Maya


Fish of the Riviera Maya that you can see while snorkeling are some of the most colorful sights you will see while visiting Playa Del Carmen. Did you know that the world’s second largest reef is right in Playa Del Carmen? Squid, sea turtles, octopus, moray eels, barracuda, stingrays, and many other varieties of fish frequent this reef.
According to the travel experts, September is the best month to snorkel the Riviera Maya, while the best window for snorkeling in the area is from July to January. These are the times when the winds are lightest and wave heights are lowest. It’s difficult to snorkel if the waves are too high.
As you know, the fishing is fantastic on the Riviera Maya, but did you know that the fish you will see while snorkeling are just amazing?
You can snorkel right from shore in many places around Playa del Carmen. It’s actually one of the most popular activities in the area. It is a wonder you will not soon forget.
There are colorful tropical fish everywhere you look as soon as you duck your head under the crystal clear blue water of the Caribbean sea. Brilliantly lion fish playa del carmen
colorful coral reefs abound here and they teem with fish.
Did you know that you should wear a biodegradable sunscreen when snorkeling in Playa del Carmen? This is just one example of how careful the fine people in this area are about keeping it pristine and preserving the habitat for the fish you will see here. Need biodegradable sunscreen? You can get it here.
What kind of fish can you see when snorkeling? It’s a long list, but a few exotic examples are the Spotted Butterfly Fish, Blue Striped Grunts, and the spectacular Spotted Moray Eel.
You may have heard of some people feeding the fish while snorkeling near Play del Carmen, but it’s not recommended. Not only is it not natural for the fish, you can get bitten! As many divers say, “Take only pictures; leave only bubbles.”

You can see these colorful exciting fish and many more on a reef snorkeling tour with The Snorkel Shop of Playa Del Carmen.

Check them all out on the handy chart below:


caribbean fish of the riviera

Snorkel in the Riviera Maya, The Snorkel Shop

Snorkeling in the Riviera Maya

Snorkel in the Riviera Maya, The Snorkel ShopRiviera Maya, also known as the Mayan Riviera, was originally named the Cancun-Tulum corridor. It is located on the Caribbean coastline of the Mexican state Quintana Roo and runs on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Primarily developed for tourism, the Riviera Maya is known throughout the world for its coastal and reef aquatic activities largely dependent on the coastal water and the Meseoamerican Barrier Reef System. The reef stretches from Cancun to Guatemala and is the second largest reef in the entire world.

In addition to the obvious aquatic attractions that bring tourists to the Riviera Maya, archaeology and Eco-parks are a huge draw. Chechen-Itza, Coba and Tulum are the more popular sites run by the Instituto Nacional de Archeological. The Eco-parks, Xcaret and Xel-Ha include Mayan ruins as a part of their attractions also. These natural water parks are a huge tourist magnet because of the diverse range of activities provided, such as ATV riding, swimming in cenotes, riding down the “lazy river” in an inner tube, resting in a hammock, swimming with the dolphins, jungle tours, animal exhibits and snorkeling.

Important Tip:
When visiting the Eco-parks in the Mayan Riviera you must wear special Eco-friendly sunblock because the oils in the regular sunscreen can be harmful and damage the water-life ecology. Don’t worry if you forget to purchase Eco-friendly sunblock because it’s available for purchase everywhere.