The star attraction of the Cozumel Reefs National Park - or Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel - not to mention Jacques Cousteau's television show, which quite literally put Cozumel on the map - is Palancar Reef. Actually composed of 4 separate coral reefs, it is home to sea turtles, rays, nurse sharks, barracudas, moray eels, lobsters, crabs, and a keleidescope of colorful fish.

Boats leaving from Playa Palancar take snorkelers out to the shallowest parts of the reef, about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from shore. Scuba divers, however, have several world-famous spots to explore. The Palancar Caves are probably the most famous attraction, with huge brain corals and swim-through tunnels. Palancar Horseshoe is another massive formation of huge corals, some partially damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma. Less experienced divers can visit Palancar Gardens, a shallower spot with mellow currents. 

Practical Info

The closest beach access to remarkable Palancar Reef is pretty Playa Palancar, a laid-back public beach close to the intersection of Avenida Melgar and the Costera Sur. There is currently no public bus service to the beach, but you can easily hire a taxi or rental car.

You can rent snorkel equipment right on the beach, which also has restaurants and other services. Boats wait close by to transport you out to the reef. Any of Cozumel's dive shops can arrange trips to Palancar Reef.

Tours & Tickets

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Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs

3.5 star rating: Worth doing 17 Reviews

Hop aboard a glass-bottom boat and snorkel at prime locations offshore from Cozumel on this half-day guided tour in Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park. At El ...  Read more

Location: Cozumel, Mexico
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $52.99

Snorkeling Tour and Cozumel Beach Party

4 star rating: Recommended 9 Reviews

Party in Paradise! Meet new people, snorkel on world renowned reefs and experience the well known party life of Mexico. Do it all onboard this custom made ...  Read more

Location: Cozumel, Mexico
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $61.99

Caribbean Combo - Sailing, Snorkeling and Sunset

4.5 star rating: Recommended 24 Reviews

This Caribbean tour is a combination of all the must do activities in Cozumel! Start with snorkeling the crystal clear turquoise waters at the famous reef ...  Read more

Location: Cozumel, Mexico
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $47.99

Cozumel Snorkel Tour from Cancun: Coral Reefs and Playa Mia Beach Park

3.5 star rating: Worth doing 2 Reviews

Get the most out of a full day of snorkeling off Cozumel Island and relaxing on the beach with this tour departing from Cancun, Mexico. This maritime adventure ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $123.99

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