Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park encompasses the island’s best-known diving and snorkeling spots, including the Palancar, Columbia, and Paradise reefs, as well as the Devil’s Throat at Punta Sur and the shipwreck of Felipe Xicoténcatl—a minesweeper ship used in WWII. The park houses up to 26 species of coral and 300 species of fish.
With both shallow coral gardens and deep drop-offs, Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park is an ideal spot for snorkelers and divers of all experience levels. The area is best explored on a snorkeling or diving tour from the island’s downtown marina. Most excursions visit popular sites such as Columbia Reef, Palancar Reef, and El Cielo Marine Park, and sometimes include pickup and drop-off from select waterfront hotels.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This reef system is a must-see attraction for nature and wildlife lovers.
- Remember to bring sun protection and water. It’s also a good idea to wear a wetsuit or rash guard to protect your skin from rough coral and jellyfish.
- Evidence of scuba diving certification is required for certified dives.
- Be careful not to touch or disturb the wildlife.
- To maximize your chances of seeing wildlife, minimize your movement and let the fish come to you.
How to Get There
Cozumel Reefs National Marine park is located off the southern coast of Cozumel, near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. You can get there by guided tour or private charter boat—although the reefs may be hard to locate on your own.
When to Get There
You can visit Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park year-round, but it’s busiest from December through April, when the weather tends to be sunny and warm. There are fewer crowds during hurricane season (May through October), but be sure to check the weather for storms.
Cozumel’s Coral Reefs
Cozumel’s coral reefs are some of the largest in the world. Paradise Reef and Palancar Gardens are ideal spots for novice divers and snorkelers due to their shallow depth, and offer a chance to glimpse sea turtles, colorful fish, towering coral spires, and gently waving sea fans. The Palancar Caves are probably the most famous dive site, with huge brain corals and swim-through tunnels. Palancar Horseshoe, a natural underwater amphitheater made entirely of coral, is another must-see.