Puerto Morelos is justly famous for its snorkeling, with a protected stretch of coral reef running very near shore. A local cooperative (central plaza, Av. Rafaél Melgar s/n, no phone, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) offers excellent and affordable guided tours, visiting two spots on the reef for 45 minutes apiece, and using boats with sunshades.
Prices are fixed: US$25 per person, including equipment, park fees, and a bottle of water. Boats leave every 30 minutes from the municipal pier; if there are fewer than three people, you’ll have to wait up to 30 minutes (but no more) for additional passengers to come. Sign up at the cooperative’s kiosk at the northeast corner of the plaza; late morning is the best time to go, as the sun is high but the afternoon winds haven’t started.
The dive shops in town also offer snorkeling tours. Dive In Puerto Morelos (Av. Javier Rojo Gómez 14, tel. 998/206-9084, www.diveinpuertomorelos.com, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) offers a tour similar to the cooperative’s for US$30, while Wet Set Water Adventures (Hotel Ojo de Agua, Av. Javier Rojo Gómez s/n, tel. 998/871-0198, www.wetset.com, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. daily) offers outings of various lengths, from just one site (45 minutes, US$16 pp) to three (2.5 hours, US$32 pp). Prices include snorkel gear and park fee.
Caution: Do not swim to the reef from anywhere along the beach. Although it’s close enough for strong swimmers to reach, boats use the channel between the reef and the shore, and tourists have been struck and killed in the past.
Puerto Morelos has over two dozen dive sites within a 15-minute boat ride, virtually all in protected marine reserve waters. Add to that the nearby cenotes, plus night and wreck diving, and divers have plenty to keep them happy and interested. The dive shops in town—there were three at last count—tend to have small groups and offer a full range of fun dives and certification courses.
Prices are fairly uniform—roughly US$50/75 for one/two tanks, and US$370 for open-water certification—though some shops don’t include equipment rentals in the rate. Reservations are strongly recommended in the high season.
Dive In Puerto Morelos (Av. Javier Rojo Gómez 14, tel. 998/206-9084, www.diveinpuertomorelos.com, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) is run by a friendly American dive instructor who emphasizes safety and small groups. It’s a great choice for divers of all levels.
Wet Set Water Adventures (Hotel Ojo de Agua, Av. Javier Rojo Gómez s/n, tel. 998/871-0198, www.wetset.com, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. daily) is one of the longest-running dive shops around, offering top-to-bottom service—even rinsing your gear—and extensive area expertise. Equipment rentals are extra.
Almost Heaven Adventures (tel. 998/871-0230, www.almostheavenadventures.com) is the in-house shop at Ceiba del Mar hotel (1.5 kilometers/0.9 mile north of town, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) but also has a downtown location (Av. Javier Rojo Gómez s/n, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) a half block north of the central plaza.
The dive shops in Puerto Morelos also offer fishing trips, whether trolling for barracuda or dorado (even marlin) or dropping a line for “dinner fish” like grouper or snapper. Wet Set Water Adventures (Hotel Ojo de Agua, Av. Javier Rojo Gómez s/n, tel. 998/871-0198, www.wetset.com, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. daily) has the most experience and even guarantees you’ll catch fish on a five-hour trip or the trip is free (except for the fishing license and taxes). Trips for 2–4 people typically cost US$55 per hour (minimum 2 hours) or US$195 for 4–5 hours. A local cooperative (central plaza, Av. Rafaél Melgar s/n, no phone, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) also offers trolling and bottom fishing trips for up to four people (US$175 for 3 hours, US$250 for 4–5 hours).
Ecab Explorer (cell. tel. 998/123-5062, http://ekaabts.spaces.live.com) is a one-man tour operation launched by a longtime Puerto Morelos resident (and former purveyor of fine shrimp tacos). Among various recommended tours are Dos Aguas (Two Waters, US$50 pp, 4 hours), which includes snorkeling on the ocean reef and a nearby freshwater cenote, and Cobá Maya (US$100 pp, 9 hours), in which you visit Cobá ruins plus a nearby Maya village and monkey reserve; check the website for details on these and other options. Groups are small and the service highly personalized; transportation, entrance fees, and lunch and/or soft drinks are all included.
The Jungle Spa Sandra (Casa Cacahuate, Calle 2, Zona Urbana, tel. 998/208-9148, www.mayaecho.com, 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat., Sun. by appointment only) is one of several community projects undertaken by Lu’um K’aa Nab, a nonprofit run by the owners of Casa Cacahuate. Local women provide professional massage and traditional Maya treatments for far less than at ordinary spas. Treat yourself to one of various available treatments, from a four-handed full-body massage (US$80, 1 hour) to a chocolate body wrap and massage (US$60, 1 hour). Group massage or temascal (traditional Maya sweat lodge) also can be arranged with advance notice. A cab ride from Puerto Morelos’s central plaza runs about US$4.50.
Drop-in yoga classes are offered at Villa Shanti (Av. Niños Héroes s/n, tel. 998/871-0040, www.villasshanti.com, US$5) every Tuesday and Thursday 7–8:30 a.m. Yoga retreats also are often held here—check the website for more information.
The Little Mexican Cooking School (Calle Andrés Quintana Roo 779A, tel. 998/251-8060, www.thelittlemexicancookingschool.com, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Mon.–Fri. Oct.–Aug., US$110 pp, including complimentary recipe book and apron) offers a fun and unique introduction to Mexican cuisine. Smallish classes (6 minimum, 12 maximum) begin with light breakfast and a discussion of Mexican food and ingredients, followed by recipe demonstrations a half dozen dishes, from mango salsa to chicken mole. Students get some hands-on experience, though the chef and assistants do most of the actual cooking. You do get to taste everything, of course, at an end-of-class luncheon.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition