When thinking about Mexico’s Riviera Maya, what comes to mind? Probably Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or Tulum. But there’s an under-the-radar gem situated unassumingly on this same stretch of sparkling Mexican Caribbean coastline: Puerto Morelos.
Located just 25 mins from Cancun airport, this idyllic fishing village feels worlds away with a laid-back vibe, small town feel, and friendly, welcoming locals. You won’t find party vibes here, spring breakers, aggressive shop owners or huge resorts. Rather, you’ll find a mecca of chilled out beach bars & restaurants, charming boutique hotels, palapa-covered souvenir shops and the sounds of gently lapping waves arriving to shore from the nearby Mesoamerican Barrief Reef.
It’s no wonder the seaside town has earned the nickname “La Joya Del Caribe” (Jewel of the Caribbean) or, as locals know it, “the magic in the middle.” Aptly fitting titles as we get the sense this charming town happily (if not intentionally) sits in the shadow of it’s larger, arguably hectic neighbors – retaining it’s magic as a beautiful, unspoiled beach destination waiting for those lucky enough to discover it.
Here, we have your ultimate guide to where to eat, sleep and play in Puerto Morelos, from the best beach clubs and boutique hotels to delicious seafood-with-a-view, sailing and snorkel excursions to extreme adventures (not exaggerating here!) in the jungle.
P.S. Head over to our IG account to see even more from this Mexican Caribbean gem in our Puerto Morelos Story Highlight!
Editor’s Note: Travel is complicated right now. While there are many factors that will result in your decision of whether or not to travel, this decision is ultimately your responsibility. Travel rules, restrictions and entry/exit requirements are subject to change frequently. Please check with both your home country’s official advisories as well as those of your destination country prior to traveling for up-to-date information.
Disclosure: Information, prices and timetables listed below are accurate as of time of writing (June 2021), however are subject to change.
BUT FIRST – LET’S TALK COVID
Within the current climate of the Covid-19 pandemic, Puerto Morelos is now open and welcoming visitors. Hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and more businesses are open with Covid safety measures in place. These include but are not limited to: mandatory temperature checks and hand sanitizer (and/or hand washing) upon entry, capacity limitations, required mask wearing and social distancing. Indoor dining is allowed, although the vast majority of restaurants here are open-air and/or fully outdoor.
If you do choose to visit now, please be considerate of not only your health but the health of those around you. Practice social distancing. Wear a mask. Mask wearing is not only a courtesy but expected, if not mandatory, when walking around both indoors and outdoors (especially downtown). Support small businesses, street stalls and local vendors and tour guides. The pandemic has had a profound impact on the local economy which will greatly appreciate your support. If you choose to visit Puerto Morelos now, please visit conscientiously and responsibly.
Important note: all states in Mexico are currently operating on a stoplight system (red –> orange –> yellow –> green) which updates every other week. As of time of publishing (second week in June), the state of Quintana Roo – which includes Puerto Morelos – is in orange. For up-to-date information on Covid-19 in Quintana Roo, please visit the state’s official health Facebook page here.
AND – TRAVEL INSURANCE
Whenever, and wherever, you might be traveling, travel insurance is always a good idea. We personally love SafetyWing for their transparent, easy to understand and thorough coverage starting at just $40.00 USD/month. Their two-tier coverage offers medical benefits in the event of an accident or illness while abroad, in addition to travel benefits such as compensation for delayed trips and lost luggage. Plus, all new SafetyWing policies automatically include COVID-19 coverage. Please note testing for COVID-19 is not covered unless deemed medically necessary by a physician. This means pre-flight tests do not count, nor do antibody tests. Find out everything you need to know about SafetyWing travel insurance, here!
PUERTO MORELOS – A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON
For such a small village Puerto Morelos has a fascinating history. Archaeological evidence suggests that, back in the mid-15th century, the town belonged to the Maya province of Ekab (meaning “black bee”). This was one of 19, thriving Maya provinces in the region. By the mid-16th century however, the entire eastern Yucatan peninsula had fallen under rule of the Spanish conquistadors – but not without plenty of attempted resistance from the Maya.
Fast forward to 1898 and the town’s modern history begins. An attractive harbor base due to the naturally protected, calm waters created by the massive barrier reef just offshore, the coastal town became the center of exports coming from inland Yucatán and ultimately arriving in Spain. These exports included everything from mahogany, vanilla and tobacco to chicle (natural chewing gum), cedar and cork, even leading the town to be referred to as “Punta Corcho” (Cork Point).
By 1929 the economy of the town had shifted to fishing, consisting of a single, beachfront strip of small wooden houses and one lone pier. By the early 1970s neighboring Cancun began its rise as an international tourist destination, and in 1974 Puerto Morelos was officially named so in honor of José María Morelos: leader of the Mexican War of Independence. Today tourism leads the town’s economy, while proudly retaining, and celebrating, its long-time fishing village roots.
THE PRACTICAL STUFF
Where is Puerto Morelos located?
Puerto Morelos is just a 25-minute drive south of Cancun Airport, situated on the Mexican Caribbean coastline right in the middle of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen.
How do I get to Puerto Morelos?
Arriving to Puerto Morelos is a quick, 25-minute ride in a taxi, car service or car rental from Cancun Airport.
The official taxi company out of Cancun Airport is called Green Line, which you can grab upon arrival for about $30.00 USD to Puerto Morelos. Simply walk out of the arrivals terminal and look for the guys wearing “Green Line” shirts and/or tags. (More likely, they’ll find you first.) The taxis themselves are white with a “Green Line” logo on the sides.
Pre-Covid you could also take the comfortable, air-conditioned ADO Bus. It would leave you at the entrance to Puerto Morelos on the highway, and you would simply take a taxi to your hotel/accommodation from there. Please note as of time of writing, the ADO Bus is not currently stopping in Puerto Morelos. However, there is a way. You can take the ADO from the airport to “Cancun Centro,” which should run you around $100.00 pesos ($5.00 USD). Then, walk right across the street and grab the air-conditioned Playa Express shuttle. This should run you around $40.00 pesos ($2.00 USD), dropping you on the aforementioned highway at the entrance to Puerto Morelos. From here you can take a taxi which will start at $35.00 pesos (just under $2.00 USD) to get you downtown. This is the cheapest method but does involved three methods of transport, so accordingly it will take the longest.
Getting oriented: how big is Puerto Morelos?
You can think of Puerto Morelos in essentially two parts: the beach side (also known as centro or downtown) and la colonia or town, about 2 kilometers away on the other side of the highway. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be focusing on the beach side/downtown. This area is compact and easily walkable, stretching 4 blocks at its widest and about 15 blocks long. You can walk end to end in about 20-25 minutes.
Why only 4 blocks wide? Because behind the last block lies 2 kilometers of protected mangrove forest stretching inland to the highway. This mangrove is not only fiercely protected by Puerto locals wanting to prevent illegal development and destruction, but also by its only current residents: a range of wildlife (crocodiles included) happily enjoying their natural habitat.
If you’ve been wondering why Puerto Morelos hasn’t followed suit with neighboring Cancun or Playa Del Carmen in terms of growth, this explains it! There’s literally only so much room for the town to grow – much to the delight of locals, area environmentalists and in-the-know visitors like yourself.
How do I get around Puerto Morelos?
Because the downtown area is so compact, you can easily walk everywhere. As mentioned above, you can literally walk end to end in about 20-25 minutes.
Renting bicycles is also an option, which you can do from Puerto Morelos Green Bikes. Pick-up yourself or they’ll deliver to your hotel.
If you don’t feel like walking (or biking) you can also jump in a taxi, with rates starting at $35.00 pesos (just under $2.00 USD) to get you around downtown.
Speaking of wheels, you might be wondering – do I need a car in Puerto Morelos?
While a car in downtown Puerto isn’t exactly necessary, there are so many amazing things to do outside of downtown that renting a car may come in handy. If you plan to explore a lot of the surrounding region on your own, than we absolutely recommend renting a car. If however you’re planning to do mostly organized tours, excursions and day trips, than renting a car isn’t necessary as these almost always include roundtrip transportation. If you do rent a car, you’ll be happy to know there is plenty of free street parking all throughout downtown. Cancun Airport is a great option for car rentals or for within Puerto Morelos, try GetAway Rentals or Your Life in Mexico.
How is wifi/cell reception in Puerto Morelos?
We’re happy to report that both cell reception and wifi are plentiful, strong and stable in Puerto Morelos. This of course varies from hotel to hotel, café to café, etc, however we’ve personally tested download speeds up to 100 mbps in the downtown area.
How is the cash/credit card/ATM situation in Puerto Morelos?
Many businesses in Puerto Morelos do accept credit cards, however some are cash only. Both USD and Mexican pesos are accepted, although it’s always better to pay in pesos. (If you choose to pay with USD you will always end up paying more due to the exchange rates offered by businesses.) If you need to take out cash downtown, the best place to do it is from the HSBC ATM inside the centrally-located Chedraui Select. Or, you can head across the highway to la colonia where you’ll find a few banks.
If you need to exchange currency, you’ll find a couple of places to do it near the main plaza downtown.
ATM TIP: When withdrawing pesos from any ATM, a screen will pop up towards the end asking if you want to “accept the conversion rate.” Always hit DECLINE. ATMs exist to make money, and without fail will always give you a WORSE exchange rate than your bank will. Depending on how much you’re taking out, you could be losing anywhere from $10 – $100+ USD by accepting the ATM’s exchange rate – so don’t do it!
WHERE TO STAY // BEST BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN PUERTO MORELOS
There’s no shortage of excellent accommodations in Puerto Morelos, from boutique hotels to private vacation homes to fully furnished, equipped and serviced apartments like Kaam Condos. These stylish and spacious suites offer serious comfort level (we can personally attest!), including king beds, A/C, full kitchens, ample work space, strong wifi and some with balconies or patios. Cool off in the beautiful courtyard swimming pool, or head up to either of two sprawling, palapa-covered rooftops for (DIY) morning yoga, shaded afternoon lounging or nighttime star-gazing. Not to mention the location! Just three short blocks to the beach and steps to Puerto’s best restaurants, bars, cafés and shops. Looking to stay a while? Kaam Condos offers long-term stays up to three months, all utilities and housekeeping included.
TIP: Request a top (3rd floor) room for double balconies and an amazing cross-breeze. Head’s up there is no elevator here; stairs only. See more from this charming condo-hotel in our “Hotel Tour: Kaam Condos” Reel on IG, here!
This colonial-inspired, Puerto Morelos staple lands on this list for one primary reason: location. Hard to beat, Hacienda Morelos is located right on the beach just steps from the main plaza and pier. Rooms, while basic, come equipped with all of the essentials including A/C, free wifi and the most important one: a beautiful ocean view! All rooms have one, while some also boast private balconies. Common areas include an oceanfront pool, dedicated beach loungers with palapas and the excellent in-house restaurant Muelle Once (more on this below in Best Restaurants!).
Abbey Del Sol
This vacation rental group offers a range of incredibly charming options from apartment-style suites to private villas, sleeping from 2 to 10 persons depending on the property. Locations vary but for the most part, Abbey Del Sol apartments and villas are located on the quiet, residential north end of downtown – meaning you can enjoy some serious rest & relaxation while remaining just steps from the action. All accommodations come equipped with A/C and free wifi; some with balconies or patios, kitchens, shared or private pools and/or use of free bikes. Plus – friendly and helpful staff who will go out of their way to make your stay seamless.
There’s so much to love about this quirky-cool boutique hotel in paradise, from its unique design to beachfront location to seriously epic views from the sky deck, rooftop bar and sky pool. Four spacious suites offer stylish jungle vibes complete with king beds, kitchenettes, A/C and a balcony or patio, not to mention desk space and speedy, fiber-optic wifi (personally tested!). PLUS: weekly sunset yoga classes on the sky deck, a hair salon and spa and an excellent on-site restaurant (more on Café Layla below), not to mention expat owner Robin Brown’s commitment to sustainable practices and support of the local community. A series of give-back programs include Layla’s Mayan Experience Cenote Tour (more on this below as well!) and most recently, COVID Food Bank dedicated to local Maya families.
TIP: If available, book the Oscar Room. Located on the 2nd floor, this is the largest room with a lovely private balcony in addition to direct access to a shared, ocean view terrace. See more from this beautiful boutique hotel in our “Hotel Tour: Layla Guesthouse” Reel on IG, here!
WE Hotel Puerto Morelos
This sleek boutique hotel offers minimalist yet comfortable rooms all with king beds (or two doubles), mini-fridges, desk space and balconies, and a handful with partial ocean views and/or jacuzzis. WE is one of the few hotels in downtown Puerto Morelos that offers a rooftop pool, and this one’s a beauty! Head to the rooftop for sweeping ocean views from the infinity pool, and don’t miss catching a beautiful, jungle-view sunset on the other side. Located right in the heart of Puerto Morelos, WE is just three blocks from the beach and steps from the main plaza and pier.
Airbnb: Casa Perros
Especially if you’re traveling with a group, consider renting the 2,500 square foot, 3-bed/3-bath Casa Perros Afortunados (Lucky Dogs House). Just some of the reasons putting Casa Perros on our – and your – list? A sprawling rooftop terrace with pool and covered wet bar & lounge area, observation deck above the rooftop with 360-degree tropical views, fully equipped kitchen with breakfast bar and separate dining area, outdoor BBQ and ping-pong table, ample A/C, wifi and more. You’ll find this gem located mere blocks from the beach and steps from everything Puerto Morelos has to offer.
Find Casa Perros: Web
WHERE TO EAT // BEST COFFEE SHOPS & BREAKFAST RESTAURANTS IN PUERTO MORELOS
All restaurants & cafés in this list offer open-air, outdoor dining.
For strong coffee and even stronger wifi, head to this minimalist coffee shop located on an unassuming side street in the heart of downtown. Expect a range of excellent brews (hot or ice’d), tasty sweet treats and friendly baristas. Open 8am – 7pm Tues – Sun; closed Mondays.
TIP: Get the ice’d coffee tonic! It’s a game-changer.
Head to this popular spot to get your caffeine fix with everything from espresso and café de olla (traditional, cinnamon-infused coffee) to ice’d lattes and pink beet lattes, not to mention plenty of teas, smoothies and aguas frescas (fruit-infused water). Bring your appetite too! Breakfast is available from savory to sweet, in addition to an all day menu of sandwiches, salads and more satisfying a range of preferences from meat-based to plant-based. Open 8am – 7pm Wed – Mon; closed Tuesdays.
Located within Layla Guesthouse (mentioned above in Best Hotels), this bright, airy café serves up an excellent breakfast merging Mexican and International staples with a range of pick-me-up beverages from coffee to fresh-pressed juice to their signature mango smoothie. Come lunchtime the menu shifts to Asian Fusion, with popular dishes like Bibi’s Bibimbap, Saigon Grilled Chicken and Mama’s Sunday Noodle Soup. Café Layla also happens to have plenty of power outlets in addition to fiber optic wifi, so digital nomads – feel free to bring your laptop. Open 8am – 4pm Wed – Mon; closed Tuesdays.
TIP: Go on Sunday for their fun, live musical brunch!
Mangata Urban Kitchen & Juice Bar
This place may as well have jumped right off Instagram it’s so colorful, cute and charming. With dishes to match! Expect an inventive range of well-plated (and palate-pleasing) breakfast and lunch options from savory to sweet, not to mention the most impressive selection we’ve seen in Puerto of smoothies, juices and coffee drinks. Open M-Sat 8am – 4pm, Sundays 9am – 3pm.
TIP: Come hungry and get the “Chilango” chilaquiles (which can be made vegan or non) paired with a super smoothie.
Le Café D’Amancia
Centrally located right off the main plaza, this bustling eatery serves up heaping portions of Mexican staples from Huevos Rancheros to Molletes to Huevos Motuleños (a regional speciality hailing from nearby Yucatán). Not just for breakfast, Le Café D’Amancia remains a solid option at any time of day. Open Tues – Fri 7am – 10pm, Sat – Sun 7am – 11pm, closed Mondays.
WHERE TO EAT // BEST DINNER RESTAURANTS IN PUERTO MORELOS
All restaurants on this list offer open-air, outdoor dining.
Located just off the main plaza, head to La Sirena for flavorful Mediterranean cuisine with a view! The rooftop terrace is sprawling and beautiful, with views of the (new) lighthouse and ocean beyond. Everything is delicious here, from mezes to ceviches to gyros to surf & turf entrées, with excellent cocktails to match and an extensive tequila selection. Open daily 11am – 10pm.
TIP: Be sure to check their IG for announcements as to upcoming live music, typically held Thursdays and Sundays.
La Choza del Puerto
On a quieter block of Puerto sits this casual, palapa-covered restaurant great at any time of day. Good vibes, friendly service and delicious food await, including our faves: the Coconut Shrimp and La Choza Burger (complete with bacon, caramelized onions and a savory-sweet blueberry BBQ sauce). Open daily 9am – 10pm.
TIP: You’ll probably be sitting at an outdoor table, but don’t miss checking out the spot’s funky, island-inspired decor inside – or the ready-to-play foosball table.
You don’t have to tell us twice whenever we hear the phrase “comfort food.” This Puerto Morelos staple serves up just that, in the form of freshly caught seafood and organic land fare under the direction of Chef Karla Romo. Originally from Mexico City, Romo brings a talented and discerning eye to each and every dish at El Pirata, personally hand-picking the majority of the kitchen’s ingredients from their own organic farm located on the nearby Ruta de los Cenotes. Open daily 10am – 11:30pm.
TIP: You can visit the aforementioned farm with a special dining experience offered by advance reservation only. We highly recommend it and have more on this below!
El Socio Naiz Taquería
One word: Tacos. Expect a wide-ranging menu of inventive “craft” tacos, if you will, satisfying diets from plant to sea to land-based. Presentation is on point as are the hand-pressed tortillas, not to mention an impressive selection of accompaniments including a garlic cream salsa you’ll want to put on everything. Open 4pm – 9pm Tues – Sun; closed Mondays.
TIP: Come hungry! Tacos aside, you can’t skip the fried avocado with jalapeño mayo.
Located on the main stretch of restaurants on Javier Rojo Gomez, head to the back of this rustic-chic restaurant to dine on fine surf & turf fare in a magical, romantic garden setting. The Filet Mignon is perfectly cooked, the Carbonara a la Diabla delicious (if not living up to it’s name – it does pack some heat!) and the wine list extensive. Plus, live music just about every night of the week. Open 2pm – 10:45pm Thurs – Tues; closed Wednesdays.
Our pick for the best Italian in Puerto Morelos – especially the perfectly wood-fired pizza. Located on a quiet block just steps from the main plaza, expect a chic, welcoming space paired with friendly service, an extensive menu of Italian favorites and an impressive wine and cocktail list. Open 4pm – 10pm every day of the week.
TIP: With 1 day’s advance notice you can request to dine on the rooftop of the adjoining WE Boutique Hotel. Time your reservation with sunset to be treated to epic 360 views of the surrounding ocean and jungle.
Layla Vegan Pizza
Known as the aforementioned Café Layla by day, at night the lively space (located within Layla Guesthouse) transitions to easily the best vegan restaurant in Puerto Morelos. As the name suggests vegan pizza is the specialty here, offered in a range of inventive options alongside equally delicious Argentinian-style empanadas (caution: these are served with a very addictive, garlic chimichurri sauce!). Open 4pm – 9:30pm Wed – Sun; closed Tuesdays.
TIP: Come on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night for live music ranging from broadway and piano to tango and Spanish guitar, Thursdays for karaoke night, or Wednesdays for movie night.
Part of Hacienda Morelos mentioned above, head to Muelle Once (translating to Pier Eleven) for freshly caught seafood, wood-fired flatbreads and what we feel are the best cocktails in town. We love the stylish, nautical-inspired dining room with sleek bar, but the best seats in the house are on the open-air, oceanfront terrace. These tables go quick and especially late afternoon through early evening (while you still have the view!), so if you want to snag one it’s best to make a reservation. An excellent option at any time of day, Muelle Once is open daily 7:30am – 10pm.
WHERE TO HANG // BEST BEACH CLUBS IN PUERTO MORELOS
UNICO Beach Club
Located on the north end of downtown, head to this toes-in-the-sand spot for a day of carefree lounging in a fun and hip setting. An extensive menu offers everything from four variations on guacamole to seriously stuffed burritos to fresh ceviches, which you can pair with beverages ranging from caffeinated to cocktails; cerveza to smoothies. Take a dip in the glistening ocean or a shaded swimming pool set back from the beach, and for some true R&R – take advantage of an on-site massage offered for just $500.00 pesos (approx $25.00 USD). Open 10am – 7pm Tues – Sun; closed Mondays.
TIP: This place gets packed on weekends! Be sure to arrive early (before 12noon) to snag a coveted oceanfront lounger, umbrella and/or palapa.
My Paradise Beach Club
This is your spot for truly laid-back beach life. Whether soaking in the sun on a beachfront lounger, taking shade under an umbrella or hanging in the kitschy, wraparound palapa bar, come here for a no-frills beach day popular with locals and tourists alike. The shrimp cocktail is delicious, Aperol Spritz perfectly refreshing and 90s slow-jams on point. What’s not to love? Open Thursday – Tuesday 10am – 6pm; closed Wednesdays.
TIP: This place runs daily, rotating food & drink specials. Make sure to inquire and take advantage!
Ojo de Agua Beach Club
For a day pass of just $250.00 pesos (about $12.50 USD), this lively-chic beach club offers your choice of oceanfront loungers or palapa-covered daybeds, plus use of their swimming pool. Fried pulpo (octopus) and chicharrón tacos are perfectly paired with an ice-cold artisanal beer, or an excellent Mezcalito cocktail. Looking for a work-from spot with a view? You’ll find ample table seating on the elevated deck and of course, free wifi. Or, stay offline and enjoy a relaxing, beachfront massage. Open daily 7am – 11pm.
WHAT TO SEE & DO // BEST ACTIVITIES IN & AROUND PUERTO MORELOS
Walk or Ride Bikes Around Town
One of the best things to do in Puerto Morelos is simply to wander through its charming streets. At 4 blocks at its widest and barely 15 at its longest, it won’t take you long to stroll or bike through town. In addition to cute cafés, palapa-covered souvenir shops and picturesque fishing docks, expect sights of daily, laid-back life: colorful casitas ranging from quaint to quirky, vibrant street murals, cart-pedaling street vendors, sleepy pups lazing about in the sun and plenty of swaying palms. Don’t miss the newly renovated Jardín Principal, the main Puerto Morelos Dock (a great spot for people watching) or the iconic Leaning Lighthouse – more on this below! Contact Puerto Morelos Green Bikes if you prefer to explore on wheels, who will even deliver to your hotel.
Marvel at the Leaning Lighthouse (El Faro Inclinado)
As mentioned above, you don’t want to miss checking out the town’s iconic Leaning Lighthouse (Faro Inclinado). Built in 1946, this 30-foot lighthouse was hit by Hurricane Beulah in 1967 – causing it’s now distinct, tilted stature. After a failed attempt by local authorities to try to remove it decades later (the damage to its foundation made it a challenge, plus locals didn’t want it to go), the Leaning Lighthouse now stands as a beloved, local symbol of resilience.
A newer, taller lighthouse has since been built almost directly behind its leaning counterpart, warning passing boats of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef located right off-shore.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
Puerto Morelos is a great place to do stock up on local and authentic Mexican souvenirs, with prices generally lower than what you’ll find in neighboring Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. You’ll find a number of colorful, palapa-covered souvenir shops all throughout downtown. You can stick to the stalls surrounding the main plaza or walk just south along Calle Javier Rojo Gomez to a row of quieter shops, where we personally found the best deals.
TIP: Head to the main plaza on a weekend evening and you’ll also find a pop-up market with local artisans selling everything from unique, handmade jewelry to wispy dreamcatchers, patterned textiles to locally-made bath & body products.
Go on a Morning Snorkel Trip
Did you know that the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the 2nd largest reef system in the world? It’s actually the largest in the Western Hemisphere, stretching a whopping 700 miles from the Mexican Caribbean sea all the way down through the Bay Islands in Honduras.
In Puerto Morelos, this incredible underwater world sits just 500 meters off-shore. Meaning a morning snorkel trip is an absolute must during your visit! Boats depart right off the main Puerto Morelos Dock where you’ll find a number of tour companies offering the trip, although we used and recommend Bolo Tours. These guys offer private, guide-led snorkel excursions starting at just $15.00 USD per person, complete with fully sanitized, individually wrapped snorkel gear. We have to give a big shout out to our guide Reyes, who knew exactly where to go for the best visibility. We saw everything from gliding manta rays to giant sea turtles, schools of colorful fish to open-mouthed barracudas, and the biggest lobster we have seriously ever seen. After the tour you can keep your mouthpiece, OR choose to trade it in for a drink at the nearby El Pirata Restaurant.
Get a glimpse of what your snorkel trip will look like in our IG Reel, here!
TIP: Because weather conditions can affect the ability for boats to go out (not to mention visibility), we recommend booking your trip early on in your visit to Puerto. This way if it’s raining or too windy one morning, you have plenty of backup dates.
Contact Bolo Tours: IG
Explore the Ruta de los Cenotes
The Ruta de los Cenotes is a 37-kilometer road stretching inland from Puerto Morelos. The road itself is paved and easy to navigate, surrounded by nothing but thick Mayan jungle, open sky above and, far below: cenotes.
What exactly are cenotes? Pronounced “seh-notays,” these are naturally formed swimming holes you can find, and enjoy, all across Mexico’s sprawling Yucatán peninsula. These incredible sites are formed over hundreds of thousands of years by the gradual erosion, and eventual collapse, of limestone bedrock. There are literally thousands here and no two are exactly alike. Some cenotes are completely subterranean and enclosed, some completely open to the sky and some a mix of both. Held sacred by the ancient Mayans, these beautiful sites were thought to be portals to the underworld.
The Ruta de los Cenotes offers a dizzying number of options, although we personally visited and recommend Kin Ha Cenotes and Cenote La Noria. These are both very easy to visit on your own either by driving a rental car or with a taxi. If taking a taxi, we recommend negotiating a flat rate with your driver so he’ll wait for you and bring you back afterwards.
At Kin-Ha you can pay $420.00 pesos (about $21.00 USD) to visit 2 cenotes: Cenote Kin-Ha and Cenote Blanca Flor. Since almost all cenotes along the Ruta charge $400.00 pesos to visit a single cenote, this makes Kin-Ha a pretty good deal as you can experience 2 for almost the same price. For those looking for even more adventure, Kin-Ha also offers horseback riding and ATVs (at an additional charge). The two cenotes at Kin-Ha are also very different, making this a great option for first-timers or to simply maximize your time. First you’ll visit Cenote Kin-Ha: an enclosed, subterranean cenote that you’ll reach via a winding staircase down into the ground. The vibes here can best be described as otherworldly, in an eerie yet magical way. Next you’ll take a shuttle to nearby Cenote Blanca Flor, a beautiful, completely exposed cenote with jumping platforms of various heights and a zipline. You’ll be shuttled back to the main parking lot at Cenote Kin-Ha prior to leaving. Life vests and bathrooms are available at both cenotes.
Located almost right across the street to the entrance/exit road of Kin-Ha, you’ll find the entrance to Cenote La Noria. Between the adjacent location and very reasonable price tag of $250.00 pesos OR $15.00 USD to enter, this makes stopping at Cenote La Noria a no-brainer. For an additional price this spot also offers horseback riding, ATVs and ziplining, although we recommend saving your adrenaline for Selvatica Adventure Park – more on this below!
You can reach the cenote via 1 of 2 entrances: either a steep staircase or a gradual walkway. Both will leave you emerged into a cavernous, underground world complete with glowing turquoise water and giant, icicle-shaped stalactites. It really is visually stunning. You can swim to a platform in the middle from which you can marvel at the cave, breeze through the air in a suspended swing, or launch yourself into the water via a series of rope swings.
Head’s up if you’re wanting to take photos on the platform itself, you will need to be prepared for some coordination. The only way to get your camera, phone, etc onto the platform is by swimming with them in a waterproof bag or casing, OR you can coordinate with a friend or staff member to get your items to you via a small, hanging basket that can be lowered down to the platform (and lifted back up) from the top. One more option is to place, and push, your items atop a lone, old paddleboard that you’ll first need to retrieve from wherever it happens to be floating in the cenote – in which case you’ll probably still want to have everything secured in a waterproof bag or casing.
TIP: Whichever cenote(s) you choose to visit, we highly recommend visiting first thing in the morning – right at opening time. This way you’ll beat the tour buses and can enjoy a truly peaceful, otherworldly experience. If visiting the two above, we recommend hitting Kin-Ha Cenotes first followed by Cenote La Noria.
Go to Extreme Heights & Ride ATVs at Selvatica Adventure Park
Adrenaline junkies – this is your spot! Head just minutes into the jungle and you’ll not only find beautiful cenotes, but you can also find experiences like Selvatica offering a seriously unforgettable day of extreme adventure. Here are just a few of the adrenaline-pumping, sky-high activities you can do at Selvatica Adventure Park:
- Zoom through the jungle Tarzan-style via zipline.
- Fly through the air on a Bungee Swing.
- Ride a feet-dangling, human rollercoaster that YES – is just as crazy (and awesome) as it sounds.
- Fly over the treetops just like superman in the epic “Superflight.”
Prefer your feet closer to the ground? Selvatica’s got you too! You can:
- Drive a 4×4 ATV in a killer off-road jungle course.
- Cool off in a beautiful cenote with optional zipline.
Selvatica offers a number of package options combining different aerial and/or land activities, or for the true adrenaline-junkie: go with the full day “Gimme All” package. Pricing starts around $100.00 USD per person depending on the package you select. Light meals are included in some of them; transportation to/from Puerto Morelos included in all of them.
The park is family-friendly (in our group there was a 7-year old girl who was easily the most fearless out of all of us!) although there are some activities that children cannot participate in. It’s also worth noting that the aerial activities in particular are not for the faint of heart. They really are sky-high and there’s a LOT of stair-climbing involved to reach them. Facilities offered include locker rental, very clean bathrooms, an on-site restaurant and bar and souvenir shop.
TIP: Did you even fly through the jungle like Tarzan if it’s not on camera? Selvatica’s professional photo and video team will be snapping and filming throughout all of your adventures. At the end of the day you can check out the shots and decide if you want to purchase anything. We found both photo and video quality to be impressive so like us, you probably will! Especially as the ONLY type of camera you as a guest are allowed to bring on any activity is a mounted GoPro (definitely worth bringing if you have one). Professional cameras, phones, drones, tripods, etc are strictly prohibited due to the safety of your equipment, and others.
Join a Mayan Experience Cenote Tour
Created and organized by Layla Guesthouse owner Robin Brown (as mentioned above in Best Hotels), this immersive tour takes you into the heart of Mayan culture. The full day (8 hour) tour includes a visit to local artisans ranging from wood carvers to honey producers, a guided nature walk through the jungle where you’ll learn about native medicinal plants and the history of the region’s chicle (gum) industry, exploration of an underground cave plus swimming in a million-year old cenote. All capped off with a freshly prepared Yucatecan lunch from a local Maya family. You can even try your hand at making traditional tortillas, which isn’t as easy as it looks!
Layla’s Mayan Experience Cenote Tour costs $100.00 USD per person, starting and ending at Layla Guesthouse. It runs every Thursday or can be booked any day of the week with a group of 4 or more.
Take a Paella Cooking Class
Who else loves paella? At El Pirata (mentioned above in Best Restaurants) you can learn exactly how to make this classic, delicious Spanish rice dish – and of course, eat it too! Led by the restaurant’s own Head Chef Karla Romo, the instructive and interactive class takes around 1 hour, held Saturdays at 4pm. The cost is just $200.00 pesos ($10.00 USD) per person, including instruction, a glass of sangria and a heaping plate of paella at the end. It’s something fun and different to do and we highly recommend it. You can reserve your spot by sending the restaurant a direct message on Facebook here.
Join an Organic Farm-to-Table Experience
Take your culinary journey one step further at Koox Ich Kool: an organic Maya farm along the Ruta de los Cenotes offering a unique farm-to-table experience. The gastronomic tour starts with the farm, gardens and surrounding jungle, where you’ll learn how a range of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown and harvested. You’ll also see and learn about the traditional Mayan pib oven, a fascinating underground cooking technique stretching back centuries. Next you can take a refreshing dip in the farm’s beautiful, and unique, swimming pool – it’s fed by fresh cenote water. During this time you can also enjoy poolside craft cocktails utilizing the farm’s own organic ingredients. All the while, Chef Karla Romo (the very one mentioned directly above) will be busy preparing a 6-course Yucatec dinner from Koox Ich Kool’s own wealth of ingredients, in addition to organic meats from neighboring farms and/or a fresh catch of the day from the coast. Pairings of Mexican wines, artisanal cerveza and/or mezcal all complement the meal.
The full day tour lasts around 7 hours and runs $130.00 USD per person. Fun Fact: “Koox Ich Cool” means let’s go to the garden.
Swim with Sea Turtles in Tulum
Snorkel the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Tulum and swim with majestic sea turtles with Eco Tours Adventure, a responsible tourism outfit committed to environmental conservation, respect for wildlife and non-exploitative experiences. Following your snorkel experience (where you’ll also glimpse Tulum’s famed, cliffside Mayan ruins from the water) this half-day tour further includes a visit to four cenotes: two swimmable and two cavernous which you’ll explore on a guided walk.
The tour is $87.00 USD per person with complimentary round-trip transportation to/from anywhere in Puerto Morelos.
Take a Day Trip to Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres: a literal slice of paradise tucked into the sparkling waters of the Mexican Caribbean. This tiny island gem stretches just 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) long and barely 1/2 mile (650 meters) wide, filled with swaying palm trees, white sand beaches, stunning coastal views and laid back island vibes. Located a mere 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a popular day trip and for good reason! The island is compact enough that you can cover quite a bit in a single day alone.
The trip is easily DIY’d from Puerto Morelos. Simply take a taxi to the Ultramar Ferry Terminal in Puerto Juarez, Cancun (an approx 40 minute ride from Puerto) then catch the next outgoing ferry to the island. Now that you’ve arrived, we recommend renting a golf cart to tour Isla Mujeres at your leisure.
We actually wrote a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know, see and do on Isla Mujeres, which you can check out here!
Prefer to visit the island on a tour? Cancun Adventures has you covered with an Isla Mujeres Sailing & Snorkel Tour, including free time on the island. The 5 1/2 hour tour starts at $83.00 per person and includes roundtrip transportation from your hotel/accommodation in Puerto Morelos.
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All photos in this post courtesy of your favorite pair of @travelinglamas.
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