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Enjoy the tropical fish around XpuHa, MexicoSnorkeling - see fish without diving

Much of the reef in the area is so close to the surface the snorkelers can see as many fish and coral formations as divers. Cozumel has hundreds of snorkel tour operators who can take you to the best spots.

On the mainland, Paamul's reef is close in near shore and easy to swim to. Xpu Ha X-7 has a wonderful reef with a wide variety of fish, but watch out for the boats. Boats are also a factor at the only decent reef close to shore in Playa del Carmen, Coco Beach. The reef at Akumal is also popular with snorkelers. South of Cancun you can snorkel in the ocean or in a fresh water cenote.

Most dive shops rent snorkel gear - mask, fins and a snorkel usually run $10 for all day. Anyone who can swim can learn to snorkel, it just takes a little practice. Two tricks are to spit inside your mask before putting it on (so your mask won't fog up) and make a strong "TOO" sound to blow the water out of your snorkel. Beginners might want to go to Xel Ha or a calm fresh water cenote first. It is much easier to learn without waves.

snorkeling mexico playa del carmenYou can snorkel from the shore, but many dive shops run snorkeling trips by boat out to better reefs. Cyan Ha in Playa del Carmen takes snorkelers out daily.

Most of the area's fish are not dangerous, unless you bother them by chasing, cornering or poking them. When on the reef, absolutely don't touch or stand on the coral. It looks like rock, but is a living creature which is killed by touch. Coral grows so slowly, that breaking off a tiny piece could undo 10 years of growth. Instead, look for pieces of dead coral on the beach.

The stalactites in cenotes are not alive, but if you break them you ruin their beauty. Also, the ecology of the cenotes is fragile so don't wear sun screen or bug spray in the water.

For a unique thrill, try a snorkeling trip through a cenote cavern.

Take care of your ears so you don't get sick and learn about ways to stay safe in the surf.

Snorkeling...Here's How

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling For Dummies

Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life

cover A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya

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