Mayan Riviera

Tips on How To Snorkel in the Riviera Maya (and anywhere else YOU CAN SWIM)

Snorkeling is one of the best experiences to tick off your bucket list. And snorkeling in the Caribbean with its calm, clear waters and living reefs full of coral and fish — ahh!

It's one of the main the reasons why expats end up here. Everyone falls in love with the water, above on the beaches and underneath with the fishes!

Snorkeling always looks so easy, doesn’t it? And it is! All you need is the right equipment, and to relax. Snorkeling isn’t a sport. It’s like watching TV. Interactive TV. And just like TV, you don’t  touch much (aside from the water,, and the sand)!

Flotation Device

If you’re not a sure/strong swimmer, you can still safely and confidently enjoy snorkeling. Vests, or water noodles. They may not be photogenic as you wish, but they extend your snorkeling time! Just float when you get tired.

Wetsuits (optional)

Shorty wetsuits. No, they’re not just for cold water. They also add buoyancy AND sunburn protection. No little bits of stings and nicks on your covered skin either.

Reef-friendly sunscreen 

Whether you go snorkeling with a swimsuit or wetsuit, you need sunscreen. It should be eco-friendly that won’t leave harmful elements in the water. Some areas in some countries check your sunscreen. Look for ‘certified organic’ ingredients, and “certified safe for human, fish and coral health.”

Mask & Snorkel

Tours like ours usually provide quality masks and snorkels, complimentary as a part of the trip. We do!

If you get into it, buy your own set to take with you whenever you travel. Saves you rental costs! And the fit will be even better.

How to fit your mask, snorkel and fins:

  • It should be as narrow or as wide as your face, and should fit your nose size and length. By sight, you can tell if the mask is made for you or not.

  • Try it on. Press it to your face. Does it fit comfortably? Water pressure will press it to your face. All its edges should be just right. Not too high up that it touches your nostrils, not too near your eyes. (Men, shave before trying on masks so you can see properly!)

  • Suction test. (Here’s where men should shave, because stubble/full mustache doesn’t allow a water-tight seal). Put the mask onto your face (without pulling on the straps) and breathe in through your nose. This should seal the mask to your face. Move around a bit-- the mask should stay on without you having to hold it.

  • Now try the straps. The fit should be snug, not tight. The straps should sit high on your head. If they rest on your ears, that will be painful.

  • Try it with a snorkel. Put your snorkel in your mouth. This is enough to shift your face muscles, but it shouldn’t break the seal/suction of your mask. If it does, try another one.

  • Look for semi-dry/dry snorkels. They have splash guards or a valve at the top that seals when your snorkel goes underwater, and a purge valve at the bottom so you can easily blow water out. Don’t forget, the snorkel mouthpiece should be comfortable in your mouth.

  • Defogger. Snorkeling is all about seeing, so it sucks when you can’t see. Your mask will fog up because you generate heat. But it’s preventable with defogger gels, or even your own saliva. Make sure your defogger is also biodegradable, non-toxic, alcohol-free.

  • Enter the water with a dry mask, over a dry face, and do not take that mask off at all during the snorkel. That’s it.

  • Or you can simply use baby shampoo. Dilute 5-10 drops of baby shampoo in 2-ounces of water. Spray your mask with this solution, swish it around and dump the excess. Don’t rinse. The mild soap should coat the mask-- this prevents moisture attachment. And the baby shampoo won’t sting your eyes.

  • Fins. Like your mask, your fins should fit comfortably. Snug, not tight. The big fins may look awesome in the movies, but that’s for experienced swimmers. They require a lot of muscle to use. Opt for smaller fins.

Practice snorkeling

When you’re familiar with it, it keeps you relaxed. You enjoy the water, instead of worrying if you’re doing things right.

Get used to your snorkel. Don’t bite. Rest your teeth on your snorkel. Avoid a sore jaw by staying relaxed.

Practice deliberately flooding and clearing both mask and snorkel. When water comes in, you might get a salty surprise, especially for first-timers! So practice calmly reacting to this scenario and blowing out all the salt from the snorkel.

  • Simply get out of the water and let the water out.

  • Or, without leaving the water, press the top portion of your mask to your face and blow air out through your mouth. The air will force the water out through the looser lower portion of your mask.

Practice floating face down and breathing. This is the best part of snorkeling. Just lying on the ocean, letting the salt water carry you, and watching everything underneath. Beginners get plenty of encouragement and excitement from this! It’s so easy!

  • Keep the snorkel upright. Get help from a friend with more experience. At H2Oh, we help you out with this!

  • Gently kick with your fins to get yourself moving. That’s it! You’re snorkeling!

Practice looking around. Get familiar with your mask and your surroundings. You lose some of your peripheral vision because of the mask. Always look around so you don’t bump into other snorkelers.

They learned to snorkel watching the Little Mermaid.

They learned to snorkel watching the Little Mermaid.


Snorkeling safety and etiquette

When you head out with us, we go in groups with guides, so stay close. Or if you’ve chosen a beach, make sure you have a spotter or a lifeguard, or better yet a buddy system and only go out together. Watch out for flags or anything indicating rough conditions. You may see whitecaps or heavy winds, red flags or yellow flags.

We don't have much of this in the Riviera Maya, but elsewhere watch out for jellyfish and undertow or rip tides

Touch nothing and take nothing. Even a shell can look harmless — but if everyone took just one tiny shell, what would be left? 

Touching nothing applies to your feet as much as your hands. Be careful to swim a safe distance so you don’t kick corals. This could damage your skin and your fins. But the damage to the coral is worse. Corals are living creatures and so essential to marine life. It’s up to us to preserve them. It’s so tempting to touch them, but don’t. It can poison them.  

Certainly don’t stand on them to rest from swimming! One second’s damage could take one decade to grow!

Every creature deserves its personal space. Don’t go too near. If they’re used to people, they’d come to you instead! Let them, but don’t stress them with cuddles. Remember, no touching.

No feeding either. It turns out that feeding fish creates havoc on the ecosystem. Think about it. If certain species are too full from feedings, they won’t eat the creatures they’re supposed to eat, and they’re supposed to eat those so they have the nutrients needed by those that eat them.  And so on. It has a rippling effect. 

A trick is to move your fingers as if you have food! The fish are tricked by that, and you’d have gorgeous underwater photos without damaging the marine food chain!

Most of all...

Enjoy snorkeling! Relax. Rest. Meditate. Don’t forget to turn over now and then, getting your exposed back into the water, or you might bake in the sun. And hydrate! The salt water absorbs moisture from your skin.

When you get back aboard with us, one of the crew can get you a water to enjoy while you think of all you experienced. 

After snorkeling... it's time for the high-dive!


What is the weather like in Playa del Carmen and the rest of the Mayan Riviera?

The thing about weather is: Rain or shine, it's going to happen with or without your permission.

That may seem like an obvious thought, but take a second to think about it, accept it and read this guide to apply it to your vacation plans. 

Trust me, your stress and anxiety worrying about the conditions will fade away.

93% sunshine sounds pretty good to me

Typically we see 340 days of sunshine a year down here in the Riviera Maya. That's over 93% of the time. Those are fantastic odds, and a part of the reason we see millions and millions of visitors to the Mayan Riviera every year.

Now, even though it's far less frequent, no one wants rain on their vacation... Or destination wedding!

But if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. At that point, all you can do is focus on how to make the most of it or how to plan around it.

If it rains, what can you do about the weather?

A fisherman from the Pacific Northwest of the US (if you're unfamiliar, a particularly wet climate) once told me, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just a wrong choice in clothes."

I'd never thought about it that way until then.

My very first trip to the region with my wife was during the rainy season. It rained almost the whole week we were here. Upsetting? Not at all. Do you know what we did?

We grabbed some cocktails, jumped in the pool and swam in the ocean in the rain. Everyone ran for cover inside the dark lobby bar. We were the only ones on the beach splashing around and loving every moment of our newly private beach, cocktails in hand.

Your vacation will be what you make of it.

Let's talk about the weather (apps!)

The weather you check in many apps and websites for the most part is presented very simply.

They show you graphical representations of the forecast. Sun, clouds, rain, lightning and whatever else mother nature is deciding to do at the moment. 

Don’t be so quick to trust your weather apps!

Sure, in many regions you can rely on the weather report you see. Southern California? It says sunshine, you’re probably getting sunshine! The very few times it says rain? You're getting rained on.

We are in a very unique location, weather wise

Because of the very peculiar and ever changing nature of the coastline down here in the Mayan Riviera, I would never recommend strictly trusting one source.

The weather here can literally change within minutes, or stay the same for days on end. It may never reflect what you see when you look online to check.

I have personally had friends checking the weather for Playa del Carmen every single day before coming down on a vacation calling me saying, “Are we in trouble? It’s been storming there all week, we’ve been checking the weather every day!"

My response was, “What? I haven’t seen a drop of rain in weeks."

I have seen torrential downpours for ten minutes that could fill an entire pool, and the clouds part moments after to reveal sunshine for the rest of the day. I have also seen it rain for days and days on end.

The truth is...

The truth is, weather is tricky here. We have warm Caribbean waters and one of the world’s largest ocean currents in our backyard that alter the conditions by the moment.

In winter we have hot days and cooler nights, which can cause predictable but drastic changes in weather and wind direction. We have a wet season, a dry season and everything in between. 

Real world example, and this actually happened yesterday, September 15th, 2015. There were loud claps of thunder, lightning and rain in Playa del Carmen around midday. When I called down to the yacht to see what the weather was like in Puerto Aventuras (20 minutes away), there was no such weather. 

Weather Tips

Here are our tips on knowing what to expect for your vacation in the Mayan Riviera, whether you’re visiting Canucn, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Aventuras or anywhere else.

How to check the weather before you come:

Weather Sources / Apps

One source probably isn’t enough. Double check multiple weather sites. My favourite free one is Weather Underground.

Here is a link to Playa del Carmen's weather, via Weather Underground.

You can also download the app for your mobile device here.

Not only do they have lots of detail should you choose to read into it more than the temperature and the image of the prediction, but they have localized reports where any user in an area can confirm or deny the current conditions it is forecasting.

Boat / Ocean Specific Weather Forecasting

Don't worry about this part! It's a bit more technical than most people would care to be interested in.

Just know that we have some top of the line services that we pay for subscriptions to to ensure we receive the highest quality reports. That way we know exactly what to expect at sea for our guests.

Webcams (The most reliable for current conditions!)

Above I mentioned some friends who had been seeing terrible weather reports ahead of their vacation when in fact it had been beautiful all week.

I told them that the best thing they could do while checking the weather report was to look at a beach webcam, then reference that with what they were seeing reported.

That way you can see in real-time how accurate the forecast is, and for those times when it says thunder and lightning and it’s actually as sunny as could be.

Bookmark this webcam facing the beach at Playacar Palace.

We have two main seasons

Seasonal predictions aren’t perfect, but they’re historical enough to bet on with confidence.

Down here despite it “feeling” like summer all year round, we do have seasons. You get to know them and appreciate them as you live here. But, as a vacationer you need to know which season may work best for a specific time of year.

Let’s break the Mayan Riviera up into two seasons: High season with its sunshine and low season with its unpredictability, also known as "Hurricane Season".

Don't let the name frighten you, it doesn't mean we get rolled over by hurricanes all season long. The last hurricane to touch ground here was ten years ago! More on this below, but let's get to the sunny stuff first.

High Season (December 1st to May 31st)

High season is typically from December through to the end of May. During this time the weather levels out to consistent sunshine and moderate temperatures in both daytime and evening. Click here for a breakdown of annual weather averages in Playa del Carmen.

If you absolutely, no questions asked, must have pure sunshine for your entire trip, this is the time of year to bet on! It’s high season for a reason.

Besides, it’s probably cold where you are while we're having all the fun with margaritas and sunshine.

Hello, sunshine!

Hello, tequila!

You probably won’t find too many deals on flights and hotels during high season, but that doesn’t mean it’s break-the-bank expensive.

There is something in the Riviera Maya for everyone. We have everything from hostels and $0.50 tacos to 5-star resorts with steak and lobster dinners.

Low Season, Hurricane Season (June 1st - November 30th)

As I mentioned above, don't let the name scare you off. It's been 10 years since our last hurricane, all the name implies is that if one were to make its way here, this is the period of time it would happen in.

Bonus points for low season: Here is where you find the best deals!

Hotels, airlines, tour operators and vendors seem most willing to lower their prices between June to mid November.

When booking, know that low season weather can be hard to predict. I have been in the region for summers where it felt like from June 1st all the way to December it rained at least once every day, even if it was only for a little bit, to other summers where it was very dry and it almost never rained.

If you’re coming for a week in the low season just know that you may wind up with all sunshine, all rain or a little bit of both rain and sunshine.

It may be completely overcast up above, but the fish don't care down below!

It may be completely overcast up above, but the fish don't care down below!

If low season months are the ones that work best for you, it helps to come with the attitude, “Who cares, we’re on vacation!”

It may rain, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t palm trees everywhere, good company and great food to enjoy. Plus, there's something kind of wonderful about warm tropical rain!

Vacations are great in the pure sun, but they can be just as good with the company you bring.

Too busy jumping off boats to worry about those giant clouds in the background.

Too busy jumping off boats to worry about those giant clouds in the background.

Yacht Tours with H2Oh Sun Cruises

If you’re wondering how weather works with us, we have a 100% inclement weather refund policy.

If the conditions are unsuitable or unsafe for a day at sea, we offer complete refunds no questions asked. We of course can also do our best to reschedule around the weather since you may still want to head out to sea! 

Our whole goal is to serve you first and make sure you have the best day possible on the water. It's that simple.

If you have any questions about our tours or policies, check our FAQ out or drop us a line.

Contact Us Today


What is a typical snorkel and boat cruise like?

Around the website there is a lot of detail on what is included when you decide to join us on your own private charter.  However, I thought it would be a good idea to write out the day's events in a simple and chronological order here so you can get a better feel of a day at sea with us!

Welcome Aboard!

We begin at the dock with a cocktail and some photos as you board the boat. Once everyone is on board, our crew will quickly prepare to head out. As we head out of the beautiful marina into the Caribbean, we prep the fishing lines and get those in the water so that we can troll for game fish our whole way north to this beautiful, secluded reef.

At this point, your group can be enjoying cocktails, enjoying music from our huge catalogue on a 6,000watt system, picking your favourite karaoke songs with lyrics to be played on our HD TVs (indoors and out), or just relaxing on one of the many decks and enjoying the sun.

When we get to the reef, we’ll drop anchor and give a quick safety demonstration with the snorkelling gear and get you guys into the water!

We also have a second level high-dive if anyone feels like jumping from the top into the turquoise waters below.

As you snorkel, you’ll see an endless amount of beautiful reef fish and often some sea turtles swimming around!

After a good amount of time at the reef, when everyone’s back aboard we’ll pull up anchor and start heading south past the marina we came from (while trolling for fish again). We then pull into a private canal for the architectural tour, which also happens to be time to eat. As we slowly motor by boats and beautiful homes in this canal you will enjoy a full Mexican cuisine style lunch on the bow of the boat.

After this, we pull back out into the sea for a short final cruise into the marina where we’ll dock.

During all of this, remember that the boat is your home! Let us know if there is anything we can do for you to make it an even better experience and we will always do our best to accommodate you.

We have full staff to make sure your drinks are never empty and to set up any songs you’d like to hear, and maybe to even encourage a bit of karaoke! 

Join us for a day at sea, and you might just walk away feeling like family after the best day of your vacation!

Reef Fish of the Mayan Riviera

Taking a swim in the reefs of the Mayan Riviera can show a lot of color and excitement. The reefs are amazing with the largest variance of species in the world!

Taking time to snorkel through the reefs is time well spent when on vacation, and every one of our private charters includes snorkeling and gear for all.

Use this guide on your next snorkeling adventure to identify some of the most unique fish species of the Riviera Maya.

Queen Angelfish

The queen angelfish is seen frequently through the reefs of the mayan riviera. They can be spotted by the color of their electric blue bodies and have been know to be a fish. They are usually seen by themselves or in pairs. Watch for their rounded head and beak like mouths for distinct identity.

Black Durgon

The name of this fish can be quite confusing because the black durgon is actually a greenish-black tropical fish with purple overtones. The durgon rear scales will have prominent keels that form longitudinal ridges to help make them more distinguishable. They can be found eating small bits of algae from the top of the water or small plankton around the reef.

Queen Triggerfish

This fish is a striking fish to see swimming around the Mayan Riviera reef. The queen trigger fish if stressed will slightly change colors, so be careful when approaching this majestic sea creature. The diet of the queen triggerfish consists mostly of sea urchins and other small creatures such as krill and hard shelled shrimp.

Glasseye Snapper

This unique fish can be seen swimming around the hundreds of other species. Although it is not always the brightest fish it still adds appeal to the reef community. The glasseye snapper can be easily distinguished with its pinkish red color, and dark red spots. What makes this fish more appealing is how rare it is. If you see this fish consider it a honor.               

These are just a sample of the many species swimming in our waters here on the Caribbean coast of Mexico.

Bonus: When snorkeling with us, you will often see sea turtles swimming around the reef, snacking on the sea grass. Read this post to learn 7 Fun Facts about Sea Turtles and check out what we see when we go swimming!                                    

Sunrise and Sunset times and dates in the Mayan Riviera

We often are asked by our guests when sunset happens here in the Mayan Riviera. This is so they can plan out departure times for sunset cruises or know when to have their wedding ceremonies aboard our boat.

A handy guide that we often refer to is's chart for the region. Time & Date shows you everything you'll need to make the right decision for activities and timing while on vacation.

There is a column for sunrise, sunset, day length, even the angle of the sun at certain times of day! Some of it is probably more info than you may need, but it's definitely a handy tool, with sunrise/sunset/day length probably being the most important details for visitors to the region.

The chart shouldn't just be for those planning yacht tours, though...

Are you having a wedding on the beach, planning to propose to someone here in Playa del Carmen or even just wondering how much sun you can pack into a day?

Wedding tip: Check the sunset time to see when the best hour is for your photographer, also known as "Golden Hour."

Follow this link to see a sample of April 2016's details. At the bottom of the chart on their website you will find links for the sunrise and sunset times for the rest of the months as well.

Enjoy your vacation, and if you have any other questions about the region, feel free to get in touch!

Sample chart of April, 2016

Ride or Dive: Beautiful views filmed from a drone of the Mayan Riviera

Take a look at this absolutely beautiful video of our region here in the Mayan Riviera. There are shots of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and more areas around here. 

It's all shot from a drone, so you get to see a unique perspective of the area that you might not otherwise get anywhere else. 

You should follow these guys on Facebook to see more great stuff from Playa del Carmen and surrounding areas, including great footage of cenotes and other activities.

Visit their website here for more videos.