Morelos, a Mexican Jewel
you ever snorkeled in the turquoise water off the Yucatan
Peninsula? Do you like quiet beach towns? When in Cancun
a must-take side trip is a mere 36 km south to Puerto
On a recent trip to Cancun, my husband, another couple
and I were looking for a different place to snorkel.
Puerto Morelos was recommended. We're glad we didn't
pass it up. This sleepy looking fishing village has
more to offer than first meets the eye. There's the
wonderful blue water, the snorkeling, the food, and
the casual laid back authentic Mexican way of life.
So far, tourists are at a minimum.
The Great Mesoamerica Reef, the second largest in the
world, passes by here on its way south to Honduras.
Since this is part of a Mexican National Park the reef
is in better shape than many places we've snorkeled
along this coast. And it's only 5 minutes off shore.
A park fee and an escort are required.
As we slid into the clear water a panorama of sea life
swam only a few feet below the surface. Along here the
reef is shallow
only 10 feet deep in places. The
deepest is no more than 20 feet. Many times swimming
around the coral was the only option. Swimming over
might have damaged it. Hurricane season was at its end
but there were still waves to swim through on the way
to the reef. It was worth it all.
Visibility was about 100 feet. Sun was shining. The
coral was in great shape. We saw purple fan coral and
huge brain coral. Staghorn coral stood regally on the
ocean floor. And the variety of fish! Parrotfish came
in dozens of sizes and colors. Angelfish gracefully
swam an arm's length away. The neon Wrasses and their
friends darted in and out of the coral and grasses.
The aptly named Foureye Butterflyfish and Banded Butterflyfish
glided by in groups of eight or ten. Blue Tangs seemed
to be bluer here. Trying to describe fish we had seen
was difficult as there were so many it was easy to forget
some. Schools and schools of inquisitive Sergeant Major
fish were everywhere. Sometimes that's all we could
On the white sandy floor lay a starfish. He didn't even
move as we floated by and stared at him. In the rocks,
a lobster watched us. We often see Barracudas and this
time was no different. One glided close to the surface
out of reach and stared as only a Barracuda can. Snorkelers
get stared at by Barracudas. Later, back on shore we
joked about how he seemed to stare at all of us at the
same time. They only have two eyes, but it seems like
more. Being stared at by a Barracuda can be spooky!
After snorkeling came lunch. Fajitas and beer were the
order of the day. The café in this quiet beach
town served both with a casualness and efficiency. The
fajitas were spicy. The beer was cold. The sun warmed
our backs. Joining us was the ever present begging little
cat found at so many outdoor cafés. They are
a way of life in Mexico and this one sat patiently waiting
for a scrap or two. We obliged.
The small town is bursting with character and development.
Many good restaurants boasted the freshest fish around.
The smells were awesome. A variety of shops surrounded
the main plaza. Books, jewelry and t-shirts were to
be found. Fishing boats were docked after their morning
runs. Pelicans waited for handouts. Seagulls screamed
at the fishermen for scraps. School kids, immaculately
dressed, ran from school buildings. Street vendors sold
everything from necklaces to blankets. Shops rented
bikes or mopeds. From their perches on the dock posts
the Brown Pelicans kept watch over all daily activities.
Construction appeared to be a viable business in Puerto
Morelos. There were three or four condo and hotel complexes
being built. Streets were crowded with workers and their
equipment. Development is happening in Puerto Morelos.
It's just a matter of time before more people come to
vacation and snorkel here. So for now, if you are looking
for a gem of Mexican life with great snorkeling, try
Before it becomes the next Cancun.
VanHatten is a regular contributor and travel journalists
for several regional publications