Anyone Snorkeled the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (MBRS)?

by Cary Bennett
(Roswell, GA)

Does anyone have any experience snorkeling the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (MBRS) and/or with the Whale Sharks? I am looking at putting together a trip to the Cancun coast in July 2012 to swim with the Whale Sharks and also planning to do some snorkeling on Isla Mujeres and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. It is billed as the healthiest reef system in this part of the Atlantic.

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Jan 05, 2012
snorkeling - isla mujeres
by: Claudia

Hi Cary,

I was at Isla Mujeres the other weekend snorkeling. You can see some pretty cool stuff as long as you have decent distance vision.

That said, the Mesoamerican Reef extends through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, and some parts are healthier than others. One of the very best places to see the reef is in Banco Cordelia, off the island of Roatan in Honduras. But as I said, you can see cool plants, corals, and animals off the coast of Isla Mujeres as well.

Please remember for your trip that in the Mesoamerican Reef System we advocate using only biodegradable sunscreen so as not to harm corals and other marine species. Your best bet is to buy some before you go.

For more info on environmental issues in the Mesoamerican Reef region, check out or

Enjoy your trip!


Jan 05, 2012
Thanks for the info.
by: Carybenn53

Hi Claudia,
Thanks for the info. So, it kind of sounds like maybe the more southerly portions of the reef system are healthier. Will keep that in mind. The photos from Belize are truly beautiful!!!!

We do use reef - friendly sunscreen and try to spread the word to others to do so as well.

We try hard to be a voice for the environment on Facebook. I just posted photos of our snorkeling trip on Key Largo at Dry Rocks (on FB) that showed the coral rubble and all of the dead and bleached corals in an effort to make people aware that this is not just a bunch of "left-wing environmental hype". I hope that maybe it might help even just one person to become aware of what is happening to our oceans and maybe they will share it with someone else.

Thanks again and have a wonderful day!!

Jan 06, 2012
Snorkeling Isla Mujeres
by: Jeanne

Hi Cary,

I have been snorkeling with the Whale Sharks and it was an awesome adventure. We began at Isla Mujeres and went towards Isla Contoy. On the return trip there is usually a stop at Ixlache reef "Reef Che" which is VERY shallow. It is very healthy with lots of coral and fish (we saw a sleeping nurse shark).

I felt that the most decent snorkeling near Isla Mujeres was near the El Faro lighthouse. However, there can be a lot of tourists, and the Mexicans will feed the fish which I didn't care for. The depth is about 6-13 feet. Some snorkel tours take you with divers to Manchones reef. The depth of the reef is about 15-25 feet. There are two spots for shore snorkeling- one is near Avalon Reef Resort and the other is at Garrafon Park. I would consider them okay as much of the coral was destroyed during Hurricane Wilma in 2006. At the times that I snorkeled those locations, there didn't seem to be a lot of variety of fish. I hope that you have a great trip and enjoy snorkeling with the Whale Sharks!


Jan 08, 2012
Re: Isla Mujeres
by: Cary Bennett

Thanks so much for your information! That is going to be very helpful! I found a local company that only has small boats and takes only 2 -6 people at a time. So, that should be really good. They are locals who have been doing this for a number of years. We are planning to stay on Isla Mujeres so we can maximize our water time. Someone had mentioned the Garrafon area also. I am also hoping to book a day at Isla Contoy while we are there, as I am also a bird lover. Anyway, we are planning to go in early to mid-July. I will post on here after our trip and let everyone know how it went. Thanks so much again for your input!


Jan 08, 2012
Isla Mujeres trip
by: Jeanne

Hi Cary,

It sounds like you are getting close to having your Isla Mujeres trip planned. It is one of our most favorite places. The island is so quaint and the people are so friendly. I would recommend staying close to town (North Beach + Hildago avenue). There are no car rentals- only taxi's and golf carts. It is great to be close to town to be walking distance to everything. The food there is fantastic- you must try Qubano for all of the food and Ballyhoo for the fish tacos. Also, the accommodations can be very reasonable. I just noticed a new rental on VRBO #357734- oceanview, walking distance to everything, and such a good price. I'm sure that you have your own preferences so you'll find something suitable. Please do post about your trip.


Nov 24, 2012
More Whale Shark Trip Information
by: Galen & Nicole

We noticed that this post should be linked with one we have about snorkeling with Whale Sharks from Akumal, Mexico. The trips actually take off from Cancun area or Isla Holbox, but it is all in a very similar area. It sounds like the rules for these trips are the same everywhere, so read more about it there.

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