Spending the summer in Puerto Morelos? (Or even just visiting over the summer?) Lucky you!
Yes, the weather is warmer and wetter than winter time, but summer has it’s own charm in our little neck of the world. Things are moving at a much slower pace and there are fewer crowds, so you can really enjoy what our area has to offer.
We’ve put together a list of 10 “bucket list” activities that won’t break the bank AND which are within easy driving distance from Puerto Morelos.
1. Swim with the Whale Sharks
Each year, from mid-May – mid-September, whale sharks make their way through the Cancun area. Although the name sounds intimidating — whale + shark?! – don’t let it scare you off. These gentle giants are very docile and extremely agreeable to swimming alongside humans.
In fact, they are not very shark-like at all.
They feed on plankton, krill, fish eggs, and some deep-sea fish. With a diet limited to tiny-micro organisms, you’re definitely not on the menu.
To go swimming with the Whale Sharks the boats leave from Cancun. Your tour provider will arrange round trip transportation from Puerto Morelos to Cancun where you will take a 1.5 hour boat ride to the middle of the sea. There you will search and find the large pod of whale sharks, you will gear up and jump in to swim along side the gentle giants!
There are several tour operators offering Whale Shark expeditions, including a really highly recommended tour with Puerto Morelos Subacuatico (Underwater), where you’ll go with a marine biologist from Puerto Morelos!
2. Cool off while exploring Cenotes!
You know what’s not refreshing in the summer? The Caribbean. Our beach and sea is fabulous all year round, but if we are being honest, it’s not the place to cool off during the hot summer months in Puerto Morelos.
Enter the magical world of the cool, refreshing cenote. Cenotes are basically freshwater pools found all over the Yucatan peninsula. Some are open, some are closed (like caves, you go down and find the pool), some are mixed, but they are all interesting and worth visiting. The water is typically crystal clear and always COOL!
You don’t have to love swimming, be interested in zip lining or aspire to jump off high cliffs into the water to appreciate cenotes. They are just beautiful to look at, magical to float in and a great way to enjoy nature.
Pro tip: When going to a cenote, we usually bring towels, toilet paper (most have restrooms but the tp situation is iffy), and swim goggles (you can typically see really well without going underwater, but sometimes you want to go under. A little cash (most have entry fees, and they may sell snacks) and a big bottle of water.
Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the best cenotes in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula:
1. Cenote Azul
2. Zapote Cenote
3. Cenote Cristalino
4. Gran Cenote
5. Kin-Ha Cenote
6. Cenote Dos Ojos
7. Cenote Jardín de Edén
8. Suytun Cenote
9. Taak Be Ha Cenote
10. Ik Kil Cenote
3. Explore down the coast!
Summer is a great time to explore the Riviera Maya, and Puerto Morelos is the perfect starting point. Not only are the other beach towns – Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Puerto Aventuras, Tulum – an easy drive from Puerto Morelos. They are also much less crowded in the summer. Life moves at a slower pace, and the prices tend to drop a bit.
Some of our favorite spots are Paamul (the prettiest RV park you’ll ever see), Yal-ku Lagoon in Akumal (amazing snorkeling in a protected lagoon), Papaya Playa Project in Tulum and Ziggy’s beach club in Tulum, La Tarraya beach restaurant in Playa del Carmen.
And don’t forget the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. Sian Ka’an (Mayan for “Where the sky is born”) is a giant 1.3 million-acre biosphere reserve near Tulum. A sublime area of natural beauty, Sian Ka’an is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, which is why the region became a designated Biosphere Reserve in 1986. A year later, Sian Ka’an was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO and it remains the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. You can visit Sian Ka’an via a tour, or if you prefer to go on your own, we found some great tips HERE.
Travel tip: These are all an easy drive from Puerto Morelos. Even if you aren’t using a car while you’re here, it might be worth renting a car just for the day so you can take your time and explore. You can also get around easily with the ADO and Playa Express buses.
4. Discover Bacalar
If you think the crystal blue Caribbean water is pretty, just wait until you see Bacalar. This inland lagoon (sometimes referred to as the Maldives of Mexico, but usually referred to as the Lagoon of 7 Colors) will take your breath away. The variations of brilliant blues can’t really be described, you’ve got to visit and see for yourself.
Bacalar has become a favorite trip of ours. It’s an easy drive from Puerto Morelos – about 3-3.5 hours straight south. The little village is a “Pueblo Magico” which means it’s authenticity is being protected from tourism and development. There’s a cute town square and some great restaurants (we like La Playita) but the real draw is the water. Stay at an Airbnb or one of the hotels along the water and just enjoy. Boat rides, kayaks, swimming – do it all! Some people make this a day trip, but I think it’s way more fun to stay a few days.
Pro Tip: Bacalar is a great stepping off point to visit Chetumal, as well as several Mayan ruins sites within an easy drive from there — we visited Kohunlich (amazing!), Becan, Xpuhil and Calakmul (also amazing, long drive off the highway). Get up early, wonder at the marvels and magic of the Mayans, get back to the lagoon and laze away the afternoon marveling at the beauty of the water. The sunsets are amazing too.
5. Snorkel or Dive the National Marine Park
Don’t take for granted that Puerto Morelos is uniquely situated very close to the second largest coral reef ON THE PLANET – the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef. It’s truly a special place and summer time is a great time to explore it. Whether you’re into snorkeling or SCUBA diving, get in the water and discover this world. There are way fewer people out on the reef this time of year and it is less windy, serving up ideal conditions for snorkeling and diving.
It’s easy to plan a trip – you can actually snorkel just off the beach in front of hotel Ojo de Agua for some great fish watching (and probably a sea turtle!) – or just talk to the folks at the main fishing pier to book your trip out. If you prefer to book with a dive shop, check out Dive Zone Puerto Morelos.
6. Visit Valladolid
Treat yourself to a trip to the colonial city of Valladolid. This beautiful town is just what you imagine a colonial Mexican town would be. It is home to some beautiful architecture, breathtaking cenotes and Casa de los Venados – the largest private collection of Mexican folk art on the planet. This alone is well worth the visit, but plan ahead – there is only one tour a day as this is a private residence.
Valladolid Travel Tips: Valladolid is an easy day trip from Puerto Morelos – you can drive (about 2.5 hours) or take the ADO bus. If you decide to stay the night (which we highly recommend, as the town comes alive at night, especially the town square) consider staying at the Hotel El Meson de Marques. Very affordable, nice rooms – ask to be in a room facing the square. They also have a wonderful restaurant in the courtyard there, and a pool. Treat yourself to lunch or dinner at the restaurant Ix Cat Ik – AMAZING Mayan inspired food in a beautiful atmosphere complete with an on-site “farm” and open pit fire (for cooking traditional the traditional Mayan way) and a wonderful Mayan woman showing how tortillas are made. On our last visit to Valladolid we ate there 3 times…. it’s that good!
7. Sail the Caribbean and visit Isla Mujeres
Nothing beats a spectacular day sailing on the caribbean sea from Cancun to Isla Mujeres.
Get aboard of a wonderful catamaran, soak up the sun while sailing across the stunning turquoise sea. Snorkel at the underwater museum MUSA, with over 500 life-size sculptures used to promote coral life this is an incredible snorkeling site. Back aboard the boat enjoy delicious cocktails, a yummy lunch and sail to the best beach on the island.
There are many tour operators offering these types of trips, but we like to work with our local friends, Lighthouse Tours.
Pro Tip: No time to book a private tour? The ferries are running at limited capacity. Although you’ll be sharing your space, you’ll still be treated to one of the most beautiful crossings around and you can spend some time on charming Isla Mujeres. The ferry companies all leave out of Puerto Juarez, in Cancun.
8. Take in a Tigres Baseball Game!
Take me out to the ballgame! Our local professional baseball team is the Tigres de Quintana Roo, who play at Beta Avila Stadium in Cancun. Whether you’re a true baseball fan or not, you need to make it to one of their home games because, trust us here, it’s not all about the baseball. It’s about the FOOD! And the giant drinks! And the people watching! And being under a Caribbean sky at night enjoying the whole scene.
We love to get a group of folks together, rent a van for round trip transportation (gotta have a designated driver!) and go up to Cancun for a night of good wholesome fun. The game tickets are very affordable – the most expensive seats are 120 pesos. We like to sit behind home plate or over by 3rd base. And the treats are amazing. Choripan, kibis, ribs, esquites (corn), popcorn, nuts, hotdogs, hot wings, ice cream – and none of it is expensive. Giant beers. Excellent mascot – CHACHO!
9. Treat yourself to a day pass (or more!) at an all inclusive resort!
I know what you’re thinking….. “why would we go to an all inclusive resort when we live in Puerto Morelos and can just go to the beach?” And you’re right. You can just go to the beach here for free. All we are saying is that, if you’re feeling like you need a change of pace in the heat of the summer, consider this option. Trust us, it can be really fun to go to a fancy place and pampered for a day. Day passes usually include breakfast and lunch, use of all the facilities, and of course endless cocktails. Many of the resorts have a special changing room with showers and some even have lockers if you want to bring a change of clothes.
Most all inclusive resorts offer day passes, and even offer discounts to Quintana Roo residents. The price seems to range from around $80 USD up to $200 USD, depending on the resort. It can be difficult to access these in high season, as the resort won’t sell them if they are really full with guests, but in the low season they are happy to accommodate day pass guests.
How do you find out about day passes? We’ve always just call the resorts directly, but we just learned that there’s a service called SUPERPASS for Riviera Maya day passes which seems like it could make it super easy.
If a day pass isn’t enough, check to see if they have any local room rate discounts they can offer! Most resorts will offer a special rate (particularly in off season) to Quintana Roo residents. Get away for a day or the whole weekend!
10. Visit a theme park!
I’m just going to come clean with you up front: I’ve never been to XCARET. It’s true, I’ve been here full time for almost 10 years and somehow I’ve never made it there. I’ve been to Xel Ha (looong time ago – it was very cool) and Xoximilco (fun night for groups!), but never the big daddy – XCARET. That’s partly due to my aversion to crowded theme parks, but that doesn’t explain why I haven’t visited in the summertime. This is the year that will change though! I’ve heard so many great things about it and floating down a lazy river sounds pretty darn good right now.
We are surrounded by theme parks, it seems! Xcaret, Xenses, Xel Ha, Xoximilco, Xavage, Xplor (are there any that don’t start with X?) are all within easy driving distance of Puerto Morelos and offer different experiences and activities for the whole family. There are local discounts (Quintana Roo residents) and often there are other promotions over the summer months. Also, there are WAY fewer crowds this time of year.
PRO TIP: Quintana Roo residents can buy annual passes to these parks, which affords a big discount off the daily rate. This may make sense if you have kids, or if you are going to have lots of family visiting throughout the year.
A note about the continuing effects of the COVID pandemic: While most things are still the same like the beautiful beaches and turquoise sea, here are some things you should be aware of when planning your next trip to Puerto Morelos and the surrounding areas:
- Face Masks are required in Public places.
- Restaurants and Hotel are all operating at limited capacity, currently only 60%.
- Tour operators are offering private tours and tours with a limited capacity.
- Events and festivals are subject to limitations on numbers of attendees
- Activities and tours available are continuously changing.
Are you offering a summer tour or activity in Puerto Morelos? Send us a message and we will add it to the list.
We hope to see you here this summer!
Kim & Gabriel