If you read about the 3-day trip we took with our moms, you would have seen that we did a 3 in 1 tour on day two of our trip. On that trip, we got to snorkel in the second greatest barrier reef system in the world!
Yes, we went snorkeling in the Great Mayan Reef in Tulum, Mexico. This is also known as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. This reef is not only in Tulum, this reef spans over 1,000 kilometers(620 miles) from the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula all the way down to Honduras.
You can see a barrier reef in Tulum, Mexico??
Yes! In fact, I wasn’t so sure about this when I read about the details of the 3 in 1 tour, but it turned out to be one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. I will get into more detail in a minute, but I have always been intrigued by sea life and sea turtles.
Before I got this job, I only saw photos of the Carribean Sea and was like, nah, it can’t be that clear and blue. My friends, if you have not been to the Carribean Sea, DO IT! You don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to experience this wonder.
I always thought I had to go to Australia or something to see a coral reef, never did I imagine that it was in my own backyard. When Pepe, our tour guide, told us we were going to the second greatest coral reef in the world, I was thinking he was just saying this. You know, how tour guides fluff stuff up to make you excited. Little did I know that he knows his stuff. And made it fun to learn about.
Is there good snorkeling in Tulum?
The short and solid answer is yes! Of course, there is, until this trip, I had only been snorkeling in the Gulf of Mexico, and only at the beach with my family. I never saw fish really much less did I ever see tropical fish and corals.
I have done some research and there is a lot of good snorkeling around the Yucatan Peninsula which does include Tulum. I have heard that in Cozumel there are some nice spots too. My Favourite Escapes blog has some great tips on where else to snorkel in Tulum.
Also, you have the option of snorkeling in the Cenotes which are freshwater sources for the peninsula since it sits on a huge slab of limestone. We got to explore one of these on our tour as well, we just didn’t snorkel in the cenote we visited.
Swimming with Sea Turtles
I think this was by far the highlight of my time snorkeling. These turtles are so majestic and just swim so gracefully through the water. Picture this: you just jumped in the water, after the fear of jumping into the open ocean slaps you in the face. Even though you are wearing a life jacket, what is under the water? I mean, you have seen Jaws and even Finding Nemo so you know there are eels and sharks somewhere.
As you are making your first few swimming strokes, and figuring out how to breathe through the snorkel without getting exhausted you feel a slight touch on your belly.
Then WHAM, as you are floating this massive turtle just swishes on by. Holy mother of Mary. This is real life, and you are now a part of the ocean. You are basically just another fish in the sea, and the other fish and sea creatures just treat you as their own.
Royal Blue Tangs, Eels, and Stingrays
There are so many different things to look at as you are swimming along this amazing reef. After the turtle, the next thing I notice is the giant Stingrays that look to be circling down below.
I first was thinking they were far away, but quickly realized as I looked to my right that I can see the underside of one. So they are closer than I can tell. Then, of course, I think to myself, isn’t this how Steve Irwin died? Why yes, yes it is Zach, let’s swim the other way.
As I am making my way away from our group and the stingrays, I get closer to the massive coral structures. These things are just incredible. More amazing than I could have ever dreamed of. I mean some look hard and rough around the edges and then others looked all squishy and flowy.
As I am floating around I look down and realize that I am super close to these corals, and what happens when if I accidentally touch one? Will it hurt me and scratch me up? Will I break it? I didn’t want to find out and try to paddle my feet super shallow like to make sure I don’t touch them.
I finally get to a deeper part of the reef I was looking at, and I see Dori! Yes, there was a Royal Blue Tang scratching itself on the coral. I was kind of taken back and then realized that Pixar did a great job with their movies. If you didn’t know, I am in school now to do computer animation, so it kind of put me in awe to realize the art that went into it.
Around the same time that I saw “Dori”, I saw this creepy looking yellow Eel. It also looked just like what we have seen in movies. It gave me the heebee jeebees. I didn’t know whether I should freeze, or swim away. Naturally, I just kept swimming toward it, thinking if he wanted to get me then he could easily do so.
I totally recommend that you go snorkel sometime, and if you are in the southeast United States, hop on a plane and head to Cancun or take a cruise to Cozumel. The coral reef is an amazing thing that has so many different living things in it to see and to appreciate.
It was not a hard thing to do, if you can float in a life jacket then you can snorkel. I will admit, at first I was a little hesitant to jump in the open water, but I quickly got over it and really really enjoyed this part of our 3-in-1 tour.
For further reading about our trip check out:
3-in-1 tour through TripAdvisor (if you do click and book through this link, the nomads to receive a small commission for referring you, we always want to be upfront about this)