Guide to Puerto Morelos – Mexico: The Best-Kept Secrets Near Cancun
Wondering about Puerto Morelos? This Mexico’s hidden gem near Cancun is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for a more tranquil destination on the Riviera Maya, probably one of the few left unspoiled.
Puerto Morelos is a small town located on the Caribbean coast of the state of Quintana Roo. It’s a calm, bohemian town with gorgeous beaches, amazing aquatic adventures, and a ton of adventurous activities to choose from.
Puerto Morelos at a Glance
With a population of around 9,200 people, it’s a much more tranquil destination than bustling Cancun and Playa del Carmen, although it’s become quite popular among the expat community in the past few years.
There is much to love about Puerto Morelos, including the fact that despite the relative and moderate growth, it has also kept its Mexico fishing village feel.
Pair that relaxed aura with the beauties of the Riviera Maya, great shopping, and unparalleled snorkeling, and you’ve got one of the best off-the-beaten-path Mexico destinations available!
21 Reasons to visit Puerto Morelos and things to do
If you’re looking for all the benefits of visiting the Riviera Maya with just a few downsides, Puerto Morelos is the spot to be!
Let’s dive into all the reasons why it’s worth making a trip to Puerto Morelos, from its show-stopping beaches to its mouth-watering cuisine.
1. Great location
Puerto Morelos is located halfway between the Cancun airport and Playa del Carmen, which makes it one of the most convenient locations where to stay on the Riviera Maya.
This chill fishing town is only twenty minutes from the Cancun International Airport. That’s perfect if you want to fly in. It’s also right between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, but with a much more relaxed ambiance.
► Wondering how to get to Puerto Morelos from Cancun? I’ve got you covered as well.
2. Laidback Community and Relaxed Vibe
Even though Puerto Morelos is super close to some of Mexico’s most-visited tourist spots, it’s got a much quieter vibe.
It’s kept its old-world aesthetic and strikes a great balance between tourism and natural beauty.
The locals are friendly, and there are tons of activities to do. You might find that this place beats out Cancún and Tulum for its laid-back atmosphere.
3. Puerto Morelos is relatively safe
Most of the Yucatan peninsula is considered safe, and Puerto Morelos is no exception! Most visitors to this lovely beach town say they feel super safe at any time of the day or night.
That makes a visit to Puerto Morelos even more attractive. Nothing puts a damper on a vacation like getting pickpocketed or having to constantly worry about being on your own.
However, you still need to be aware of your surroundings and never leave things unattended on the beach or anywhere. The main rule is don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home.
You can read more about how to stay safe in Cancun and surroundings in my detailed article.
4. Numerous resorts, inns, and hotels for any budget
Another great reason to visit Puerto Morelos is the abundance of stunning resorts, boutique hotels, and breezy inns. You can find resorts exclusively for adults, family-friendly hotels and so much more.
Looking for a pool? All-inclusive resorts? Something out of town with great beach views? Whether you’re looking for a five-star room or something at an affordable price, Puerto Morelos has you covered. You’re bound to find a hotel that offers great value for the money.
Unlike some of Mexico’s other destinations, Puerto Morelos doesn’t have so many high-rise hotels, just a few exclusive ones which are worth exploring. (more about it further down in this post)
5. Gorgeous Beaches
One of the main reasons people visit the Mexico Caribbean coastline is to enjoy its white-sand beaches. Once again, Puerto Morelos won’t disappoint!
One of the reasons for this is the proximity of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
Thanks to the reef, the swells coming into Puerto Morelos are small. This is great for families, snorkel lovers, and people who love swimming.
Plus, it’s incredibly picturesque, with the turquoise ocean offset by white sands. Walk along the shore and drink in the beauty of the surf and sea.
One of the most popular beaches is Ventana al Mar, just in front of the main town square. Any beach in front of a resort is also a great option because they clean the seaweed off the beach.
INSIDER TIP – please be aware that in the past few years, the beaches on the Mexican Caribbean coast have been plagued with lots of Sargasso weed. This is random and unpredictable although it’s usually a spring/summer event. Having said that, as you can see from this post there are many other things to do in Puerto Morelos that I hope this issue doesn’t defer you from coming.
6. Great Beach Restaurants
One of the things visitors to Puerto Morelos rave about is the amazing food. Since this is a fishing village right on the ocean, this destination is famous for its seafood.
But if you aren’t a fan of ceviche, fried fish, octopus, or shrimp, don’t worry! There’s also an abundance of great Mexican restaurants, as well as restaurants offering international cuisine.
If you don’t mind making a short trip up to the Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun, you might want to visit Le Chique. This famous restaurant is run by Chef Jonatan Luna and is considered one of the best restaurants in all of Latin America.
Tip: If you love seafood, try ordering the catch of the day while you’re in Puerto Morelos. I promise you won’t be sorry!
Another Iconic spot where to eat in Puerto Morelos is EL Merkadito del Mar, right at the beginning of the beach close to the main square.
7. The Ruta de los Cenotes
Adventure lovers have even more reasons to go to Puerto Morelos. That’s because this destination is located right along the famous and magical “Ruta de los Cenotes” (translated as Cenotes’ road), which are the closest cenotes to Cancun
First, a little more about cenotes
The Yucatan is made up primarily of limestone, which is water-soluble. Over time, underground rivers can eat away at the bedrock, forming deep caverns and pools.
Sometimes the roofs of these underground caverns break open, exposing deep water-filled sinkholes, or “cenotes.” Some of them are cavernous, others are completely open to the sky, and others are half-open. Each one is unique.
Cenotes are a very cool phenomenon. Trust me, you won’t want to miss them!
Ruta de los Cenotes
Better yet, Puerto Morelos is located right along a 21-mile stretch dotted with sixty cenotes. Not only are they amazing places to explore via snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, paddle boarding, and kayaking, but they also have cultural significance.
The Mayan people believe that cenotes are connected to the underworld. It is possible to find evidence of sacrifices in the depths of the cenotes, including human sacrifices.
Some of the most amazing cenotes near Puerto Morelos include Chilam Balam, Verde Lucero, Siete Bocas, Cenote Zapote, La Noria, and Kin-Há.
BOOK YOUR TOUR TO A CENOTE + SNORKELING IN PUERTO MORELOS
COMBO TOUR SNORKELING ATV- ZIP LINE CENOTE TOUR
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8. The best Snorkeling tours from the beach
One of the biggest reasons to visit Puerto Morelos in Quintana Roo is its proximity to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef which makes it one of the best spots for snorkeling in Mexico
This reef is just off-shore and is a national marine protected area. Over 500 different kinds of fish live in the reef system, as well as 65 species of coral.
One of the largest populations of manatees in the world call this reef home, as well as sea turtles, queen conch, crocodiles, and splendid toadfish.
If you only do one water activity in Puerto Morelos, I highly recommend that you snorkel!
Explore the underwater world of the Caribbean, search for unusual species of fish, keep your eyes peeled for turtles and sharks, and glory in miles of clear lovely water.
TOP-RATED SNORKELING TOURS IN PUERTO MORELOS!
Other amazing Puerto Morelo snorkeling tours
LOCAL REEF DIVES FOR CERTIFIED DIVERS
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CORAL REEF SNORKELING WITH LUNCH AND ROUND TRIP TRANSPORTATION
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PRIVATE BOAT REEF SNORKEL TOUR IN PUERTO MORELOS
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9. Wonderful swimming, kayaking, & paddle boarding
Another great reason to visit Puerto Morelos is the abundance of water sports available. If you love swimming, cutting through the water in a kayak, or exploring via stand-up paddleboard, this wonderful location will be the destination of your dreams!
You can go on a tour, explore a cenote, or have a surfboard or paddleboard delivered right to your rooms.
10. Catamaran or sailboat tours
If spending a day sailing around the Caribbean Sea sounds lovely and luxurious, you have yet another reason to visit Puerto Morelos!
Join a catamaran tour and sail through the Puerto Morelos National Park.
Different tours offer different amenities, like exploring the coral reef with snorkel gear and eating a yummy onboard lunch. You may even get to go paddleboarding from a secret sandbar.
CATAMARAN REEF SAILING AND SNORKELING
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11. Birdwatching in Puerto Morelos
Puerto Morelos is located in a vibrant jungle region that is home to 400 bird species. Whether you’re an avid birder or simply enjoy trekking around in nature, taking a birdwatching tour in Puerto Morelos is a great idea.
Some of the birds you can see include the bright redheads of the Yucatan woodpecker and the flashy blue wings of the Yucatan jay.
12. Scuba Diving
If you’re a certified scuba diver, Puerto Morelos has some amazing scuba diving opportunities for you! Not only can you explore the depths of the Mesoamerican Great Barrier Reef, but you can also take a plunge into a cenote.
One of the most interesting places to dive near Puerto Morelos is the famous Cenote Zapote. This cenote boasts a kind of mineral deposit formation called “Hells Bells.”
These unique rock formations can be as long as a man is tall and look a bit like shelf fungi or the textured caps of a mushroom. Even better? Cenote Zapote is the only place in the world where you can see them.
How to dive in Cenote Zapote
The dive in Cenote Zapote is for the hard-core cenote divers who have no claustrophobic issues, as you will be floating in quite a narrow space.
But if you are up for it, it’s going to be an awesome and unique experience.
I would recommend you book your cenote dive with The Cenote Guy, a dive center that specializes in Cenote diving for experienced divers and they take you only to top places selected by the owner Aydin. I haven’t dived with them, yet, but they have great references that you can check out here.
13. Adventure Parks
Thanks to the cenotes and the jungle, the region of Puerto Morelos is a great destination for adventure seekers.
You can go ATVing, ziplining, descend rugged trails, cliff jump into cenotes, and go biking through the jungle.
Xkitam Adventure Park is a great choice, with a zipline route and ATV tours, plus snorkeling and diving opportunities.
Alternatively, you can take a tour such as the 3-for-1 tour offered by Extreme Adventure Eco Park. It includes a zipline tour, an ATV tour down jungle trails, and then a refreshing cenote swim.
14. Learn about local history and eco-friendly practices
Another cool thing about Puerto Morelos is the learning opportunities. This is great for anyone who enjoys finding out more about the world we live in, how to care for the environment and the fascinating world of marine biology.
Some ways to do that include chatting with locals about the environment and the state of the beaches, appreciating the tree-planting efforts of the town, and asking your guide questions during tours to the jungle or ocean.
15. Botanical Garden
Puerto Morelos is home to one of the largest botanical gardens in Mexico: The Jarda Botanica Dr. Alfredo Barramarana Marin botanical garden.
It’s a quiet chill place that combines a guided nature walk with information about regional plant and animal species. You can also see a replica of a small Mayan dwelling, learn about stingless Melipona bees (they produce unique citrusy honey), and learn about the process of extracting natural chewing gum.
The garden is 18-acres in total and boasts a viewing tower, swinging bridge, and the chance to see lizards and monkeys.
16. Shopping at artisan markets and bookstores
Another fun thing to do in Puerto Morelos is to shop at the artisan markets, flea markets, farmers’ markets, and bookstores.
The flea market is on the south side of the Jardin Principal and is a great place to buy jewelry, clothing, artwork, and hammocks.
Another great spot is the Hunab-Ku Craft Center. One of the perks of making the trip to this center is the demonstrations! If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see people making hammocks and carving gemstones.
On Wednesdays, there’s a great farmers market in the town square. Stock up on fresh fruit and veggies, then drop by the Alma Libre bookstore for some reading material.
17. Croco Cun Zoo
Another great thing to do while in town is visit the Croco Cún Zoo. It’s more of an animal sanctuary than a zoo because it is interactive. You’ll be allowed to touch and feed some of the animals, including crocodiles, boa constrictors, spider monkeys, and deer.
I don’t normally promote zoos but in this case, they rescue wild animals that are in danger and help them to go back into their natural habitat, which is kind of cool.
18. Hang out by the leaning Lighthouse in the heart of Puerto Morelos
One iconic landmark you won’t want to miss is “El Faro Inclinado.” This “leaning lighthouse” is in downtown Puerto Morelos, right off the main beach at Ventana al Mar.
The strong winds of Hurricane Beulah tipped it over in 1967.
Snap some pictures of Mexico’s leaning tower of Pisa and then enjoy the beach.
19. Indulge in a relaxing Spa treatment
Puerto Morelos offers a large variety of wellness and relaxation activities. You can take a Mayan steam bath in a temescal, relax in an outdoor bath (to the sound of birds and monkeys), enjoy a hydrotherapy circuit, or release the tension in your muscles during a massage.
There are many many options in town, but a few to check out include Martina’s Oasis Spa, the Los Colibrís Mayan Jungle Spa, and the Ixchel Jungle Spa.
Bring on the Mayan flute music and treat yourself!
20. A great jumping-off point for other Quintana Roo destinations
Last but not least, Puerto Morelos is indeed a great base from which to explore the region.
It’s in a great location if you want to make short trips to other Mexican destinations, especially in the state of Quintana Roo.
The bustling tourist center of Cancun is only 40 minutes north. Or you can head 40 minutes south to visit Playa del Carmen, or another 40 minutes further to Tulum. Alternatively, take a ferry and make a trip to the island of Cozumel.
If you don’t mind driving for a few hours, you can also visit the famous Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá to the west.
Top Puerto Morelos Hotels
If this post has convinced you to spend a few days in Puerto Morelos, here are my top hotels where to stay on the beach in Puerto Morelos.
Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun, Gourmet All Inclusive by Karisma ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
One of the top high-end all-inclusive hotels on the Riviera Maya, Azul Beach Resort by Karisma is located on the beach a few miles north of Puerto Morelos and it’s a great choice if you just want to have a relaxing luxury vacation.
Check availability and rate on Booking.com
Dreams Sapphire Resort & Spa Puerto Morelos ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Especially suitable for families this great property feature a very equipped and efficient kids club, but also an incredible array of activities for adults. The restaurant choice is also quite eclectic and of high-quality standards.
The beach right in front of the hotel is spectacular.
► Check availability and rate on Booking.com
The fives Ocean ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
A spectacular luxury property with spectacular ocean views and a private beach area. The hotel features an indoor pool, fitness center, evening entertainment, and a 24-hour front desk.
The ice on the cake is the rooftop terrace with sunbeds and a restaurant for even more amazing views.
► Check availability and rate on Booking.com
The Diving Lodge Downtown ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Diving Lodge Downtown is a sister property to The Diving Lodge Norte, located only 10 minutes by car or 40 min walking on the beach.
They are not exactly a hotel and they offer every-other-day room cleaning – However nice staff will take care of you and make sure you have a wonderful stay.
Divers will be even happier as they can organize their underwater adventures with the staff.
Also, you can enjoy a fully-staffed beach bar and kitchen and a Beach club with palapas en chairs are available for the guests to use.
► Check availability and rate on Booking.com
Delmar Condos ⭐⭐⭐
Spectacular spacious apartments with stunning sea views. You can cook your own fish that you can buy fresh in the fish market like a local.
► Check availability and rate on Booking.com
Hacienda Morelos Beachfront Hotel ⭐⭐⭐
If you don’t want to splurge, this is the perfect hotel where to stay in Puerto Morelos, right on the beach but close to the town center, restaurants, and shops.
People loved the friendly staff, spacious and comfortable rooms, and the great location.
► Check availability and rate on Booking.com
What to pack for Puerto Morelos
These are a few things you’re sure to want while you explore Puerto Morelos! They’ll make your Caribbean getaway even more charming and enjoyable.
✔ Shorts and tank top (see below)
✔ Hat (for the strong sun)
✔ Dry bag for your belonging
✔ Snorkeling gear – I know that you can rent it or if you book a tour it’s included but it’s much better if you have your own.
✔ waterproof pouch for your phone
✔ GoPro Hero10 for amazing pictures
✔ Mosquito Repellent (eco friendly)
✔ Sunscreen (eco friendly)
Click on the image to shop!
The best time to visit Puerto Morelos
One thing it is always helpful to know is the climate of the place you’re going. Puerto Morelos has a tropical wet and dry climate. The hottest months are between June and September and the most rain falls between May and October.
It is usually humid, and even winter temperatures are quite warm.
Since the weather in Puerto Morelos is pretty much similar to Cancun and the coastal region you can check out my post on the best time to visit Cancun for further details.
History of Puerto Morelos
Puerto Morelos is one of the oldest towns along Mexico’s Caribbean coast. It is also one of the original ports for the export of “chicle,” natural chewing gum.
The town is named after José María Reclo Morelos, a Mexican national hero. Morelos was a rebel leader during the Mexican War of Independence.
He also installed the Congress of Anáhuac, which was responsible for declaring independence in October 1814.
Puerto Morelos Frequently Asked Questions
Is Puerto Morelos closer to Cancun or Playa del Carmen?
Puerto Morelos is half way between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, almost exactly.
Can you swim in Puerto Morelos beach?
Yes, of course. You can swim in Puerto Morelos beach, when there is no Sargassum seaweed, the water in Puerto Morelos is spectacular and family friendly, with calm sea and little currents.
Can I drink the water in Puerto Morelos?
No, you can’t drink water in Puerto Morelos. Nothing bad happens if you do, but it’s advisable not to risk it, especially if you have a delicate stomach.
Does Puerto Morelos have nice beaches?
The beaches in Puerto Morelos are actually only one big extended beach, with white sand and easy access to the sea. Unfortunately in the summer it can be affected by sargasso weed. You can keep an eye on the official Facebook page to have real time updates.
Puerto Morelos: Final thoughts
As you can see, Puerto Morelos is a wonderful place to spend time!
Walk along the beach, peruse a delicious menu, and enjoy the natural splendor of the Caribbean Sea with your family. Puerto Morelos is indeed a great escape from the busiest neighboring towns and cities of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
About the Author
Hey there! This is Isabella, the owner, and writer of this site. I have been living in Cancun for the past 12 years and although I have been roaming around Mexico, Cancun’s spectacular turquoise waters and pristine beach draw me back to this popular Mexican beach destination. That is why I decided to start this blog, to show you all the beauty you can find in Cancun and share helpful travel tips to help you plan a fabulous vacation in Cancun!