Sandwiched between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is the friendly town of Puerto Morelos. This quaint fishing port carries on the fine tradition of resorts in Quintana Roo where the beaches and calm waters are king.
While it may not boast the raucous nightlife of the larger towns, it is an ideal destination for holidaymakers looking for a quieter break but with plenty of tourist amenities. Snorkelling and scuba diving is the main pastime around these parts thanks to Puerto Morelos’ close proximity to the Great Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest of its kind in the world.
Puerto Morelos exudes that wonderful laidback Caribbean atmosphere which helps to create an amazing place to holiday. Let’s find out a little more about this wonderful destination.
White sands and luscious reefs
Glancing along the beachfront of Puerto Morelos you’d be forgiven for thinking you had been transported to the set of a James Bond film. The tranquillity of the ocean complimented by the vivid colours of the shore provides all the ingredients you need for idyllic paradise.
While picturesque, Puerto Morelos is not some far flung backwater where you have to travel days and battle through jungles to find. There is a community vibe to the resort with locals and holidaymakers happily mingling together. While it does not have the intensity of Cancun, it can certainly hold its own as a standalone destination.
Like with many of the towns around the Yucatan Peninsula, snorkelling and scuba diving is hugely popular here. Head to one of the many dive schools and learn the ropes before heading out to the Great Mesoamerican Reef and explore a unique underwater oasis. If this is not quite your thing then you can embark on a snorkelling tour.
An absolute when holidaying in Puerto Morelos is paying the cenotes a visit. It is quite astonishing that for something that is essentially a large sinkhole made from limestone can be such a beautiful sight. The nearest cenote to Puerto Morelos is on the road to Central Vallarta where you can swim in the azure blue waters. There are regular bus excursions that leave from the resort to the cenotes each day.
As night falls head down to the marina and take your pick from the wealth of restaurants Puerto Morelos has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a taste of authentic Mexican fare, some home comforts or fresh fish caught that very morning then you will be able to find it here. Then you can round your night off with a couple of tequilas at the range of bars dotted along the shore.
Why go to Puerto Morelos?
The charming fishing town has everything you could want from a Mexican retreat. The beaches are spotless, the waters are incredibly inviting and the food is to die for. You have the best of both worlds in Puerto Morelos – on the one hand it is a relaxing paradise while you’re not too far from Cancun and Playa del Carmen if you want to get your party on.
This is an excellent location for discovering the beauty of the Yucatan Peninsula and all the hidden gems that this corner of Mexico has to offer.
Puerto Morelos is home to a number of diving schools where you can hire equipment, be taken out on excursions and learn the fundamentals of discovering underwater paradises. It doesn’t have to be scuba diving as there are a number of guided boat trips which allow you to snorkel around the reef – an excellent alternative to scuba diving.
Back on dry land you can meet some of the quirky residents of Puerto Morelos at Crocoun Zoo. Walk among crocodiles, if you dare, at this popular tourist spot. It is not just the crocs you can interact with as the park is home to snakes, parrots, spider monkeys and deer – a great day out for all the family.
For a truly unforgettable experience, pay a visit to one of the cenotes close to Puerto Morelos. Take a dip in these secret, underground swimming holes and marvel as the shimmer of the water reflecting on the limestone walls. The Mayans describe the cenotes as a ‘sacred well’ and would build villages around them regarding them as a portal to speak with the gods.
Swimming in these crystal clear waters as strips of sunlight beam through and you will understand why the Mayans held them in such high regard.
When you have one of the largest natural reefs on your doorstep it goes without saying that you need to explore it. Thanks to Puerto Morelos’ proximity to the Mesoamerican Reef; scuba diving and snorkelling are the main activities in the resort. Whether you are complete beginner or a seasoned diver it can create a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Just 500 metres off the Puerto Morelos coast is the Mesoamerican Reef, one of the largest reefs in the world. The proximity of this natural wonder makes it a favourite for scuba diving and snorkelling. Discover the huge variety of tropical fish, sea turtles and corals that call the reef home.
If this is not your thing then alternatively you could pull up a chair at the beachfront restaurants and watch the world go by.
In keeping with the laid back nature of the resort, Puerto Morelos’ beaches are a scene of tranquillity. The town’s main beach is just a short walk from the centre and is the calm affair you come to expect from this part of Mexico. The white sands are complimented with the azure waters peacefully lapping up on the shore making it a perfect destination to spend the day.
One of the best parts about visiting Mexico is sampling the delicious local cuisine. El Pirata continues the nautical theme but serves some of the best authentic Mexican dishes in Puerto Morelos. This cheap and cheerful hidden gem has an incredible range of tacos, burritos and quesadillas as well as a few international dishes to keep everyone happy.
If you’re feeling peckish for a spot of breakfast then there is no better place than El Nicho. One of Puerto Morelos’ most popular joints for morning eats; it sells a variety of delicious breakfast dishes. From organic omelettes and eggs Benedict’s to traditional Mexican meals like chilaquiles (fried tortilla strips in salsa) and huevos rancheros. These are bound to get kick start your day.
Push the boat out and book into John Gray’s Kitchen and sample food made by a former Ritz Carlton chef. The signature duck breast complimented with a margarita is an absolute must.
For a relatively small resort, Puerto Morelos offers a range of restaurants to satisfy every tastebud. Providing a nod to the town’s fishing heritage is El Merkadito which has been serving up the best Mexican-inspired seafood since 1979. Snack on ‘Hecho en Mexico’ (Made in Mexico) tortilla chips before tucking into fish tacos and their signature shrimp aguachile ceviche. Don’t forget to try one of their delicious cocktails.
While many will hop in a taxi and head to either of the bigger cities, there are plenty of options if you want a chilled out evening by the sea. A good place to start is La Sirena Restaurant & Lounge which overlooks the town square. Open throughout the day and night it has a wide selection of cocktails, spirits and both international and domestic beer.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little livelier then head to Bara Bara bar which is the place to be for live music and DJs. Open every night from 20:00 you can dance away into the early hours and have your own little Cancun experience a little closer to home.
It may be situated between the two party cities of Cancun and Playa del Carmen but the nightlife in Puerto Morelos takes on a totally different vibe. It is a much more refined experience with a handful of bars providing a pleasant atmosphere for a couple of cocktails as the sun goes down.
Meet some of the friendliest people you are likely to meet in these family-run shops. Pick up a memento of your trip from the artisans market where you’ll find handmade hammocks, colourful wooden animals known as alerbrijes and a host of other gifts from your friends and family.
Thanks to its diminutive size, the urge to indulge in a little retail therapy is slightly limited in Puerto Morelos. While there are a handful of mini markets selling all those essentials you may have forgotten on your travels, the majority of shops are situated in the town square.