The Coral Reefs Mexico [Catamarans, Snorkeling and Dolphins]

My last catamaran cruise was to the coral reefs in Mexico.

I love catamaran cruises and so far have been on four: one in the Dominican Republic, two in Costa Rica, and one here in Mexico. While they were all fun and different, I liked the last one—we got to meet and swim with dolphins and do a bit of snorkelling.

We booked our tour, Delphinus Puerto Morelos, through our good friend Samuel Gonzalez, who looked around for the best deal for our party of four.

Our day started early (I was up at 5:30!) and our taxi picked up our friends and us at about 7:45 a.m. We made our way to El Cid Resort in Puerto Morelos (part of the world’s second-largest barrier reef), where we would board our boat in a marina bay inside the resort. Waiting for the boat to arrive allowed us to relax, enjoy coffee and drinks, have bio breaks, and just take in the view and snap a few pictures.


El Cid Resort Marina

Marina, El Cid Resort, Mexico

Heading to the Coral Reefs

Soon our boat arrived, and we climbed aboard. We were directed to the front of the boat and asked to take a seat. Our group was a mix of a couple of families and us.

Catamaran, Puerto Morelos

Catamaran, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

We started with an orientation by ‘Danny’, who was very passionate about the ocean and couldn’t stress enough the importance of taking care of it, especially by not throwing plastic bottles in the water.

Did you know… that every day an estimated 8 million pieces of plastic pollution ends up into the oceans. In 2016, a world population of 7 billion people, produced more than 320 million tons of plastic! Every year, marine plastic pollution kills one hundred thousand mammals and turtles and one million sea birds!

Early this year, 50 marine mammals washed up on U.K. shores, all containing plastic in their stomachs. A lot of these animals included dolphins. While dolphins are extremely intelligent animals and not likely to eat plastic, they are susceptible to contamination by other animals that have ingested plastic products.

We learned Danny had left his home in Mexico for seven years to go to Brazil to become a marine biologist. You could feel his passion and dedication as he talked.

I know you want to hear about snorkelling and dolphins, and you will, but I think it is important to understand the importance of taking care of our dolphins and other species as well as our oceans.

Mandatory Rules Visiting the Coral Reefs

To go snorkelling, there were two mandatory rules.

NO SUNSCREEN: Danny was emphatic about this and practically begged everyone not to wear sunscreen; if they already had it on, he asked them to please remove it.

Swimming with sunscreen causes chemicals such as oxybenzone to seep into the water; the corals then absorb it, which then disrupts the reproduction and growth cycles.

Chemicals that are released while swimming or showering (travelling through sewage systems) are considered bigger than climate change, which is causing coral reef damage.

RESPECT THE CORAL REEF:  There were some valid reasons for this.

Touching the coral can cause damage to the reef itself, but because it is sharp, it can cause injuries to you such as scrapes, cuts, and other injuries.

Another very big reason is that we are in danger of losing our coral reefs. It is predicted that coral reefs could be gone in 30 years! Besides snorkelers and divers causing damage to the coral reefs, there are also natural occurrences that can destroy the coral.

Coral reefs off the coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico, are under threat from sargassum, which has been an ongoing problem for a few years, and an aggressive bleaching situation that causes them to turn completely white.

According to the Director of the Puerto Morelos National Reef Park, Maria dell Carmen Garcia Rivas, 30% of coral colonies died during four months due to coral bleaching, which is caused when the water is too warm.

To put into perspective how serious this is, the director states that an entire coral colony off the coast of Quintana Roo, which has taken thousands of years to form, can be killed in a single month due to this bleaching.

As he was wrapping up the orientation, Danny asked if everyone who was going snorkelling knew how to swim outside of a swimming pool, and everyone eagerly nodded yes. However, we learned later that one of the young women did not swim very well, never swam in the ocean, and couldn’t see her hand in front of her face without her glasses. I marvelled at the fact that she was still keen on going in spite of this. It later turned out she did very well and had no issues.


After we anchored, our group divided into two groups: those who wanted to snorkel and those who just wanted to stay behind and relax.

the coral reef, woman getting ready to snorkel

Our friend, Stacey, is getting ready to go snorkelling

The group that stayed behind included one young girl, my husband and myself, our friend Kent from Nicaragua, who was visiting us for a month (his wife Stacey decided to go snorkelling), and Noel, one of the boat crew. Noel had a long conversation with Kent; it turns out his family nominated him to always be Santa because of his name, even though he was born in May.

The snorkelling group, led by Danny and “Captain Banana,” put on their masks and lifejackets and climbed into another boat, carrying their fins, ready for their adventure.

The day was a beautiful, clear, sunny day, with temperatures in the high 20’s (80’s + Fahrenheit). Those of us who stayed behind were quite content to just relax, drink some water (and other beverages), and soak up the sun. It was a beautiful, peaceful time.

Man on boat, a drink, the coral reef

Hubby Relaxing on Catamaran

All too soon, the snorkelling group arrived back, smiling and a bit tired from their excursion, but happy.

We had some lunch, snacks, and drinks, listened to music, and made our way to the dolphins.

Riding with the Dolphins

My husband chose to stay behind and keep an eye on things, so the three of us made our way to the pier.

I am not a swimmer, and even though we were told everyone would be wearing life jackets, I was still very nervous and wasn’t convinced I wanted to do this. However, when I saw the dolphins, I changed my mind. I did have one scary moment in the water when I couldn’t get my feet to do ‘down’ and was starting to panic.

The guide was very calm and asked me my name. Then he said, “Look at me, Mary Ann, and just do what I tell you.” In no time, I was in the ready position, and two dolphins swam up to me and placed their fins in my hand. That moment was incredible! I think the pictures paint a better picture than what I could tell you, judging by the smile on my face.

woman riding dolphin

Me with the Dolphins


Woman riding dolphin

Woman patting a dolphin

man patting dolphin

My Friend Kent

man and womenn with dolphinGetting Splashed by the Dolphin                       Petting the Dolphin

Speaking of photos, I read many reviews about people saying how expensive they are, and they are right. I was very lucky that my good friends Stacey and Kent decided to buy them and share them with me. They did not even want me to pay for my portion. Thanks, guys!


Iguana among the rocks

Just as we were leaving, we saw some iguanas among the rocks. Notice how they are camouflaged—we almost missed them! This one looked like he was posing for me.

Final Thoughts

It was an awesome day and trip all around, with some wonderful memories of riding on the catamaran with the wind in my hair and smiling the whole time. More importantly, it stressed to me the importance of taking care of our reefs and oceans.

Now, if I could just muster enough courage to go snorkelling!

Have you had the opportunity to swim with the dolphins? What did you think?  Would you recommend it to others? Let us know in the comments below.


April 2020

Since I wrote this article, it has been made abundantly clear that dolphins and other water animals are not treated as well as we might think.

After this article came out, an acquaintance asked me if I would please share the plight of dolphins in a video and bring it to the attention of others. I was happy to do so. I do not condone cruelty to any animal or person. I cannot change the fact that I took part in this, but I can give you more information so that you can make your own decisions.


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I love to travel and my biggest regret is that I waited so long to do it, thinking I just couldn’t afford it. I have had some crazy fun, met some amazing people, and had some scary moments such as getting locked in a shower at a campsite. For our trip to Mexico, we were able to save money by house sitting, which was something completely new to us. If this is something that interests you, then check out TrustedHousesitters or HouseSitMexico (be sure and use Code thetr6210d47b7cc90). We hope you visit often.

8 thoughts on “The Coral Reefs Mexico [Catamarans, Snorkeling and Dolphins]”

  1. I am truly shocked and devastated reading those statistics of how many sea creatures have been killed due to our irresponsibility of taking care of our planet. Wow! Regardless, this was such a beautiful piece, specially the whole bundle of your pictures with the dolphins. I am terrified of the sea because I really don’t know how to swim for a long period of time, but I think that I’d be having the same thoughtful mindset of jumping in with the dolphins. Can’t wait to read about all of your other adventures along the way.

    • Thank you Stephanie. I too am terrified of the big vast sea but unlike you, I don’t swim at all! The life jackets are for everyone so I didn’t feel singled out and it gave me a measure of comfort. Once you are riding with the dolphins you totally forget your fear in that moment. And they are such gentle loving creatures, it is sad to see those statistics and how we are hurting them and the ocean.

      I hope you check out some of the other stories on my site. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Hi there and thanks for your informative article

    Here in Australia, the great barrier reef is a popular tourist destination for swimming amongst coral. Unfortunately, the coral is dying and although global warming plays a significant part, chemicals and plastic discarded into the water are also to blame 

    I was wondering about the safety of the boats used and actual tour activities and whether you would recommend a trip like  this to a family with young children? In Australia, although we have high safety standards, I’ve seen a few not so safe trips so now with kids, don’t want to take any huge risk 

    • Hello Marketa!

      A lot of the boats/catamarans cater to families. The boat we were on looked very well maintained and and in great shape, plus the crew is very careful and attentive. It was on the small side so perfect for the dozen or so of us that were on there.

      You could always go on a site such as TripAdvisor and check out the reviews or become a member of a facebook group in the area you are interested in visiting. It is amazing how quickly someone will give you their opinion of something and it might ease your mind. I hope you and your kids check it out :).

  3. Hello,

         It sounds like you had a blast!

    I just wanted to say, I love catamarans, dolphins and SCUBA diving as well.  The only difference for me is I rent the catamarans (sometimes monohulls) for my whole vacation, making it my base of operations, hotel room, etc.

    I have to say that I’m a bit jealous as I have yet to swim with the dolphins.  I’ve sailed with them, having them jump about the wake and whatnot but never been in the water with them.

    Kudos on the mandatory rules there.  Sunscreen is killing the world’s reefs and I’m glad to see operations take measures to try and stop the damage.

    Thanks again for sharing this.  It brings a smile to my face, fond memories of prior trips and a burning to book another.


    • Hi Scott. Thanks for stopping by. I did  have a blast – once I got over my nervousness.

      I am jealous of you having spent a lot of time on catamarans. Sounds idyllic. I spend time in the ocean and the pool near where we are staying in Mexico, yet there is a part of me that is afraid because I don’t swim. But it seems the older I get, the more I am trying different things making me wish I had done it when I was a lot younger and maybe not so afraid.

      I never realized how damaging sunscreen is – it was an eye opener for me.

  4. Your article was delightful and insightful. At one point in my life I wanted to be a marine biologist, but I didn’t know that they actually had to get into the ocean. I changed my mind very quick. I haven’t been on a catamaran excursion in a long time. Iv’e gone on several in my life time, family trips of course. I was one of the ones who stayed on the boat. I don’t like not being able to see the bottom. I can swim well.

     I believe is has something to do with my mother letting me watch Jaws at 5. I never looked at the ocean the same after watching that movie. The facts you stated took me by surprise. I am shocked at how quickly coral can die. I am also saddened at the fact that they may not be around in 30 years. You have really inspired me to go seize the day, travel, and get out and explore nature some more. It may not be here in 30 or 50 years, not how we remember it to be at least.

    • Hello Yekeiseaya. Thank you for your comments. Yes, go and seize the day and try something new. You are already  half way there since you know how to swim! That’s what stops me from doing a lot of water activities – the fact that I don’t swim well at all. I am a senior so I was very nervous getting in the water, even with lifejackets. But once in the moment, the panic left very quickly.

      I agrre it is very sad and that we need to take better care of our oceans and the creatures in them.


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