Puerto Morelos

A sleepy Caribbean village that delights with its unspoiled natural beauty, an extensive coral reef system and a dense mangrove jungle.

The living is easy and peaceful in Puerto Morelos. This oceanfront village has retained its quiet character despite the construction of large developments elsewhere along the Riviera Maya.

Puerto Morelos has a small-town atmosphere. Locals congregate in the main plaza to chat and fisherman haul in their catches from the end of the pier. Life isn’t fast-paced here, but visitors will still find plenty to do. Take long walks on the sandy beaches. Browse the artisans’ market for handcrafted hats, clothes and wood carvings. Snorkel, dive and fish in the clear Caribbean waters.

Be sure to pay a visit to the leaning lighthouse of Puerto Morelos. Battered by three hurricanes, the building is heavily inclined towards one side, but still it has not fallen down.

One of the biggest draws is the Great Maya Reef, which lies just 550 yards (500 meters) off shore. At more than 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) in length, it is the second-largest reef system in the world. The Puerto Morelos section has been designated a national park in order to protect its flora and fauna.

The reef lies close to the surface and the shallow waters are easy to snorkel. Here, you’ll come across some of the region’s many fish species, including eels, nurse sharks and parrot fish. There are also deeper sections for scuba divers to investigate. Arrange a snorkeling or diving tour through dive shops in the village.

On land there are more opportunities to get up-close with the area’s natural wonders. Puerto Morelos is backed by mangrove swamps, home to hundreds of species of birds and more than a thousand plant species. ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) tours can be arranged with local tour companies.

In keeping with the area’s placid character, the nightlife is low-key and centers on the town’s handful of cafés, restaurants and bars.

Puerto Morelos is the first town along Highway 307, 24 miles (38 kilometers) south of Cancun and 22 miles (35 kilometers) north of Playa del Carmen. You don’t need a car to get around the village, since everything is just a short walk away.

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