Are you looking for fun and exciting things to do in Puerto Morelos? This article has you covered.
Let’s take some time to explore Puerto Morelos. Sure Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Tulum are the major famous cities in the Riviera Maya, but Puerto Morelos is a beautiful location that definitely deserves some attention.
Located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos is a stunning beach town offering a much different vibe than the other cities.
With powdery white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder why so many people come here to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea.
Puerto Morelos is laid back, rich in culture, easygoing, and family-friendly. It’s perfect for travelers of all types.
Compared to the other major cities in the Riviera Maya, Puerto Morelos is on the smaller side with a population of around 27, 000 people. That makes it significantly smaller than the 300, 000 population of Playa del Carmen.
For this reason, you can expect the city to be quieter, beaches to be cleaner, and less of a hustle and bustle that you would witness in Playa del Carmen or Cancun.
Just because Puerto Morelos is small, doesn’t mean that it lacks adventure.
From water activities such as snorkeling and diving to eating delicious cuisine, there is no shortage of things to do in Puerto Morelos.
Whether you’re looking for a day of fun-filled activities or a tranquil getaway, Puerto Morelos has something for everyone. In this article, you will learn about all of the best things to do in Puerto Morelos! But first, some helpful information to help you plan your trip.
Puerto Morelos History
In the early Pre- Hispanic period the land was inhabited by the Itzaes people. Currently, you can still find remains of their settlement located throughout the jungle and coastline. One of the most popular is “El Altar” located in the Puerto Morelos Botanical Gardens.
The modern period (roughly 1889) began the development of agricultural and forestry activities. A native tree named Chicozapote played an important part in the region’s wealth.
Sap collected from the Chicozapote tree is perfect for Chicle (the Spanish word for Gum). The natural chewing gum created from the tree was largely exported to the United States.
Jumping forward to 1929 Puerto Morelos was a little town of wooden houses, a pier, a lighthouse, and a small street parallel to the coast. To this day, the lighthouse still remains after surviving three major hurricanes throughout its lifetime.
Due to the hurricanes, the lighthouse freely stands on a tilt, but it is a nice reminder of Puerto Morelos’s history and is a great place to snap a photo for your memories.
Is Puerto Morelos Worth Visiting?
My answer is 100 % yes! Puerto Morelos offers a quaint special charm much different from the energies of Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Tulum. The best way to understand it is to see it for yourself.
The town is loveable and the locals are all extremely friendly. Because the town square is so close to the beach it is really easy to get around exploring and taking in all the sites.
The water is blue, the beaches are made of soft sand, there are palm trees swaying in the Caribbean breeze, and the food is delicious! What more is there to ask for from a Mexican beach town?
How to get to Puerto Morelos
Puerto Morelos is located 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the Cancun Airport, and 35 Kilometers (21 miles) from Playa del Carmen. It is very easy to reach Puerto Morelos by car, private transfer, or public transportation.
If you are arriving from an international destination, you will be arriving at the Cancun Airport. The drive from the airport is a quick 25-minute journey.
Private or shared Airport shuttles are a fast and convenient way to get you to your destination.
It is best to book your shuttle van in advance so that the van is waiting for you when you arrive. Depending on your selection of shared or private shuttle will determine your price point.
Shared vans can start as low as $15 USD per passenger and private vans normally start at $60 USD per passenger. Book a private airport transfer here.
If you plan to do some self-guided exploring during your visit, a car rental might be the best option for you.
Check prices for car rentals on Discover Cars. This is one of the best price comparison websites when it comes to booking a car in Mexico because you can be sure what insurance is and is not included in your payment.
They have all of the top rental car agencies on the website and some of the best prices. Book a car on Discover Cars here.
Personally, this is my favorite option as I love exploring new places freely on my own time schedule.
Another way to reach Puerto Morellos from the airport is via the ADO bus.
This local charter-style bus is budget-friendly, safe, and convenient with departures leaving hourly. The buses have luggage storage, bathrooms, assigned reclining seats, and air conditioning.
There might be a few stops along your journey picking up and dropping off other passengers, but if you are not pressed for time and looking to save a couple of bucks, the ADO bus is a very popular option.
Taxis will always be available and waiting at the Cancun Airport to take you to your final destination. Keep in mind that only “Airport Sanctioned” taxis are allowed to reach the airport, generally making your trip more expensive.
You cannot use Uber from the airport in Cancun. Although it has been made legal to use the app in other parts of the region, it is not a good idea to use them to get to and from the airport due to the problems between Uber and taxi drivers in the area.
How to Get around Puerto Morelos
There are actually three different neighborhoods in Puerto Morelos with the Carretera Federal highway and Mangroves creating the divide.
The side east of the highway is called Colonia Pescadores and the side west of the highway is called Joaquin Zetina Gazca.
On the east coast, you have Puerto or Antiguo (Old) Puerto Morelos. This section of the town was once an old fishing village but is now beautifully developed with many hotels, resorts, restaurants, shops, and apartment buildings.
Although the developments are new, the characteristics of the shops and markets hold the original charm of the town.
Yes, the town is considered “smaller”, but due to the separation between the three locations, it is hard to reach each one on foot. Taxis are easily available throughout the town and have set fares for specific locations. Before starting your ride it is best to agree on a fare with your driver.
Walking around Old Puerto Morelos is the perfect way to explore all the little shops and markets. It’s also a great place to stay for dinner after a relaxing day at the beach.
Because the beach is so close, you can easily spend the day at the beach then walk one or two blocks and find the perfect sport for dinner.
Now, on to the exciting information! The 8 best things to do in Puerto Morelos.
Map of the Best Things to Do in Puerto Morelos
1. Spend a relaxing day at the Beach
I live in Playa del Carmen, but I love spending the day at the beaches in Puerto Morelos. They offer a completely different feel than the beaches in Playa del Carmen or Tulum.
The beaches in Puerto Morelos are wide with lots of space for enjoyment. I find that the sand is a different texture and the beaches tend to be less crowded than the ones in Playa del Carmen.
You will often see families and children playing and enjoying the day, setting up their own chairs, umbrellas, and tents.
The water is calm and shallow, perfect for wading and cooling off. Because the reef is just 400 meters from the shore, any big rough waves break upon the reef before hitting the shore.
You can choose to visit a beach club for the day and enjoy amenities such as lounge chairs and bathrooms, or you can pack a cooler and chairs and hit the beach at your own leisure.
The entrance to the main beach is located in the center of town next to the Pelicanos Restaurant. If you head either to the left or right, you will find beach clubs, private properties, and vacation rentals.
Lounge chairs and facilities are for the use of the guests and come with a service fee, but feel free to use the beach in front of the properties as the space is meant for the public to enjoy.
One of the reasons I love the beaches in Puerto Morelos so much is because of all the local entertainment that happens here.
Performers of all types roam the beaches displaying their talent. You can find guitarists, singers, Mariachi bands, Marimba players, and my favorite – the Mayan Ritual Performance.
With the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef just at arms reach, you will not want to miss out on a fascinating snorkeling trip.
The Mesoamerican Barrier reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world and is home to many species of tropical fish, eels, rays, lobsters, octopus, corals, and even turtles.
The reefs that are located at Puerto Morelos are alive, vibrant, and busy. They are also great because they are quite shallow, perfect for the beginner snorkeler.
All you have to do is get to the reef and float. Just remember not to touch any of the fish or corals.
It is very easy to hire a local boat off of the beach to take you to the reef with pricing starting at around 300 pesos. The boat ride is less the 10 minutes and includes your equipment and an hour of snorkel time.
If you want to organize your snorkeling trip before you arrive, you can book this fun snorkeling tour on GetYourGuide here.
3. Scuba Diving
For a deeper exploration of the Mesoamerican reef, a scuba trip is the perfect Puerto Morelos attraction.
Puerto Morelos National Park Reef is a popular site to visit for a colorful, vibrant, and relaxed dive. Because the reef is protected you can find an endless array of corals, fish, lobsters, and turtles.
In different and specific seasons the currents bring in bull sharks, nurse sharks, and spotted eagle rays.
A really special underwater attraction in Puerto Morelos is the C-56 Shipwreck. The ship served in World War 2, and was later sold to and sunken by the Mexican Government. This ship was sunken on purpose to attract new sea life, corals, and of course scuba divers.
To book your scuba tour, you can find an abundance of dive shops located in the center of the old town near the waterfront that offer two tank dives starting at around $200 USD.
4. Visit the Botanical Gardens
On your list of Puerto Morelos things to do, you won’t want to miss out on a peaceful visit to the Botanical Gardens.
Fill your day with a serene walk through the trails of the property admiring different species of local flora and fauna.
The property is divided into different locations based on plant types that range from cacti, ornamental palms, orchids, ferns, and medicinal plants (just to name a few). You can even visit the Chicle camp where you can admire the huge trees which are used in the production of chewing gum.
Viewing the property usually take about an hour, with more time if you stop to read all the detailed information on the plants. The tour is done solo but if you would like a guide for a more in-depth explanation, they are available for hire on the property for 200 Pesos (about $10 USD).
Don’t forget to visit the ancient Mayan Ruin named ‘The Altar”, or take a daring walk across the suspension bridge.
The gardens are located roughly 4 km (2.5 miles) from the downtown area of Puerto Morelos, roughly a 7-minute drive. Admission costs $6 USD and the gardens are open daily from 8 am – 4 pm. They are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
5. Explore the Restaurant Scene
Whether you have had an action-packed day of exploring, or simply relaxing time at the beach, at some point in the day, dinner will be on the agenda.
Puerto Morelos is packed with delicious restaurants, cafes, taco stands, bars, ice cream shops, and more.
Take a walk downtown to see some of the best the city has to offer. Because Puerto Morelos is a fishing town you can bet that you can find some fresh succulent seafood.
One of my favorite pizzas is actually located in Puerto Morelos found at the restaurant My Little Italy. I recommend this place as a must-visit in Puerto Morelos due to its fantastic flavors and friendly pricing. Order the lobster pizza, you will not be disappointed.
Apart from fantastic seafood, you can find many other cuisines, from local Mexican, American, Asian, Italian, and much more.
Is your vacation really complete without a shopping trip? For me roaming the markets and shops in a new location is one of my favorite things to do.
The downtown of Puerto Morelos is full of little shops and markets. You will find many handcrafted goods, t-shirts, jewelry, dream catchers, backpacks, wooden bowls, and more wonderful Mexican souvenirs.
Shopping on the beach is quite popular in Puerto Morelos as well. You will always find people roaming the beaches selling sunglasses, beach bags, hammocks, kites, handcrafted goods, local sweets and candies, and much more. Just remember to bring cash.
7. Take a sunset Catamaran Sail
Spend an unforgettable afternoon on a catamaran sunset sail on the Caribbean Sea. If you are searching for a romantic thing to do in Puerto Morelos this trip has you covered.
Tours normally last about 2-4 hours depending on your selected package and can include snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding, open bar, and snacks.
Many companies offer different types of charters, private or shared, on a variety of different-sized boats.
Lay out, feel the breeze on your skin, and watch the glowing orange sunset over the horizon.
Catamaran tours are available earlier in the day as well if a sunset trip isn’t suited for you. Book a catamaran tour here.
8. Visit a Cenote
Another adventurous thing to do in Puerto Morelos is to visit a cenote. While visiting the Riviera Maya, swimming in a cenote is not an activity you will want to miss.
You are in luck because Puerto Morelos is home to La Ruta de Los Cenotes which in English means the Cenote Route. On this road, you will find over 60 sinkholes which are all connected to each other by the underwater river system.
Not only can you swim in the cenotes, but some of the Cenote parks offer zip lining, ATV-ing, rappelling, mountain biking, scuba diving, and freediving.