Puerto Morelos is one of the most beautiful places along the Riviera Maya, located halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen along Mexico’s beautiful Caribbean coastline. While other population centers such as Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Tulum have exploded in both size and population in the last decades, Puerto Morellos has been slower to expand, which has kept this place a little bit more authentic and off the beaten track for most visitors. The beachfront here is one of the nicest in the region and as a centrally located destination, it is the perfect place to begin your exploration of Quintana Roo.
We have friends that live in Puerto Morelos, and it is one of our favourite places to visit when we need a relaxing day at the beach. We live on Cozumel right now, and of all the places on the mainland, if we were to move back, this is where we would live. It’s a popular destination for both snorkeling and scuba diving. Only 100 meters off the coast, there is a protected reef (part of the greater Mesoamerican Reef, which stretches from Cancun to Honduras) and it has been designated as a protected Marine Park since 1998. The long white sand beach and warm Caribbean waters makes it the perfect place to spend an afternoon, or an entire week of your vacation.
When the Cancun Airport (now the second busiest in all of Mexico) was built in the 1970s, it changed the region, bringing in tourists to the newly created tourist corridor known as the Riviera Maya. This tourism was originally focused around the hotel zone on the lagoon in Cancun, but the tourism boom has spread as far south as Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Puerto Morelos was somehow skipped in this process, and because of this it has retained a small town feel despite the many resorts that are located nearby along the coast.
Much like other cities along the Riviera Maya, Puerto Morelos had its beginning as a small fishing village. The main focus of the economy has transitioned to tourism, and it has become a popular place for expats and vacationers escaping the winters of the north. The town in split in two because of the main north-south highway and a natural mangrove, which has limited growth on beach side of town, which has remained a bit smaller than the other expanding cities nearby. Most locals live about 2km from the beach in the town and recently there have been many new developments being built here, catering to the slow expansion.
It’s not just the white sand beaches that draws visitors to this area. On the jungle side of town, along the east-west highway going towards Merida and Valladolid, there are many amazing cenotes – fresh water sink holes – which are popular for swimming and cliff jumping. It’s the perfect way to cool off when the mid afternoon humidity and sunshine have drained your energy. We recently visited Cenote Verde Lucero, and there was a family of monkeys who were visiting from the nearby jungles. It is one of the many spots to visit here.
Because of it’s central location, beautiful beaches and laid back vibe, it is the perfect place to settle yourself if you want to explore other nearby attractions as well, such as Mayan Ruins, theme parks and cenotes. But we won’t blame you if you don’t leave the beach. We have visited here many times and are always impressed with the white sand and incredible shades of blue found in the water.
It’s one of the most peaceful places we’ve discovered along the Riviera Maya, and we’re excited to share some of our favourite photos from here, to help inspire your next trip to Mexico.