DescriptionAbout halfway between Cancún and Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos (PWEHR-toh moh-REH-los) is a peaceful, unhurried fishing village with palm-shaded beaches and restaurants serving fresh seafood. It's the perfect place to while away a lazy afternoon in the shade of a thatched palapa on a white-sand beach while gazing at the beauty of aquamarine water.
Puerto Morelos is also the serene eye in the midst of a storm of tourism development. Flashy resorts and boutique hotels dot the Caribbean coast north toward Cancún, their manicured grounds occupying prime beachfront locations. These upscale properties are a world away from the humble posadas and economical motels in town.
An offshore reef, part of the Great Mesoamerican Reef system that runs along Mexico's Caribbean coast, is a protected national marine park. In addition to creating excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities, the reef acts to break up waves before they reach the shoreline, which makes Puerto Morelos beaches safe for wading and swimming.
Frequent first-class bus service is available from Puerto Morelos to both Cancún and Playa del Carmen. Two stations, one for northbound buses and one for southbound buses, are on Mex. 307. The fare to either city is around 50 pesos. Colectivos (white minivans) also provide transportation both in town and between towns; the in-town fare is an inexpensive 10 pesos. Taxi rates are set, not metered; agree on a price before you get in the cab.
The main square is the local hangout. Alma Libre Books has a large selection of used paperbacks and other titles in English. It's open daily 10-6 during the high tourist season. Also on the square is the Casa Martín grocery market.
Dive shops in town provide guided deep-sea fishing trips on local pangas or a larger vessel with a cabin; catches include barracuda, billfish and grouper. They also offer scuba and snorkeling excursions to the reef, which teems with brilliantly colored tropical fish, all sorts of crustaceans, rays, eels, nurse sharks and sea turtles, plus a wrecked military vessel that divers can explore.
Dive In Puerto Morelos, Av. Rojo Gómez #14 (several doors north of the town square), has knowledgeable, PADI-certified guides. A reef snorkeling trip (plus a 20-peso park fee) costs $30 (U.S.); an open water one-tank dive is $70; a half-day excursion to dive at a local cenote (two tanks, plus lunch) is $160. For information and reservations phone (998) 206-9084 (cell number), or (801) 738-0169 (from the United States).
Things to SeeCroco Cun