You don’t need to take a boat tour to enjoy a wealth of snorkeling opportunities off the shores of Cozumel. And, you’ll have a less crowded, less expensive experience by doing it on your own.
The big cattle-boat tours can be fun if you just want to party with friends and take a dip. But if you’re serious about snorkeling we’d suggest using one of the smaller boats.
For best value especially if you’re not a strong swimmer, arrange your own tour in a covered boat that carries maximum 6 people. Many local dive ops offer this service. Usually these tours will take you to the same places you can swim out to from shore, however. But if you don’t feel comfortable swimming out 50 to 150 yards from shore, this option may be for you.
In our opinion, your best value in a boat tour is to take a small, personalized tour that hits the shallow spots at the end of the island like the famous but little visited Columbia Shallows which is unreachable any way except by boat. Because these spots are hard to reach — a 45 minute boat ride from town– they cost more. But the isolation of these stunning snorkel spots means that the area has stayed fairly pristine even after all these years.
Palancar Beach Club on the south end has a snorkel boat on site. No need to plan days ahead. Just sign up as you enter the beach club and the boat will leave just as soon as enough people have signed up.