4 reef formations found when snorkeling or diving in Cancun

The crystal clear waters of the Mexican Caribbean provide an excellent opportunity to view the diverse variety of reef formations found on the many dive sites in Cancun when snorkeling or diving.


The water is so clear in the area, it’s a good idea to read up about the coral reef and marine animals that can be found. Scuba diving provides some great photo opportunities, marine life are very photogenic!

Reef Sites Cancun

Is coral really a plant or an animal?


It’s actually an animal, but only because it does not make it’s own food as a plant does.

The Mesoamerican reef or Grand Mayan Reef stretches over 1000km!


Cancun, Mexico is home to the 2nd largest reef area in the world. It’s no wonder there are 65 documented varieties of coral reef just waiting for you to enjoy during your Cancun diving vacation.

The shallow warm waters provide attractive conditions for coral to grow.


During any underwater Cancun activity, you’ll have the opportunity to see some of these most common reef formations. Some of them are not technically corals but are closely related. The Discover Scuba course will provide all the know-how you need. If diving is not for you, take a snorkel tour in Cancun and witness these amazing natural gardens of the Mexican Caribe.

Fan Coral – Official name Gorgonacea


Fan coral are filter feeders meaning the polyps’ tentacles catch plankton and other small particles. Their bright colour and shape resembles a fan and they plant themselves into the sea bed and grow to several feet high. Many dive sites in Cancun have some spectacular fan corals.

Fire Coral


Fire coral attaches itself to other coral and is usually bright yellow-green and brown. Which is a good thing as contact can cause nasty scratches and skin irritation. Fire coral does not look like a common reef formation due to it’s ‘branchy’ characteristics. This coral was used to form the ‘Man on Fire’ in Cancun’s Underwater MuseumBroken branches were taken from the sea bed and attached to the life sized Cancun museum statue. This statue can be seen whilst snorkeling in Cancun as well as diving.

Staghorn Coral at MUSA Cancun

Staghorn Coral


Commonly found in shallow reefs, the Staghorn coral is in abundance in Cancun waters. Their size is controlled by wave movements and underwater sediments which alter light intake to the seabed. As the fastest growing coral, the staghorn is of huge importance to the eco system and responsible for the reef maintenance and breeding grounds for fish. Broken particles of Staghorn coral were also used in the Underwater Museum of Cancun as shown above.

Brain Coral


Brain coral is a prime example of a stony coral and it’s name is self-explanatory. The polyps within a colony form the head of brain coral and these polyps are identical. They are tough corals using their tentacles to catch food at night and to protect themselves during the day. Brain coral also grow to immense sizes (6ft or more in height) and can have a life span of up to 900 years. You will be certain to come across this formation when diving in Cancun.


Aquaworld offers a wide range of snorkel tours in the Cancun area. We offer fun-packed snorkel adventures for great value for money and quality guaranteed. Cancun diving is also our specialty; we’ll take you to the most amazing dive sites to make sure you see it all.

Get ready for a new adventure at the bottom of the sea, Book your dive now!