If you're planning a vacation in Cancun or anywhere in the Mexican Caribbean and you’ve been doing some research, you must have come across these intriguing names: El Cielo (Heaven) and El Cielito (Little Heaven).
The names indicate that you surely want to visit these places but, are they really worth your time and money or are they just a great marketing trick? Spoiler alert, they are really amazing. 🤩
Let me tell you today everything you need to know about El Cielo and El Cielito including some practical pieces of advice on how to get there, what to do to choose the best tour, and what to bring.
Keep reading to get the most out of your vacation in Quintana Roo!
Just go ths way! 👇 👇 👇
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About El Cielo Cozumel
Although you might have read about El Cielo beach, it’s not a beach but a snorkeling spot on the coasts of Cozumel.
Cozumel happens to be located in the Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest coral barrier in the world after the Australian. The shallow, waist-deep ocean near Cozumel, crystal clear waters, and white-powered beach, make your snorkeling experience unforgettable.
You’ll be able to observe all types of kaleidoscopic fish, starfish, stingrays, sea turtles, jellyfish, and obviously, colorful corals.
Location of El Cielo and How to Get There
El Cielo is located in the South West of Cozumel, a Mexican island in the state of Quintana Roo. It’s easily accessible from any popular destination in Quintana Roo such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, or Tulum.
To get to Cozumel:
You can get on the UltraMar Ferry from the terminal in Playa del Carmen and once you get to Cozumel, you can book a tour to el Cielo in any of the stands on the terminal. You will see that in the moment you get off the ferry, the sales representatives from tour companies will try to reach you.
You can also book a tour earlier on from any shops for example on Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen. But the most comfortable option that includes roundtrip and hotel pick-up is booking all-inclusive tours online or at your hotel.
When is the Best Time to Visit El Cielo?
The Quintana Roo state has great weather all year round but there are some things you should take into consideration for the best experience.
⛈️ The period from May to October can get some powerful storms and even hurricanes so if you’re coming just for some days you may not get lucky with the weather.
Hurricanes don’t happen often, not even once a year, but it’s still a possibility. However, this time of the year will have lower prices for hotel stays and tours so if it’s important for you, you can book your vacation at this time.
☀️ January to April is the high season, meaning the weather is great every single day. The water will be pleasantly warm and your El Cielo tour will be absolutely wonderful. Still, in these months, there are also crowds of tourists everywhere. If you’re a party animal yourself and don’t mind company everywhere, this might be a time to consider.
⛅ From November to December it gets colder. Nothing close to the US winter but you might expect around 15º Celsius degrees (59º Fahrenheit) at night. During the day, it’s still beach time, but not sordid hot. Some people love this time and your snorkeling tour will still be marvelous.
As you can see, you have to decide for yourself, depending on your personal social, economic, and weather preferences.
What Can You Expect from El Cielo Tour?
As I told you earlier you’ll probably see three snorkeling spots and El Cielito beach.
The Palancar Reef will probably be the first step you’ll be able to put on your snorkeling mask and jump into the water. The sea is about 20-40 feet deep and you’ll be able to see many colorful fish and corals.
The Colombia Reef is nearby and the water is a bit more shallow, around 15-30 feet deep. The snorkeling is pretty similar to the previous experience and you still haven’t seen the best part.
Get ready for the highlight: El Cielo. No wonder this gives the name to most of the snorkeling tours in the area.
The water is much shallower, about waist deep, and is known as a sandbar. You’ll see the colorful sea coral reef world in its glory and beautiful sea creatures up close. The best tours take you to the reefs where you’re bound to see the sea turtles.
After the snorkeling and diving part, the boat will surely take you to El Cielito beach and pamper you with snacks and drinks. Some tours offer guacamole, sliced cheese, fresh jicama, and other traditional treats, good tequila or Mezcal, beer, and a broad selection of non-alcoholic beverages.
You can eat, drink, relax on the white-powdered beach, and waddle in the turquoise waters. Enjoy your time before going back to your hotel.
Do you want to explore the Caribbean Sea, check out this itinerary, we can plan something like this for you:
CANCUN SEA ADVENTURE: Enjoy a 6-day trip to Cancun! Discover the wonders in the Caribbean Sea 🌊: the magic islands 🏖️, the reefs 🐬 🐚, the underwater treasures 🐡 🐠 & more ⛵.
What's included on the tours to El Cielo and El Cielito?
The current prices for all-inclusive tours may vary between $50 and $90 USD depending on what is included. The majority of tours offer the following:
- Round Trip boat trip
- Snorkeling at two different coral reefs–Palancar Reef and Colombia Reef. Some tours include Palancar Gardens
- Snorkeling with starfish at El Cielo
- A stop at “El Cielito” beach
- Snorkeling equipment
- Life jackets
- Bottled water, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages
What we would strongly recommend is to check if the tour company has the Marine Park Passes, only then, they’ll be able to take you legally to the snorkeling spots.
👉 To learn more about the Mesoamerican Reef click here.
Another thing you could ask beforehand is how big the tour group will be. Smaller groups mean better personal assistance if you’re not a strong swimmer. Some companies also offer floaties.
Also, take an insight into the total time of the tour. I would be suspicious if it is around two hours, It takes at least 30 minutes to get to the best reefs. The good tours take about 4 hours from the moment you step on the boat and I wouldn’t book anything shorter.
What to Wear and Bring?
I would highly recommend a one-piece suit for women for more comfort and less hassle. Surfing swimsuits are the best as they provide more sun protection.
Wear clothes with protection against UV rays.
Avoid any chemicals such as hair products or make-up. They’re all harmful to sea creatures and corals are very sensitive. I would even avoid the biodegradable sunscreens, as they still introduce damaging substances. Although allowed by most tour companies, if you care about ecotourism, you will personally avoid them.
Other products to avoid before your sea excursion, makeup and hair dyes. If you dyed your hair very recently, refrain from swimming for the sake of the coral reefs. 💚 🌎
They are all harmful to sea creatures and corals are also very sensitive.
In terms of shoes, opt for flip flops or swimming shoes, anything that can get wet and won’t make you cry. Remember a sun hat 🕶️ 🧢, you won’t feel the sun while going through the waves on the speed boat but you should definitely protect your head. Don’t forget the towel!
don't rest your shoes or fins on the reefs! You can damage the corals and injuring yourself.
And last but not less important, don’t forget your towel!
You can also bring clothes to change after the tour if wearing a wet swimsuit the whole day does not sound like a comfortable option.
You can also bring some optional items:
- A waterproof or GoPro camera. If you want to remember your visit to El Cielo long after your vacation in Quintana Roo, don’t forget to bring your camera with an underwater photo option.
- Your own snorkel gear - although all the tours provide snorkeling equipment, bring yours if you own one. It will be more comfortable and more hygienic.
- Snacks - if you want to eat something before you get to El Cielito or if you have special dietary needs.
- Cash for tips - it’s customary to tip the tour guides in Mexico, at the end of the tour. Many of them go beyond what is asked of them and it’s always good to acknowledge their efforts.
📅 Are You Ready for your El Cielo Tour?
Good tours sell fast in hot tourist seasons so if you want to get the best experience with the best tour operators, do it in advance, even from the comfort of your home, long before you put a foot on Mexican land.
Don’t wait too long and book your dream holiday in Quintana Roo and El Cielo Tour. Discover why so many before you consider it a highlight of their vacation in the Mexican Caribbean.
We have reached the end, dear readers! You are ready to go on a tour to El Cielo and El Cielito under ecotourism terms.
If you liked this article, take a look at our related articles:
- Road trip to Ría Lagartos: paradise for flamingos
- The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve: a 100% nature destination
- A journey to the heart of nature: The Sian Ka'an Reserve
As well as all our posts about ecotourism in the Riviera Maya. Check out our section on this very interesting topic: ECOTOURISM.