Originally a fishing village Puerto Morelos has gradually grown into a resort and diving destination. The pier in the center of town is used for snorkel and sport fishing boats while bigger yachts dock in a man-made harbour south of the town. It’s the perfect location for those who want a quiet beach holiday away from the glitz, but with sufficient tourist amenities. The town has just two principal streets and you can stroll from one end to the other in about 15 minutes.
The reef just off shore is part of the Great Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest reef system in the world and the biggest in the Western Hemisphere. In 1998 the reef in front of Puerto Morelos became a protected National Marine Park, preserving its rich biodiversity and making this area one of the best preserved of the Great Mesoamerican Reef. Buildings in Puerto Morelos are limited to three stories by local bylaws, to preserve its village character.
Puerto Morelos’ reputation as a laid-back Caribbean destination is evident by its sprinkling of boutique hotels, condominiums, villas, plus numerous small restaurants and tourist shops. Its appeal is especially strong to travellers who give a wide berth to all-inclusives and built up “touristy” attractions. For the most part, the town is a residential community with a mix of Mexicans, Canadians, Americans, and Europeans who live there full or part time.
Just across the Highway 307, the main north-south route on the peninsula, is Colonia Zetina Gazca, commonly known as “La Colonia.” This inland community is mainly single level dwellings for local Mexicans and a few ex-pats, and contains amenities such as small food stores, pharmacies, and several casual restaurants serving simple fare.
Most places in Porto Morelos accept US dollars but not credit cards. Almost all prices are given in Mexican pesos and it is usually cheaper to pay in pesos than in US dollars. There is no bank in town, but you can find a few ATM machines for withdrawals.