• Marine Conservation

Puerto Morelos: A haven for marine exploration

Article by Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo

Posted: January 31, 2019

Original photo: Ratha Grimes

Find out about Puerto Morelos and why volunteering abroad at GVI’s new location in Mexico is the perfect experience for seeing incredible biodiversity first-hand.

GVI’s new Mexican base is a hub for marine biodiversity. It’s the ultimate destination for volunteers concerned with marine conservation and protecting the life in our seas.

Find out what makes Puerto Morelos so special, and learn about volunteering in this unique location.


Where is Puerto Morelos?

The idyllic seaport-based town of Puerto Morelos lies on the Yucatán Peninsula, in the northeast of Mexico’s easternmost state.

On this peninsula, where the land is almost encompassed by the sea, and the colour of the sky matches the crystalline waters below, is GVI’s new Mexican base.

The town of Puerto Morelos used to be a bustling fishing village, where the main source of income was from the surrounding seas. Nowadays, it’s a quieter town, whose heartbeat is slow and rhythmic, mimicking the beating of waves on the shores of its beaches.  


Original photo: Miguel Discart

Puerto Morelos is popular with tourists who need some downtime and are looking for a more secluded location where they can appreciate the stunning surroundings.

The location of Puerto Morelos makes it ideal for studying marine biodiversity, as the temperate waters are home to thousands of species of fish and other water creatures.

Snorkelling in the seas surrounding Puerto Morelos is the experience of a lifetime, and GVI’s base here makes it possible for you to explore the waters encircling the peninsula. If you’re thinking of volunteering in Mexico, this is the place to do it.

What to do in Puerto Morelos


Although it is a quieter seaside town, Puerto Morelos is just a short journey away from the famous Mexican destinations of Cancún and Playa del Carmen. It’s an ideal destination for those looking for a contrast between relaxing on a beach and exploring a lively city. There are hundreds of things to do in Puerto Morelos and beyond. And what better place to sample Mexican seafood than a seaside town in Mexico? Try authentic ceviche and shrimp tacos, cooked with fish caught just hours before from the sea you’ve been swimming in.

On your day off, take a trip to the local botanical gardens and learn about the flora of Mexico. Established in 1982, the Jardin Botanico boasts an impressive range of fruits, flowers and medicinal plants, many of which are only found in this area.

This is one of the largest botanical gardens in Mexico. After you’ve been volunteering to conserve the fauna of the surrounding seas, this botanical garden is the ideal opportunity to brush up on your knowledge of Mexico’s terrestrial plant life.

Another exciting opportunity when you decide to volunteer in Puerto Morelos with GVI is the chance to learn Spanish and build upon your current linguistic skills.

Learning Spanish in Mexico while volunteering in marine conservation is the perfect combination to give you valuable skills, lifelong memories, and boost your CV. Take classes locally, and practise what you’ve learnt by speaking to local inhabitants.

This location in Puerto Morelos has opportunities for anybody, whether you’re excited by the idea of discovering hidden gems in a busy city or spending your days under the sea snorkelling and taking in the beauty of the marine life in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.

Explore marine biodiversity in Puerto Morelos

Original photo: Tony Hisgett

Puerto Morelos is the ideal location to study the world’s second largest coral reef. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System stretches all the way from the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula to the islands of Honduras. This makes GVI’s new Mexico base the perfect location to explore the stunning wildlife under the sea.

The WWF states that the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is home to over 500 species of fish, five types of marine turtles, and even attracts one of the world’s largest congregations of whale sharks – the biggest fish on earth.

This immense coral reef is also home to over 60 species of coral. When you volunteer in Mexico with GVI, this underwater world opens up to you.

Some of the most popular attractions in this area are snorkelling and diving. Jumping into the warm waters, and heading below the surface, you head into a world far different from the one on land. This is a world with a variety of colourful fish, huge turtles gliding through the waters, and a mesmerising coral reef; the second largest in the world. In this silent world, time floats by slowly as you watch underwater life unfold in front of your eyes.

Protecting the marine life of Puerto Morelos

GVI participants work on cloning coral fragments as part of the Coral Reef Restoration project.

Coral bleaching is one of the greatest threats to marine biodiversity today. This is something that has a direct impact upon the marine life of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, and the sea life of Puerto Morelos.

These coral bleaching events are getting more frequent. It’s estimated that the earth has lost approximately 40–50% of its coral reefs in the last 50 years due to bleaching events.

The most devastating coral bleaching event was in 1998. 16% of the world’s coral reefs were killed due to this disaster, subsequently impacting the marine life that so desperately relies on coral to survive. By studying seawater and corals we can work towards protecting these delicate organisms from another devastating event like this.



Due to the increasing threat to the coral in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, and the multitudes of organisms that rely on it, it is imperative to collect data and work to preserve this hub of life.

GVI is dedicated to collecting data from this area in order to learn more about the coral reef and what can be done to help preserve and protect it.

Volunteers heading to Puerto Morelos on marine conservation projects are hands-on in the research and action that goes into ensuring that the fragile marine life of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System gets the support it needs to thrive in an environment that’s increasingly threatened by human activity.

Are you ready to be one of the first to volunteer at GVI’s new base in Mexico? Contact the team today.

Article by Zaytoen Domingo

By Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.
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