Puerto Morales, MexicoI’ve gone snorkeling in Thailand once years and years ago. I loved being able to see the colourful sea creatures without much effort. So I was hoping to have that same experience at Puerto Morelos, a small fishing village that gives you easy access to the world’s second biggest coral reef.

We signed up for a day trip package ($76 US each) that included mini-van transportation from our resort, the boat ride, snorkeling trip, and lunch. We left at 8:30 a.m. and were back by around 3 p.m.

Unfortunately, the sky was overcast and the winds steady on the morning we went. That meant the sea was pretty choppy, so the water wasn’t the calm, crystal-clear blue it would have been on a nicer day.

We did see coral, tropical fish, and some eels, but two-thirds of the way into the second 40-minute dip, I had to return to the boat. The strong currents were no match for me even with the mandatory life jacket and flippers.

So my assessment? Go for it if the weather’s nice; skip it if the wind is kicking up.

I was starving by the time we got back to the shore. Luckily, the restaurant La Panza es Primero that was part of our package is right on the beach.

Puerto Morales, Mexico

As you can see, shirts are mandatory but luchador masks are optional.

Roughly translated as “The belly is first,” La Panza es Primero is the name of a 1972 cartoon book critical of Mexican food. The restaurant, which is part of a chain, is filled with colourful Mexican wrestling paraphernalia and has a gorgeous view of the water.

They set up a lunch buffet with green salad, tomatoes, beef strips with peppers, corn tortillas, and rice. I loved the chicken in a yellow sauce which I think is pollo flor de calabaza (cream sauce with squash blossoms and mushrooms) and the best refried beans I’ve ever had. I hate refried beans, but these were super smooth and I went for seconds. Did I mention I was starving?

La Panza es Primero, Puerto Morales

La Panza es Primero, Av. Rafael Muelgar, 4, phone (52) 998 2520776, Puerto Morelos, Mexico.