The island of Cozumel is reknowned for its diving but facilities on the mainland are also good so you could stay in Cancun, travel up the coast diving here and there and still have the opportunity to dive at Cozumel if you wish.
[Photo credit: Vanessa Layafe]
The Gulf and Caribbean coasts:
- Cozumel is Mexico's largest inhabited island and home to some of the world's best diving. Most divers head straight to Cozumel and set up base-camp here. With 18 miles of reefs, 200 species of tropical fish and an underwater visibility of over 100 feet, most of the diving here is easy drift diving.
Cabo San Lucas is the best place to find a variety of marine life with over 850 species of tropical fish and other mammals such as whales, porpoise, manta rays and hammerhead sharks.
La Paz has deserted beaches, calm bays, and offshore islands. You can find more than 800 species of fish and 2,000 species of invertebrates. The best time to dive here is between June and November when the water temperature is 80 degrees and the visibility is great. Swim with hammerhead sharks and sea lions at many wonderful sights, such as, Los Islotes, Salvatierra, and El Bajo.
One of Mexico's most famous dives sites is the Cenote cave system found in the Yucatán Peninsula. A cenote is a type of sinkhole containing groundwater typically and (as in Yucatán) often provide access to extensive underwater cave systems where you can dive between stalactites and stalagmites, with the sun rays entering through the cracks on the ceiling that seems to cut the water like a blade.
The Pacific Coast - also known as the Mexican Riviera, this coastline boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But don't believe there is no diving here. There are a number of excellent dive centers with the local knowledge to team you up with a great experience. Plankton blooms from March to July so the best time to dive is between August to February.
Cage diving with great white sharks is popular in this region. Read this article from The Shark Trust and get the facts before deciding if this is for you.
- Cenote cave diving (but not for the claustrophobic!) is probably the one of the only places in the world where you can dive in fresh and salt water in one dive! Sites include:
- Grand Cenote for perfect visibility and a serene diving experience with the sensation of floating through air. This Cenote offers a very spectacular conformation of stalactite and stalagmites that looks like a big cathedral.
- Angelita (a 'must do' for advanced divers who are looking for something a little different) - the name means “little angel” and there's no better way to describe this magical dive site. Access is by a short walk through the jungle; the cenote does nothing else but go straight down 200 feet. Fresh water with unlimited visibility makes up the first one hundred feet and salt water the other half is separated by a mystical layer of hydrogen sulphate. This middle layer appears as a dense cloud from the top and strange coloured hue from the bottom. Bring your dive lights, as you will need them if you are going to penetrate through to the bottom. There are not many dives in the world where you can dive in the clouds at 100 feet and see trees, but this is one.
- The Great Maya reef - responsible for thousands of shipwrecks that now lay scattered along its coral ridges. It is not one single barrier reef but a chain of shallow patch reefs, drop offs and coral gardens. It is also home to a weave of coast-hugging sandbanks, fringing reefs, islets and coral atolls. The whole myriad stretches from the tip of Yucatan 600 miles southward to the Bay of Honduras.
- Whale Watching - From mid-December through March, Scammon's Lagoon is the destination of the largest number of Californian Grey whales, approximately 1,500 (including newborn calves) every year.
- Cozumel Island for Maracaibo Deep, Santa Rosa Wall, Paraiso Reef, San Francisco Reef and Palancar Reef.
- Cabo San Lucas - Sand Falls and Gordo Banks.
San Carlos - explore the wreck of the tunaboat, San Pedro Island and the Diaz Ordaz.
- The Cenotes are not just in one location. There are hundreds of cenotes spread over Caribbean Mexico. They are mostly situated near roadside settlements and are best explored from Playa del Carmen or around Tulum.
- Malaria is endemic in low-lying rural areas of Mexico and outbreaks can occur throughout the year.
|Time:||GMT -8, -7, -6|
|Climate:||Varies from tropical to desert|
|Natural hazards:||Tsunamis on the Pacific coast; volcanoes & earthquakes in the centre and south; hurricanes|
|Diving season:||Year round|
|Water temperature:||24C/75F (Jan-March)|