Diving in Mexico
Acclaimed by the World Trade Organization as one of the most visited countries in the world and second in the Americas after the United States, Mexico plays host to a wide range of tourist attractions. Notable among them are the Meso-American ruins, cultural festivals, beach resorts, sports fishing and diving. A sublime climate and an exquisite culture, which is a unique blend of American and Meso-American, make Mexico a haven for tourists. Extending along the coastline of the country is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest barrier reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This particular barrier reef is home to a wide variety of mollusk, fish, stony coral and manatees. The coastline of the country has some of the world’s best diving spots, with many exquisite attractions like cage diving with White Sharks, underwater cave systems and the only place in the world where you can dive in fresh and salt water in one dive.
Aquatic Life in Mexico
Mexico is home to a plethora of aquatic life ranging from big fish like sharks, dolphins, and whales to smaller marine life such as manatees, mollusk and corals. With an estimated population of 1000 to 1500, manatees have made this reef system their home, making it one of the world’s largest populations. The northern reef system is the home of the world’s largest fish, the Whale shark. True to its title as one of the most bio diverse countries, Mexico also has a number of endangered species like sea turtles, splendid toadfish, American crocodile, black coral and Elkhorn coral.
Diving in Mexico
Mexico’s coastline, lagoons and rivers are one of the best places on Earth to explore underwater life. These waters are extremely rich in natural life and make it truly an amazing place to dive and explore. The Sea of Cortez is famously called the Aquarium of the World, and true to its name, the wide variety of marine life has drawn researchers and tourists alike. Beginners to diving need not worry as they can arrive at any diving centre and gain training and certification, while for the more experienced and advanced divers, the coasts of Gulf of Mexico offers the chance to visit sunken ships.
The Yucatan is famed for its subterranean cenotes or waterholes, where visitors can truly experience underground diving. Many beach resorts and towns along the coastline also add to the picturesque setting. With idyllic beaches, natural reefs and crystal clear waters Mexico has everything to offer to a diver.
Cozumel is the largest and most populous island of Mexico, spanning 30 miles in length and 10 miles in width. Often touted as one of the must see destinations for divers, Cozumel literally offers divers an underwater paradise. Crystal clear waters, world class reefs, steep plunging walls, extensive system of limestone caves and interconnected tunnels, swaying coral gardens and effortless drift diving form the hallmark of Cozumel.
Countless tropical fish, vast coral heads and sponges like Elephant Ear sponge and Barrel sponge add to the wonderful experience. The island has more than forty prime diving sites. Areas of coral pinnacles begin in 50 feet of water and gradually lead the diver through large caves with incredible visibility, sandy bottoms and colourful sponges plastering the walls. The vertical walls offer an adrenaline boosting deep blue water experience.
Owing to its abundant diversity in aquatic life, coupled with warm and clear waters, Riviera Maya offers what few destinations in the world can. Inland trips to fresh water underground cenotes (waterholes) and cage diving with sharks make this diving spot ideal for the adventurous ones. The local reef diving is perfect for beginners due to the shallow waters. Turtles, lobsters, squids, rays, bull, black-tip and lemon sharks can all be spotted here. The cenotes are one of the largest in the Americas, offering almost 550 kilometres of passageways. These waterholes are laced with stalactites and stalagmites and offer an experience rarely found at most other diving sites around the world.
Though lacking in the number of dive sites, this place makes up for it by offering an almost unmatched marine diversity with the likes of Manta rays, Spotted Eagle rays, Hawksbill turtles, octopus, Arrow crabs, Nurse sharks and various fish like Cones Angel fish, Black-Botched Porcupine fish, Moorish Idol and Indo-Pacific Sergeant. With drift dives,blue water dives, and wildlife in the form of Seahorses and Pacific Mantas, this diving spot promises to give the divers a unique experience.
The tropical beaches here are some of the best scuba diving destinations with underwater coves and a nearby natural reef, home to scores of colourful fish, turtles, octopus, sailfish and manta rays. A series of rock pinnacles gives the more experienced divers the chance to practice technical diving. A cluster of granite islands in the region offer experienced divers the chance for night time diving as the underwater mountain range along with some marine life like needlefish, lobsters, octopus, puffers and butterfly fish can only be seen at night.
Though more renowned for its nightlife and windsurfing, Aruba makes for a great diving destination as well. There are several excellent wall reefs with abundant marine life, including but not limited to Anglefish, Silversides, Boxfish, Moray eels, octopus and puffers, but the highlight of the place is the shipwrecks and airplane wrecks. The reefs are surrounded by a large shallow sand plateau accessible only by boat. The underwater wrecks are home to aquatic life like stingrays, giant tube sponges, lobsters, snake eels and fish like barracuda, frogfish, trumpet fish and parrotfish.
Spectacular walls, tunnels and overhangs, all few minutes from the beach are the specialties of the place. The reef system extends over a kilometer from the shore. The low coral archways and towering pinnacles with narrow swimming passages make this diving spot a must-see in Mexico. One remarkable site here is the freshwater cavern, which resembles a cathedral. A layer of green water adds mystery to the underwater spectacle. Small fish and shrimp in huge numbers populate this site.
Who to Dive With?
For scuba diving in the most popular sites in Mexico we would recommend Deep Blue in Cozumel who offer custom diving sites selected daily and provide fast boats allowing a maximum of 8 divers per boat so it won't get too crowded.
For the Rivera Maya you should check out Phantom Diver's who offer two great diving tours locally in the morning and afternoon.