Riviera Maya and Cancun
Once a collection of small fishing villages, this portion of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, starting at Cancun and stretching south, has evolved into one of the most popular and dynamic tourist destinations on the western Caribbean Sea. It offers the perfect mix of dive opportunities, cultural experiences, shopping and adventure. It’s enough to satisfy the most hardcore scuba diver and landlubber alike. For cave divers, this region is legendary, but everyone can explore some of the lightbeam-filled caverns in Riviera Maya. In Cancun, right next to the bustle of the busy resorts are some excellent dive sites, including wrecks and reefs that are action-packed with marine life. Whether it's night life and good diving, or quiet, tranquil beaches and good diving, you’ll find it on the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Punta Cancun – This is a popular spot with divers and provides access to several dive sites and some healthy coral reefs. Located at the eastern end of Cancun's hotel zone, the reefs contain colorful coral formations and you can hang out with a diverse array of marine life, including barracuda, rays and sharks.
- Punta Nizuc – Punta Nizuc is famous for its snorkeling and diving thanks to an offshore reef rife with abundant marine life. Depths average 10 metres/30 feet and great visibility make this a spectacular spot where divers meet lobster, groupers, rays, sergeant majors and other life on the reef. At Punta Nizuc art meets coral reef conservation and divers can visit a statue of a young girl lying in a coral garden. She’s part of an underwater museum, Museo Subacuático de Arte, that’s well worth exploring.
- Playa del Carmen, Akumal and Tulum – South of Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a bustling town with a European vibe. Akumal and Tulum, both south of Playa, are sleepy seaside villages that offer a glimpse into the Yucatan of yesterday. Generally, the dive sites here are shallow with excellent visibility and boat rides are as short as five minutes. You’re likely to see turtles, barracuda, stingrays, lobsters and nurse sharks.
- Pared Verde – Sections of the wall here are divided by sloping rivers of sand and the main wall is well populated with coral, sponges and myriad macro invertebrates. Depths to 40 metres/130 feet are possible and the current can be a consideration. Larger pelagic species are frequently seen here given the reef’s location in the middle of a sandy plain.
- Cenotes – If you want to try something truly special, dive a cenote. These deep, freshwater-filled sinkholes formed when the roofs of limestone caverns collapsed and filled with water. The Yucatan’s elaborate cenotes have intricate cave systems and underground tunnels that draw divers from around the globe. Many cenotes boast pristine turquoise waters and a beautiful array of stalagmites and stalactites formed over millions of years.
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Visibility – For open-ocean dives off the Riviera Maya, visibility can range from 12 metres/40 feet in the winter to 27 metres/90 feet in the summer. Visibility in the cenotes and caverns is only limited by the quality of your vision.
Water Temperature – Water temperatures average 25-28°C/77-82°F in winter and 27-29°C/81-85°F in summer. The temperature in the cenotes is a little cooler.
Weather – Air temperatures range from 18-32°C/65-90°F. The rainy season is from May through October and the dry season is November through April. May and June have the highest humidity. June through October is hurricane season.
Featured Creatures – There are an abundance of hawksbill turtles and it’s common to see them while diving. Other locals include eagle rays, moray eels, lobsters, spadefish, parrotfish, creole wrasse, trumpet fish, angelfish and the usual Caribbean reef species. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of lemon sharks, nurse sharks and possibly even manatees on certain dives.
Recommended Training – Take the PADI Cavern Diver courses to make the most of the cenotes. Consider the AWARE - Fish Identification course to help you identify what you’ll see and the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course to capture images of all the marine life.
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – Spanish, though English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
Currency – Mexican Pesos. Credit cards are widely accepted in tourist areas.
Major Airports – Most divers fly into Cancún International Airport.
Electricity and Internet – 110-120 volts, 60hz. Internet is widely available in resort areas.
Topside Attractions – Visit the Mayan Ruins of Tulum or Chichen Itza. Check out the great shopping, take a jungle tour, participate in various watersports or hang out on one of the excellent beaches.