Ahh, Mexico…the perfect diving/snorkeling destination! When we planned our trip, we, my family and I, all agreed that we had to dive in the Riviera Maya. And that’s exactly what we did. After my sister got her certification as an “open water diver”, and my mother and I went over the few basic things, my family and I didn’t lose a second before we grabbed our cylinders and explored the most diverse diving spots in the Caribbean and Mayan jungle.
Diving isn’t just for oceans and lakes, here in the state of Quintana Roo a popular diving spot are the cenotes: deep, natural wells which were used by Mayans for sacrifices. Cenotes are of incredible beauty and come in all shapes and sizes–at times located caves and extremely deep, at other times completely exposed to sunlight and just a couple of meters in depth. We dove in three different cenotes, which were all very different from one another…the first dive, The Pitch, was about 40 meters in depth, descending deep down into the earth and mostly covered a great cave. The second and third dives were located in Dos Ojos and consisted of narrow tunnels and not nearly as deep as the first one; we zig-zagged between dark pathways, starting in a cenote and “crawling” into the next pool via underground tunnels. Diving in a cenote is fascinating but it’s not a kind of dive one should do in order to see aquatic life….its beauty is definitely the complexity of the underwater caves and tunnels.
A worldwide destination for scuba divers from all over the world, including the famous Jacques Cousteau. Cozumel is simply breathtaking, since the second largest coral reef is located on its shore– the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. We did two dives with Studio Blue (highly recommend them), one in Santa Rosa Wall and the other in Yucab Wall. Most diving in Cozumel is drift diving, which is when the boat drops you off in a spot and picks you up in another place (you are carried along the reef by the currents); in addition, the sealife is quite abundant: multicolored corals, turtles, sharks, barracudas, rays, and thousands of fishes. Both dives were stunning for different reasons, the first one because we saw most of the coral on one side and shortly after a hundreds of feet deep chasm; the second dive was where we saw turtles, rays, barracudas, lobsters, and even a shark.
Dive with whale sharks? Check! Our “dive” in Cancun was all about swimming with the world’s biggest sharks, between 80-100 of them to be precise. At 8 am on a Saturday, my family and I were already racing across the Caribbean on search of whale sharks, luckily we found them about 2 hours away from the coast while hunting for food. I could barely manage my excitement as I put my snorkeling mask and fins on and threw myself into the dark water. I looked around in search of a whale shark and there it was! After a first, long look, I came to the conclusion that whale sharks reminded me a lot of cows….slow-moving forms covered by dots, their toothless mouth filter-feeding planktons and their tiny eyes giving away their lovable nature. Throughout the three dives we did that day, I felt like a mermaid swimming with huge sea creatures. Since I ditched the life-jacket, I was able to dive under, around, above, and sideways with many whale sharks and be just a few inches away from them; more than once I was stuck between two or three of them and got slightly kicked by their tales. Also, if you get really close to their mouths, you can watch part of the filter-feeding process: planktons being sucked into their mouths and the remains, or “trash”, being expelled through the gills. My entire family loved this experience, and I highly suggest people to do this activity if they find themselves in the Riviera Maya during the whale shark season (starts May and goes on for a few months). In addition to swimming with the sharks, the boat stopped for a snack on the northern beach of Isla Mujeres, where the captain prepared fresh ceviche and guacamole.