This article is intended to provide the already qualified Scuba diver with information which will help to plan dives in the waters of Mexico, whether as a local resident or a visitor. Information is provided without prejudice, and is not guaranteed accurate or complete. Use it at your own risk.
Diving in Mexico includes very good tropical coral reefs on the Caribbean coast, Large pelagics in Baja California in the Sea of Cortez, and the exceptional cave sites of the Yucatán peninsula amongst others. Mexico is a large country, with coasts on two oceans – the topography of the diving destinations is highly varied, as are the climate, weather and likely water conditions, though there is a general tendency to warm rather than cold conditions. The ecology is similarly variable and equipment in general use follows the expected conditions at the site.
Diving destinations and sites
(Baja California, Baja California Sur) — The western peninsula, which borders the U.S. state of California
Cabo San Lucas — on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula is a meeting point of reef and blue water fish. While the number of dive sites are limited the variety of species makes up for it as do the viewing of the sand falls.
San Pedro Nolasco Island, sometimes called Seal Island, is a small and rugged Mexican island in the Gulf of California. It is 4.2 km long by 1 km wide, and lies 15 km from the nearest point of the Mexican coast and about 28 km west of the resort town of San Carlos on the coast of the Sonoran Desert. The island is protected as a nature reserve and its coastal waters are well known as a sport fishing and diving site.
Popular dive sites include:
- Magdalena Bay — a beautiful little protected cove on the southeast corner of the island. The water depths inside the bay are shallow, making it an excellent site for novice divers and snorkelers. Consistent water clarity and amazing bio-diversity offer even the most advanced divers an unforgettable experience. The gravel beach seems to be a favorite resting place with the sea lions. Large numbers of sea lion pups, guarded by a dominant male can be observed during the summer months.
- The Little Waterfall
- The Cave
- The Beach
- The Boulders
- North Point
- The Window
- Pelican Point
- The Cavern
- The Rookery
- South Point
(Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas); Includes the expansive deserts and mountains of the border states; mostly ignored by tourists, this is "Unknown Mexico"
- Zacatón (El Zacatón sinkhole) is a thermal water filled sinkhole belonging to the Zacatón system - a group of unusual karst features in Aldama Municipality in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. It is the deepest known water-filled sinkhole in the world with a total underwater depth of 319 metres (1,047 ft). The name Zacatón comes from the free-floating islands of zacate grass which move around on the surface with the wind.
(Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, Oaxaca) — Tropical beaches on Mexico's southern coast
Socorro Island is a small volcanic island in the Revillagigedo Islands, a Mexican possession lying some 600 km off the country's western coast at 18°48'N, 110°59'W. The size is 16.5 by 11.5 km, with an area of 132 km². Socorro Island is a popular scuba diving destination known for underwater encounters with dolphins, sharks, manta rays and other pelagic animals. Since there is no public airport on the island, divers visit here on live-aboard dive vessels. The most popular months are between November and May when the weather and seas are calmer.
(Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Yucatán) Jungle, cenotes and impressive Mayan archaeological sites, along with the Caribbean coast
Cozumel — has excellent and very accessible diving making it one of the most popular diving destinations in the northern hemisphere. The area is well known for reef, wall and drift diving as well as for a lively top-side scene.
Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park — The park is well known for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Popular dive sites include:
- Columbia Reef
- Devil's Throat at Punta Sur
- Palancar Reef
- Paradise Reef
- Paso del Cedral
- San Francisco
- Wreck of the C-53 Felipe Xicoténcatl
- An interesting site to visit is the MUSA Museo Subacuatico (Underwater Museum) with reef sculptures by artists like Salvador Quiroz, Jason Decaires Taylor, Karen Salinas and Rodrigo Quiñones.
Quintana Roo — Cancún and Playa del Carmen are well known for cavern and cave diving and advanced technical diving in the labyrinth of fresh water cenotes. Cenote dives are an out of this world experience, not to be missed for divers with decent buoyancy control.
Dive sites include:
- Dos Ojos (from Spanish meaning "Two Eyes"; officially Sistema Dos Ojos) is a flooded cave system north of Tulum. The exploration of Dos Ojos began in 1987 and continues. The surveyed extent of the cave system is 81.9 km (50.9 mi) and there are 28 known sinkhole entrances, which are locally called cenotes.
- Dos Ojos lies broadly parallel to and north of the Sac Actun cave system. It has remained in the top ten, if not the top three longest underwater cave systems in the world since its discovery, and contains the deepest known cave passage in Quintana Roo with 119.1 m (391 ft) of depth at "The Pit", some 1,500 m (4,900 ft) away from the main entrance. The deep passages include the "Wakulla Room", the "Beyond Main Base (BMB) passage", "Jill's room" and "The Next Generation passage".
- The name Dos Ojos refers to two neighbouring cenotes which connect into a very large cavern zone shared between the two. These two cenotes appear like two large eyes into the underground. The original cave diving exploration of the whole cave system began through these cenotes. Water temperature is 25°C (77°F) throughout the year and the maximum depth near the Dos Ojos cenotes is approximately 10 m (33 ft). The water is exceptionally clear as a result of rainwater filtered through limestone.
- Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich (from Spanish and Yucatec Maya meaning "Giant Birdcage System") is an extensive water filled cave system connected with the Caribbean Sea via a coastal spring. The explored cave system extends to approximately 8 km (5.0 mi) inland from the coast. It is 16.5 km (10.3 mi) south of Akumal.
- During the Nohoch 1997 expedition the 60 km (37 mi) of total explored cave passage mark was surpassed. In early 2007, Nohoch Nah Chich included 36 cenotes and had a recorded length of 67 km (42 mi) when it was connected into and subsumed into the 14 km (8.7 mi) longer Sistema Sac Actun. This portion of the system is now called the "Nohoch Nah Chich Historical section", where with 71.6 m (235 ft) also the greatest depth of the entire system was reached at "The Blue Abyss".
- Ox Bel Ha (from Mayan meaning "Three Paths of Water"; officially Sistema Ox Bel Ha) is a cave system in Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is the longest explored underwater cave in the world. As of October 2011 the surveyed length is 231.2 km (143.7 mi) of underwater passages.
- Sistema Sac Actun (from Spanish and Yucatec Maya meaning "White Cave System") is an underwater cave system along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula with passages to the north and west of the village of Tulum. Exploration started from Gran Cenote 5 km (3.1 mi) west of Tulum. The whole of the explored cave system lies within the Municipality of Tulum.
- In early 2007, the underwater cave Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich was connected into and subsumed into Sac Actun making it the longest surveyed underwater cave system in the world for some months. Sac Actun measures 215.4 km (133.8 mi)
Banco Chinchorro — an atoll reef off the southeast coast of Quintana Roo, near Belize. The reef is about 35 km offshore in the Caribbean Sea, about 80 km east of the Chetumal. There are at least nine shipwrecks on the reef, including two Spanish Galleons.
The names of the known wrecks are:
- SS Caldera
- SS Escasell
- SS Far Star
- SS Ginger Screw
- SS Glen View
- SS Penelopez
- SS San Andreas
- SS Tropic
- There is also a large ferry from Cozumel that washed up on Chinchorro during Hurricane Wilma.
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