Yucatan PeninsulaCenotes cave diving, reef walls of Cozumel and ancient Mayan ruins
Mexico is a country of colour, culture, history, spectacular coastlines, landscapes and architecture and nowhere captures this better than the Yucatan Peninsula. Consisting of three Mexican States (Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo), as well as parts of Belize and Guatamala, the Yucatan Peninsula separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea. Each of the states offers something different with plenty to see and do.
Yucatan is situated on the Gulf of Mexico side with archaeological reminders of the Mayan past. There are Mayan communities dotted throughout the state along with several pyramids and temples, the most famous of all being Chichen Itza. Flamingos and other exotic birds and wildlife can be found here too.
Quintana Roo is on the Caribbean Sea side where most of the beach life is in Mexico. The Riviera Maya is home to the famous resorts of Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen and there are a large number of hotels to choose from. Blessed with beautiful, long white sandy beaches and crystal clear water the coastine here is idyllic and to top things off there is also access to the world’s second largest barrier reef – The Great Mayan Reef. While the reefs may offer some wonderful diving, it is the Cenotes cave systems that are the main draw for divers to this area.
The Cenotes are a vast network of stunning subterranean rivers and caves that have been formed from limestone erosion, creating sinkholes which offer entry to some of the most spectacular diving in the world. There are many different Cenotes in the Yucatan, some are vertical shafts while others are caves with pools and passageways, lined with stalagmites and stalactites.
Other diving highlights in this part of the world include Sailfish Run, Whale Sharks, Bull Sharks and wreck dives. There are also excellent reef dives accessible from the resorts along the Maya Riviera and diving on the reef walls of neighbouring Cozumel Island.
How to get there
Gateway into the Yucatan Peninsular is through Cancun International Airport. British Airways offer a direct route from London Gatwick, or you can choose from a range of airlines that transit through the US via such cities as Dallas.
On arrival into Cancun, it takes only around 1hr 15 minutes or so to get to the Playa del Carmen area, from which you have a selection of good dive resorts to choose from.
Mexico offers world class diving on both its Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. There is something for everyone here, and at all diver levels. Visit our Mexico section for an introduction to where to go throughout this country, including Guadalupe Island, the Sea of Cortez, the Socorro Islands and the Yucatan Peninsular.
Riviera Maya Cenotes & Reefs
Located along the north-eastern Yucatan Peninsula, the Riviera Maya is a stretch of coastline with numerous hotels and small towns. Along its shore lies an extensive coral reef, but it is the Cenotes cave systems inland that draw divers here. Formed over 8000 years ago, after the last ice age, many parts of the limestone bedrock collapsed, creating huge sinkholes called Cenotes. The ancient Mayans considered these to be sacred entrances to a mythical underworld. There are thousands of Cenotes scattered throughout the entire Yucatan Peninsula but three of the world’s longest cave systems can be found along the Riviera Maya coastline. From here there is easy access to a chain of astonishing cave systems, with impressive stalagmites and stalactites in crystal clear waters illuminated by beams of bright sunlight. Cenote El Pit, often just called The Pit, is the largest underwater cave in the world and is one of the most popular Cenotes dive sites for experienced divers. Its rugged opening, in the jungle floor, is steep and narrow, with shafts of light penetrating 40m into the cavern.
All Cenotes diving is conducted by Pro Dive International, usually with and two morning dives planned, in small groups of just four divers per guide. Pro Dive International are very well established in Mexico and have several dive centres at hotels along the Riviera Maya coastline, as well as another three dive centres on Cozumel. Pro Dive International have a fleet of dive boats and can offer diving throughout the Riviera Maya reefs, the Cenotes and Cozumel National Marine Park.
We have contract rates for many of the hotels in the Riviera Maya, so please do ask us for more information. If you are looking for a resort that is adults only, then we can recommend the Catalonia Royal Tulum. Alternatively, the Allegro Playacar is a good option for those looking for more facilities. You can see images of these hotels in the gallery to the left.
Located about 12 miles east of the Riviera Maya, Cozumel is a small teardrop-shaped coral island, around 30 miles long and 8 miles wide. The protected reef walls of Cozumel are famous with divers with rich marine life, colourful fans and sponges and steep drop-offs.
Pro Dive International has dive centres at Allegro Cozumel and Occidental Cozumel, perfectly located within the National Marine Park of Cozumel, with easy access to more than 30 dive sites. The dive boats typically head out for two tank dives in the morning and again in the afternoon, as well as offering night dives.
Cozumel is just a 45 minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen. You can see images of the Allegro Cozumel hotel in the gallery to the left.
Mexico by region
Adrenalin-fuelled cage diving with great white sharks
Schooling hammerheads, humpback whales and huge oceanic mantas
Sea of Cortez
Playful sea lions, bull sharks and close encounters with whale sharks
Cenotes cave diving, reef walls of Cozumel and ancient Mayan ruins
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Great Escapes Diving Holidays Ltd
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Tel: 01473 921888