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Yucatan Peninsula

Cenotes 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.

Exploring Mexico
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.

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Quick Guide: Yucatan

  • Location: South-east Mexico
  • When to go: All year round but Nov – May driest
  • Average air temp: 29°C – 35°C
  • Average water temp: 25°C – 29°C
  • Recommended diver level: Good for all levels

Riviera Maya reefs & Cenotes

Located along the north-eastern Yucatan Peninsula, the Riviera Maya is a stretch of coastline with numerous hotels and small towns that include Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. 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.

Playa del Carmen & Puerto Morelos – The Fives Hotels

We are delighted to offer the excellent Fives Hotels, located in Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos. These beautiful hotels are easily reached from Cancun airport and each has a dedicated, first-class diving centre offering dives to the Cenotes, Riviera Maya reefs and the reef walls of Cozumel. The fully equipped SSI dive centres offer a range of diver training courses, from beginner through to expert.



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Essence at the Fives Beach, Playa Del Carmen
Essence at the Fives Beach is a stunning 5 star luxury beach resort with a host of incredible facilities. Situated on a white powder beach with crystal clear water and nestled amongst tropical mangroves and beautifully landscaped gardens. Ideal for singles, couples, families & groups looking for a first-class resort experience with diving. Located just south of the town of Playa Del Carmen.
For full details, click on the image above.



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The Fives Downtown Playa Del Carmen
Beautiful, stylish, modern Curio Collection by Hilton branded resort. With dive shop, RoMarley coffee shop, traditional style tequila bar, roof top bar and restaurant with 2 giant infinity pools. & Ground floor gym. Ideal for the diver / groups that enjoy the party atmosphere of downtown Playa Del Carmen, whilst staying in a 5-star resort, set just back from the main strip and with great ocean views from the rooftop bar. 
For full details, click on the image above.



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The Fives Oceanfront, Puerto Morelos
Stunning new 97 suite boutique style resort on the stunning beach and fishing village of Puerto Morelos, which is 20 minutes south of Cancun airport. Tranquil spa and well-equipped gym.  3 restaurants, including the roof top bar / restaurant / infinity pool  & The renowned RoMarley Beach Bar & Restaurant overlooking the beach. Perfect for couples, singles and small groups or a few diving couples travelling together.  
For full details, click on the image above.



Located further south of Playa del Carmen is the town of Tulum. If you are looking for a resort that is adults only, then we can recommend the Catalonia Royal Tulum Beach & Spa Resort. This all-inclusive resort comprises of 288 comfortable villas, surrounded by native jungle trees, local plants, mangroves and Cenotes. You can see images of this hotel in the gallery to the right.

Diving from Catalonia Royal Tulum Beach & Spa Resort is conducted by Pro Dive International, which have a fleet of dive boats to offer diving throughout the Riviera Maya reefs, the Cenotes and Cozumel National Marine Park.



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 a dive centre at Allegro Cozumel, as well as the 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



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Adrenalin-fuelled cage diving with great white sharks



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Socorro Islands
Schooling hammerheads, humpback whales and huge oceanic mantas



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Sea of Cortez
Playful sea lions, bull sharks and close encounters with whale sharks



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Yucatan Peninsular
Cenotes cave diving, reef walls of Cozumel and ancient Mayan ruins

Ready for your next adventure?

Great Escapes Diving Holidays Ltd

Combs Tannery
Tannery Road
IP14 2EN
United Kingdom

Office hours: Mondays to Fridays, 9am - 5pm
Tel: 01449 535010

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