10 Reasons why the Riviera Maya is one of the best Scuba Diving Destinations

Here is some advice and tips to discover why.

Imagine a scuba diving tour or a scuba diving course in the crystal-clear waters of Akumal, Tulum or Cozumel , the finest destinations of the Riviera Maya, one of the best ways to spend your vacation, learning or refining your diving skills in the Caribbean Sea. The magnificent caves and cenotes of the region are hidden gems that belong to a huge underground water system that extends throughout the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Mexican Caribbean Coast is part of the marvelous coral reefs known as El Sistema Arrecifal Mesoamericano (SAM) for its acronym in Spanish, which extends along 621 miles along the coasts of Mexico , Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

It is important to highlight the fact that coral reefs are one of the most important ecosystems, providing a home for over 4,000 species of fish and various underwater flora and fauna. As well as a habitat for the fish life coral reefs also provide protection from shore erosion, and support economic activities to almost 500 million people around the world, from fishing to a large number of water sports, including Scuba Diving. Water based tourism provides vital income in many countries around the world. It is vitally important that we help to protect this wonderful resource for our future enjoyment and the economic benefit of local resident populations.

For this reason we ask that you respect the reefs, avoid touching them as they are fragile and can be damaged very easily, thus affecting the ecosystem of the Mexican Caribbean Sea for many years.

Our first-class service at Blue Experience Diving in Akumal and the Riviera Maya, is ready and waiting to help you explore the wonders of the coral reefs and the underwater world of the Caribbean.

Here you have 10 reasons why the Riviera Maya is one of the best Scuba Diving Destinations:

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1. Reef Diving

Near the coasts of Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel; Puerto Morelos, Akumal , Playa del Carmen and Tulum, at La Riviera Maya , we find The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System which is the Second largest Barrier Reef in the World ; -the largest being the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.- These reefs run the whole length of the Yucatan Peninsula and it is also known as Gran Arrecife Mesoamericano. Fortunately along the Riviera Maya this reef system is very close to shore and it also has National Marine Park status meaning this natural wonder is a protected area. Within the area we can see more than 14 species of multicolor hard corals; we can also find turtles , nurse sharks, eagle rays, barracudas and a stunning variety of fish and mollusks.

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2. Diving with Turtles

Akumal is the Mayan word meaning "Bay of Turtles". Here at Akumal we have a large resident population of Green Sea Turtles, some Hawksbill Turtles and, in breeding season, Loggerhead Turtles. The local area is a major nesting site for these turtles and it is common to see them on the beaches late at night during nesting season as the females leave the water to deposit their eggs in nests on the beaches. Diving with Turtles is possible all year round here at Akumal.

The experience of diving with these wonderful creatures is one not to be missed and should be shared with all the family when you scuba dive with us here at Blue Experience.

The turtles of Akumal have got used to divers over the years and so we have many very close encounters with them on an almost daily basis. However, it is important to remember that we are just visitors in their world and we must respect the environment and ensure we do not attempt to interact with them. They may well decide to interact with us, and that is their choice, but we need to give them their space and not touch, chase or in any way harass them. While diving in Akumal Bay, we will explain the simple rules to follow when we see these magical animals whilst scuba diving thus avoiding putting any stress onto them. This way we can all continue to see the turtles in their natural habitat and enjoy the experience.

Diving with turtles in Akumal is an opportunity not to be missed!

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3. Deep Diving

Only 14 miles from Playa del Carmen and 20 from Akumal, a ring of coral reefs, known as Gran Arrecife Maya, rise close to the surface, creating a shallow "lagoon" around the island of Cozumel. The coral walls mean that we have chances to do some deeper dives and due to the regular, and slightly stronger currents, we can see beautiful coral gardens there. It is one of the most popular destinations for deep diving, thanks to its coral gardens and their beautiful formations; the year round warm waters and marvelous visibility (regularly 150ft) make Cozumel Island a must do dive . It has over 42.47 square miles of reef system protected in the Parque Nacional de Arrecifes de Cozumel.

In quite shallow waters we can find the giant barrel sponge , also named madera roja del abismo, with an average life of about 230 years. During its long life, it filters water all day long and continues to grow. These have been known to reach the size of a small car in diameter and several feet in height.

On some of these sites in Cozumel we also have good chances to come across the Green Moray Eel which gets its' colour from a mucus layer which covers this night time hunter of the coral reefs. During the day the Green Moray is quite shy, but still is more than capable of protecting itself if needed, from other predators or even overly inquisitive divers. Growing up to 8ft long the Green Moray, like all marine life should be treated with respect and you should never attempt to handle one.

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4.Cozumel Wall Diving

Listed in the Top 10 Diving Spot in the World, Cozumel offers a wonderful view and an unforgettable experience diving along the Santa Rosa Wall with its pretty blue waters, fish with a great variety of colors and sizes, Black Cap Basslets, green turtles and lobsters and rich ecosystems where tunnels and large "swim throughs" are the ideal place to seek out many species. The island is separated from the mainland by a deep oceanic trench which creates a funnel for the consistently nutrient-rich currents and therefore attracts lots of wildlife. Here we can also find the Splendid Toad Fish, a species endemic to Cozumel Island.

In like manner, other wonderful walls in Cozumel are, Palancar, Colombia, San Francisco, Punta Sur and Yucab. Many more sites within the Cozumel National Marine Park offer us chances to see amazing fish life on our scuba diving full day trips.

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5. Cenote Diving

Expand your horizons, Cavern (Cenote diving) is not only for those with special training, but for those who are looking for new horizons. Diving into the Cenotes, which the Mayans considered to be windows into the underworld, gives scuba divers a totally new experience. These flooded cave systems run for hundreds of miles under the Yucatan Peninsula and staying outside of the genuine cave systems you can experience the wonders of diving in crystal clear fresh water and see vast quantities of stalactites, stalagmites and other rock formations created over millions of years ago.

For certified Cave diver there still exists the opportunity to dive into "virgin waters" and be the first to venture into new unmapped areas.

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6. Night Diving

Nothing could be more spectacular that night diving in the Riviera Maya, with a completely different underwater environment than during the day. A large variety of nocturnal marine life appears to give you new and wonderful experiences. The marine world appears to be more beautiful, colorful and mysterious. Tiny plankton type organisms underwater give off bioluminescence at night when set in motion. Just waving your hand around is enough to trigger off an amazing "light show".

Bioluminescence is something you definitely have to experience during a night dive. A wide range of fish can be seen sleeping in small holes. Likewise, many different shrimps and lobsters are far more active at night than in the daytime and can be seen out and about on the reefs. Several types of reef plant life extend their tentacles at night to catch plankton for feeding. Morays and octopus are also generally far more active in the dark and can be found prowling the reefs in search of food. Similarly the Basket star is only seen at night, extending its' many tentacle like arms catching plankton. This species is highly sensitive to light so it is important not to use the lights for more than a short time on them, otherwise they begin to roll up their arms and move, looking for somewhere to hide.

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7. Dive Education

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The PADI e learning ® system offers students the chance to complete the theory section of various Scuba Diving courses at your own pace before your vacation even begins. No need to spend any time studying or in a classroom environment whilst you are on vacation - just dive! If you are looking to start your diving certification, or move on to higher levels then our team are always available to help you plan your next adventure in diving. Take a look at the options for our scuba diving courses that can be completed via the PADI on-line e-Learning system on-line.

We still also offer the full and complete diving courses with our certified instructors here in the wonderful waters of the Caribbean Sea. This offers a stunning experience for those who wish to venture underwater for the first time or for those who are looking to expand their diving experience. You can join us at any level, beit your first ever experience with scuba right up to Dive Master, the first level of professional scuba diving.

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8. Diving with Bull Sharks.

Another experience you can enjoy here is Scuba diving with Bull Sharks. An adrenaline rush for any certified scuba diver that can be experienced between November and March each year just a short boat ride away from the beaches of Playa Del Carmen. Female sharks gather from November to March, to feed for 3 to 4 months before heading south into shallow Mangroves to give birth to their 8 to 10 "pups". The young sharks stay in the mangroves for the first 1 to 2 years for protection whilst they grow before heading off out into the ocean. Professional divers and marine biologists from all over the world come each year to learn more about the life cycle, habitat and social behavior of these majestic animals, more commonly known as one of the less predictable species of sharks. Fishing of these magnificent sharks has now become very rare here in the Riviera Maya as the locals have seen that ecotourism has a far better economic return for them year on year. Obviously this has also had a significant benefit on the population and we are now seeing one or two more adults each year. This is a unique experience you do not want to miss!

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9. Wreck Diving

There are many natural wrecks off the coast but one of the best wreck dives here on the Riviera Maya is the C56 which was sent to the bottom in 2001 solely for the purpose of creating an artificial reef for Scuba Diving.

Over the years the C56 has become a home to a large array of fish life and it is very common to see many Stingrays on the sandy bottom around the wreck, Eagle Rays are also regular visitors along with one or two large Barracudas, many Angel Fish, Puffer fish, Moray eels and much more colourful fish life. The whole wreck has become an anchor point for large quantities of both soft and hard corals. For those divers with their Wreck Certification the interior offers the chance to explore and see the engine room where we regularly find Lion fish and 2 resident very large lobsters.

These ships are all protected by Mexican government through INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia), because of the interesting information for historical and archeological investigation.

The C56 is a "must do" dive for Wreck dive enthusiasts whilst here on the Riviera Maya.

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10. Snorkeling with Whale Sharks

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks, the bigger fish of the ocean. They are called "Whale" because of their impressive weight and size. With an average length of 19ft (5.7m) and weights of 9 tonnes they really are very big fish!. However they have been recorded at 45ft (13.6m) and just over 20 tonnes in weight in other areas of the worlds' oceans. These whale sharks congregate in huge numbers annually, between May and September, just north of the peninsula around Holbox Island where they feed on plankton and other small marine life as it is pushed towards the surface due to the meeting of two ocean currents. Hence we find these magnificent fish right on the surface day after day filtering their food from the ocean. It is not uncommon to find in excess of 200 Whale Sharks in the area on any given day. Although they are spread over a vast area of the ocean, finding groups of 20 to 50 in small areas is the norm! Since 2005 SEMARNAT and CONANP have worked to create a huge area of the open ocean as an Área Nacional Protegida, (National Protected Area) where they can monitor the fish and establish rules for their protection. Since 2017 these rules have been increased to prevent exploitation, harassment and injury to these very special fish.

You cannot pass up this great adventure! Snorkeling with whale sharks is a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to be within just a few feet of these wonderful fish. Although they are part of the Shark family they are very gentle and do not possess large teeth, they are filter feeders and pose no threat to us as we enjoy our very short time with them. Every person that joins this tour is contributing to their preservation by a small tax which is used to "police" the area and ensure everyone is following the regulations, thus protecting them for future generations to enjoy.

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At Blue Experience Diving you are able to live all these experiences and much more!