The waters off Mexico´s Yucatan Peninsula are wildly bio-diverse and offer keen divers the opportunity to encounter not just one but often several species in one trip, depending on the season.
During the summer months, the waters of the “Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve”, roughly 35 nautical miles north of Isla Mujeres and Cancún are teeming with Whale Sharks.
They represent the world´s largest congregation with between 200 and 300 individuals meeting to feed on Bonito fish eggs. The conditions during the summer allow for amazing encounters with these large, peaceful animals.
This a snorkeling only experience that can be enjoyed by anyone, old and young alike. In the same general area during the winter months, another unique experience takes place, but it is much faster-paced. Groups of sailfish pack-hunt bait balls of sardines.
Our boats head north and look for groups of frigate birds who are also hunting for the sardines from the surface and are looking for bait balls. This is also a freediving only activity, however a higher level of watermanship is required to fully enjoy this spectacle of nature.
About an hour south in the busy tourist town of Playa del Carmen – also during the winter months, a large group of pregnant bull sharks gathers on a sand bar 200 meters from shore. The conditions are prime for one of the best shark-feeding dives around. This experience is available to divers comfortable diving to 20 meters. 4 hours further south, but worlds away from Playa del Carmen on the border between Mexico and Belize, is Xcalak.
Declared a National Marine Park in 2004, Xcalak offers divers the opportunity to enjoy some of the healthiest reefs in the region. This includes many one-of-a-kind dive sites, as well as a chance to encounter large groups of enormous tarpons in a dive site called “La Poza”, as well as running into a manatee whilst diving.
The reef within the national park, as well as the rivers, lagoons and bay connected to it, are home to world´s largest population of wild manatees. 30 nautical miles across from Xcalak in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, lies the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve, a false atoll and the largest reef on the northern hemisphere at 800 square kilometers.
In the center of the lagoon is the largest of three islands, Cayo Centro. This island is home to the world´s largest population of American crocodiles.
It is also one of the healthiest and most genetically pure population, due to its isolation and protected status. The conditions on Cayo Centro allows us to interact safely with these living fossils in clear water.
This is a one-of-a-kind experience that is only enhanced by the sheer natural beauty of the atoll setting. Mexico is one of the most bio-diverse countries on earth and the Yucatan Peninsula is a perfect example.
Incredibly diverse both on and underwater, the big animal encounters available in this part of the world are enough to keep any diver coming back again and again….