The town of Xcalak is a small fishing village (pop ~ 280) located right on the border between Mexico and Belize. It lies within the Xcalak Reef National Marine Park and shares a part of the Meso-American Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world.
At over 100 years, Xcalak is the oldest town on the Mexican Caribbean coast, is one of the best preserved and has a rich history. It has a very different and old-town feeling compared to that of the new tourist towns on the northern coast. The town is a hidden gem with world-class diving.
Xcalak was designated a National Park on 27 December 2000. It comprises 17,949.456 total hectares of which 13,495 ha are marine. Xcalak is located at the end of the Yucatan Peninsula, with the Caribbean Sea to the East and Chetumal Bay to the West.
It is also home to Mexico´s largest wetlands (a designated RAMSAR site). The bay, mangroves, lagoons, rivers, reel lagoon, coral reef and sea comprise an incredibly inter-connected, rich and bio-diverse eco-system. The diving in Xcalak, is surprisingly diverse. The portion of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that is in front of Xcalak is home to several dive sites that are unique within the entire MBRS.
From trenches that cut through the Barrier Reef and house very large schools of very large fish (tarpon), to large, cavern-like formations within reef walls, beautiful, intricate swim through formations with clouds of silver sides lit up by beams of sunlight to deep walls perfect for Technical diving, Xcalak has a great deal to offer to divers of all skill levels, from non-divers looking to get certified to the most advances Technical divers.
Xcalak is also home to Mexico’s largest wetlands. The surrounding bay, mangroves, lagoons, rivers, coral reef and sea comprise an incredibly interconnected, rich and biodiverse ecosystem, all protected under a well designed and thoughtfully implemented conservation plan.
Over the past decade, Xcalak has become a model for sustainable tourism in the Yucatán Peninsula and beyond. Although still relatively unknown as a diving destination (often overshadowed by nearby Banco Chinchorro and Belize) Xcalak Reef offers some of most spectacular, pristine dive sites in the Caribbean, without the usual crowds.
Divers will find abundant, healthy corals, huge resident school of tarpon, and on lucky days, manatees swimming around the reefs.