Diving the Yucatan
Just back from a diving venue that included fresh, salt & halocline (the area where fresh & salt waters mix) water in Mexico. Flew down to Cancun from Houston on a Continental Vacations package & outside the airport found the 'red shirts' for the one-hour transfer to Playa del Carmen & the Gran Porto Real for several days of all-inclusive luxury. Woke late for a down-day but managed the block & a half to the Dive Mexico Dive Shop to check in for the next days' cenote dives. I had previously set this up online with Sybil & when my buddies & I arrived to sign up our names were already on the board for next day. The shop is very well organized & both Sybil & her brother, Manuel Jankoff, speak very good English. Next morning at 8:30 we arrived at the shop, got fitted for rental gear & met our divemaster for the day - Andrea Cantos.
Dive Mexico offers all sorts of salt & fresh-water dive excursions & their cenote packages are quite reasonable & include a maximum of four divers per divemaster. We drove south about 40 minutes from Playa for our dives at cenotes Chac-Mool & Kukulkan.
Cenote, or cavern diving, varies from cave diving & it's more restrictive certification requirements, in that even though divers are in an 'overhead environment', they should always be able to see daylight. We did 'surface' at one point in an air pocket complete with stalactites & breathable air in cenote Chac-Mool. There was no visible light at this location except our flashlights, which made for a rare experience! Otherwise, thanks to bright sunrays through the gin-clear fresh water, the dives were very photogenic & unlike anything most photographers will ever get to experience. Andrea was very professional & made the dives most enjoyable.
After several days in Playa del Carmen taking full advantage of the term 'all-inclusive' & a venture further south to visit the Mayan ruins of Tulum on the Carribean coast, we caught the water ferry to Cozumel for some ocean diving. Here we stayed at the all-inclusive Wyndham Sabor Resort which is five miles south from the ferry landing & more importantly, is adults-only. Yes! No screaming kids peeing in the pool (adults only) or on our water-slides ....... complete with friendly bartenders at poolside ..... Paradise!
Of course serious divers know that all the best dive sites off Cozumel are on the south end of the island, so it makes sense for divers to stay closer to the diving, especially when all the amenities are included. Sand Dollar Diving is the on-site dive operator, but due to major remodeling at the Wyndham, our Continental Vacations package had set us up with Cozumel Experience, which runs boats from the main harbor. They picked us up each morning & dropped us at the boat's stern where our divemaster, Salvador Aguilar (excellent English) took over. Salvador & his boat crew were very helpful & accomodating to the few divers on-board & to any photographers who happened to be on the boat. The diving was ........ Cozumel ...... can't beat it!
I refuse to trumpet airlines, but Continental Vacations is a separate entity & this is two years in a row they've done a great job for my group. Complete with the 'red shirts' at the airports & hotels to help you get the most out of your trip & time spent. Oh, & both hotels have wi-fi throughout. Good times!
Photo credits: Conchasdiver.