Best Spots for Diving and Snorkeling in Riviera Maya

by David Clough on July 24, 2011

Diving at Playa del CarmenImage by Bill McChesney

There are plenty of things to do along the Mexican Riviera Maya, but one of the area’s largest draws is Riviera Maya’s water sports – and diving in particular.

Diving and snorkeling in Riviera Maya makes for a great family vacation, or for those who are a little more serious, an opportunity to refine your skills. There is a wide range of courses and schools offered locally, coaching you from the level of beginner through to the complete freedom of exploring the beautiful coral reefs of Mexico.

To get the most out of your diving vacation, it’s worth knowing about a few of the prime diving and snorkeling spots in Riviera Maya.

Playa del Carmen

Diving at Playa del CarmenImage by Bill McChesney

Playa del Carmen offers some great opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as featuring a number of underwater caves than can be explored. Here divers can examine the Great Mayan Reef, a five hundred year-old formation, which makes a home for hundreds of multicoloured fish. There are also sinkholes in the area, opening into underground river systems and caverns.

Xel Hà

Xel-Ha Ecological ParkImage by Justin Otto

Visitors to the Riviera Maya can reach Xel Hà by traveling south along the coast from Playa del Carmen. The ecological park here offers some great diving opportunities, with subterranean caves, lagoons and river systems, which are all just waiting for you to explore!

A number of guided diving and snorkeling tours will take you through the caverns, where you can witness some extraordinary marine life.

Tres Rios Park

This extensive nature reserve can be found just seven miles north of Playa del Carmen, and in this subtropical setting divers can experience nature in all of its glory. There are eight sinkholes in the park, where experienced divers offer tours and classes for all ages and skill levels.

Xcaret Park

Underwater at Xcaret Ecological ParkImage by Carlos Aquiles

Xcaret can be found in the vicinity of Playa del Carmen, and is home to some truly awe-inspiring Mayan ruins. There are a selection of natural caves and underground rivers along the coastline here, many of which can be explored by the more intrepid diver. There are opportunities at Xcaret for snorkeling and scuba diving through 600m of underwater tunnels.

Cenote Diving

Here visitors can explore a good number of sinkholes, opening onto some well-formed underground waterways. Some of these sinkholes include those at Chac-Mool, La Ponderosa and Dos Ojos. There are also a number of companies at Zone de Cenotes who operate tours and classes in sinkhole diving.

Other Top Riviera Maya Diving Spots

So, visitors visiting Riviera Maya for diving certainly won’t be short of some excellent spots to explore. As well as those listed above, further sites of interest include Majahual, and the extensive nature reserves at Aktun Chen Natural Park and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

Alternatively, head over to the Xpu Hà Ecological Park for a colourful glimpse at Riviera Maya’s marine life. Here you’ll see multicoloured fish, jellyfish and other deep-sea creatures, living in a forest of beautiful coral.

What’s your favorite spot in the Riviera Maya?

Dave Clough is a music journalist, blogger and travel writer from the UK. He has DJ’d across the globe and is involved in club night event promotions in London. He enjoys holidays in Cancun.
David Clough
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