Since becoming PADI Advanced Open Water qualified in Thailand back in 2014, scuba diving has become my most expensive travel activity! But it’s SO worth it!
I try to dive as much as possible with the budget I have when I’m in countries that offer great scuba diving. It is a big passion of mine and I urge everyone to try it! The underwater world is truly amazing! (Also it is the closest you can get to being a Mermaid).
This is my first scuba related blog and it’s for those looking to go scuba diving in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. So these are the best dives you can do in the area of Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum and Cozumel Island.
First of all, I’m sorry that this post isn’t going to be for everyone. Almost all of these dive sites require a minimum of Advanced Open Water qualification.
But if you are only Open Water qualified or maybe just looking to do a discover scuba dive – do still have a read of this post because number 3 is still a possibility for you. That and you might want some inspiration to move up to the next qualification level!
*Please note: If you have come here looking for some amazing underwater photos and videos- you’ve come to the wrong place! I am a terrible underwater photographer (I don’t have the right camera for starters!) I did the best I could with a Go Pro camera but in some cases it wasn’t even worth me uploading any of the footage because it simply does not do it justice!*
Here are my top 4 dive sites in Quintana Roo*:
*These are all easily acessible from Playa del Carmen – but you could also get to them from the Cancun, Tulum or Cozumel area (you would need to get a ferry to the mainland for most of these dives from Cozumel).
1. Shark Point – Playa del Carmen
From November to February every year it is possible to see Bull Sharks (mostly pregnant females) in the waters of Playa del Carmen. Bull sharks are able to survive in salt and fresh water. It is believed that the sharks are attracted to the fresh water streaming from the cenotes into the ocean as they search for a place to nurse their young.
The dive site is not far from the beach of Playa del Carmen. During the dive you head stright down to about 24m depth and perch on the sandy bottom to just chill out and watch the Bull Sharks!
I love all types of Sharks and I always seek out places I can dive with them! This dive was fantastic because you tend to see quite a lot of them and they are curious so can get pretty close to you!
These Bull Sharks are so chilled out. Some people might think I’m crazy but it was actually quite relaxing to watch them gliding through the water. Sharks are not as scary as Hollywood movies might make them out to be !
I would recommend you use a company that does not feed the Sharks (those that do will dive at different times of the day). There is some debate about whether it is right to do so but I personally do not think it’s a good thing to feed them. It turns it into a circus rather than a natural interaction.
Blue Life diving is a great company I’d recommend using and they do not feed the Sharks.
The footage I got on my Go Pro is pretty bad to be honest (in real life the Sharks are actually much closer and bigger looking but the wide lens of the Go Pro makes everything seem further away!). Watch the video in HD if you can.
2. ‘The Pit’ Cenote
First thing some of you might be wondering is, what is a cenote? A cenote is a natural sinkhole. There are over 6000 different cenotes in the Yucatan Pensinsula in Mexico alone. Some are very deep and a lot of them have connecting caves that link up this subterranean world that lay beneath the land.
Inside The Pit, at around 30m, there is a thin layer of hydrogen sulfide which looks like a white cloud. This is where fresh water meets salt water that is seeping in from the underground channels from the ocean. The map shows you just one part of The Pit- there are further caves that only professional cave divers can explore.
The Pit was one of my favourite dives ever but it is so different to an ocean dive. You can only just make them out in my crappy Go Pro selfie below but there are some large stalactites in The Pit.
As you can see from the pretty terrible photo above- Go Pro’s aren’t so great in low/torch lighting! I took it down with me anyway and I got some okay(ish) footage- it gives you a vague idea of what it was like. But if you are a less confident diver (you probably shouldn’t dive The Pit if you aren’t confident) then don’t bother taking a camera.
If you want to see some incredible, high quality footage of The Pit- just give it a Google. There are some great photos and videos out there.
If you suffer from really bad claustrophobia then you will not like The Pit. Otherwise, I promise you it is way cooler than it looks in my video! It was a really magical experience!
3. Paso del Cedral – Cozumel
…Or any dive site in Cozumel to be honest! I did 2. Both were brilliant. From what I’ve heard Cozumel in general is fantastic for diving.
If you’re staying on the island of Cozumel, which is 45 min by ferry from Playa del Carmen, dive prices are probably a little cheaper. But I used a dive company based in Playa so I had to pay a little extra for the return ferry tickets.
During my dives here we saw such an abundant amount of marine life! Nurse Sharks, Barracuda, Loggerhead Turtles, an Eagle Ray, Spotted Morays, Trunkfish, Toadfish and lots more! Everything here seemed to be 5 x bigger too because they have restrictions on fishing in the area.
I saw the biggest Moray Eel EVER!! It. Was. Huge. Plus, giant Lobsters the size of small dogs and King Crabs.
Currents here can be strong so I wouldn’t recommend it for a first time dive but there will be a dive site in Cozumel that’s still suitable for beginners.
I haven’t bothered posting many videos or photos from these dives because they simply were not doing Cozumel justice! The colours of the corals didn’t come through (because I am an idiot and didn’t get a red filter). I thought it better for me to just describe it to you- it’s amazing, honest!
4. ‘Dos Ojos’ Cenote
Another cenote! This one is called Dos Ojos which means 2 Eyes. This is because there are 2 pools that link up via a system of caves so you could say the 2 round pools are like eyes.
Dos Ojos cenote is not as deep as The Pit but it is more cavernous and a little darker in parts. For this reason I didn’t bring my Go Pro at all. The average depth here is 10m so you generally stay pretty shallow but at some points in the dive you are surrounded by cavern so there’s no immediate way up.
But don’t panic, these cave sections are not very long and you will always have a divemaster in front. There are guide lines within the caves too. I did not find the dive scary in the slightest but as I mentioned before with The Pit, if you are very claustrophobic you might not enjoy it.
If you don’t fancy diving it you can snorkel here too (but obviously you can’t go far into the caverns this way).
I used Blue Life diving for all of the dives listed here and I would highly recommend them.
Do you think I’ve missed any great dives from my list? Have you done any of these dives before? Let me know in the comments!