Archive for the ‘Diving & Snorkeling’ Category

posted by Donna-Lee on Jul 17

Riviera Maya: Tulum, Mexico is 2010 Travellers Choice in the Top 10 Beach and Sun Destinations, Romance Destinations and Relaxation and Spa Destinations, in the Caribbean and Mexico.  This award winning area  is located on the breath-taking Caribbean coast of Mexico, a 50 minute drive South of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Tulum Mayan Ruins

Tulum is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya served as a major port for Cobá.  One of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites, Tulum is a popular site for tourists.  Tulum’s greatest attraction is its location. It stands on a bluff facing the rising sun looking out on views of the Caribbean that are nothing less than spectacular. In Maya, Tulum means “Wall”, and the city was christened thus because it is a walled city; one of the very few the ancients ever built.  When visitors arrive at Tulum’s ancient pre-hispanic site they are able to see the buildings that in its time were the city’s main center (ceremonial and political), monumentally encircled by the Mayan world’s best known wall.  This site is impressive!  You may be able to feel the energy of an amazing civilization as you tour the area.

The most famous Mayan temple city, Chichen Itza  served as the political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. The Kukulkan Pyramid (El Castillo) itself was the last, and arguably the greatest, of all Mayan temples. The Maya believed that on the Equinoxes, their god Kukulkan came down from the heavens to speak directly to their priests. This natural phenomenon of light and shadow is a unique experience that attracts visitors from all parts of the world. Unquestionably, the ancient Maya created a wonder of the world in the great Pyramid of Kukulkan  In 2007, Chichen Itza’s KuKulkan Pyramid was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World after a worldwide vote.

This ancient Mayan region   offers relaxation and romance, adventure, historical, ecological and geographical interests as well as gorgeous Yucatan beaches.

Two very popular destinations for visitors  are Xcaret (pronounced sh-cah-ret) and,Xel-Ha (pronounced shell-ha) which are beautiful natural parks with inlets and cenotes for swimming and snorkelling, as well as swimming with dolphins in natural aquariums  for an unforgettable experience .

Xcaret Eco Park Cenote

Xcaret Cenote

Known as ”nature’s sacred paradise”, Xcaret is one of the world’s most famous eco-archaeological parks. Here, you will find archaeological ruins, a dolphin show, a display of horses and riders working together, a farm with tropical birds, butterflies, bat caves and a stunning beach. You can go also snorkeling in the famous caves and the well known underground river.

Xcaret Underground River

Xcaret Underground River

With its 53 activities to enjoy, Xcaret is an experience for all your senses. This ecological park was once one of the most important Mayan ports.

Xcaret Plus is a new experience that provides an array of services with one ticket. One major benefit is the preferential access to the exclusive Plus Area, created only for those visitors who purchase the Xcaret Plus ticket. There you’ll find all the facilities you need including towels, snorkel gear, life vests and lockers available at any time of the day. You will also have access to our lockable bags to store your things while you travel down the river. Your Plus Admission will allow you to enjoy the park attractions and the main advantages it has over the Basic admission is that you’ll also get a buffet lunch included with juice and coffee, as well as a 10% discount on all water activities! Without a doubt, this is your opportunity to spend a perfect day just having lots of fun.

The amazing Xcaret Show is the most renowned attraction in this park, featuring 300 artists on stage that will fascinate you with the best selection of music, regional dances and Mexican folklore. When the sun sets the sound of pre-Hispanic drums starts and a line of Mayan warriors and priests guard the way to the theater, this will let you know it is show time. Get ready to experience an extraordinary feast of color and learn about the different episodes of Mexico’s rich history, including a stunning recreation of the famous Ball Game.

Xel Ha is an eco-archaeological site that arose with the Maya Civilization settled on the eastern coastline of the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico.  Xel Ha is located in the Riviera Maya, south of Playa del Carmen.   The name is the combination of the roots xel that means ”spring” and ha’ that means ”water”. Xel Ha is the largest natural open sea aquarium in the world, which offers a myriad of land and water activities, ecological attractions, world-class restaurants, and countless more unimaginable experiences, a place to enjoy the biological parade of the Riviera Maya.

The Yucatan peninsula is renowned for water activities in the Caribbean sea as well as the natural freshwater pools called Cenotes, which are underwater caves and caverns to swim in, snorkel or scuba exploration. 

One of the most beautiful is the Gran Cenote,  just 4 km. from Tulum hotel zone on the road to Cobá, Its clear water allows swimmers and divers to see the underwater cave formations and the small fish that live there.

Cenote Calaveras is located about one km before the Gran Cenote, down an unmarked path into the jungle. Its three holes form the skull shape which gave the cenote its name. Visitors love to jump into the water from the ground above. 

Farther up on the highway to Cancún and Playa del Carmen is Cenote Dos Ojos, (about 10 minutes north of Akumal whose two holes make an excellent place to swim or dive. Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido are both located south of Tulum, on the road to Carrillo Puerto and Chetumal, just five minutes from Tulum pueblo Admission prices include both cenotes.

Ancient Mayan ruins are scattered throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Tulum is the best preserved Mayan coastal site.  The Cobá ruins are located about 45 minutes from Tulum along a quiet highway through the jungle and are well worth visiting by either car or bus.

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, one of Mexico’s largest parks, covers more than 1 million acres of coastal jungle or about 20 percent of the state of Quintana Roo’s land. This virgin wilderness is home and sanctuary to innumerable species of tropical flora and fauna, of which, the jaguar found here is counted as one of the many protected species.

As eventful and exhilarating as the encounters with the native wildlife are, archaeologically, more than two dozen ancient Mayan sites have been discovered here in various states of ruin. Evidence of habitation dates back at least 2,000 years but most sites uncovered belong to the post-Classic Period, around 1200 AD.

This vast complex, Mexico’s donation to the world nature inventory administered by the UN, contains just about everything the area has to offer the nature buff. Services are meager and activity access is highly restricted. Punta Allen, a small fishing town 60 km. into the biosphere is the only settlement in this northern sector. There are a couple of modest accommodation facilities just before the entry.

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is located about 2 hours south of Cancun, just south of Tulum on the road to Punta Allen.

Tulum certainly is an impressive vacation spot in Mexico  for whatever you are looking for whether it be a romantic anniversary celebration, an adventure vacation, simply a beach destination , an archeological experience or just a fabulous family vacation.

There are several All Inclusive Palace Resorts in the Tulum area.  You can save substantially with our Palace Resorts Timeshare Rental.  We suggest the Adults Only Aventura Spa Palace or Aventura Cove Palace for family vacations with children.  Xpu Ha resort is perfect for couples or families interested in ecotourism as the resort has several animal displays and tours.~Playacar Palace is another small boutique hotel withing walking distance of the quaint market area of Playa del Carmen and the ferry dock to Cozumel.

posted by colin on Jan 20

Riviera Maya New Adventure Park; Xplor

Is driving an unstoppable amphibious vehicle along the jungle, water, rocks and grottos your idea of fun? Or is it swimming through mysterious routes, surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites in underground caves? There’s a place underground where adventure beats at the same rhythm as your heart.

On July 7th, the Xcaret Group, proudly inaugurated Xplor Park. Located in the Riviera Maya, in the state of Quintana Roo, this 22 million dollar investment is ready to welcome visitors who are in search of adventure.

Xplor Park invites you to explore more than six miles of daunting borders between jungle, water, rocks and caverns. The park offers four different activities: swimming, zip lining, water rafting and individual travel inside caves. This park displays the region’s striking geology and is close to the zone that 65 million years ago was struck by an asteroid, which according to investigators, explains the extinction of dinosaurs.

Waiting for you at this underground world are 11 exciting zip-lines, journeys through the jungle on amphibious vehicles, stalactites and stalagmites surrounding you as you swim through the underground paradise, and raft navigation across subterranean caverns. The goal of Xplor Park is to expand the attractions offered to the tourism market, which has based its growth from the sun and beach sector, and capture new visitors through extreme sports.

Resorts in the Riviera Maya area:

Palace Resorts All Inclusive Mexico Vacations

Mayan Palace Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya

Mexico Vacation Rentals Best Mexico Family Vacations

posted by colin on Feb 25

Few places on earth cause as much amazement as the Riviera Maya. This is a 125-mile-Iong coastline that extends along the incredible turquoise blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean, on the eastern shores of the State of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula.

What makes the Riviera Maya so different from other coast­lines around the world? It has a large quantity of beaches with glistening white sand and mild surf. Near the shore, a low-ele­vation jungle, typical of the tropics, acts as a wall to the sea.

Practically impenetrable, it’s a habitat for a rich variety of flora and fauna and for geological formations. Here are the “cenotes”-deposits of capricious shapes and different sizes, produced by the subterranean rivers that emerged to the surface over the course of millions of years. Facing the Riviera Maya’s coast is the world’s second-largest coral reef, making it an ideal place for scuba diving and snorkeling.

The starting point of the Riviera Maya is Puerto Morelos. Just south is Playa Maroma, a 370-acre eco-park of tropical jungle, mangroves and cenotes, where travelers can enjoy biking, canoeing, kayaking, trekking and horseback riding. Playa del Carmen, the largest town in the Riviera Maya, offers the flavor of a small fishing village mixed with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Shopping, restaurants and nightlife center around Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida). The resort area of Playacar is home to a number of upscale and all-inclusive resorts, more than 100 small archeological sites, the Xaman-Ha Aviary (home to more than 200 bird species)and Cavernas Sacbe, a rock cavern.

Xcaret is an eco-archaeological park offering a unique glimpse into the region’s natural surroundings and inter­active activities like snorkeling in under­ground rivers, swimming with dolphins, horseback riding and scuba diving. There’s also a natural aquarium, museum, botanical garden, Mayan village and unique folkloric shows at night.

Continuing south, visitors will note Xpu-Ha, a large beautiful bay and beach with calm waters and great visibility, as well as Kantenah, another secluded beach area. Xpu-Ha is home to the Cenote Manatee, one of the largest cenotes in the region, and the Xpu-Ha Lagoon. Kantun Chi is a remarkable eco-park in the heart of the Riviera Maya that is excellent for snorkel­ing in freshwater cenotes and exploring the underground caverns. Its name means “yellow stone mouth” in Mayan. Aktun­Chen features three caves filled with stalac­tite and stalagmite rocks, cenotes and an opportunity to see the Riviera Maya’s diverse wildlife.

The small town of Akumal, known as “the place of turtles,” is a favorite place of the endangered marine turtles, as well as for divers. It’s also well known for its eco­logical center, Ukana-I, which is used for both research and as a community center. Just north of Akumal is YaIku Lagoon, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

The beaches of Soliman Bay and Tankah are favorites for both locals and tourists. Further south is Xel-Ha (“the place where water was born”), a l50-acre eco-archeological park. An incredible nat­ural aquarium where the ocean combines with the freshwater springs and under­ground rivers, Xel-Ha is ideal for tubing, snorkeling and swimming. Xel-Ha is also home to macaws and is surrounded by a thick jungle, caves and cenotes. Archeological sites containing altars dedi­cated to Yum Chac are located nearby.

The archeological site of Tulum (“walled city”) offers some of the most impressive Mayan ruins anywhere. Built on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, this site contains more than 60 well-pre­served structures. Tulum also offers beauti­ful beaches and cenotes, including the well known Calavera, the Grand cenote and the Car Wash. Located inland, Coba is one of the most important archeological sites in the Riviera Maya. The main pyramid, Nohuch Mul, is 138 feet tall, the highest on the west side of the Peninsula.

To the extreme south of the Riviera Maya on a small peninsula is Sian Ka’ an Biosphere Reserve, which offers an oppor­tunity to explore mangroves, ancient Mayan canals and the almost untouched wilderness of the jungle. Only a limited part of the reserve, a large protected area of 1.5 million acres with more than 62 miles of the Great Maya Reef, is open to tourists. Located within the Reserve are Boca Paila and Punta Allen, a village with only 600 inhabitants whose livelihood is dependent on spiny lobster fishing.

The southernmost point in the Riviera Maya is the town of Felipe Puerto Carillo, considered a central point for all Mayan communities of the area. It provides a glimpse into the past, as the town has pre­served much of its ancient Mayan culture. Its numerous historic and archaeological sites include The Temple de la Cruz Parlante (Temple of the Talking Cross) and a cultural center from the last century.

J. Bernhardt

posted by colin on Jun 26

In Mexico, scuba divers are often able to swim with the dolphins and sea turtles. To many, this alone is worth the cost of scuba diving.  Aside from swimming with sea animals, you can also spend your scuba diving trip examining the life and environment underwater.  Just a few of the many sea animals that you may see in Mexico include lobsters, eels, sting rays, and a large number of different kinds of fishes. The fishes found in underwater Mexico often include puffer fishes, spotted fishes, and parrot fishes. 

 While the sea animals found underwater are the most exciting part of scuba diving, there are other underwater activities that you can participate in.  Many scuba divers enjoy diving along coral reefs that are found along the coast of Mexico.  Coral reefs are not only home to a large number of sea animals, but they also make for great adventures. You may find it exciting traveling in, over, or around the many different sized reefs. For good reef diving, you’ll love scuba diving and snorkeling in the dazzling waters of the Caribbean in Cozumel, Mexico.

Scuba diving Cancun and the Rivera Maya is a paradise full of attractions. One of its most valuable treasures are found underwater, it’s The Maya Reef, the second largest in the world just after the Great Australian Barrier.  It stretches from Cabo Catoche in Mexico, to the Bay Islands in Honduras and it runs parallel to the shore at a distance fluctuating between 300 feet and 120 miles

 

This richness has turned the Mexican Caribbean into the scuba diving and snorkeling capital of the world where visibility in the water compliments the beauty of the reefs, its fauna and flora. We invite you to explore a world of diving possibilities in Mexico. Even if you’ve never done it before, you can take Scuba Diving Lessons here and enjoy this unique experience!

 

 

 

 

posted by Donna-Lee on Jun 4

 

The Riviera Maya has some of the worlds best kept secrets. Few know the greatest secret of all. There is more diving diversity here than anywhere else in the world. How could that be possible?

As if the amazing Caribbean Sea wasn’t enough to lure divers to Playa del Carmen, this area also offers a truly unique feature – the cenotes. Diving in a cenote is an other-worldy experience, and it is easy to understand why the Maya held the cenotes sacred.

Cenote Diving In The Riviera Maya

To dive the cavern of a cenote, you only need to be Open Water Certified.

The Yucatan peninsula is a giant limestone slab that was once coral reef. For millions of years, rainwater carved the porous stone, creating beautiful caves decorated with stalactites and stalagmites. The peninsula is penetrated with miles and miles of cave systems.

After the end of the ice age the water level rose around the world and thus the caves got filled with water. In some places the roof of the cave has collapsed, creating a sinkhole that works as an entrance to the cave. Such a sinkhole is called cenote, which comes from the Mayan word dzonot.

The cenotes are filled with fresh water, so amazingly clear it feels like you’re floating around in air. ‘Like being an astronaut’, is what many say. The experience is difficult to describe and photos don’t do it justice. It’s just one of those things you must do!

There are two distinct forms of cenote diving: Cave Diving Swimming into a cave beyond the reach of natural sunlight. Cavern Diving  Staying in sight of the entrance of a cave within the realm of natural sunlight.

To cavern dive a diver must either be a certified cavern diver or be accompanied by a certified cavern diver. Most accessible cenotes open to the public are equipped with a permanent line to serve as a reference on a tour.

There are a number of reasons that make cenote diving attractive to the diver: Diving conditions are not effected by weather. Moderate water temperature [77f]. Barely discernable currents. Large caverns and passageways. Excellent underwater visibility. Cenotes open to the public include:

Chac Mool (Claw of the Jaguar)
Location: 22 km south of Playa Del Carmen/Almost across from Puerto Aventuras.
Description: 2 cenotes. Large cavern zone with beautiful views of jungle from inside cavern.
Open: 10-5 daily.
Facilities: Bathrooms, Restaurant.
Snorkeling: Yes. Larger of 2 cenotes offers view to large room.
Entrance Fee: Yes.

Ponderosa (El Eden)
Location: 3 km south of Puerto Aventuras.
Description: Exceptionally beautiful. Short walk on path takes you to Coral Cenote, which has a large island in the center of it.
Open: 10-5 daily.
Facilities: Bathrooms
Swimming: Very easy access. Nice overhang with tree that can be scaled to jump into cenote.
Sborkeling: Excellent. One of the most popular snorkeling sites. Unlimited visibility. Wide variety of fish, eels, turtles & aquatic plant life.
Entrance Fee: $5 US.

Chikin Ha (Points of Direction)
Location: 5 km south of Puerto Aventuras just before Xpu-Ha/Across from Barcelo Maya Hotel/Long way down bumpy road.
Description: Footpath through jungle will take you to some other cenotes – one is big & almost dry with lots of fossils.
Facilities: None.
Swimming: Can swim through tunnel to underground air chamber.
Entrance Fee: Yes.

Kantun Chi
Location: Just past Chikin Ha Cenote.
Description: 4 mostly half dome cenotes (Kantun Chi, Zaskaleen, Uchil Ha, Zazil Ha) along a series of light jungle trails. Most remote one has ancient looking Mayan temple next to it. Several tours stop here.
Facilities: Restaurant, bike rentals, horseback riding, small zoo.
Swimming: Not very inviting. Snorkeling: Yes. Rental equipment available.
Entrance Fee: $10 US.

Cristalino
Location: Just past Kantun Chi/Close to highway.
Description: Beautiful, very primitive & rarely visited. Good for hanging out. Will probably have place to yourself. Likely to see more locals than tourists.
Facilities: None.
Swimming: You can dive into cenote from 3.5 m (15 ft) tall ledge.
Entrance Fee: 25 pesos.

Azul
Location: Just past Cristalino Cenote/Close to highway.
Description: In light jungle setting with more open air/sunlit than Kantun Chi, which creates more algae.
Facilities: Snackbar.
Entrance Fee: 30 pesos.

Taj Mahal
Location: 26 km south of Playa Del Carmen/5 km south of Puerto Aventuras/Just south of Xpu-Ha.
Description: 4 interconnected cenotes. Open: 10-6 daily
Facilities: Bathrooms, Restaurant.
Snorkeling: Advanced. Requires swimming 5 m underwater under a rock wall to come into a large open cave with that has light shining through from ceiling above. Entrance Fee: 40 pesos.

Dos Ojos (Hidden Worlds)
Location: 48 km south of Playa Del Carmen/3 km south of Xel-Ha/On right 4 km down dirt road.
Description: Part of Nohoch Nah Chich cave system. Location of filming for Imax Journey into Amazing Caves documentary.
Open: 10-5 daily
Facilities: Bathrooms, restaurant.
Snorkeling: Superb. Very popular. Stalagtites & Stalagmites everywhere.
Entrance Fee: $10 US/$25-40 US for snorkel tours.

Temple of Doom (Calavera/Skull)
Location: 2 km from Tulum on road to Coba on right/Very rugged rocky unmarked jungle path approximately 50 yds from road.
Description: 3 holes in ground (one 30 ft & two 4 ft in diameter) create skull shape, hence the name. Shaded by thick jungle canopy.
Facilities: None
Swimming: Great. 10 ft drop down into cenote. Rope swing & ladder – though may want to bring your own rope just in case.

Gran (Sac Aktun/White Water)
Location: 5 km from Tulum on road to Coba on right.
Description: Ladder steps lead to half moon shaped cenote decorated with small passages & openings. One of most popular sites. Good for all ages. Shallow on one side/deep on other. Famous for brilliant speleothem decorations & crystal clear water.
Open: 10-5 Daily
Facilities: Bathrooms Snorkeling: Fun. Fantastic. Spectacular. Paradise.
Entrance Fee: 50 pesos.

Car Wash (Aktun Ha/Water Cave)
Location: 8 km from Tulum on road to Coba/4 km past Gran Cenote on left.
Description: Can drive right in approximately 30 m (100 ft) to cenote & locals used to wash vehicles here, hence the name.
Open: 9-5 Daily Facilities: Bathrooms Swimming: Very easy access. Like a small lake. Good. Fun.
Snorkeling: Good in winter months. Too much algae growth in warmer months. Many small tropical fish.
Entrance Fee: 20 pesos.

Cristal (Naharon)
Location: 4 km south of Tulum on right.
Facilities: Bathrooms
Swimming: Great
Snorkeling: Great
Entrance Fee: Yes. Includes entrance to Escondido across the street.

Escondido (Mayan Blue)
Location: 4 km south of Tulum on left/Across from Cristal Cenote/2 km walk in Jungle.
Description: Tarzan & Jane style. Beautiful, crisp, clear, secluded. One of least known.
Facilities: Bathrooms
Swimming: Good
Snorkeling: Good. Some great stone formations.
Entrance Fee: Included in Cristal entrance fee.

Cenote diving is one of the most unique experiences on the planet. Many accomplished divers say that cenote diving in the Rivera Maya is the best diving experience that they have ever experienced.

 

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