Top Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Mexico
Caribe Blu (formerly La Lorena) hotel
Coral Princess Hotel
The Coral Princess provides an excellent set of concrete steps for entering, and their dive shop, Pepe Scuba, will leave tanks out for you day or night, which makes this quite an attractive spot, especially for night diving. It is possible to dive all the way out to the reef a football field away, but the current generally renders this plan futile. It's better just to follow the iron shore south or north, staying shallow, admiring the schools of fish and the excellent sponge growth. There are lots of crevices, small bays, a couple swimthroughs to hide lobster, octopus, moray and little things like Christmas tree worms and juvenile angels constantly take center stage. A very worthwhile dive or snorkel. From the center of San Miguel de Cozumel, head north on the main highway two miles to the Coral Princess hotel, located right on the shore.
Mexico, Jalisco State, Caribbean
Entry and exit are ridiculously easy. Gear up on the concrete platform next to the boat ramp and then hop into 4' of water off the end. The bay is relatively shallow but there is lots to see. There is a wrecked shrimp trawler right in front of the entry, swim about 70 yards out and it is just past the line of rocks that break the surface. At low tide the hull of the boat protrudes from the water, the wreck sits in about 15'-20' of water. If there isn't too much surge you can penetrate the wreck, the interior has a lot of encrusting corals, so please be careful! To the right of the boat ramp is what is referred to locally as the "Spanish anchor", supposedly off a Spanish Galleon. It is a huge "anchor-shaped" anchor, obviously quite old, so... There is a lot of life to see, look for the huge eels in the sand-flats or scorpion fish among the rocks. Spotted stingrays are very common. During my last trip there I videoed 5 different species of puffers, including a two-foot monster inside the wreck. The shallow depths (max. depth I have found is around 35') make this a great place to snorkel. You can enter from the boat ramp, but if you are just snorkeling you can enter anywhere along the beach as well. This place is very special, if you go you will want to spend the day. Going to Tehuamixtle is like stepping back 20 years. The beach is always deserted, the water is warm and blue, and there are no beach vendors selling Indonesian sarongs. Drive South from Puerto Vallarta on Highway 200 for about 40 minutes to the town of el Tuito (look for the Pemex station on the left). Take a right into the town. When you get to the main square keep to the left, you will see a Tehuamixtle sign pointing to the left about a block past the plaza. If you have any doubt, just ask anyone how to get to Tehua (Tay-wah). After leaving town it is a scenic 45 minute drive over graded dirt roads. The trip used to require a high-clearance vehicle, but these days any rental car will get you there. Once you get to the Port of Tehuamixtle you can park on the main pier or next to one of the two restaurants in town. I like the restaurant "Liz Adriana" on the left.
Mexico, Puerto Vallarta, Caribbean
Easy sandy beach entry. This is a cove, so there are two options to dive (left or right). Both sides are slopes with a max. depth of the cove 140ft. The best depth to see lot of tropical fish is at 30-60 feet. Recommended when there are no waves, and dive half a tank to go, and half a tank to come back so that way you do not have to snorkel or swim a long way. Easy to get there!! All the way to the south side hotel zone in Puerto Vallarta, to (Mismaloya beach) where hotel Barcelò is located. You can easily drive and park right in front of the beach for a comfortable set up your equipment. If you are not traveling with gear, it's easy to rent your equipment or tanks and weights. www.vallartaexplore.com
Mexico, Cancun, Caribbean
Snorkel from shore on great Maya barrier that extends from the Mexican Caribe through costal Belize to the Honduran Bay Islands. Lodge in beach cabana ($25 per night) with 20m walk across white sand beach to shore. Sleep 'til you wake, snorkel, eat, drink and repeat. Nirvana. Fly to Cancun, QR, Mexico, rent a car and drive south to Mahahual.
Palancar Beach, one of the best all-around beach spots on Cozumel, is especially acclaimed for its water sports, including kayaking, snorkeling, sailing and diving. You can rent a dive charter and also grab some grub at the nearby restaurants and bars. Travelers especially recommend Palancar Beach and Palancar Reef for cruise patrons looking to escape a pre-planned excursion for a more authentic experience. Travelers also described the just-offshore Palancar Gardens as an excellent spot for divers of all skill levels. Even if you're an experienced diver, it's recommended you rent a charter to avoid the hassle of permits or licensing. All diving companies must have a license to operate, and while swimmers are allowed to dive on their own, we recommend that you hire local experts who are familiar with the diving terrain. Others say it's a must-do even if you're planning just to skim the surface snorkeling the Palancar Shallows.
Considered one of the best dive sites in Cozumel, Punta Sur is characterized by an impressive deep wall on the southern end of the island, reaching down to 165ft/ 50m. Remarkable swim-troughs will take you down to the Devil´s Throat, a narrow tunnel lined with red sponges, located inside this area´s largest coral mound. Once you enter a large cave that leads to a smaller cavern, the narrow opening of the “throat” becomes visible. The swim through lasts a few seconds only, but creates unforgettable memories! Once outside, numerous other exciting tunnels take you through a labyrinth of corals until you ascend over a sandy slope up to 30ft/ 10m depth, accompanied by sting rays, turtles, nurse sharks and eagle rays. Due to narrow penetrations and depth, this dive is recommended for very advanced divers only, since it can be dangerous if lacking excellent buoyancy and air consumption.
Scuba Club Cozumel
Once inside the property, a nice, shallow shore dive can be had with tons of juvies. Great spot for a night dive on this little strip/patch reef. Nothing compared to Bonaire shore diving but pretty good for critter spotting close to shore in Cozumel. Just down the road from Caribe Blu hotel (closer to town) is the popular all inclusive dive resort called Scuba Club Cozumel.
Chankanaab State Park
Great novice dive - very easy entry & exit, very shallow waters. You can rent anything you need from beachside dive operators who will provide a guide for your group as well as all equipment for around $50 - $60 per person. Be wary of some of the uncertified operators: while you won't get bad air, the equipment maintenance is sketchy and they don't seem to care if you bleed your tank dry or whether you wanted to see the submerged crucifix (a good 20m against current over barren sand to see a pretty mediocre statue, underwater or no, burning air that you would rather spend looking at the small but lush reef closer to shore). Pay the extra $5 to go to the PADI operator next door and you'll get better quality of equipment and a better guide A state park about 9 km south of San Miguel on the island of Cozumel, Mexico. You can catch a cab from any hotel, the airport or cruise ship for about $5/head. No mystery here about finding the place - Cozumel's too small! -- Suzanne D'Aunoy
Mexico, Los Cabos, Pacific
This is an amazing spot. Though, please be wary of the sea lions because they love to zip in an make you soil your wetsuit. The Sea lion colony is on the opposite side of Land's end and they love to play with divers. The diving is great for beginner to advanced because the water depth range is 25-150ft with tons of reefs, a old wreck, hundreds of schools of fish, a small cave, and every a horrible visibility of 50-75ft in the morning to 35-50ft late afternoon to evening. The current has a tendency of being a bit strong and will actually take you right around the point without a kick from you if you start on the colony side. It is a blast for all levels and interests. A great map I later found to show others is at http://www.loscabosguide.com/diving/divemap.htm - Erik From the airport, watch out for timeshare people and get in a taxi, van, or if lucky, your travel agent will have a van waiting for you. On the way to Los Cabos, you will see an enormous array of dive sites, and usually the drivers can tell you the most popular ones (if your driver speaks English or you Spanish). In Los Cabos, Land's End is just past Lover's Beach and El Arco (The Rainbow). To get there you will either need to bribe a water taxi ($3 per person anywhere you want to go), or get a dive boat ($40-45 includes tank, boat, weights, and bottled water). I tried many of the dive centers there but was really happy with Cabo Pro Dive in the Las Glorias and Villa Palmar hotels. You can leave your gear with them and they will clean it for you (they do a good job too). The dive boats are all small so no standing jumps, all water entries are backwards drops. - Erik
Puerto Penasco, Mexico
Commonly known as "Rocky Point" a favorite vacation spot for many Arizonans. About 4 hours away from Phoenix - No passport required. Several good shore diving locations. About 30 miles north of Puerto Penasco, at the northeast corner of the Sea of Cortez
Casa del Mar
Drift Dive following coastline from NE to SW. Sloped terrain, lots of sea life at deep and shallow levels.
Sloping wall with huge sponges and gargonians, varied marine life. Wall stars at 35 feet , then slopes into the abyss. Dive usually done between the two piers. Second dive after Barracuda.
Near La Ceiba Hotel. Also known as Airplane Flats. The plane remains are on the bottom upside down, and there is not much of it there. It was put there by La Ceiba after it was used in a movie, and then removed, but the hotel supposedly had it put back. It is not that far north of the international pier, which is about 2.5 miles south of the ferry pier you would have arrived at. If memory serves me right La Ceiba has both a tall tower, and a 2 or 3 story section similar to a motel, and I think they have their own in house dive shop. Aqua World (another dive shop) is a bit north, about 100 to 200 yards.
Mexico, Los Cabos, Pacific
This is just one site that is swarming with wildlife. Pelican Rock is a great dive site for beginner to advanced because it has a nice reef outcropping all the way around the point and a great wall that drops to around 100-150ft. There are Sandfalls (you would have to see it to believe it) and wildlife at every turn. At some points you can't help but feel disoriented when swallowed up by any number of schools of fish in the area. This is a favorite spot for dive boats to drop beginners to advanced off and it can get a bit crowded, but head out around 9am and you will be fine with the best visibility (50-75ft). Otherwise visibility get bad in afternoon at around (35-50ft). - Erik Once you arrive at the airport, and through customs, you will find yourself surrounded by timeshare salesmen. A Taxi to Los Cabos is around $50 USD. Or you can take a van for $25-35 USD (the vans pack in many travelers and might be stopping at various places along the way. Not the fastest way but you get to see a lot of hotels). Once in Los Cabos, getting to Pelican rock is as easy as walking down to the beach and yelling "I WANT TO GO DIVING!" you will then be approached by 1-100 people who will ask you to come with them. Pick one and pay no more than $45 USD and everything else is taken care of. I personally suggest Cabo Pro Dive at either the Hotel Villa Palmar or they are at the Hotel Las Glorias. They can take all your gear and clean it for you at no charge instead of you having to deal with it from a hotel room. Plus the dive master, Olmo, loves to take people out and show them his favorite spots, and you will see a bunch. - Erik
Shore dive. Stay to either side and follow the rocks to avoid the anchored boats and find the sea life and rock formations. Best as an early morning dive, less boat traffic and parking is limited.
Playa Los Arbolitos and La Sirenita
Mexico, Los Cabos, Pacific
Several small hard coral finger reefs come right to shore in this area. In the summer, water is calm and clear (50 ft). Easy entries from sandy beaches. Huge schools of fish, plus sea lions. Current can be very strong if you get too far from shore. From Los Cabos International Airport (San Jose del Cabo), Mexico: Head north for 71 km (44 mil.) on Mex Hwy 1 - going through the small towns Miraflores and Santiago. Just past hwy marker 92km will be a junction at Las Cuvaso to La Ribera and Cabo Pulmo (jst before a gigantic wash with a bridge spanning it). Turn right here. Drive 8 km (5 mi.), passing the small town of Santa Cruz. At the out skirts of the town of La Ribera, turn right again and head towards Punta Colorada and Cabo Pulmo. Continue straight (about 26 km [16 mi.]) on this paved road as it bends south a mile inland. Continue past Punta Colorada for about 5-10 minutes. At this point the road turns into a washboard dirt road. You will pass through two small towns, El Rincon and Las Barracas. Approaching Cabo Pulmo, you will descend down a large steep hill with a beautiful vista of the bay. Note that Cabo Pulmo has no street names. Once in Cabo Pulmo, your first landmark will be Titos Bar (a small palapa - thatched roof structure) on the right. Continue driving through town for a few miles and turn left at the sign for Playa Los Arbolitos. Drive down to the beach (the road is very rough but drivable with a regular rental car). There is ample parking. Playa Los Arbolitos has excellent snorkeling but limited diving. To reach a better area, hike the coastal trail that starts to the right (as you face the water) for about a mile to Playa La Sirenita.