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Mexico is famous for its beaches. But travelers looking for exciting and unique water excursions don’t have to settle for simply wading into the calm waters that bathe the nation’s shores. There are plenty of ways to do it that will give bragging rights to last a lifetime.
It’s no surprise that Mexico’s Caribbean coast — which is graced with especially clear, calm and picturesque stretches of water — is where much of the aquatic creativity flourishes. But there is underwater excitement to be had on both coasts.
Here are a few of the most memorable ways to go underwater. But whatever way a traveler decides to spend his or her time, one important thing to remember is to bring an underwater camera.
Snorkeling Among Sea LionsWith its prime location at the meeting point of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, Los Cabos is a logical starting point for marine-based exploration.
The Resort at Pedregal, located in Cabo San Lucas, offers private yacht excursions to Cabo Pulmo, a national marine park that’s about 60 miles north of Los Cabos. Here, naturalists lead snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding outings among vibrant coral reefs and colonies of curious sea lions.
Underwater WalkingEven vacationers who can’t swim can comfortably discover the region’s marine beauty with Sea Trek, a company that produces helmets that look a bit like something you might wear in outer space. Designed for swimmers and non-swimmers alike, the helmets provide nonstop air and large, clear fronts that make it easy to view the wonders of the sea.
Sea Trek helmet walking tours are offered by Cabo Expeditions, on the Pacific coast, and Xcaret, the eco-theme park on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Exploring an Underground River in the YucatanThe Yucatan Peninsula is just as beautiful below the surface as it is above. An especially dramatic way to prove that is with a visit to Rio Secreto, an attraction centered around an underground river punctuated with thousands of stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors don wetsuits, helmets and life vests before following a guide through a route so dramatically beautiful that it looks like a movie set.
Swimming With Whale SharksIt’s hard to beat the thrill of snorkeling alongside the world’s largest fish. Whale sharks visit the waters off Mexico’s coast every year to feed and mate, and they offer some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife viewing.From May to September, Grand Palladium Resort & Spa Dive Center offers guided excursions into the waters off the Caribbean coast, spending about three hours snorkeling with the giant creatures near the islands of Isla Mujeres and Holbox, followed by additional snorkeling along a Caribbean reef.
Tagging Along With Marine TurtlesMexico’s giant marine turtles may seem lumbering when pulling themselves across the beach, but once in the water, they’re purely graceful.
A company called Cancun Adventure offers a half-day excursion to Akumal Bay, which is a favored spot for the marine animals to spawn. Visitors can snorkel among turtles in the clear Caribbean Sea, with guides who instruct the best way to observe without disturbing the underwater residents.
Cave Diving in “The Pit”Experienced divers are the only ones who should try plunging into the depths of The Pit, one of the Yucatan peninsula’s countless cenotes (sinkholes). Located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, The Pit is found in Dos Ojos Natural Park, with a cave that’s about 120 feet deep. A tour operator called Koox Diving offers guided excursions with tanks and all the gear necessary for underwater excitement.
Vacationers who want to enjoy the beauty of cenotes without having to dive, of course, can choose from a variety of other, less intense outings. Riviera Maya Adventures, for example, offers snorkeling tours of cenotes in the Riviera Maya.
Tying the Knot UnderwaterForget about boring, run-of-the mill wedding photos. Secrets Aura Cozumel offers an “underwater wedding package” that includes a dive trip of one tank for the couple, with a symbolic — and very photogenic — ceremony below the surface. Even the kiss takes place underwater (the celebratory toast, of course, is back on land).