Why Mexico’s Riviera Maya is the World’s Top Scuba Diving Destination

If you’re looking for the world’s best places for scuba diving, the Mexico’s Riviera Maya region is bound to come up! With the world’s second largest barrier reef located just offshore and a virtually endless labyrinth of pristine freshwater caves (known as cenotes) just waiting to be explored, it’s easy to see why those who know have called this the top scuba diving destination in the world.

“To the majority of scuba divers, Mexico is known as a diving hub with beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and most importantly unparalleled dive sites,” wrote Deeper Blue. “From standard reef diving to intriguing cenotes, there is something for every level of diver.”

For decades, divers have flown into the Cancun International Airport, traveled 45 minutes south to Playa del Carmen and taken the ferry to Cozumel island, which offers easy access to the Great Mesoamerican barrier reef where incredible dives abound. Over the last ten years or so, however, many divers have started to explore other dive spots in the Riviera Maya that are off the beaten path, including many of the newly discovered subterranean sinkholes that are known as cenotes [pronounced say-note-tays].

Cenote Jardin del Eden – Garden of Eden but it is known by locals and tour guides as Ponderosa.

Diving Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Situated on the Yucatan Peninsula and encompassing more than 80 miles south from Cancun along Mexico’s only Caribbean coast, the magical Riviera Maya region offers endless opportunities for adventure, as well as easy access to the Costa Maya region that lies just to the south. Here, the crystalline turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean offer perfect conditions for both advanced and beginner scuba divers. 

“Most of the scuba diving in Mexico takes place off the Caribbean coast from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, as well as the nearby islands of Isla Mujeres and Cozumel,” wrote Deeper Blue. “But just south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen are the bustling towns of Akumal and Puerto Aventuras, which are both known for having a European vibe.”

Our own agent, Mike Burgoyne, scuba diving along the reef just outside of Puerto Aventuras

There are also a variety of stunning dive sites located just offshore from Tulum, which lies just south of Akumal, where you can enjoy fantastic visibility just a short five minute boat ride from the coast. Here, there are many species of turtles, lobsters, barracuda, stingrays and nurse sharks, to name only a few of the many species you might encounter, so the Riviera Maya has become a top scuba diving destination for anyone who is interested in the sport.


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The weather and water temperature is pleasant year-round in the Mexican Caribbean, with annual temps hovering around an average of 77 degrees to the mid-80s, and off-shore water temps also ranging from the upper 70s in January to the mid-80s in August. May through November is the rainy season, and cenote water temperature stays in the mid-70s all year. Consistently fantastic visibility is also the norm for divers in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, averaging around 100 feet on deep sites and less on shallow reefs, with more than 100 feet of visibility in the cenotes. 

Although the cenotes might be the most unique aspect of diving in Mexico’s Riviera Maya region and the great barrier reef is hard to beat, perhaps the area’s strongest draw comes with the impressive multitude of activities waiting for you to enjoy after the dive! From world-class dining and shopping, to incredible adventure sports, bustling nightlife and ancient Mayan ruins to explore, there is plenty to keep you busy for as long as you want to stay!

Do you have questions about diving in Mexico? Post them in the comments!

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