Yucatan Dive Trek
World Class Diving in the Yucatan Peninsula. The Mexican Caribbean Trail has so much to offer above, on and under the water year-round.
With an overwhelmingly beauty both underwater and land, the Yucatan Peninsula is a year-round holiday destination for nature and adventure lovers. Let’s plan an extraordinary trip to the most recommended off-the-beaten-track destinations, whether you are traveling alone, as a couple or with the whole family!
The town of Xcalak is a small fishing village (pop ~ 280) located right on the border between Mexico and Belize. It lies within the Xcalak Reef National Marine Park and shares a part of the Meso-American Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world. At over 100 years, Xcalak is the oldest town on the Mexican Caribbean coast, is one of the best preserved and has a rich history. It has a very different and old-town feeling compared to that of the new tourist towns on the northern coast. The town is a hidden gem with world-class diving.
Xcalak was designated a National Park on 27 December 2000. It comprises 17,949.456 total hectares of which 13,495 ha are marine. Xcalak is located at the end of the Yucatan Peninsula, with the Caribbean Sea to the East and Chetumal Bay to the West. It is also home to Mexico´s largest wetlands (a designated RAMSAR site). The bay, mangroves, lagoons, rivers, reel lagoon, coral reef and sea comprise an incredibly inter-connected, rich and bio-diverse eco-system. The diving in Xcalak, is surprisingly diverse. The portion of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that is in front of Xcalak is home to several dive sites that are unique within the entire MBRS.
From trenches that cut through the Barrier Reef and house very large schools of very large fish (tarpon), to large, cavern-like formations within reef walls, beautiful, intricate swim through formations with clouds of silver sides lit up by beams of sunlight to deep walls perfect for Technical diving, Xcalak has a great deal to offer to divers of all skill levels, from non-divers looking to get certified to the most advances Technical divers.
Xcalak is also home to Mexico’s largest wetlands. The surrounding bay, mangroves, lagoons, rivers, coral reef and sea comprise an incredibly interconnected, rich and biodiverse ecosystem, all protected under a well-designed and thoughtfully implemented conservation plan. Over the past decade, Xcalak has become a model for sustainable tourism in the Yucatán Peninsula and beyond. Although still relatively unknown as a diving destination (often overshadowed by nearby Banco Chinchorro and Belize) Xcalak Reef offers some of most spectacular, pristine dive sites in the Caribbean, without the usual crowds. Divers will find abundant, healthy corals, huge resident school of tarpon, and on lucky days, manatees swimming around the reefs.
Flying Cloud Hotel:
The Flying Cloud Hotel is a small, 5-room hotel located just north of the town of Xcalak, the oldest and southernmost town on the Mexican-Caribbean Coast. Situated only a few miles north of the border with Belize and a world away from the urban hustle and bustle. The Flying Cloud is located on the same grounds as Yucatan Dive Trek, a sister company that runs a world-class PADI 5 Star SCUBA Diving Resort. When you stay at the Flying Cloud you can enjoy made-to-order meals, drinks (including beach service), as well as movies, barbeques and special events at the on-site Coral Bar and Grill.
The Flying Cloud is a re-purposed 25-year old house. Like Carl Elefante said; “The greenest building is the one already standing”. He pointed out how well old buildings can work, if we listen to their lessons.
The Flying Cloud got its name from its original owner, Dr. Ted Dake of Texas who fought with the US Air Force in the Korean war, was later a test pilot with the Air Force and is now a retired psychiatrist living in Texas. Built originally as a vacation home it was not hard to convert the building into a hotel. The Flying Cloud is a three-story building that features a top-floor suite, a two-bedroom apartment in the middle floor and two rooms on the ground floor.
Yucatan Dive Trek
Yucatan Dive Trek is a Five-Star PADI Dive Center and part of a group of companies that facilitate unique travel opportunities to the Mexican Caribbean coast and broader Yucatán Peninsula, focusing on nature and wildlife encounters in marine protected areas, as well as yet undiscovered cultural attractions, catering to travelers who seek extraordinary, authentic experiences. Yucatan Dive Trek is based in Xcalak on-site with the Flying Cloud Hotel and caters to divers from beginner to advanced including avid Technical and Rebreather Divers.
Yucatan Dive Trek is the premier outfitter for multi-destination SCUBA diving vacations to the Mexican Caribbean coast, providing access to the best, most unique and exclusive diving opportunities while offering seamless logistics and world class pre-trip support, catering to individuals and groups alike. Yucatan Dive Trek boasts years of experience organizing multi-destination trips to the Mexican Caribbean coast and have developed a proprietary network of partners and systems that allow us to offer you these trips as an integrated product, fully customized to your needs, wants and budget.
About an hour south in the busy tourist town of Playa del Carmen during the winter months, a large group of pregnant bull sharks gathers on a sand bar 200 meters from shore. The conditions are prime for one of the best shark-feeding dives around. This experience is available to divers comfortable diving to 20 meters. 4 hours further south, but worlds away from Playa del Carmen on the border between Mexico and Belize, is Xcalak.
Declared a National Marine Park in 2004, Xcalak offers divers the opportunity to enjoy some of the healthiest reefs in the region. This includes many one-of-a-kind dive sites, as well as a chance to encounter large groups of enormous tarpons in a dive site called “La Poza”, as well as running into a manatee whilst diving. The reef within the national park, as well as the rivers, lagoons and bay connected to it, are home to world´s largest population of wild manatees. 30 nautical miles across from Xcalak in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, lies the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve, a false atoll and the largest reef on the northern hemisphere at 800 square kilometers.
In the center of the lagoon is the largest of three islands, Cayo Centro. This island is home to the world´s largest population of American crocodiles. It is also one of the healthiest and most genetically pure population, due to its isolation and protected status. The conditions on Cayo Centro allows them to interact safely with these living fossils in clear water. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that is only enhanced by the sheer natural beauty of the atoll setting. Mexico is one of the most bio-diverse countries on earth and the Yucatan Peninsula is a perfect example.
Incredibly diverse both on and underwater, the big animal encounters available in this part of the world are enough to keep any diver coming back again and again…
Things to see:
Whale Sharks: May – September, Peak: July – August
Sailfish: December – March, Peak: February
Bull Sharks: November – March, Peak: December – January
Chincorro Banks: Year-round, Peak: January & June – September
Saltwater Crocs: June – September, Peak: July – August
Xcalak: Year-round, Peak: December – February & June – September
Yucatan Dive Trek offers some of the best spots along the coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula. In the huge bay they can do either a short trip for 2 hours up to a 5 hours trip. The longer the snorkel trip, the further you go and explore. There are lots of colorful corals and nursery fish inside the reef and if its flat, calm day sometimes you can access another site where there are large of schools of tarpon and horse eye jack.
With Yucatan Dive Trek, you can pay a visit to a site called the Manatee Reserve at the border of Belize where manatees are often spotted, a visit to Chetumal Bay to visit Bird Island with binoculars to observe and photograph the varied and beautiful variety of birds that meet there, both native and migratory, and on the way back, a visit to two snorkel spots inside the Xcalak Reef Marine Reserve.
Besides snorkeling, during the longer trips YDT spends time in the boat with binoculars, traveling through untouched mangroves on the way to an island well known for its populations of both migratory and native bird.
The town of Xcalak also remains as one of the best-kept fly-fishing secrets in Mexico. There are three very different fly-fishing areas in close proximity: the Caribbean coast, the mangrove lagoons and the edge of the bay, all part of a carefully managed national marine park (Xcalak Reef National Park).
Each area has different characteristics, so when conditions are not ideal for fishing in one place, there are two more nearby for potential success. With experienced local guides and the safest, driest and fastest boats in Xcalak, XTC Dive Center provides a convenient base for fly fishing trips all over the area. The variety of fish species you will find in these tropical waters extends beyond the expected bonefish, tarpon, permit and snook.
Huge snappers abound on the coast, in the mangrove lagoons and in some of the deeper waters at the edge of the bay. There are also several species of jacks, barracuda in all three locations, and many trophy-photo candidates in the bay. Large ladyfish, which rival tarpon in tenacity (and are one of the most fun species to catch), readily snatch lures all along the coastal shores.