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4 Unforgettable Water Adventures in Mexico

Dive Cozumel’s Incredible Reefs

A 40 minute ferry ride from Playa Del Carmen will land you on Mexico’s biggest island – Cozumel. This island is one of the world’s premier destinations for scuba diving enthusiasts because of it’s large, brightly colored reefs.

Scuba diving and snorkeling here guarantees you’ll see all kinds of sea life, some of which can be found nowhere else in the world. Not a diver? No problem – you can snorkel, or take a snuba tour!

It’s common to spot eels, turtles, nurse sharks, lobsters, crabs, and a huge variety of Caribbean fish.

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Diving in Cozumels Incredibly Reefs

Swim with Turtles

Head over to Akumal’s beautiful beach (just South of Playa Del Carmen), where swimming a few feet off shore you can find yourself surrounded by turtles feeding on sea grass.

If you have your own snorkeling gear it’s free (also available to rent on the beach). Swimming next to sea turtles has never been easier (or cheaper)! I’ve been to this beach a dozen times and have never failed to spot turtles in the water.

Swim with turtles in Akumal

Swim with turtles in Akumal

Swim with turtles in Akumal

Swim with turtles in Akumal

Refreshing Cenotes

The Yucatan is home to thousands of cenotes (water-filled sinkholes), dozens of which are easily traveled to and safe to swim in.

Many of these cenotes are mixed with freshwater and saltwater creating unique haloclines, and amazingly clear water. There’s nothing more refreshing than taking a dip in a cool freshwater pool on a humid day.

If you’re feeling adventurous enough you can suit up and go scuba diving inside these underwater caves too!

 Yucatan's Refreshing Cenotes

 Yucatan's Refreshing Cenotes

 Yucatan's Refreshing Cenotes

 Yucatan's Refreshing Cenotes

Swim with Whale Sharks

Visit during the season (May-September) and it’s possible to plunge yourself into the water with dozens, and sometimes hundreds of whale sharks.

They are the biggest fish on earth but don’t worry – they’re also gentle and relatively slow. Whale sharks spend their days feeding on microscopic plankton, not humans!

The 2 hour bumpy boat ride isn’t fun, but this is sure to be an experience you will never forget. If you’re lucky you will also spot large manta rays and other fish during these tours as well.

Swimming with whale sharks. Mexico

Swimming with whale sharks. Mexico

Swimming with whale sharks. Mexico

James Kelley is a U.S. born and raised 20-something who has worked in an office his entire life. The average “American dream” is his nightmare – he would much prefer to be traveling through far away lands.

The few weeks a year he could manage to get for vacation were never going to be enough to satisfy the burning desire he has for travel. He knew that he had leave it all behind for the adventure and excitement of a life without boundaries or borders – so he quit his office job, sold everything and left to live abroad in June, 2013.

His blog, Escaping Abroad is about his journey traveling across the globe, exploring as much of the world as he can, and his experiences along the way.  Follow James on Facebook and Twitter.

    29 Comments

  1. Stunning pictures and a stunning part of the world. I’ve been to the Yucatan a few times, and a coupe of highlights were Xcarat and Xelha marine parks. But must return to check out the places on this cool post.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • I’ll have to add the Xcarat and Xelha marine parks to my list for Mexico as well – thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I just returned from Mexico a week ago, where we visited Akumal for the turtles. It was so amazing! I actually enjoyed it much better than the touristy marine parks – much less commercialized!

    • Sounds like I have to get myself to Akumal!! We swam with turtles in Maui while in Hawaii, but wasn’t anything compared to the photos from Mexico! I can’t stand visiting touristy parks any more lol I get frustrated too easily by crowds :D

  3. The whale sharks are beautiful! You should come to the Philippines and visit my country! We have a lot of that too. Are you using a GoPro?

    • Underwater I use a Canon point and shoot with a housing + wide angle lens.

    • Can’t wait to get to Mexico for this – WA in Australia is also a really great spot for Whale Sharks :)

  4. Swimming with whale sharks is an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can also swim with them in the winter months at La Paz, Mexico, on the Baja Peninsula. Good list of fun water activities!

    • Thanks for the tip! I also really want to hit up Western Australia which is an amazing spot for swimming with Whale Sharks.

      The water has just as much to offer as the land :D!!

  5. Amazing shots! What type of camera are you using? I can’t wait to go swim with the whale sharks, it is zoo high on my list! Great post

    • He said underwater he uses a Canon point and shoot with a housing + wide angle lens. I need to invest in one as well!

  6. Fab photos! Looks like Mexico has some awesome dive sites. Those whale sharks… oh man, amazing. I haven’t been lucky enough to see them yet. Darn it!

    • Swimming with Whale Sharks is so high on my bucket list it’s not actually funny!! Western Australia is supposed to also be a guaranteed spot to sight them!

  7. These are some amazing trips accompanied by some fantastic photos! I must get down to Mexico to witness diving with whale sharks…must seem so surreal in person. :-D

    • I’ve heard that you forget to breath because they’re just so huge and stunning you just hold your breathe lol!!

    • It really is incredible. Add in the huge manta rays swimming by and it’s just perfect.. well minus the sea-sickness :)

  8. Wow, what amazing pictures! I’ve been to the Yucatan a few times, but haven’t taken advantage of the water beyond a little snorkeling. I would love to visit the cenotes and do some legit scuba diving. It’s such a beautiful place! A return trip may be in order.

    • Definitely calls for a return trip! Be sure to pack an underwater camera when you return!

  9. I’ve been hearing a lot about the cenotes and never knew they existed. The shots are awesome, I definitely want to snorkel in and out of them. They look like a great spot to free dive too.

    • I’ve had the Cenotes on my radar for a few years now – just have to actually get down to Mexico to see them! I was fairly excited when James offered a guest post!

      I hope you have the opportunity to get there and see them for yourself. I’m sure it would be an amazing spot for free diving!

  10. Ok my bucket list just grew ;) We have Whale shark swims here in Oz and are very keen to do it but my son at 5 thinks he may end up being swallowed…will need to wait a couple of years but that turtle swim looks amazing- Thanks for posting

    • Awww!! Maybe a few years when he’s bigger then! Turtle swimming for sure though; they’re such fascinating creatures and I’m sure your son would have a blast!

  11. Whale shark snorkeling is as amazing as it sounds – i did it in the Philippines and loved it! I’d like to do it again closer to home.

    • Sounds fab! I can’t wait to do it in Australia – they have a fab spot over in Perth at Ningaloo Reef too. Will have to add the Philippines to my list as well! Thanks Todd!

  12. I wasn’t open water certified when I was in Cozymel – is that your favorite destination for diving in the western hemisphere?

    • I hope you manage a trip back now that you are :) James spoke highly of Cozumel when he pitched to submit this guest post, so I believe it’s definitely up there as one of his favorites :)

  13. I’ve spent a lot of time in that area and think your list is spot on and I love your pics! Only thing I haven’t tried on it is the whale sharks, so I’ll have to try that next year. I do think Xel-ha is beautiful too, but touristy.

    • Hopefully the rest don’t become too overly touristy – that is the issue in finding the right balance between enough tourism to stimulate the local economy but not so much that it ruins the experience and takes over.

      Hope you can tick off the whale shark experience soon! :)

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