Diving in Mexico Riviera Maya

The waves from the turquoise sea roll in over the fine-grained white beach, which feels like powdered sugar between my toes. The cooling corona mixes with the taste of lime in my mouth. Warm winds make the colorful sombrero hats sway and when I take a deep breath I can smell the spices from freshly made burritos. I can hardly believe it, but this year I, Camilla (travel salesperson at Scuba Travel) celebrate the New Year with diving in Riviera Maya in colorful Mexico!

After a surprisingly quick flight, we get off the plane in Cancun. Here we are met by immediate warmth and when I look at the clock, it has still reached 22:30 pm (local time), lovely! An hour later we are sitting on our roof terrace and celebrating the holiday with a whiskey each. None of us can really understand that we have actually left the minus 17 degrees in Gothenburg and are now sitting here. The comment that is constantly heard and which has now more or less become standard is "Now we have the real damn thing" in Gothenburg-sounding dialect.

Maybe I should also take and introduce my dear fellow travelers, a really lovely bunch. Just like during the trip to Dahab earlier this year, I have with me my boyfriend Andreas, his parents, Roger and Elisabeth, as well as Andreas' brother Kristian and his girlfriend, Annie. The difference this trip is that they all have a few more dives in their logbook to brag about. But if we were to go back to the beginning…


There is not much to think about before you set off, but it is still worth mentioning a few points. First of all, check your passports! It is very important that they are complete and valid for at least six months after returning home. If not, you're screwed right from the start. Another thing is that you should call your local health center or similar and ask them what you need to be vaccinated against, there is also a good website vaccination.nu that you can look at, but it is still recommended to call and check to be sure.

Another incredibly important point is to check if you are traveling via the USA on the way to Cancun (very common). If you do that, everyone, regardless of whether you are only stopping over in the USA, must go in and register your arrival on ESTA no later than 72 hours before departure. Google ESTA and you'll come to the right place. Just fill in all the points that have a star and pay the $15 it costs, only takes 5 minutes and it's done.

Otherwise, there is nothing else to think about right away, apart from packing and getting to the airport on time.

Fly to Cancun, piece of cake!

Despite moments of concern such as snow, fog and wind that closed airports on an assembly line, our trip flowed perfectly. We flew from Gothenburg at seven in the morning and had our first stopover at London Heathrow. Here we spent four hours before traveling on. It might sound like a lot, but when we got through passport and security control, strolled around and drank a coffee, it was suddenly time to board Continental Airlines to Newark in New York.

Here we had three hours and it was good because there is a lot that has to be done in order to be allowed into the US and a lot of queuing. Again, I want to remind you about ESTA, some of the Swedes in the queue next to us had not fixed this and I don't know what happened in the end. But they got problems for them anyway. After they photographed us, took our fingerprints, addresses, names and our time, we just had time to eat an obligatory sloppy hamburger in true American spirit before it was time to continue with Continental to Cancun, Mexico.

In Cancun we grabbed our bags and got in line for their random bag check which involves everyone walking up to a button, pressing it and if you get a green light you walk on out and if you get a red light they ask for to open and check your bags. There was a check in our group and then we were out in the approximately 22 degrees and immediately found our transfer guy.

We check in

An hour later, we arrived at the apartment hotel Paseo del Sol in Playacar, a residential area that is about a 15-minute walk from our destination Playa del Carmen. You can read more about Playa del Carmen under Mexico on our website, but what I can say is that the pictures don't lie, it's really beautiful here.

We don't have Paseo del Sol on our website yet, but it is a very good option if you are a family or some friends traveling together and want to stay together. They are privately owned apartments that are rented out to tourists for shorter periods.

We wanted the opportunity to cook our own meals together and have cozy game nights and more. Now we live in an apartment with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen with a living room, a balcony and a lovely roof terrace with a mini pool.

A nice day! -30 Dec

We chose not to start diving on the first day, but instead to sleep in, orient ourselves and just take it easy.

The first thing we did after we opened our eyes was to go out to get food and found the small center that is in our area of ​​Playacar. Here we ate burritos with strong sauces at a cozy little spot. Then it was time to look for the beach. There are both private beaches where you pay to stay for a day and public beaches where you take care of yourself free of charge.

We walked about ten minutes and there appeared the beginning of Playa del Carmen's public beach. White sand and turquoise sea, I didn't dare to believe it, but it was really just like the pictures I had seen before. Then it was off to Walmart which is located in the center of Playa del Carmen to stock up our kitchen for the week.

Cenotes, among the best dives I've done - New Year's Eve

Time to dive and at 8:00 we were ready at Oxygen Mexico (Scuba Playa) and had to fill in all the necessary papers and try out equipment. Here you use the Scuba Pro brand and the rental equipment was in very good condition. The diving center is located on the beach, in the middle of Playa del Carmen on a cross street to the popular 5th Avenue.

Our plan was to go out by boat and do two dives around Playa. However, it was far too windy so the harbor was closed all day and we had to change our schedule. All said and done, we were in a car on our way into the jungle. The fact is that the entire Yucatan peninsula is made up of limestone and has the world's largest underwater system, which we would get to explore. These "caves" are called cenotes and some of them are open to divers. A cenote is thus a water-filled cavity in the limestone, which was used by the Mayan people as a shelter and place of sacrifice. A trip with diving in Mexico's Riviera Maya must definitely include cenote diving.

Dive cenotes

We dived in the cenotes Chac Mool and Kukulkan this day. Chac Mool was an absolutely amazing experience and one of the best dives I've been on. If you go to Mexico, diving in a cenote is a must. Slightly colder than the sea when we jumped in, but it didn't matter, we got to see fossils embedded in the walls, water as clear as drinking water, roots from trees that found their way into the caves, small catfish swimming around and absolutely incredible formations.

After about half of the dive we came to an opening where we could go up to the surface and breathe for a few minutes and study the cenote further, the dive center provided us with lights. There was also a hole here that we could look up into and see the sky and the swaying treetops. After that, it was just a matter of going down again. The best part was seeing the sun's rays threading through and turning the water green. It's not really possible to describe this dive even if I tried, it simply has to be experienced.

After eating a burrito each, we went back to the diving center where we arrived at 14:00. Now it was just a matter of getting home to style myself a bit for the evening, it's not just any evening tonight, but New Year's Eve itself.


Happy New Year 2011! The evening turned out really well, we had booked a table at a cozy restaurant on 5th Avenue in Playa where four courses were served. Dinner consisted of gorgonzola scrambled eggs, lobster soup, beef fillet and pie, of course the restaurant used a little more fancy expression for these dishes. Everything tasted very good and the stroke of twelve was celebrated with bubbly, tequila and a mouth full of grapes (Spanish/Mexican tradition). Then it went out into the streets and down to the beach and everywhere it was teeming with New Year's celebrating tourists and Mexicans dancing salsa. Here in Mexico you can celebrate the New Year, I promise!

The first days of the year and a trip back in time - 1 and 2 January

It's not every January 1st that you wake up at 8:30 and feel completely rested and as if you drank nothing but water the day before. We thank you for that, a very good start to the new year! The beach is the perfect place for relaxing days like this. Today I have a great restaurant tip to share with you. At Las Mananitas In the middle of 5th Avenue, you can order a Nancy wrap, which is chicken in flatbread with lots of good side dishes, or you can choose a "South of the border double cheese burger", actually one of the best burgers I've eaten. Perfect lunch food for about SEK 60 per dish.

Tulum is today's adventure! We took the local bus for 55 mex pesos (about SEK 25) from Playa and arrived in Tulum 45 minutes later. Here we followed the flow of people and walked for about 10 minutes until we arrived at a ticket booth. We paid 35 pesos and walked into a large area of ​​ruins. Tulum is the remains of the Mayan people and the reason why many people go to Tulum, there are several ruin areas around Playa which, among other things, the world heritage Chichen Itza, is the beautiful surroundings combined with the ruins. You can no longer climb the ruins, but you can look.

Tulum, well worth a visit

The ruins are home to a few hundred creatures of various sizes, so you have to be careful where you put your feet. If you go right through the area, it opens up. Suddenly you are standing on a cliff next to a ruin and looking out over the sea. At the foot of the cliffs here are small sandy beaches. If it weren't for the fact that there are a lot of people here, this would be a total idyll. Despite the people, Tulum is really worth a visit. Instead of going down and cooling off right here, which is needed in these 28 degrees, we continued to the left instead. After a while of walking, there is a sign that leads us out of the ruin area itself towards a beach.

It is quite warm, so we follow the directions on the sign and eventually we arrive at a long beach. It's like taken out of a catalog. Beautiful and empty right at the beginning, and if you continue a bit, the people crowd in and a few tents and other accommodation options appear, as well as a small bar. Seems to be a place where many backpackers go to spend a few nights. It won't be this time, but after a lovely excursion we return home to Playa again.

Lots of turtles -3 Jan

At 8:00 we are at the diving center and in the process of putting on our equipment. We leave all our stuff behind and stroll down to the beach where the boat is waiting for us by the shore. We jump on board and go out for about 15 minutes where we stop and get a detailed briefing. Very professional and service-oriented staff at Oxygen Mexico.

The place we are going to dive is called Turtles, a current dive along the sandy bottom with some corals. Here there really isn't much to see except for the turtles. We had 25 degrees in the water and then both at the surface and at 22 m, lovely. We saw a total of five large turtles of 50-80 cm at different locations. They lay calmly and chewed on the bottom. Cheeky to just lay there and check out these big ancient animals. On the way up, we also saw a larger moray eel and four large Napoleon fish that were in a row at regular intervals. They followed a very one-sided pattern of ingesting food while drifting with the current.

Lots of big fish

Up on the boat again, we had a little drink and a piece of chocolate. Then we had taken the approx. 20 minutes to the next dive site, which was Barracuda. This reef is shaped like a hand and you don't dive on top of the reef because there is more current there and the maximum depth is 14 m. So what you do here is follow the contours of the "fingers". Overhangs are formed here that you can swim under and large shoals of snappers had gathered here. A large barracuda also appeared and moray eels appeared on several occasions in the small cavities in the reef.

We were back at the diving center at twelve o'clock and here they took care of our rental equipment right away so we could go have lunch. It turned out to be a good diving day and the Caribbean Sea has a lot to offer. Diving in Mexico Riviera Maya is great. It feels a bit like most fish here in the Caribbean are a bit bigger than anywhere else I've ever dived at least. Now there's a barbecue up on our roof terrace, good luck!

Cozumel, a diving paradise -4 Jan

When one's biggest problem is flip-flop chafing, then life is not particularly complicated.

Today at eight o'clock we took the ferry from Playa over to the island of Cozumel. A place where many cruise ships dock and an island known for its amazing diving. We arranged all the equipment at Carribean Divers, the dive center on Cozumel that Oxygen Mexico works with. We went out to their boat, which took us out to sea about 1 hour from the port. The dive sites we visited were called Palancar and Paso del Cedral. I understand why Cozumel has become so famous, because here it was really good diving. We dived along walls and into several swim throughs. Among other things, we saw a nurse shark, several giant crabs, crayfish and large eagle rays. One of these stayed with us for a long time so that we could really study it. Again all the animals were large and again this was among the best dives I have done.

Hotel check, golf and Nitrox course -5 Jan

Today the others wanted to go out and play golf on the course we have right behind our apartment. It is one of several 18 hole courses around Playa and they told me that it was a very nice and quite difficult course. Then they each got a golf cart to get around. Since I don't play golf, I took the opportunity to work a little and go look at hotels. I visited Hotel Kinbe and Hotel Posidan Saan Kaan. Both hotels were very nice and fresh and both are located in the middle of Playa between the beach and Fifth Avenue. Kinbe is opposite the diving center and Posidan two streets from the diving center, so it takes less than 5 minutes to walk between them. Kinbe is best for couples as they only have double beds. Posidan is completely newly built and is best suited for groups and friends.

When I was done with this little round, I went to the diving center at 16 to take a nitrox course. Since you don't really have to complete a dive to pass the course, I am now a certified nitrox diver.


Today we went out to Akumal, which is about 30 minutes by car from Playa. Here is a hotel and a diving center that focuses more on cave diving, which we wanted to check out. The hotel and the center are located directly on the beach and here too there are apartments, both small and large. I brought Andreas, Annie and Krille here and we spent the whole day here. We swam, kayaked, ate and played games at the little beach bar. It was very calm and peaceful here and perfect if you go away and just relax or do a lot of diving. It has the structure that you can do four dives per day if you want to.

Diving in Mexico Riviera Maya - Night dives

At 17 pm we were back at our dive center in Playa. Andreas, Roger and I were to join tonight's night dive. We were six people in total so we split into two groups and then we pulled down to the boat and went out. During the dive we met a giant moray eel that was sleeping under an overhang. It was about 3m and really fat. A little later we came across another large moray that was out hunting.

We got the biggest contrast when we came up to the surface. We were only about 5 minutes outside the beach where there was a full party going on. So from having a calm and quiet dive we now came up to hear music pouring out of the speakers at the beach party, quite cheeky. This was Andreas and Roger's first night dive and as you can probably guess, they were very pleased.

The last glorious days 7-10 Jan

The last days of diving in Mexico's Riviera Maya were very relaxing, we had a vacation with a capital "S". We bathed, patched up the burn, ate and drank well and just took it very easy. The last evening we went out and celebrated Roger's birthday with champagne, a live band and a fire show. On January 9, it was time to fly home, so at 9:00 our transfer bus was outside to take us to Cancun airport. The flight left at 12:00 and we saw sadly how the palm trees became smaller and smaller under the airplane's wings.

Now I'm sitting here at home on my sofa in Gothenburg and it's snowing hard outside. Our diving adventure in Mexico's Riviera Maya is over and I go through the pictures and can't help but dream back. Back to the warmth, the beaches and above all the wonderful and varied diving. I only have one thing to say, Diving in Mexico and the Riviera Maya has not seen the last of us yet!