09 June 2010

2010 World's Best Diving & Resorts: Riviera Maya

Home to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the Northern Hemisphere, and straddling 125 miles of Caribbean shoreline, the Riviera Maya is a Mecca for divers of all interests and skill levels.

The Riviera Maya cannot be beat for its number and variety of diving locations. The region offers not only shallow and deep-sea dives near coral reefs, but also dives to explore decommissioned navy boats the Mexican government has sunk off the coast of the Riviera Maya near Xcaret Ecopark and off the island of Cozumel, a 35-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen. These sunken vessels and the rich marine habitats that have developed around them offer a more ecologically friendly alternative to reefs.

But divers around the world are perhaps most attracted to the Riviera Maya's hundreds of miles of crystal-clear underground ponds (cenotes) and the rivers that feed them. Cenotes are geological formations unique to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and created naturally some 6,500 years ago. Some are found in caves full of stalactites and stalagmites, mineral formations covering the walls and floors. Because cenotes have no currents and average about 80 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature and 35 feet in depth, diving in them is pleasant and easy. Cave diving requires special certification, but cenote diving does not, since the routes follow tunnels bathed in natural sunlight. The best cenote and cave diving locations can be found all along the Riviera Maya coast only a few minutes' drive from the hotels. The Riviera Maya also offers a family-friendly diving activity called SNUBA, which combines scuba diving with snorkeling and requires minimal instruction.

For the article in its entirety visit SportDiver.com

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