When the summer heat sizzles, you’ll want to head straight for the water to cool down and here in the Mexican Caribbean you have a choice of ocean-going activities, some in the water or on the waves. However, there is even more watery fun awaiting you in the Riviera Maya jungle where you can leap into the cold, clear waters of a sinkhole or cenote. Take your pick.
The mighty Mesomerican Reef
Go below the surface to explore the incredible coral realm of the Mexican Caribbean, part of the Mesoamerican Reef system, the world’s second longest. From Isla Mujeres and Cancun to Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Paamul, Akumal, Tulum, Sian Kaán and south to Mahahual, Chinchorro and Xcalak, there are majestic reefs teeming with marine life and a wealth of scuba and snorkeling trips.
More than 300 species of fish, rays, sea turtles and other marine life are a shimmering spectacle, a kaleidoscope of colors amidst the coral gardens, huge sponges and sea fans.
For more snorkeling thrills with children, make a beeline for the caletas or turquoise inlets at Xel-Ha Park and Yalku. Colorful fish from the nearby reefs feed and breed in these lagoons, which are fed by underground rivers and springs. You’ll soon be surrounded by curious sergeant major fish and watch blue tangs, jacks, pork fish, yellow-striped grunts, angel fish and parrot fish swimming by. Swim nearer the rocks and you are likely to spot smaller species such as spotted drum, royal gramma, damsel and butterfly fish.
Swimming with giants
During the summer you have the life-changing opportunity to swim with the mysterious giants of the deep, the gentle whale sharks. This unforgettable eco trip is available from June to September when hundreds of whale sharks or pez domino (domino fish, so named for their dappled skin) gather to feed on plankton and fish roe in the waters off Holbox and Cabo Catoche and to the east of Contoy and Isla Mujeres.
Cutting through the waves on board a catamaran or yacht with a stiff breeze to cool you is almost as good as being in the water and you are safe in the knowledge that there will be stops on the way for swimming and snorkeling.
Where to go on your boat trip? There are many cruises to Isla Mujeres or along the Riviera Maya coast. Nature lovers can combine a day of sailing with bird watching on an eco trip to the desert island and nature reserve of Contoy. For a luxury experience, you can even charter your own private yacht for a day out on the Caribbean.
There is more aquatic fun in store in the jungle. Head away from the coast one day and explore the cenotes or sinkholes of the Riviera Maya. In caves, partially covered by a cave roof or completely open, these limestone sinkholes are filled with cold, crystalline waters in turquoise or emerald green. Gaze into the mirror-like depths and the columns, stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over millions of years look like a mysterious submerged city.
You can start your cenote discoveries along the Cenote Route to the west of Puerto Morelos. There are cenotes suitable for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and zip lining. More cenotes dot the landscape in the Puerto Aventuras area and between Tulum and Coba. For more cenote fun and zip lining splashdowns, don’t miss Selvatica, Xplor, Aktun Chen and Dos Ojos adventure parks.
If you are bound for Chichen Itza or Valladolid, cool off from the midday heat with a swim in cenotes such as Dzitnup, Hubiku and Ik-kil. There are many more in the area and you’ll soon find your favorite.
Watery Fun with Thomas More Travel
Thomas More Travel can help you book snorkeling and scuba trips, whale shark swims, catamaran cruises, cenote excursions and park days.