Incredible Encounters in the Riviera Maya Mexico
Playa Del Carmen provides incredible aquatic encounters. Our friends at Geofish Dive Center recently took a few minutes to document some of their diver’s recent aquatic adventures.
June is over and July is upon us. The heat is obvious, the rain is sporadic and “The Diving is the Best of the Year” The water is 80 plus degrees, flat as glass, and full of the sea life that this part of the world is known for. The turtles are back, the Tarpon are huge, and the Eagle Rays are magnificent.
This part of the world is known for having a vast number of Sea Turtles whether they are Green, Hawksbill, or Loggerheads, but the past few months they have been rarely seen. We were starting to get worried about the population being damaged, but now in June we have seen them on every dive to Tortuga, Mama Vina, Sabalos, and Barracuda. Last Saturday at one of our keynote dive sites, Tortugas, I saw 12 turtles. Yes, you read it right, 12 turtles. I can’t remember the last time I saw three turtles on one dive. It seemed like I was pointing out one for the divers to look at and I turn around and there are two more right in front of me. On that same dive I saw the biggest Loggerhead turtle that I have ever seen. This might sound outlandish and an overused observation, but it was the size of a Volkswagen. At the shrimp trawler wreck Mama Vina turtles are rarely seen, but right now they are being seen regularly. Last Tuesday we headed to Mama Vina and as we drifted towards the silhouette of the wreck I saw three turtles swimming from the wreck towards the surface for their rare breath of air.
Once we reached the bow of the boat there were three Hawksbill turtles being chased off by a huge Loggerhead. The Loggerhead turns around to face me and charges me. I try to remain as calm as I possibly can since a large Loggerhead turtle charging towards me is not a daily diving occurrence. He gets to me looks me up and down, bumps me, and swims off on to the sand flats. This was one of the most unusual and exciting diving experiences that I have ever had. This is a great example of the wonderful diving we are experiencing here in Playa. The last time I saw a turtle at Mama Vina was in March. Sea turtles, as many people know are highly endangered animals and when you are able to see them as often as we are right now it is a great treat.
The Tarpon are another magnificent animal that we are able to dive with regularly this time of year. Imagine this, with heightened anticipation you are coming to the end of Sabalos reef and still wondering when the gentle giants are going to reveal themselves. In the distance you see a glimmer of silver as the sun hits their massive saucer plate sized scales and you see the brilliant sun reflection coming off them. A feeling of excitement and slight intimidation hits you because you know you have found them. It is truly a unique experience to swim with a fish as big or bigger than you are. At sites such as Tortuga and Sabalos (Tarpon in Spanish) the Tarpon are schooled in large numbers. These are not the Tarpon that are annually fished for in Florida and other Atlantic States, these are huge. They range in size from 4’-7’ and are regarded as one of the top sporting fish in the world. Their size, strength and beauty make them sought after by anglers worldwide. To be able to see them in their natural environment and swimming motionless against a current of 4-5 knots is truly amazing.
On Monday June 20th at Sabalos we saw a school of 40 and the next day in the middle of the dive at Tortuga we saw a school of 20. They are being seen right now in places that they normally aren’t at, as well as the places they are expected to be seen. The Tarpon of Playa del Carmen are another reason that the diving here is some of the best in the world this time of year.
Adding to the spectacular diving right now are the incredible and elusive Spotted Eagle Rays. They have a 7’-10’ wingspan and a 6’-8’ long tail. They are not seen on every dive, but they are being spotted very often at Moche Deep, Pared Verde (Green Wall), Tortugas, off the wreck at Mama Vina and Punta Venado. Last Thursday we went to Pared Verde and about 10 minutes into the dive I started hearing a strange noise, a sort of crunching sound. We drifted maybe 200 yards further and saw it. It was an Eagle Ray that had an 8’ wingspan and its tail looked to be 7’ long. Once we were right over it we could see that it was just devouring a huge Conch. Though this is not a sight often seen, it is an incredibly fascinating experience when you are able to see it. Personally out of all of the animals that I have talked about, the Spotted Eagle Ray is my favorite. Their size, grace, and just sheer power are like nothing else in the sea.
The visibility is pristine right now and the reefs are vibrant. On every dive you are seeing something different whether it’s the tiny Anemone Squat Shrimp, or the massive Marlin. Also don’t forget that the Whale Sharks are just a short trip up North and that is an unforgettable experience. The summers in the Riviera Maya are unlike any place in the world. The divers of the world need to realize this because I know that once they experience the diversity of this area they will keep coming back. For those who are looking for a nice long weekend dive vacation Playa del Carmen is inexpensive right now. Airfare is affordable, and the hotels around town are willing to bargain due to the lack of tourists.
Make Playa your next dive destination. You don’t want hear about the wonderful dive stories, you want to be a part of them.
Feature provided by Geofish Dive Center