Mexico is a country located on the North American continent and borders to the United States in the north and to Guatemala and Belize in the southeast. It is the southernmost country in Latin America and the official language is Spanish. English is however commonly spoken, especially along the U.S. Mexican border, in larger cities and in tourist focused areas such as beach resorts. English is also common in communities with many expatriates, such as the towns along the coast of Baja California. The Mexican currency is called Peso. The terrain varies from rocky deserts and arid mountains in the north to tropical rain forest in the south.
Mexico has a coast line towards the Gulf of Mexico to the east and towards the North Pacific Ocean to the west. Baja California in the west is a 1,250 km (777 miles) long peninsula that forms the Gulf of California. In the east, Mexico’s other peninsula, the Yucatán, forms the Bay of Campeche. Mexico has two major rivers; Río Bravo del Norte (Rio Grande) at the northern border and Usumacinta at the southern border. Smaller rivers include Yaqui, Grijalva, Balsas and Pánuco. Scuba diving takes place along both of the coast, and fresh water diving is also possible. If you decide to leave the typical tourist destinations you will find an abundance of more secluded dive sites.
Two well frequented destinations for scuba divers are Cancun and Cozumel at the tip of the Yucatan peninsula. If you go a little south from Cancun to the Chinchorro Banks you can scuba dive in the second largest barrier reef in world. The town of Cancun is no more than 30 years old and one of Mexico’s most famous tourist destinations. The surrounding area however has been populated since prehistoric times and comprises several Mayan ruins. You can choose between several great scuba diving opportunities, from the shallow reefs off Cancun and Playa del Carman to the extraordinary cenotes. Cozumel is the largest island in Mexico and is located just south of the Yucatan peninsula. The coral reefs outside Cozumel is constantly provided with new water by the Yucatan current that flows from the south to the north year round. This means that you can count on a visibility exceeding 100 feet (30 meters). Naturally, most dives will be conducted as drift dives. The underwater landscape is very varied and includes majestic cliffs, tunnels, cathedrals and canyons. Black coral, giant sea fans and different kinds of sponges are common. Water temperatures at the Yucatan peninsula average around 24 to 29° C (75 to 85° F). The offshore visibility is generally around 100 feet (30 meters), while inshore visibility can drop down to 60 feet (18 meters). The cenotes have crystal clear visibility year round.
The cenotes are sinkholes filled with fresh water. The Yucatan peninsula was once upon a time located under the surface of the ocean, and the limestone that make up the foundation for the peninsula is fossilized coral beds and ocean floor. This material is extremely porous and all the ground water sinks through it, forming underground rivers. There are no above ground rivers in this part of Mexico, but at some places the weak limestone has been undermined by the water and finally collapsed, making the ground water accessible from above. This is what the Mexicans refer to as a cenote. Diving or snorkeling in the cenotes is a very special experience and they cenotes are often filled with remarkable stalagmites and stalactites. They were formed during the ice ages, when parts of the underground streams dried up and water dripping through the limestone deposited minerals in caves and caverns. The stalactites and stalagmites where covered in water once the ice age ended and the streams began flowing again.