Diving and Snorkeling in the Riviera Maya, Riviera Maya
Concierge.com's insider take:
Coral reefs protect the Riviera Maya's beaches from storm surges and are littered with shipwrecks dating back to the 18th century. Nonprofit organizations have been attempting to preserve these reefs and secure government protection for them (for more information, visit the Centro Ecológico Akumal ). Diving and snorkeling are best around Akumal, where Ramon Bravo (the Jacques Cousteau of Mexico) established the headquarters for undersea explorations. The Akumal Dive Center offers dives to the reefs and advanced cave-diving classes along with the standard resort and open-water classes (52-984-875-9025). If Monet had been able to scuba dive, he probably would have loved to paint the Gorgonian Gardens at Tankah, a small settlement a few miles north of Tulum. The artist's watery touch would have perfectly portrayed the array of soft purple sea fans, alabaster brain corals, yellow pillar corals that look like giant hands, and the millions of neon-colored fish swimming above white sand. You can snorkel from shore and see it all, or dive with the aptly named Lucky Fish Dive Center (located at the Tankah Inn; 52-984-129-6774). The reefs offshore from Puerto Morelos, a town about 11 miles south of the Cancún airport, are also popular with divers for their vast schools of tropical fish.