As I sat with my fellow divers watching the sun rise over the Caribbean, I struggled to think of a better time and/or location to receive a dive briefing for my highly anticipated trip to Banco Chinchorro.
The divemaster certainly knew how to get our pulses going! – detailing the beauty of the dive sites, potential underwater encounters and our picturesque/unique journey and stop off locations. The aura of excitement radiating from the group was hard to ignore. I finished my cup of coffee and made my way with the others to the boat under the cover of muffled anticipation.
We were warmly welcomed aboard by the crew, and after a final safety orientation we were on our way! Facing the rising sun, we crossed over the mesoamerican barrier reef and headed due north-east to Banco Chinchorro.
Conditions were perfect, and after just over an hour, the atoll of Banco Chinchorro mistily appeared on the horizon. Smiles were generated as we gazed over the Bow, as our first dive experience at this beautiful location was drawing near.
The boat came to a gentle stop as we arrived at the first dive site. The water crystal clear and radiating shades of beckoning blue.
The dive site was gorgeous, there was a fantastic abundance of colourful coral and marine life; A gentle current pushed us along the reef amongst the nurse sharks, rays, groupers, grunts, angelfish, snappers, triggerfish, parrotfish and morays (to name a few). We rose from the dive extremely relaxed and satisfied.
Back on the boat, we headed towards the island. As we approached I noticed how stunningly untouched the place was, full of wild plant life and song birds. We gently idled past the houses of the local fishermen suspended above the water, finally stopping at one of the houses. We ate a lunch of sandwiches, chips, fresh fruit and snacks which were washed down with water and soft drinks as we sat overlooking this beautiful environment, and although not promised, we saw a baby crocodile! (I have a friend who made the same trip a few weeks prior – they had lunch on the island itself, amongst the jungle and lagoon, which was said to be equally unforgettable.)
Fed and watered we made our way back onto the boat and meandered through the suspended fishing village towards our second dive site. Again, just as the first, we backrolled into glass like water down to an underwater world full of colourful marine life. The dive went as smooth as the first, spoiled by the incredible visibility and vibrant reef. We rose once again, breaking the surface exchanging stories and smiles. We climbed back onto the boat where we all took a minute to look around and enjoy the moment as we gently sat on the tranquil water.
Once we were settled and content, the captain turned the boat around and began our journey back to Xcalak, leaving the view of Banco Chinchorro to disappear over the stern. The boat was silent on the return journey as everyone reflected on the day – not just on the dives themselves, but the entire journey to this incredibly beautiful remote location. Holding some unique experiences both in and out of the water, there was no doubt this was a trip worth making.