Remarkably Pristine, Vibrant Reef System
XTC Dive Center is located in the town of Xcalak, within the Xcalak Reef National Marine Park.
We are fortunate enough to operate diving excursions in two Natural Protected Areas, both priority areas for the World Wildlife Fund.
The only reason why Xcalak is not a world renowned dive destination unto itself (yet) is because it´s located in front of Banco Chinchorro, whose fame tends to eclipse Xcalak´s.
There is also the fact that up until recently it took an entire day to drive here from Cancún. With new roads and easier access it still takes 5 hours.
Xcalak is the last town on the Mexican Caribbean coast, a mere mile north of the Belize border. Some of the things you will NOT find here are air conditioned rooms (you will only find small beach inns that operate on self-contained power systems), cell phone coverage (sorry, no Blackberry), any sort of nightlife (we do have the biggest concentration of three-star restaurants per capita on the coast), large resorts or crowded dive boats.
What you WILL find here is a remarkably pristine, vibrant reef system with a number of unique dive sites that are worth a visit in their own right, many of which are starting to become must-do´s for many experienced divers. The majority of our divers are either experienced divers in-the-know (many dive professionals vacation here); or avid divers (or prospective divers) who have taken the time to locate an unspoiled destination, away from mainstream resort destinations and tourists (don´t let Tulum fool you).
Xcalak is the quintessential fishing village, more resembling Caribbean island culture than Mexico (for years access to the Belize Cayes and other islands was easier than mainland Mexico). Here, you can still find fishermen who set out to fish in wood Mayan “cayucos,” using age-old low-impact free-diving fishing techniques. A lot of those fishermen are now dive boat captains and guides, willing to share their intimate knowledge of the reef, acquired by years of free-diving for conch, lobster and grouper. All of our staff is made up of local former fishermen.
Xcalak offers dozens of fantastic scuba dive sites between 5-30 minutes by boat from the Aventuras Xcalak to Chinchorro Dive Center pier. We have deep and shallow walls, huge tongue and groove formations, “pozas” (blue holes), swim throughs, and much, much more. You might have heard of “La Poza” (also known as “The Tarpon Hole”, the only formation of its type in the whole Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System); or “La Chimenea.”
The deep walls (Hob Na, Punta Gavilan) in the north end of the park are ideal for deep technical dives, with the advantage that you can swim up from any depth (we´ve never seen the bottom) to 10 ft without ever leaving the reef; with 250ft tall walls filled with huge black coral colonies, and massive fluorescent-colored sponges that will change your take on what a dramatic wall looks like.
Xcalak is well known for having a very wide range of dive sites. XTC´s instructors and guides are well known for carefully choosing the dive site based on your skill-level and interests, ranging from entry level students to all kinds of photographers, tek divers and everything in between.
We have very little staff rotation, with most instructors having been here several seasons and with hundreds of dives on the reef. We think nothing of having two dive boats out with two divers each if skill level and interest are not compatible. All this will make it possible for you to have the perfect dive, every time.
XTC’S DIVING SPOTS
Here are a few of our favorite (and/or better known) dive sites
A short boat trip from our dock to a mooring just inside Xcalak’s protected reef takes you to “La Poza,” a dive site perfect for beginners and advanced divers alike.
Diving down through a myriad of color and life, we begin the dive inside of the reef and swim through the barrier reef allowing the site to open up in front of us as we descend further. Depending on conditions, this dive can vary from a relaxing reef dive, to spectacular drift dive, both of which usually feature one of XTC’s most renowned attractions – the Tarpon (Sabalo) of Xcalak.
These massive deep ocean dwellers shelter at La Poza during strong currents further out to sea, favoring the sites unique location and shape. The Tarpon can be observed dive after dive, each time no less impressive and memorable than the last. Should currents and ability allow for it, this already amazing site can become two! With a favorable current, La Poza can culminate with a visit to Copa Del Mundo – a large pinnacle that protrudes from the depths with an appearance similar to that of the World Cup.
A site favored by underwater explorers and admirers of natural architecture, Chimenea is one of XTC’s most requested dive locations. This dive site is deep and therefore only available to advanced divers visiting Xcalak. Situated south of the shop, a short boat trip takes divers along the inside of the sheltering reef until crossing through a natural cut in the reef to take us out to deep waters.
The dive starts off with a drop down to an expansive coral garden, which is a hive of activity, from sea fans flowing in the surge, to parrot fish gliding from coral to coral feeding. Then, following the wall down, the adventure begins with a visit to “The Cathedral,” a massive chamber at about 28m / 90ft of depth with a collapsed rock in the middle causing a spectacular opening to the top of the reef to get beautiful sunlight contrasts.
The dive continues along the wall to reveal another, much narrower entrance in the reef. Delving deep within the wall itself is a corridor, at the end of which lies the site’s second attraction, “The Chimney.” The narrow, vertical stack delivers divers back to the top of the reef.
Once at the top, we go back to the Cathedral to see the birds eye view of its formations until arriving at yet another swim through, after which the remainder of the dive is spent enjoying the coral and aquatic life on the platform of the reef.
This site has the distinctive horseshoe shaped wall of a cenote. There are large coral heads in the center, swim throughs where moray eels like to hide, and lots of black wire coral on the overhangs.
After following the curve of the horseshoe, this site continues south into the tongue and groove formations of another site, The G-Spot.
There are huge tongue and groove formations with canyons as wide as city streets.
There are lovely barrel sponges at 60 to 80 ft. The current here usually runs to the north so we end the dive at Punta Gavilan where school of Atlantic Spade Fish, Chubs, and Snapper are frequently seen.
One time we even saw Dorado!
This site has 2 distinct coral formations-a shallow wall from 30-50 feet facing sand flats.
This is a favorite site for instructions as the depths are shallow, it has soft sand for doing training exercises, and lots of marine life. We also use it for night dives due to large numbers of lobster and octopus.
The second area of this site, just across the sand flats heading into deeper water, has large tongue and grooves plus intriguing pinnacles and coral heads. Large grouper and snapper use the overhanging ledges for hiding places.
HOB NA (AKA GROUPER HANGOUT)
About 30 minutes north, we discovered this site quite by accident when the substitute boat captain dropped us off at the wrong depth. We just followed a wide canyon out into deeper water and at about 60 feet began seeing lots of huge grouper that were in no hurry to leave their nesting sites.
There are very tall, narrow canyon formations, some with large tunnels between them. The great thing about this site is that you can dive deep or shallow. You can dive along the tops of the ridges and see what is going on down below-or drop down deep for a closer look!
Surcharge for private Dive Guide
Chinchorro2 tank air plus Island / Fisherman camp visit and lunch break
Additional Chinchorro Tank
Banco Chinchorro Overnight
• If you will be traveling with 8 or more scuba divers, please contact us for special group rates. • All prices are per person. The price of open-water boat dives includes an 80 cubic ft. aluminum tank, weight belt, and weights. See equipment rental below if you need additional items. • All prices are in US dollars. There are several payment options: a bank transfer into our US or Mexican Bank account, cash in US dollars or Mexican pesos at the conversion rate published on the day payment is due or a deposit taken. We do accept most major credit cards, payments can be made through our secure online payment portal ahead of time or directly on-site upon your arrival, a 3.5% transaction fee is due on all credit card payments. The third option is to pay us via Pay Pal directly through our website – this option incurs a fee of 6%. • All prices include taxes.
Full equipment: Mask, fins, BCD, Regulator, wetsuit
Mask, snorkel, and fins for scuba diving
Mask, snorkel OR fins for scuba diving
Snorkel EquipmentMask, fins, snorkel, snorkeling vest, and Marine park wrist band.
Snorkel EquipmentMask, fins, snorkel, snorkeling vest, and 7 marine park wrist bands
Mask with Snorkel OR fins plus snorkeling vest and wrist band
Mask with Snorkel OR fins plus snorkeling vest and wrist band
*Must purchase or show wrist band
Our Happy Clients
Certificate of Excellence
I recently dove with my teenage son and daughter at XTC Dive Center and had an incredible encounter with 2 manatees, a school of about 60 huge tarpons and lots of beautiful marine life and incredibly healthy and beautiful coral.
The dive team is super pro. The ambience is great. Xcalak us incredible!
We look forward to coming back as soon as possible!
I did my Open Water Dive Certification with XTC Dive Center and it was amazing! Great place, people and service!
Excellent dive experience. Beautiful water! We saw HUGE tarpon. The dive masters Josie, Wendy and Myra are great.
Excellent dive experience. Beautiful water! We saw HUGE tarpon. The dive masters Josie, Wendy and Myra are great. The entire staff was great to work with and really took care of us. I really can’t say enough about how much we enjoyed the experience. We are planning another trip here in September. Can’t get back soon enough.
We loved our stay at the XTC Dive Centre, and their Flying Cloud hotel for our dive trip. Francisco made our check in and dive arrangements ahead of time for us., and looked after everything we needed.The accommodations were great, right on the beach and we woke up to some really fantastic sunrises each morning.
The diving was excellent, the entire Team of DiveMasters and Instructors are what made our trip so memorable for us. They have an excellent Dive Centre and looked after all of our equipment and diving needs. We can’t wait to return!
We didn’t really know what to expect when we headed out to Xcalak..we only knew we wanted to spend time in an unspoilt rural Mexican village with plenty of vitamin sea 😉 good diving and a welcoming environment. At XTC diving center we found exactly that..A gorgeous bar infront of the ocean with easy going staff, a super comfy room surrounded by palm trees and white sand and a highly professional and knowledgeable diving team who were always ready for a drink and chat. We had a terrific stay and will definately be back! Many thanks and Hasta Pronto!!
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