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.
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.
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||$45|
|Chinchorro (2 tank air plus Island / Fisherman camp visit and lunch break)||$275 (5 diver minimum, 8 maximum)|
|Additional Chinchorro Tank||$50|
|Chinchorro Snorkler||$185 pp (8 people minimum)|
|Banco Chinchorro Overnight||Please contact us for a quote|
|Scuba Equipment Rental||Prices (USD)|
|Full equipment: Mask, fins, BCD, Regulator, wetsuit||$35|
|Regulator and BCD per day||$15|
|Regulator and BCD per week||$70|
|Regulator OR BCD per day||$10|
|Regulator OR BCD per week||$45|
|Computer per day||$10|
|Nitrox up to EANx40||$10 per fill|
|Mask, snorkel, and fins for scuba diving||$10|
|Mask, snorkel OR fins for scuba diving||$5|
|Snorkel Equipment Rental||Prices (USD)|
|*Must purchase or show wrist band|
|Snorkel Equipment per day: Mask, fins, snorkel, snorkeling vest, and Marine park wrist band.||$25|
|Snorkel Equipment per week: Mask, fins, snorkel, snorkeling vest, and 7 marine park wrist bands||$75|
|Mask with Snorkel OR fins plus snorkeling vest and wrist band, per day||$15|
|Mask with Snorkel OR fins plus snorkeling vest and wrist band, per week||$45|