By Scott Weihbrecht
Imagine you are hiking in the middle of a forest on a beautiful Spring day. At the beginning you still can see the town that you left and you can still hear some traffic on the roads, but as you walk further and further on the trail leading you deeper in to the forest, the sights and sounds of daily life start to dissipate. Then you hit that point, the point where there are no more sounds of cars, no buildings on the horizon, absolutely zero evidence of human civilization at all, it’s just you and nature for miles and miles around. If you can picture this scenario, then you can start to get an idea of what is like to dive in Xcalak.
I could simply list off what marine life and corals you could see on the reefs. That would be informative sure, but that doesn’t really capture the essence of what the diving is like here. Besides, that leaves room for other blogs where we can talk about those in more detail!
I often jokingly refer to Xcalak as “el fin del mundo” or “the end of the world”. While that isn’t technically correct geographically speaking, it doesn’t matter, because it certainly feels like that when you spend a little time here. As a town it is one of the most isolated and remote places on the entire coastline of Quintana Roo. The next closest town is more than an hour away by car, and the closest city is nearly a three-hour drive. How remote the town is combined with the fact that we are the only dive center that operates in Xcalak means that we have a truly unique diving experience.
99% of the time when we go out, we are the only divers in the marine park. In about 8 months and several hundred dives, I have seen another group of divers a grand total on 1 time. In my opinion, this is what makes Xcalak so special. If you go dive in Cozumel for example, sure the diving is going to be great, but you’re going to be on one of a hundred of more boats that are out on the water any given day. You will pass other groups of divers, potentially even getting mixed up and end up with a different group than the one you started with, but not in Xcalak!
The real trade off is that because there are so few divers in the water here we see the reefs as they are naturally. Not to say that other places are doing it wrong, but when you have a dive site that is visited by hundreds of divers a day, they are going to have an impact on that dive site and the local marine life. Here in Xcalak, as the only center with access to a gigantic marine park, our effect on our reefs in minimal if not nonexistent.
This is exactly why that after my first dive here, I compared the sensation of diving in Xcalak to walking deep into the forest, until it gets a bit overgrown and darker, and all sense of civilization and human impact melts away. It is why it is the perfect place to dive for the diver who wants to see natural, unspoiled reefs, and break away from the established tourism hot spots to see something truly unique and special.