Scuba Diving Xcalak

Xcalak is one of the top diving destinations in Mexico. This diving site is located on the southern end of the Mayan coast, and is a diverse destination with plenty of different diving conditions suitable for divers of all skill levels.

Xcalak diving

Xcalak might be known today as a popular diving site, but this was once a remote fishing village. This area is about 4 hours away from Cancun. It is a destination located off-the-beaten track but many of those who visit the Yucatan Peninsula includes a trip to this region to experience the best that diving has to offer.

Unlike other touristy areas in Mexico, you won’t find any of that in Xcalak. In fact, it is not crowded and the population is low. Most of those who come here do so solely for the diving, though. If you enjoy diving, then you will consider this a paradise.

The barrier reef is locate approximately 600 meters offshore in Xcalak. It is the southernmost town near the border to Belize. It is part of the Xcalak Reef National Park.

Due to the remoteness of Xcalak, it contributes to preserving the natural resources on the reef – promising lots of natural beauty in your dive. It has one of the best reefs and coral systems you can find in Mexico – if not THE best. This diving site serves as the gateway to Banco Chinchorro, which is a biosphere reserve filled with inhabited islands and atolls.

The Great Maya Reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world. Take advantage of the opportunity to experience the rich marine and coral life that is preserved here, by adding Xcalak to your dive. The diving conditions include spur and groove reef systems, big canyons, deep walls, caverns, and shallow walls.

There are many popular dive sites in Xcalak, Mexico and each one has something unique to offer. Some of the best dive sites in the area include La Chimenea (The Chimney), Poza Rica, Cenote Azul, La Catedral, and XCaret Snorkeling Lagoon, to name a few.


Xcalak, Mexico is referred to by many as one of the best spots for scuba diving in Mexico. Given that there are plenty of diving destinations in Mexico, this is a huge claim. But the abundance of sea life and the variety of diving conditions make it suitable for divers of all levels.

There are at least 11 good dive sites available to explore in Xcalak. Some of these dive sites can go as deep as 75 feet. Make sure you take note of some of them so you can add them to your itinerary.

The Chimney

The Chimney, also known as La Chimenea, is one of the most popular dive sites in La Chimenea. There is plenty to see in this dive site but the highlight would have to be the narrow channel that you can swim through. Once you enter, you will enter a large room with an open top. This is how the site has gotten its name as it seems as though you are looking up through a chimney.

Other highlights of diving The Chimney includes the expansive coral garden, coral feeding, and the rich variety of fish species.

Banco Chinchorro

According to expert divers, Xcalak is the gateway to Banco Chinchorro. This biosphere reserve is home to a collection of various inhabited islands and the largest coral atoll in the Northern Hemisphere. It has definitely earned its reputation as one of the unspoiled dive destinations in Mexico.

You need a permit from the Mexican Federal Government before you can dive this biosphere reserve. In addition to that, it is remote and inaccessible. These factors combined to making this dive site relatively unspoiled.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral is another dive site to add to your list when you visit Xcalak, Mexico. This is a massive chamber that measures 28 meters with a collapsed rock that is located in the middle of the chamber. This has created a beautiful opening at the top of the reef. You can continue exploring your dive along the wall, wherein you will stumble upon a narrow entrance in the reef.

Due to the complexity of the rock formations that you will encounter along the way, this dive site is suited for advanced divers only.

La Pozeta

This is one of the most exciting dive sites in Xcalak. You will be able to enjoy some gorgeous swim throughs and big open spaces wherein you can marvel at gorgeous coral formations and marine life. Among the marine life that you will encounter are manatees. If you are looking for something unique, you need to add this dive site to your itinerary.

Poza Rica

The balance between overhangs and large coral heads make this one of the most interesting dive sites in Xcalak. For this reason, it is also a favorite among diving enthusiasts. These coral formations rest above a white sandy carpet. Many of the diving courses in the region are done here because of the easy conditions and flat sandy areas. These conditions make it easy to train so if you are a beginner, you need to start here.


The diving conditions in Xcalak, Mexico is suitable all year round. But you should plan when to dive as there are a variety of marine life that you encounter, depending on which season you dive. If you want to spot whale sharks, the best time to dive is from June to September.

The water temperature throughout the year can range from 21 to 27 degrees Celsius. There is also excellent water visibility on this dive site, which can range from 15 to 30 meters in depth. You can expect light currents in most of the dive sites in the area.


If you are planning a trip to Xcalak to dive or to enjoy many of the attractions available on-site, this section will provide the information you need. These are frequently asked questions and the information you need to know.

How to get to Xcalak?

The best way to get to Xcalak (if you are traveling from other parts of Mexico or outside the country) is via the Cancun International Airport. From the airport, you can rent a car or hire a taxi. You can find a variety of cars to rent and it will be around 4-hour drive from Cancun to reach Xcalak. You can also travel from the airport to Playa del Carmen or Tulum to cut your drive short.

To get to Xcalak, you must travel via Highway 307. This is a coastal highway that lets you enjoy marvelous views throughout your drive.

What other activities to enjoy in Xcalak?

Diving is not the only thing you can enjoy on your visit to Xcalak. Snorkeling is also a popular activity. If you are one, you will still be treated to the colorful fish and vibrant reef environment. There are also shipwrecks in the area that are suited for snorkeling.

Is Xcalak suited for all diving levels?

Yes. While there are a few dive sites that are recommended for advanced divers only, you can find a variety of sites that are suitable for divers of all levels.


Xcalak is rich in natural beauty and biodiversity since it is part of the Xcalak Reef National Park. This is a protected marine park and home to the largest collection of coral atoll in the Northern Hemisphere. Don’t be surprised to encounter unique animals during your dive.

This quintessential town was once a small fishing village. It shares borders with the Ambergis Caye in Belize. Hence, it is easily more accessible from Belize than the rest of Mexico. This also explains the highly Caribbean vibe in this town, which is unique to the rest of Mexico.

Most of the diving enthusiasts who come here do so not just for the rich coral and marine life. They seek out the most pristine dive sites available in the Mexican coast. But the diving sites are not the only attractions available in Xcalak. These are the other attractions to add to your itinerary:

  • Historical Sites – There is a vast array of historical attractions in Xcalak in Mexico. One of the most popular historical sites are Chac Balam. This is a small Mayan community that that has been around since the year 600 AD. The site features plaza and sacrificial alters that have ties to ancient Mayan activities.

  • Nature Preserves – The protected areas in Xcalak are not limited to the waters – there are many nature preserves in the region, too. One such example is the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve and National Park. This natural sanctuary and wildlife reserve is located south of central Xcalak. It is best known for its abundant flora and fauna.



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