Water Sports in Cancun

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 Cancun definitely lives up to its reputation as a water sports capital. Here you can scuba dive, snorkel, windsurf, parasail, kayak, water ski, jet ski, fish, swim with the dolphins or just enjoy the beach. Most of the action takes place on the northern beaches and in Laguna Nichupté, a large lagoon with fresh and salt water located between the mainland and the Hotel Zone. This combination of ocean and lagoon is why Cancun has so much to offer in the way of water sports. Whatever your water sport, there are lots of places to get you started.

The Beaches

Naturally, the beaches are the biggest draw in Cancun with their soft sands and brilliant water. The Hotel Zone is really just one long beach separated from the mainland by a system of lagoons. The calmest beaches are found windward along the Bahía des Mujeres. Playa Linda, Playa Langosta, Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol are ideal for water sports and swimmers of all levels. These beaches have all the usual amenities such as restaurants, change rooms and showers. South of Punta Cancún, the eastern beaches face the open sea. Playa Chac-Mool, Playa Marlin and Playa Delfines have bigger waves and stronger currents. While on windy days they may not be the best for swimming, they still have the spectacular view of that turquoise water. Depending on where your hotel is you will have access to either northern or eastern beaches. Do pay attention the flags posted on the beaches – they can save your life as they are posted to let you know if it’s safe to swim. Green or blue flags indicate that the water is calm, yellow means swim with caution while red or black means danger, don’t go into the water. Remember not to swim alone or when you are tired, overheated or right after eating.

Scuba Diving
Click on pictures in this subheading, for larger view

6diverwomen copy.jpg (16686 bytes)Underwater enthusiasts come to Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Morelos and other parts of the Mexican Caribbean coast for its clear turquoise waters, colorful tropical fish, and exquisite coral reef. Currents allow for drift dives, deep dives, night dives, wall dives and shore dives while the abundance of offshore wrecks make allow exploration dives safe enough for neophytes. The peninsula's cenotes, or natural sinkholes, also provide unusual dive experiences. 

For those who are beginners there are a number of courses offered to get you started. The weekend course or PADI resort course qualifies you to dive with an experienced dive master and has become a standard feature in most all-inclusive packages. It includes the basics such as breathing with your underwater equipment, checking your gauges and learning about buoyancy along with some practice time in a dive pool. You may or may not be ready for scuba diving in the open seas after this course. But be cautious and don’t let yourself be pressured into doing anything you are not ready to try. 

Longer scuba diving courses can take up to two to three weeks to complete and will fully prepare you for open sea diving. The PADI Open Water Certification is valid worldwide and allows you to scuba dive anywhere in the world. For the experienced diver many places offer PADI Advanced courses such as medic first aid, rescue diver, dive master, and instructor. 

8bluecavediver copy.jpg (14739 bytes)There are many dive schools to choose from and its important you find one that you are comfortable with. Look for high safety standards, documented credentials, good equipment and individual attention. Avoid those places that care only about volume. Next to your equipment, your dive master is the most important part of your dive. Make sure your instructor has PADI certification (or FMAS, the Mexican equivalent) and is affiliated with one of the recompression chamber. These centers aim for a 35-minute response time from reef to chamber and treat decompression sickness, commonly known as "the bends," which occurs when you surface too quickly and nitrogen is absorbed into the bloodstream. Other injuries treated in the recompression chambers include nitrogen narcosis, collapsed lungs, and overexposure to the cold. Make sure your outfit offers some kind of dive-accident coverage such as DAN (Divers Alert Network) insurance. The staff at Visit Cancun recommends Solo Buceo at the Camino Real Hotel for its dedication for providing personal and professional service to smaller groups.

Diving requires that you be reasonably fit. Be sure to listen to your instructor and don't attempt anything that you're not comfortable doing. When diving be sure to stay at least 3 ft above the reef so you don’t break or damage the reef; it has taken 2,000 years for it to reach its present size. Don’t dive if you have been drinking. And don’t dive within 24 hours of flying. 

Snorkeling

Snorkeling is an easy way to see the underwater sights; you don’t need a lot of equipment or training. There are a number of excellent snorkeling trips offered in Cancun and along the Riviera Maya coast. Favorite spots include Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos, Cozumel, Xel-há and Akumal. Snorkeling tours should provide you with good quality mask, fins and lifejacket. 

To make sure your mask will be airtight hold it on your face, breathe in and take your hands away. The mask should stay on your face. To clean your mask and avoid fogging, spit into it the plastic eyepiece, rub the salvia around and then rinse with ocean water. When putting the mask on, move all hair away from your face. The snorkel piece should feel comfortable in your mouth and the fins should slip on easily not putting pressure anywhere on your foot. 

Since you can’t wear any sun block while snorkeling (it’s toxic to all marine life) remember to wear a t-shirt to protect your back and behind. You can get a nasty burn in a very short time from the sun reflecting off the water. Shiny objects such as jewelry and watches can attract the curious barracuda so it’s best to leave them off. Avoid standing or sitting on the coral reef – it’s very delicate and once broken takes years to grow back. Never take anything from the ocean and don’t feed the marine life. If you plan to take photos with an underwater camera make sure it’s secured onto you so it doesn’t end up at the bottom of the reef. Your snorkeling guide will offer you some other tips to help make the whole experience go smoothly and will stay with your during the tour pointing out interesting sights on the reef. Most tours include transportation, lunch and drinks. 

Solo Buceo

Water Skiing

The best place to water ski is in the calm waters of Laguna Nichupté or in the sheltered waters of the Bahia de Mujeres. A number of marinas offer lessons with qualified instructors. Prices start at $70 per hour. 

Jet Skiing

For those who like to move fast on the waters, jet skis are just the thing. You can solo on a jet ski or double up on a Wave Runner. Both require a minimum amount of time to learn and are safe for most adults. Several marinas offer jungle tours that combine a trip on jet skis through the mangroves and snorkeling off the reef. Remember not to drink and Jet Ski. Prices start at $70 per hour for jet skis and $60 for Wave Runners.                                                                           Solo Buceo

Windsurfing

Cancun is a perfect place to try windsurfing. Many of the hotels and marinas employ qualified instructors. After a few hours of instructions and some on-the-beach practice, you will be ready to hit the waves. Most windsurfing is done in Laguna Nichupté or along the northern beaches in Bahia de Mujeres. For obvious reasons, it’s not advisable to windsurf along the eastern beaches that lead out to open seas. 

Kayaking

Kayaks have become quite popular and almost every hotel has a couple of these stable, ocean-going crafts. This is an easy sport for all ages to participate in. Kayak rentals usually start at $10 per hour.

Swim with the Dolphins

There are a number of places where you can enjoy Flipper’s company. A typical dolphin program offers a thirty-minute orientation followed by the actual swimming time. Reservations are required for most facilities. Fees vary at each facility, starting as low as $55 upwards to $185. To enter aquariums located in ecoparks, you must first pay the entrance fee to the park. The following places offer Swim with the Dolphins programs:

Dolphin Discovery. Locations on Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, Puerto Aventuras. On Cozumel you must pay the entrance fee to Parque Natural Chankanaab in addition to the aquarium fee. Reservations: Cancun Office, (9) 883-0777; Cozumel Office, (987) 266-05. 

Interactive Aquarium. La Isla Shopping Center, Blvd Kukulcán, Km 12.5. Reservations: (9) 884-8487.

Atlantida Aquarium. Parque Nizuc, Blvd. Kukulcán, Km. 25. Reservations: (9) 881-3030. Entrance fee not included in dolphin fee. 

Xcaret EcoPark. You should book early as only 36 people per day are allowed into the dolphinarium. Entrance fee not included in dolphin fee. Highway 307, Km 72, Tel: (9) 883-3143 or 883-3144. 

Xel-há. This is a popular spot with tour buses so you should book early for your swim. Entrance fee not included with dolphin fee. Highway 307, Km 122. Tel: Cancun Office (9) 884-9422, Park Office: 987-54070 or 987-54071. 

Submarines

For those who want to explore the waters below without getting wet there are number of submarine and glass bottomed boats offering tours of the reef. 

Atlantis is a submarine that goes completely underwater to tour the reefs close to Isla Mujeres. The tour includes the 45-minute underwater with a stopover at Playa Indios (also on Isla) for an all-you-can-eat food and drink buffet at the Atlantis Bar & Grill. Showers, towels, and locker service are included. Contact Aqua Tours. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 6. Tel: (9) 883-0227. 

Nautibus is a glass-bottomed boat where you sit just under the water for a sightseeing tour of the local Cancun reef. Tours leave at 9:30 AM, 11 AM, 12:30 PM and 2:00 PM. 

Sub See explorer is a partial submarine equipped with air conditioning and panoramic windows that explores the reef close to Cancun. Contact Aqua World. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 15.1. Tel: (9) 885-2288.

Fishing

You can light tackle or deep-sea fishing in Cancun and along the Riviera Maya year round. If you enjoy fly fishing or light tackle fishing you can visit the flatlands, 35 minutes north of Cancun or two hours south at Boca Paila. You can enjoy a “grand slam” at both places capturing and releasing bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook, jack, crevalle and barracuda. 

Big game fishing is a popular sport and many villages have an annual fishing tournament in the spring and summer months. From March until August the waters are filled with Sailfish, Marlin, Dorado, Tuna, Wahoo, Bonito, Spanish mackerel, Mahi-Mahi and Barracuda. Local Barracudas, Amberjacks, Groupers, Spanish Mackerels and Rubie Bass are in the waters year round. 

Fishing boats come with a captain, mate, bait and gear, and drinks. Rates vary from each marina starting at $70 per hour, $350 per day. Contact the marinas listed for further information.

Marinas

Asociados Nauticos de Cancún

Aqua 11. Blvd Kukulcán, Km 7. Tel: (9) 884-1057. 
Aqua Fun. Blvd Kukulcán, Km 16.5. Tel: (9) 885-2930.
Aqua Tours. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 6. Tel: (9) 883-0227. 
Aqua World. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 15.1. Tel: (9) 885-2288.
Barracuda Marina. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 14. Tel: (9) 885-3444. 
Cancun Marina Club. Blvd Kukulcán, Km 5.5. Tel: (9) 883-2165
Club Lagoon. Blvd Kukulcán, Km 5.8. Tel: (9) 883-3109. 
Embarcadero Cancún. Blvd Kukulcán, Km 4.0. Tel: (9) 883-3646
Kin-Ha. Blvd Kukulcán Km 8.5. (9) 883-2377
Manglar. Blvd Kukulcán, Km 20. Tel: (9) 885-1808
Marina Asterix. Blvd Kukulcán, Km 4.5. Tel: (9) 886-4847
Marina del Rey. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 15.5. Tel: (9) 883-0554.
Mundo Marina. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 5.5. Tel (9) 883-0442. 
Playa Tortugas. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 6.5. Tel: (9) 883-1735. 
Punta Del Este. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 10.3. Tel: (9) 887-1600
Scuba Cancún. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 5.2. Tel: (9) 883-5846
Solo Buceo. Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 9.5. Tel. (9) 883-3979

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