Mexico offers amazing and diverse scuba dive sites for scuba divers, from whale encounters to colorful coral reefs. Mexico's Riviera Maya boasts remarkable sandy beaches, multi-hued azure Caribbean ocean and the second largest reef on the planet, and is perhaps one of the most popular diving destinations in the world. From cavern diving in cenotes, wall diving in Cozumel to deep diving in Amukal, the Mayan Riviera's protected national marine parks offer exciting diving opportunities for divers of all skill levels. Caves, caverns, swimthroughs, wreck sites and wonderful array of tropical fish and invertebrate species – this is the list of marine parks that you must visit during your Riviera Maya scuba diving charter vacation.
## Cozumel National Marine Park
Cozumel was a small fishing community until 1961, when French explorer Jacques Cousteau declared it as one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas of the world. Since then, Cozumel became a popular underwater marine park. Located just 12 miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and about 45 miles south of Cancun, Cozumel Park consists of around 12,000 hectares of sea and coastline. Its surrounding waters are currently home to 105 different types of coral and 262 species of fish. Cozumel has nearly 30 chartered reefs, 85 percent of which are protected under the National Marine Park territory.
• The signature dive site of the park is the Santa Rosa Wall where rope sponges stretch out from the steep slopes of the wall and schools of barracuda and large black grouper can be caught swimming by along with colorful parrot fish and French and queen angelfish.
• Palancar Reef is a top snorkeling and diving spot as its tall coral formations attract all sorts of marine species, including the occasional sea turtle. You can also spot stingrays that hide out along the sandy ocean floor.
• Chankanaab is the #1 attraction in Cozumel marine park where you can enjoy scuba diving while admiring schools of tropical fish, colorful reef and underwater statues. Once your diving day is over stop by the crocodile exhibition or the sea lion show, or relax with a massage in front of the lagoon that gives the park its name.
## Puerto Morelos Marine Park
In 1988, the reef in front of Puerto Morelos became a protected National Marine Park to preserve the rich biodiversity of the Great Mesoamerican Reef. On a typical dive you can expect to see hundreds of varieties of fish such as barracudas, turtles, lobsters, seahorses, eels, eagle rays and occasionally a nurse shark or two.
• There are two accessible wrecks near Puerto Morelos, located around 90 feet below the water surface. These navy boat wrecks are home to coral, large fish and rays.
• Gardens and Puentes are amazing dive sites that allow you to swim through the beautiful, colorful coral reef structures while seeing multitudes of different tropical fish.
• Unique to this area, cenotes are caves with underground caverns and limestone formations featuring beautiful flora and fauna.
OTHER MARINE PARKS IN THE MAYAN RIVIERA
• Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
The boundaries of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve include 110km of the second largest barrier reef in the world. The reef is home to many important and several endangered species and is completely untouched by divers or touristic activities. Sian Ka’an biosphere is highly regulated and limited only to certain areas. You can book ecological diving tours in advance to explore unique coral reef and a lively circus of colorful marine life.
• Chinchorro Bank Biosphere Reserve
It is the largest and oldest reef site and highly protected Marine Sanctuary not only because of its amazing reef ecosystem but also its rich shipwreck history. This diverse marine park runs 38km along the Riviera Maya which boasts stunning coral reef and marine life. There are more than 30 shipwrecks with their cannons lying on the ocean floor.
• Xcalak Reef National Marine Park
Also called Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Xcalak, this marine park is located 172 miles away from Tulum. You will experience "blue holes," incredible views of coral, fans, sponges, turtles, eels, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. There are 48 species of hard and soft corals, sponges, and exotic black corals.
There are so many amazing diving sites for divers and snorkelers in the Riviera Maya that are sure to provide diving and snorkeling enthusiast a once in a lifetime experience. These national marine parks with their unique reef structures, wrecks and corals that are action-packed with marine life will make your Riviera Maya scuba diving excursion a unique adventurous experience. So don't miss it!
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