Exploring the underwater wonders of Cozumel’s Mesoamerican Reef.
Located just 12 miles off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is the serene island of Cozumel. Though small (measuring just 28 miles long), it’s bursting with life. It’s the ideal destination for scuba divers and snorkelers. Why? This is near the start of the Mesoamerican Reef, the world’s second-largest barrier reef (coming in second to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). Best of all, it’s remarkably easy to find and explore – and is no less visually stunning.
The Caribbean Sea off of Cozumel offers the chance to gaze upon the wonders of another world. Since every one of Cozumel’s beaches are protected as part of an underwater national park, and fishing is not allowed, visitors are able to experience a natural and untouched underwater landscape unlike any other. The scuba diving and snorkeling activity is primarily focused on the reefs and shallow coral formations that extend from the southern tip of Cozumel to San Miguel on the west coast.
Once you make the trip out into the sea, the reef is located just 30 feet beneath the surface of the water. The two main coral reef systems that surround Cozumel are called the Colombia and Palancar reefs, but the entire Mesoamerican Reef stretches all the way south to Honduras – nearly 700 miles in total. More than 60 types of corals form this underwater habitat, which houses around 500 species of fish and five different species of turtles. The area is also the site of one of the largest gatherings of whale sharks in the world.
Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a first time snorkeler, the protected waters off of Cozumel will not disappoint.
Photo credit: Flickr / ratha / CC