Modernness, beaches and reefs
Who hasn't heard the word "Cancun" at least once in their life? When you do, the first thing that springs to mind is a series of luxurious hotels, good restaurants, bars and nightclubs for all tastes and ages, but above all glamour, lots of glamour.
All this is true and more, but Cancun is not only buildings and cement, it is also center of entertainment and culture for all the family entertainment, but we must forget the greatness of the Mayan people that used to inhabit this land many years ago.
Cancun is located practically on the point of the Yucatán Peninsula, where the peaceful Caribbean Sea begins and the enormous Gulf of Mexico ends. Politically, it belongs to the young State of Quintana Roo and has the good fortune of being surrounded by one of the clearest and beautiful cities in the world, the incredible Caribbean Sea.
Here, the underwater world is an infinite beauty and tranquility and are endless places to enjoy underwater sports. It is the perfect place to take part in almost all water sports. However, if it is diving you are interested in; Cancun is considered as one of the best diving spots in the world because of its variety of reefs and depths. Yet everybody's happy, from the most experienced divers to novices.
Some of the most popular diving places for beginners can be found in the Bahía de Mujeres; the closest reef to the coast is called “El Bajito”, which is very colorful and has enormous pillar and brain corals and is ideal for children and youngsters. This is a favorite of lovers of scuba diving and snorkeling. This reef is very close to the water's edge, with a slight current and its maximum depth is only 15 feet.
In the same bay, a little beyond El Bajito, we find the most visited reef by novice divers and snorkelers: Los Chitales. It consists of two coral formations that run from east to west for almost 500 meters, and although that it is shallow (no more than 30 feet), it has large amount of fish that seek refuge in the moose and deer head corals, the gorgonias and hydrazoa.
One of the best places for underwater photography and to admire the large shoals of fish of all possible colors, as well as to expect the unexpected is Cuevones, also in the Bahía de Mujeres. They are two small reefs with a depth that does not exceed 35 feet. The geographical location and the size make them the permanent meeting point for an enormous school of barracudas, as well as a bank of playful horse mackerel. Unfortunately, this reef will remain closed indefinitely due to a cruise ship accident, in which a large part of the coral formations were destroyed by the keel. Marine biologists expect that the reef will partly recover in approximately 15 years.
For certified divers, Cancun offers endless places to deep sea dive, some of the most visited are: El Túnel, large and small, which is a coral formation that, as it's name suggests, it's main attraction consists of several small caves of approximately five meters in length and a meter and a half in height, where a long time ago we used to be able to observe gray whales, scorpion fish and bulls quietly resting. Now turtles and angel fish find refuge and protection, as well as an enormous green moray which comes out to live with the clumsy feather moss.
Granpin, La Herradura, Chuchos and Largos are a series of reefs that, if we have a good guide and a favorable current, we can visit one or several of them in a single dive. Around these reefs, the panorama is varied and great fun because divers move with the current with a sensation of flying in a silent world. On passing, one can enjoy the presence of the beautiful marine population: anemone, spider crabs, crayfish, scallops, gorgonia and fish (chacchi, angel fish, hogfish and sea bass, among others).
The San Toribio is a very special place for me and I think for many people. There, our good friend Juan Manuel Solís used to feed some cat sharks, green morays and rays, as well as barracudas. Besides being able to enjoy diving in open waters, where the presence of turtles, rays, jacks, snappers and chivita fish make this site very special.
For advanced divers, the waters of Cancun of the possibility of diving on ships sunk on the orders of the then president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León. These ships were brought from the port of Tampico and were prepared here, removing all pollutant materials, cables and other objects that the hazardous to divers, as well as making a series of holes in order to ensure safety and light when entering the wrecks.
These artificial reefs can be found at a depth of 90 feet, but it is worth the effort to go down and dive on ships of these sizes, inhabited by fish and algae. The best thing is when we can observe the incredible eagle rays, which swim in perfect order regardless of the strong existing currents.
I could continue naming beautiful diving sites, but is enough to remember that the second-largest reef in the world, known as the "Great Mayan Reef" begins in Cancun, which total measures more than 700 km of coastline, ending in Honduras.
If we conjugate all the above (luxury hotels, a clean and safe city, new, white and extensive beaches, the warm and crystal clear sea and first rate aquatic services) we can understand why "Cancun" is like a magic word.
Text: Alberto Friscione Carrascosa ± Photo: Alberto Friscione Carrascosa.