Over the Christmas New Years we decided we wanted some time to relax, recharge, and thaw out from the first half of the London winter and some time in Michigan visiting family, so we headed to Mexico!
We stayed at the Royal Hideaway resort (more on that in another post) which we loved. One of the perks of the resort was that Pro Dive International has one of their bases on-site. Unlike many of their resort shops, the dive boats leave right from the beach of the Royal Hideaway to visit the nearby dive sites. This convenience makes the Royal Hideaway (and its immediate neighbors) wonderful resorts for those interested in diving.
We did three days of diving with ProDivers and each went smoothly. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and safety conscious (all important when working with a dive shop). Their entire team worked hard to ensure we enjoyed our trip and for that we are thankful. In this post, I’ll share our experience diving from the resort in Playacar (a resort community in Playa Del Carmen). Keep an eye out for future posts sharing our experience in Cozumel and with Cenote diving.
Day One - Playa Del Carmen
If it has been more than a year since your last dive, ProDivers have you join them for a shallow dive. The dive boats leave from the beach 4 times per day (8am, 10am, 1pm, and 3pm) and we decided to join for the 10am and 3pm dives.
Dive One: Cueva De Pargo
We met at the shop, got our gear together, and analyzed our tanks (they provide Nitrox for free) while we waited for the boat to get back from the 8am dive. Once the boat arrived, we carried our gear (minus tanks) to the boat. There is no dock from the Royal Hideaway base, but it's shallow enough to make wading out to the boat easy enough.
A short 10 minute boat ride later and we were at our first dive site called "Cueva De Pargo". The site was pretty shallow with a max depth of around 40'. We were shocked by how many sea fans and soft corals there were. After a while on the reef we swam through a sandy section where we saw a sea turtle snacking on some seagrass.
During the first dive we saw plenty of fish including tangs, angel fish, and some large crabs. The corals were colorful, and were mostly soft coral like sea fans. It was a nice place to test equipment and since it was a pretty shallow dive. The water was warm and averaged around 80 degrees.
One of my favorite parts of diving in Mexico is that most of the diving is drift diving. Before this trip, almost all of my diving had been there and back but I can now attest to how great drift diving is. Once in the water, you just let the current take you down the reef. Depending on how strong the current is, we estimated you could cover almost two miles of reef in a single dive. It’s such little work that you can easily go for over an hour on a tank (though the dive masters limit the dive at around 50 minutes, even if you have enough air).
After the dive we got on the boat and headed back to the resort. The boat ride took less than 15 minutes and we were back before lunch. The dive shop had fresh water baths for the equipment.
Dive Two: Fingers (Barracuda Reef)
After a great lunch at the resort and some pool time we headed back to the dive shop for our 3pm dive. This time we headed away from Playa Del Carmen and towards a reef called “Barracuda Reef”. The dive site was called “Fingers” because the reef jutted in and out like fingers.
This reef featured some neat overhangs where we saw massive crabs, lobster, and fish hiding. This site featured more coral diversity and several large schools of fish swimming through the reef.
The boat ride to this reef took a little longer as the dive boat fought the current. When we found the spot we got in and descended to the sandy bottom. A brief (but somewhat tiring swim) landed us on the reef and the current became of our friend - carrying us almost 2 miles during the 50 minute dive.
Of the two dives we did from the Royal Hideaway, this one was my favorite. The overhangs gave lots of interesting things to look into and we saw quite a few critters hiding out in the holes in the rock.
When I came up I told the dive instructor I thought it was one of the best reefs I had ever dove. She asked if I had been to Cozumel yet and I told her I was going the following day to which she smiled and said, just wait.
She was right. Cozumel was unbelievable and you can read more about that in our next post!