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Recreational Scuba Diving in Xcalak

XTC Dive Center is located in the town of Xcalak, within the Xcalak Reef National Marine Park. We are fortunate enough to operate diving excursions in two Natural Protected Areas, both priority areas for the World Wildlife Fund. The only reason why Xcalak is not a world renowned dive destination unto itself (yet) is because it´s located in front of Banco Chinchorro, whose fame tends to eclipse Xcalak´s. There is also the fact that up until recently it took an entire day to drive here from Cancún. With new roads and easier access it still takes 5 hours. Xcalak is the last town on the Mexican Caribbean coast, a mere mile north of the Belize border. Some of the things you will NOT find here are air conditioned rooms (you will only find small beach inns that operate on self-contained power systems), cell phone coverage (sorry, no Blackberry), any sort of nightlife (we do have the biggest concentration of three-star restaurants per capita on the coast), large resorts or crowded dive boats.

What you WILL find here is a remarkably pristine, vibrant reef system with a number of unique dive sites that are worth a visit in their own right, many of which are starting to become must-do´s for many experienced divers. The majority of our divers are either experienced divers in-the-know (many dive professionals vacation here); or avid divers (or prospective divers) who have taken the time to locate an unspoiled destination, away from mainstream resort destinations and tourists (don´t let Tulum fool you). Xcalak is the quintessential fishing village, more resembling Caribbean island culture than Mexico (for years access to the Belize Cayes and other islands was easier than mainland Mexico). Here, you can still find fishermen who set out to fish in wood Mayan “cayucos,” using age-old low-impact free-diving fishing techniques. A lot of those fishermen are now dive boat captains and guides, willing to share their intimate knowledge of the reef, acquired by years of free-diving for conch, lobster and grouper. All of our staff is made up of local former fishermen.

Xcalak offers dozens of fantastic scuba dive sites between 5-30 minutes by boat from the Aventuras Xcalak to Chinchorro Dive Center pier. We have deep and shallow walls, huge tongue and groove formations, “pozas” (blue holes), swim throughs, and much, much more. You might have heard of “La Poza” (also known as “The Tarpon Hole”, the only formation of its type in the whole Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System); or “La Chimenea.” The deep walls (Hob Na, Punta Gavilan) in the north end of the park are ideal for deep technical dives, with the advantage that you can swim up from any depth (we´ve never seen the bottom) to 10 ft without ever leaving the reef; with 250ft tall walls filled with huge black coral colonies, and massive fluorescent-colored sponges that will change your take on what a dramatic wall looks like.

Xcalak is well known for having a very wide range of dive sites. XTC´s instructors and guides are well known for carefully choosing the dive site based on your skill-level and interests, ranging from entry level students to all kinds of photographers, tek divers and everything in between. We have very little staff rotation, with most instructors having been here several seasons and with hundreds of dives on the reef. We think nothing of having two dive boats out with two divers each if skill level and interest are not compatible. All this will make it possible for you to have the perfect dive, every time.

Now here are a few of our favorite (and/or better known) dive sites:

XTC Dive Center Tarpon La PozaLa Poza, 30-80 fsw

Xcalak tarpon hole. This is a unique geographical formation-the only one in the entire Great Maya Reef. Geologists are still uncertain about the development of this trench that runs parallel to shore for about ½ a mile. Like a box canyon, the trench begins shallow then becomes wider and deeper. On one side is a coral wall, on the other a sand hill slopes down from shallow water.

Due to the strong currents and rich nutrients in the water, this is the favorite hang out for lots of big fish. You will drop down the coral wall into a highway of 3-7 foot tarpon, large schools of jack and snapper, and giant midnight blue parrotfish.

Watch along the wall for lobster holes, morays, schools of small fry, black coral, and many other exotic reef inhabitants. We generally end this dive at a pinnacle, the “Piedra del Mundo”, that rises from the bottom of the trench to 15 feet below the surface. The perfect place for a safety stop!!!

XTC Dive Center Barracuda La ChimeneaLa Chimenea, 70-110 fsw

At this site, the wall drops down from 40 feet to 90-110 feet with sand flats extending beyond into deeper water.

You will drop down the wall to 60 feet, then swim along the face until you reach the opening to “La Catedral”. This is a huge cavern that has a large debris stone in the center.

Huge tarpon, barracuda, and schools of silver sides dance in the light beam entering through a large hole in the ceiling.

For advanced scuba divers, we can end this dive by traveling up a canyon to a long swim through, followed by an ascent through The Chimney.

Both portions of this dive can be done separately-or we can just dive along this beautiful coral wall.

XTC Dive Center Nurse Sharks at Alejandro's ReefAlejandro´s Reef 40-60 fsw

This site has the distinctive horseshoe shaped wall of a cenote.

There are large coral heads in the center, swim throughs where moray eels like to hide, and lots of black wire coral on the overhangs.

After following the curve of the horseshoe, this site continues south into the tongue and groove formations of another site, The G-Spot.

XTC Dive Center Chubs Santa JuliaSanta Julia

There are huge tongue and groove formations with canyons as wide as city streets. There are lovely barrel sponges at 60 to 80 ft.

The current here usually runs to the north so we end the dive at Punta Gavilan where school of Atlantic Spade Fish, Chubs, and Snapper are frequently seen. One time we even saw Dorado!

XTC Dive Center Angelfish at Doña NiicaDoÑa Nica 40-80 fsw

This site has 2 distinct coral formations-a shallow wall from 30-50 feet facing sand flats. This is a favorite site for instructions as the depths are shallow, it has soft sand for doing training exercises, and lots of marine life. We also use it for night dives due to large numbers of lobster and octopus.

The second area of this site, just across the sand flats heading into deeper water, has large tongue and grooves plus intriguing pinnacles and coral heads. Large grouper and snapper use the overhanging ledges for hiding places.

XTC Dive Center Grouper at Hob NaHob Na (aka Grouper Hangout) 40-110 fsw

About 30 minutes north, we discovered this site quite by accident when the substitute boat captain dropped us off at the wrong depth. We just followed a wide canyon out into deeper water and at about 60 feet began seeing lots of huge grouper that were in no hurry to leave their nesting sites. There are very tall, narrow canyon formations, some with large tunnels between them. The great thing about this site is that you can dive deep or shallow. You can dive along the tops of the ridges and see what is going on down below-or drop down deep for a closer look!

Scuba Dive Prices

One Tank

Two Tank  $125
Three Tank
Surcharge for private Dive Guide  $45
Night Dive
Chinchorro (2 tank air plus Island / Fisherman camp visit and lunch break)  $265 (5 diver minimum, 8 maximum)
Additional Chinchorro Tank  $45
Chinchorro Snorkler
 $185pp  (8 people minimum)
Banco Chinchorro Overnight Please contact us for a quote

• If you will be travelling with 8 or more scuba divers, please contact us for special group rates.

• All prices are per person. The price of open-water boat dives includes an 80 cubic ft. aluminum tank, weight belt, and weights. See equipment rental below if you need additional items.

• All prices are in US dollars. There are several payment options: a bank transfer into our US or Mexican Bank account, cash in US dollars or Mexican pesos at the conversion rate published on the day payment is due or a deposit taken. We do accept most major credit cards, payments can be made through our secure online payment portal ahead of time or directly on-site upon your arrival, a 3.5% transaction fee is due on all credit card payments. The third option is to pay us via Pay Pal directly through our website - this option incurs a fee of 6%. 

• All prices include taxes.

Equipment rentals

 Scuba Equipment Rental
 Prices (USD)
 Regulator and BCD per day
 Regulator and BCD per week
 Regulator OR BCD per day
 Regulator OR BCD per week
 Computer per day
 Nitrox up to EANx40
$10 per fill
 UW Light
 Mask, snorkel, and fins for scuba diving
 Mask, snorkel  OR  fins for scuba diving

Snorkel Equipment Rental

Prices (USD)

*Must purchase or show wrist band
Snorkel Equipment per day:  Mask, fins, snorkel, snorkeling vest, and Marine park wrist band.
Snorkel Equipment per week:  Mask, fins, snorkel, snorkeling vest, and 7 marine park wrist bands
Mask with Snorkel OR fins plus snorkeling vest and wrist band, per day
Mask with Snorkel OR fins plus snorkeling vest and wrist band, per week


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At XTC Dive Center, we run a pretty relaxed scuba dive schedule. Normally, we begin gearing up for local dives at 9 AM, 11 AM, and 2 PM and are in the water within 30 minutes-but we are happy to schedule scuba dives at other times to suit your schedule. We plan our deepest scuba dive of the day first; successive scuba dives are progressively shallower. If you have a scuba dive computer , we will be happy to plan computerscuba dives. For groups of 4 or more, we can give you your own boat, Divemaster, and Captain-you decide when you want to dive. We always return to the shop between dives so you can have a snack and relax on the beach during your surface interval. Occasionally, we plan 2 tank trips farther north; in which case we will stop at a restaurant or on the beach for our surface interval. Night scuba dives are conducted just after dusk and Chinchorro trips always leave between 7 and 8 AM. full service dive center offers PADI and NAUI diving instruction--everything from Bubblemakers to Technical Diver up to Instructor and all levels in between. We offer bird watching, trolling, and bone fishing tours as well as snorkeling tours in Xcalak.


To save scuba driving time, since we know you would rather be diving, we offer free pick-up in our boats as far north as Kimmel’s Kabana (see map) for any number of divers. For four or more divers, we will pick you up for free as far north as Cielos Azules, less than 4 divers we charge $10 for pick-up. If you stop by the dive shop when you arrive, you can fill out your release forms and get fitted for equipment on your first day. For subsequent days of scuba diving, a dive boat will show up at your hotel with all your equipment ready-all you have to do is jump in the boat and go dive! For those of you with your own equipment, we will wash and dry your equipment at the end of each day and then store it in our shop.

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