Mexico's Pacific coast steals most of the tourism thunder, which should suit visitors to the Caribbean coastline of Costa Maya just fine. Costa Maya is actually the name chosen by groups poised to develop the area. Tucked just above the northern border of Belize, it is known locally as the Xcalak Peninsula. Mahahual is slated to be the epicenter of Mexico's next big tourism boom marinas, golf courses et al. but for now it is still a fairly sleepy town of locals and expats, where you can enjoy fresh fish and icy cold beer with just your partner or your thoughts, unless the cruise ships are in at Puerto Costa Maya just north of town. Divers and fly fishermen escape here for the empty reefs that lie just offshore, bumping down sandy side roads to stay at the few small hotels and resorts that cater to those who love natural beauty.
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For the Xcalak Peninsula has beauty in spades. At the far north, 15 miles south of Tulúm, there is the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some 200,000 of the loveliest acres on the planet; bright-white beaches, still lagoons, silent cenotes, Maya temples, world-class bird watching. And offshore from Mahahual? Best to be sitting for this. Just 20 miles off the coast, in the Chinchorro Reef Underwater National Park better known as Chinchorro Bank you have the Caribbean as it was meant to be; huge mounds of brain and star coral, whole fields of deep lavender gorgonians, gargantuan orange elephant ear sponges, queen conch piled against corals and huge schools of fish. The Bank is 24 miles of such excesses, and if that's not enough, at some points it rises almost to the surface; bad news for shipping but good news for divers who currently enjoy at least 30 wrecks. Divers have counted 40 cannons at one wreck site. And away from the shallows are coral gardens and fall-away walls a 3,000 foot deep valley of water separates the Bank from the Yucatan mainland. Development has its benefits. What was once a three-hour, spleen rupturing trip by fishing panga is now a one hour trip to the closest reefs traversed by modern dive boats operating out of a few resorts. One hundred miles to the north, great packs of divers whip past Cozumel's drop-offs. Still on Chinchorro your boat may be the only thing in sight other than the horizon.
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Dreamtime Dive Resort