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Snorkel/Scuba dive near Akumal/ Tulum

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We are headed back to Akumal over Christmas and will mostly snorkel, but we're thinking about a scuba lesson ( there are 5 of us). Wondering about whether to head to Cozumel, or do something in Akumal or Tulum. Anyone know which dive company to use? And whether we need to reserve in advance?
Also, any snorkelling spots other than Yal-ku lagoon would be appreciated. We did that and loved it, but want to venture a bit more this year. Thanks.

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    Have you snorkeled at the Akumal Beach resort area with the turtles?

    Have you snorkeled at any of the cenotes?

    We really loved the snorkeling at the Ka'an Sian Biosphere. The best in that area that we've ever found.

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    We enjoyed all the snorkeling sites mentioned above including several cenotes. I dove 2 tanks on the reef with Mexidives and 2 cenotes with Xibalba Dive Center, both in Tulúm and was pleased with both. You could contact either about resort courses, often called "Discover Scuba" where you do some reading, test on basic skills in shallow water, and dive down to 40'. I've pasted the diving/snorkeling parts of my 2010 travelogues below and you can see the photos with travelogue and blog links here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

    Happy trails!

    (JUNE 2010)
    I dove 2 days. I was happy with my dive shops which specialized in the 2 types of diving I wanted - reef and cenote. I could be spoiled by the individual attention I received. The Mexidiver shop, ($90US for 2 tanks) is across the road from the beach, so you walk across the sand, into the water, and into the boat. We visited the sites of La Ballena and Eagle Ray; it was just the dive master Nicolas and me and, though it wasn’t the most fabulous diving I’ve experienced, it was a satisfying mix of varied topography and a good variety of fish including butterfly fish, angels, grunts, jacks, schoolmasters, goat fish, damsels, basslets, trumpet fish, trunk fish, and wrasse. Highlights were 3 different types of moray eels including a really enormous green one and 2 beautiful spotted eagle rays that flew slowly past as we rose to the surface on the final dive. Unfortunately, we also saw 3 lion fish which are beautiful but are native to the Pacific and have no predators in the Caribbean; some apparently escaped when a hurricane devastated a large aquarium a few years back. They are very poisonous and devour young indigenous reef fish like there’s no tomorrow.

    Another day I dove with Richie from Xibalba dive shop ($110US for 2 tanks including entrance fees) to 2 cenotes. It was AMAZING - gorgeous light and blues and greens, curious cave formations, spooky dark places, and a halocline, the line where the salt water (below) and fresh water (above) mix, causing a blurry layer you can barely see in that looks like a separate water surface from above and from below - fascinating! We did 2 dives, Gran Cenote and Calaveras (Temple of Doom) Cenote. Here’s a cool website that will give you an idea of what it was like.

    Mike and I snorkeled in several cenotes within a 10 minute drive of Tulum. The 1st was Dos Ojos (2 Eyes) Cenote; look around for the 3rd “eye” - we liked it best. We enjoyed the jungly hike despite the heat and near 100% humidity, snorkeling in the cool (cold at 1st!) water, swimming with the small fish and around interesting cave formations, the view of the world from inside, and the swallows and gorgeous motmots (my favorite type of bird) nesting in the stalagtites. Casa Cenote is a canal-like open cenote lined with mangroves. We crossed the road to the beach and snorkeled there, too; there was a decent representation of Caribbean reef fish but the visibility was poor - like diluted milk from the fine sand.

    One afternoon we headed to Akumal, about 14 miles north of Tulum, to go snorkeling in Turtle Bay in 5-10 feet of water. Sea turtles were EVERYWHERE - too many to count! We snorkeled for about 2 hours and took lots of photos. I will never forget sharing that time with Mike and dozens of those beautiful, peaceful creatures.

    (DECEMBER 2010)
    We also snorkeled in the reserve at Puerto Morelos, cute little town. You can just walk up to the dock and hire guys from the local fisherman's coop to take you to the reef. I'd read it was $25/pp + $2 reef reserve fee but our guys offered $18/pp including the reef fee for 1.5 hours with stops in 2 places, nice little boat with a cover. The snorkeling was very good - lots of coral and gorgonian variety, the usual cast of fish characters in smallish schools, lots of juveniles, and some nice big fish - ocean triggerfish, midnight parrotfish, huge snapper, and nassau grouper.

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    Snorkeling is great in main Akumal bay, very calm as the reef is so close to shore. There are two dive shops there and a third on Half Moon Bay. You can also snorkel HMB if calm and not too windy, beware of occasional rip currents.

    I think hopefullist's idea of a resort course is good, to find out if diving is for you or not.

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