Diving and Snorkeling
Playa del Carmen has decent offshore diving—virtually all drift dives, thanks to prevailing currents—and relatively easy access to Cozumel and inland cenotes. It’s a logical base if you want a taste of all three, plus the convenience of being in a major town.
However, if diving is the main reason you came, consider basing yourself on Cozumel itself, or closer to the cenotes, such as at Akumal or Tulum. This will save you the time, money, and effort of going back and forth.
Diving prices in Playa del Carmen are reasonable, and fairly uniform from shop to shop. Two-tank reef dives cost US$55–80, Cozumel trips run US$75–100, cenote trips are around US$95–120, and open-water certification courses run US$350–410.
Gear is included in the courses but is often charged separately for fun dives (US$15–20 per day). Most shops do not include the price of taking the ferry to Cozumel (US$24 round-trip), and additional fees, like marine park and cenote admissions, may also apply.
Tank-Ha Dive Center (Calle 10 btwn 5 and 10 Avs., tel. 984/873-0302, www.tankha.com, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) is one of the longest-operating shops in Playa and a PADI Gold Palm resort and instructor training facility.
Dive Mike (Calle 8 btwn 5 Av. and the beach, tel. 984/803-1228, www.divemike.com, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. daily) is a very friendly, professional, and reasonably priced shop. Check out its excellent website for additional info and pictures.
Phantom Divers (1 Av. Norte at Calle 14, tel. 984/879-3988, www.phantomdivers.com, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Sun.) is one of a handful of locally owned dive shops offering lower-than-average prices. Cash only.
Yucatek Divers (15 Av. btwn Calles 2 and 4, tel. 984/803-1363, www.yucatek-divers.com, 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) uses a neighboring hotel’s pool for beginner certification training. Notably, all fun dives are led by instructors.
Scuba Playa (Calle 10 btwn 1 and 5 Avs., tel. 984/803-3123, www.scubaplaya.com, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily) specializes in small groups and offers a six-dive package that includes two tanks apiece in Cozumel, the cenotes, and the reef.
In Playa del Carmen it’s best to go snorkeling with a tour, since the snorkeling off the beach isn’t too rewarding. There are also numerous cenotes near Playa that make for unique snorkeling, including several you can visit on your own.
Most of Playa’s dive shops offer guided snorkeling tours to excellent sites. Ocean trips cost US$30–40, while cenote trips are US$50–75, all gear included. Be sure to ask how many people will be on the trip, how long the trip will last, and how many reefs you’ll be visiting (for ocean trips). For cenote trips, we strongly recommend a wetsuit, even if it means renting one for a few extra bucks. The water is quite chilly, there’s no sun, and you’ll be better protected against cuts and scrapes.
Jaime’s Marina (Playa El Faro, end of Calle 10, cell. tel. 984/130-2034, www.jaimesmarina.bravehost.com, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) is a kiosk on the beach offering friendly service and a variety of tours and rentals. Snorkel trips (US$35, 2 hours) include an hour of snorkeling and sailing in a Hobie Cat.
Parasailing (US$65 per 15 minutes) and banana boat rides (US$20 per 20 minutes) are available, too. For do-it-yourself fun, kayaks (US$12 per hour) and Jet Ski (US$65 per 30 minutes) rentals are offered. Whatever you decide, be sure to ask about lockers and dry bags for your stuff. Cash only.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition