Diving options in the Tulum-Sian Ka'an area

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of March 27-April 2, 1997
Day-tripping with Bear Run as your base
Exploring the waters of the Exumas
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Diving options in the Tulum-Sian Ka'an area
Whitewater rafting in West Virginia

Diving options in the Tulum-Sian Ka'an area
Question: I'm going to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve south of Tulum, north of Belize. I want to know about fly-fishing, sea kayaking, and snorkeling.

David M. Spencer
Duluth, MN
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Basic truth: The Tulum-Sian Ka'an area is the gateway to great diving on the Palancar Reef--only 600 yards offshore--as well as world-renowned fishing and, of course, wildlife viewing.

Gushing aside, here are the cold, hard facts: Santa Fe Dive Shop, located a few miles south of Tulum at Cabanas Santa Fe, offers two-tank dives for $55 per person; four-day certification courses start at $150. They'll also arrange tuna, mahi-mahi, and barracuda fishing trips for $50 per hour, including all tackle. Rent snorkeling gear for the afternoon and swim out to the reef, where you'll float among groupers, spotted rays, and moray eels. Call 011-52-9884-2876 for details.

If you really want to splurge on the fishing front, consider staying a night or two at the Boca Paila Fishing Lodge, on the Boca Paila Road, where $320 a night will get you a plush cabana, all meals, boats, tackle and bait, and guide. Call 800-245-1950. As for sea kayaking, you'll have to go a little farther afield, like up the coast a ways to Akumal. Windsurfing Akumal, on the beach next to the Akumal Dive Shop, rents sea kayaks and sailboards.

The best paddling for beginners is in the bay; head farther out, however, and you'll be battling a strong northern current. Since you didn't ask about wildlife tours in the Reserve, I'm assuming you've already been briefed. Just to be safe, though, the nonprofit group Amigos de Sian Ka'an (011-52-988-4-9583) runs day trips through the 1.3-million acre reserve, the largest in Quintana Roo. Winding your way through the tropical rainforests and mangrove swamps, you'll rub shoulders with howler monkeys, jaguars, pumas, and tapirs, not to mention over 336 species of birds.

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