Our trip began in Playa del Carmen, Mexico – a bustling tourist town located in the heart of the Riviera Maya. For this expedition we had a very small group joining us due to the logistics, because we would need to travel by both land and boat throughout the 9 days. We were joined by Ninja Family members: Jessica, Sze Wei, David, Brien, and our close friend Sarah, founder of Girls That Scuba. We all met in the evening for a welcome to town sushi dinner followed by some delicious gelato. Then it was off to bed so we could be up early for our 4.5 hours drive to Xcalak.
Diving in Xcalak, Mexico
The next day would be spent mostly covering the long drive to XTC Dive Center in Xcalak, located at the bottom of Mexico near the Belize border. Going from Playa del Carmen to Xcalak is like jumping in Doc’s DeLorean and shooting back to the way the Riviera Maya was 20 years ago. No giant resorts, no fast food chains, no tourist packed beaches, not even cell phone service. It is one of the last few true paradises left in the Caribbean. After getting settled in the group decided we couldn’t wait any longer before hitting the water. The excitement was too high, so we convinced the shop to take us for a little spur of the moment night dive (to be fair, there was no convincing at all, we asked and they said hell yeah!). The next morning we would go for 4 dives in the Xcalak Marine Park. We had heard rumors of manatees being spotted in the area the last weeks and asked if we could check out the spots where they had been seen. Our (awesome) guide, Auden, was happy to take us searching for them. I’ve personally never seen a manatee so I had my fingers and toes crossed for a glimpse of one. We get to the dive site and within the first 60 seconds of the dive, what is floating there midwater like a giant underwater teddy bear? A manatee! I could hear everyone screaming through their regs in excitement. She only stayed around for a fleeting moment, but my day was made. As we descended further into La Poza we were greeted by the massive schools of huge tarpon that the area is known for. An amazing spectacle to witness these huge 1.5-2+ meter long fish schooled together in the canyon.
Our next dive we set off to the nearby La Pozeta to play in the canyons and swim throughs. As we entered the water Leo, pointed out to me that my camera dome had completely fogged over. I took it with me thinking the cooler water may help it clear up, but no luck. And what do we see? Another manatee within the first 5 minutes of the dive. This one turns and slowly approaches me underwater as if he was curious to what this bubble blowing ninja was. Then at the end of the dive, a family of 7 manatees swims past us on the wall. As you’d expect, in pure Murphy’s law fashion, my dome was still glazed with white fog making it impossible to capture any of these amazing experiences. But Xcalak would smile on me later in the week. Auden and Captain Gallo took us on some great dives that day and they definitely deserve a big shout out.