Think you have to fly all the way to Australia to experience one of the world’s great reefs? Think again. Off the shore of the Riviera Maya region of Mexico is a portion of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the western hemisphere and the second largest reef in the world. It is also commonly referred to as the Great Mayan Reef or Great Maya Reef. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef stretches from Mexico all the way down to Honduras and though it’s half the length of the Great Barrier Reef (the world’s largest), that doesn’t take away from its beauty and it’s a must-see while visiting the Riviera Maya if you love the ocean.
For visitors to the Riviera Maya, which includes popular resort cities like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, you can easily arrange a snorkel or scuba diving excursion to experience the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. You’ll have the chance to see the colorful, live reef and the many sea creatures living among it, including tropical fish and sea turtles. If you’re really lucky you might even see a dolphin or a whale shark as the latter migrates through the waters off of Mexico each year.
Snorkel and scuba excursions to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef will typically pick you up from your resort or hotel and transport you to a boat. From there, you’ll be taken to the launching point for the dive or snorkel experience and you’ll be provided with the equipment you need to jump in the clear water and start exploring.