As Mahahual, the city just opposite, the diving in the reserve of Banco Chinchorro is very little known among Mexico destinations. All this part of the Yucatan Peninsula is very little exploited and many things are yet to be discovered diving side. After being disappointed with dives on Mahahual, I decided to go on Banco Chinchorro hoping to find the little hidden paradise of diving in Mexico, Well it's much better than Mahahual, but it's not Cozumel still...

Context : I took a 2 month trip to Mexico and I dived on all the destinations of Yucatan: Cozumel, the cenotes, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Mahahual, Banco Chinchorro and Xcalak.

ARTICLE GUIDELINES
# Overview 
# Presentation
# Diving with 
# Seasons and conditions 
# Dive sites
# Diving clubs
# Price 
# Accommodation
# How to get there
# My diving review

plongee banco chichorro mexique

BANCO CHINCHORRO DIVING INFOS

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  • Best diving season Banco chinchorro : December to September
  • Best Banco chinchorro dive sites : the Garden and Punta Isabel Banco
  • Common Marine Life : classic caribbean fish.
  • Possible Species : nurse shark, grouper, stingray, moray…
  • Francophone diving club Banco chinchorro : Gypsea.
  • Access : 3 hours from Playa del Carmen.
Logo-plongeur-baroudeurRecommendations by category of divers:

> New diver : you will not be disappointed.
> Confirmed : nothing special, but it's better than Mahahual if you're around.
> Experienced : nothing special, prefer Cozumel.
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PRESENTATION OF BANCO CHINCHORO    

Where is Banco Chinchorro in Mexico?

  • The Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve is just opposite Mahahual, 35km from the coast.
  • Apart from its reef, it is composed of 3 islands : Central Cayo (the largest with 5 km2), Cayo Norte and Cayon Lobos (which are all 2 tiny).
  • None are inhabitedyou find small houses of sinners here and there, but no real village.

carte-peninsule-yucatan-riviera-maya-mexique

The largest atoll in the northern hemisphere

  • Very few people should know that with its 47 km long and 14 km wide, Banco Chinchorro is the largest atoll in the northern hemisphere.
  • Its topography is very particular as well as its orientation compared to the current gives it a very heterogeneous reef and excellent breeding environment for some species.
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BANCO CHINCHORRO DIVING OPINION

Disappointed with Mahahual, Banco Chinchorro was supposed to be much better

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  • I had been very disappointed with the dives in Mahahual (in fact I did one and I stopped!), The instructors on site advised me to go to Banco Chinchorro, so I went there.
  • I hoped to find the little still unknown pearl of the diving in Mexico.
  • Well, it's much better than Mahahual, there is variety, walls, canyons, a lot of fish, turtles, nurse sharks ... it's good, but I did not get ecstatic either.
  • A beginner diver on the other hand surely feast ! There is also good snorkeling spots.

The organization

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  • So it's not as easy to go to Banco Chinchorro as it is Cozumel where at Isla Mujeres.
  • The islands being uninhabited, there no Ferrys with departures every hour !
  • Furthermore, access to the reserve is very controlledyou must have a special permit from the government to go there.
  • You have to organize an excursion with one of the centers having a permit for the reserve and then a minimum of participants will be required (between 8 and 10 according to the centers). So I had to wait a few days for an excursion to take place.
  • It will take 1h to 1h30 depending on the conditions to join Banco Chinchorro.

Marine life at Banco chinchorro

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  • All the classic species of the Caribbean : Angelfish, parrotfish, damselflies, butterflyfish, batfish, blue chrome, surgeonfish, stingrays, lobsters ...
  • The cool species while diving at Banco chinchorro : grouper, nurse shark, stingray, moray…
  • If we're lucky, we can see reef sharks (Punta gonzalez, El muro) and eagle rays (Aquario).

Banco chinchorro diving photos

The reserve will evolve

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  • I did not get ecstatic, but I think Banco Chinchorro has a lot of potential.
  • The reserve is still very little exploited for diving and I'm sure things will evolve and gradually fall into place.
  • I heard hammerhead sharks, reef sharks, goliath groupers... not to mention wreck potential (see below).

A gigantic boat cemetery

epave-banco-chinchorro

  • The reef off Banco Chinchorro is sometimes shallow and far from the islands or the coast, many boats were surprised and sank along the reef.
  • He was referenced 44 shipwrecks to date, 33 of which are only indicated by bibliographic sources!
  • These wrecks are always (from 16e at 20e century) and very varied a German submarine, a tanker, a Spanish galleon ...). Unfortunately, due to many vandals in the past, the government has restricted the dives to only 9 wrecks : Spanish Galleon, Inger Skou, Penelope, Glen View, Kassel, Tropic, Emily, Far star and El Angel.
  • It's very complicated to organizeThe conditions must be good (because it's really far from the coast) and you need experienced divers. I have been diving on one of these wrecks, but in 10 days on the spot, it was not possible.

Banco chinchorro crocodiles

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  • If you do the tour, chances are the center will take you to a place where you will see crocodiles in the lagoon.
  • We can see them evolve slowly below the houses of sinners. Some photographers even organize a special trip to photograph them: they are positioned in the water at the crocodile and they need 4 people at the four corners to monitor that no other crocodile come by surprise ... Dare! I did not try!
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BEST BANCO CHINCHORRO DIVING SITES?

Map of Banco Chinchorro dive sites

carte-sites-de-plongee-banco-chinchorro-mexique

What are the best Banco Chinchorro dive sites?

  • Punta gonzalez
  • Gran muro
  • Aquario
  • SS inger skou
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WHAT IS THE BEST PERIOD FOR DIVING IN BANCO CHINCHORRO?

When to dive at Banco chinchorro ?

photo-plongee-banco-chichorro

You can dive all year round at Banco chinchorro but the best diving season is considered to be from December to September. Avoid the rainy season from October to November.

Banco chinchorro diving conditions :

  • Visibility at Banco chinchorro :
  • 10-20 m all year round.
  • Banco chinchorro water temperature : around 25 ° C in winter and 29 ° C in summer.
  • Current Banco chinchorro : it depends on the sites, but not reputed to have strong currents.
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CLUBS DIVING IN BANCO CHINCHORRO

French diving club at Banco chinchorro

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  • When I went there (November 2017), there was only one French-speaking diving center in Banco chinchorro (i.e. located in Mahahual): Gypsea.
  • Owned by a Quebecer and her Mexican husband, it ultra relaxed atmosphere with them but they had no exit at Banco chinchorro at the time.

The center with which I dived: Amigos del Mar

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  • Gypsea diver does not have the capacity to organize an excursion on Banco Chinchorro, so they recommended me one of their friends. Very ambitious, the boss is a German and wishes make access to Banco Chinchorro easier.
  • He therefore invested in a modern boat and very fast to reduce access costs. The trip went well, the organization was at the rendezvous.
  • Beware of conditionsyou really have to go the sea is calm and flatotherwise you will take water all the way (it's not very nice ...).
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BANCO CHICHORRO DIVING PRICE

What is the price of dives at Banco chinchorro?

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  • To go to Banco Chinchorro all the centers asked 200$.
  • When I arrived, a new center with which I had sympathized had just obtained the famous license and with its brand new boat and very fast and proposed the excursion for $ 150.

HOTEL DIVING BANCO CHINCHORRO MEXICO

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You must sleep at Mahahual to go diving in Banco Chinchorro. I did not stay long enough to recommend them by range, but here are some tips:

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HOW TO GO TO BANCO CHINCHORRO IN MEXICO?

  • To get to Banco chinchorro: Mahahual will have to sleep.
  • Nearest airport: Cancun and ChetubaL 
  • With Teen bus
    • Cancun: 5h
    • Playa del Carmen: 4h
    • Tulum: 3h
    • Accessible from other cities of Mexico
  • From other countries (Belize, Guatemala…):
    There are lots of buses arriving in Chetubal from Belize or Guatemala. Then take Ado bus to join Mahahual.

carte-se-rendre-au-yucatan

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MY OPINION ON DIVING IN BANCO CHINCHORRO

As much as I was very disappointed with Mahahual, as much Banco Chinchorro has a lot more to offer. If you have a choice don't dive in Mahahual and try to organize the maximum of excursions to the Banco Chinchorro reserve, you are much more likely to see interesting things. Then, to choose on the Yucatan peninsula, Cozumel remains largely above.

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