It’s been a rough patch for Mexico, these past ten to fifteen years, and nobody can deny it. From personal experience as a former Angelino (resident of Los Angeles) who likes a good time, I knew that the drug war had started in 2006, but it wasn’t until gunfire erupted right off of Avenida Revolucion, the main tourist district and area of questionable nighttime activity in Tijuana, in 2009, that we Angelinos realized the party was over, at least for a while.
Until then it was a wild ride on a high wave, something unimaginable to those just north of the border. As much diving, surfing, and general beaching as one could imagine during the days, and then cheap drinks and street food at night. It was an easy way to spend a weekend for people from Los Angeles and San Diego, and whether it was your local pizza delivery guy or a diamond-studded CEO, everybody had one thing in common, something the outsiders weren’t aware of… they were all part of Tijuana. In those moments, everyone was the same.
But not all is lost, as the drug war has started to taper off due to administration and policy changes, and the always resilient and adapting nation of Mexico is open for business. The torta stands are up and running, the music is playing, and, of course, the dive shops are open for business. But where should you visit? That’s what we’re here for, so here are a few things to keep in mind.
Mexico is Massive
From Cozumel, to the Yucatan Peninsula, Chihuahua, Tabasco, and Mexico City up to Nuevo Leon, there’s a lot to do and see in the nation. For divers, the options are limitless. In fact, on Planet Deepblu we have 191 dive spots listed at the time of publication. Sounds like a nice gap year, but not everyone has that amount of time, so even if you’re hitting two or three spots in one trip be sure to maximize your relaxation time by planning ahead.
Start South and Work Your Way Up
The most highly ranked dive sites, according to Deepblu divers, are on the Yucatan Peninsula and in the Caribbean Sea. Isla Mujeres, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen are all hot spots with highly rated dives, a diverse array of discoveries to be made, and high concentrations of schools and shops. If you’re in the area, check out Risas Diving for some inside info from local experts.
Cozumel is a Ring of Dive Sites
All around the island of Cozumel are dive sites, shops, and new places to explore. While a beautiful, tropical island in the Western Hemisphere, it can be done on any budget. This is an added bonus considering the costs of the nearby Caribbean islands. While fancy lodging can be found, you can luck out here and get the fifteen-to-twenty dollar (USD) hostel deals that you might expect in Thailand, Vietnam, or the mainland of Mexico. From there, branch out in any direction and you’ll find somewhere new to jump into your next dive. Whether it’s shore dives, boat tours, or secret spots only your guide knows, Cozumel will have something right up your alley.
Baja California – As Great As its Northern Counterpart
Easily accessible from the United States, and home to many an expat who came down for one quick weekend and stayed, Baja California is an amazing way to spend a short period of time if you’re just hopping out of the state of California up north. It’s also a great place to learn diving, which is one of the main ways that people end up staying. Kind of like the old west, stories abound of people getting there, falling in love, and doing dishes just to earn some cash and leave an old, boring life behind. Make sure to listen to the old pros, their stories both under and above the water serve as invaluable guidance for young guns.
Got Time? – Try Socorro
A diver films a ray in Socorro’s waters. Screencap of Media by Deepblu User JP
About 600km (373 miles) off of the west coast of Mexico sits an island without an airport, and because it lacks this feature it also lacks crowds. If diving in seclusion is your thing, make sure to head to Isla Socorro. It’s so off-the-beaten-path that its name literally means “help,” and it can only be accessed by live-aboard. In addition to diving, the island is also known as a popular spot for bird watchers, who come from all over to see the endemic species to the desert island.
Until next time, remember… arrieros somos y en el camino andamos.
- Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor