Nothing frees your mind quite like seeing marine life in its natural habitat, allowing your senses to come alive with the colors and sensations of the ocean. Whether you favor snorkeling or scuba diving, exploring the deep sea is a unique experience that will bring you closer to nature, your own mind, and the friends you’ll make along the way.
If you’ve never snorkeled or dived, be warned: it’s addictive. Apart from the numerous benefits for cardiovascular health and overall fitness, the feeling of being completely weightless as the ocean envelops you brings with it an indescribable peacefulness you will want to experience time and time again.
When it comes to choosing a diving destination, the possibilities are endless. Whether you dream of delving into the warm waters of the Caribbean or discovering the treasures of the Cretan coast, there is a sea of destinations to choose from. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no need: here is the lowdown on some of the best places to visit when you feel like taking the plunge.
MEXICO: WHERE NATURE MEETS ART
With its seemingly endless sandy beaches and rich marine life you’d be hard-pressed to find a more idyllic diving destination than Mexico, with an abundance of sights both above and below the water’s surface. Mexico’s coastline stretches for almost six thousand miles along the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, allowing for infinite diving possibilities. Iberostar offers a wide range of hotels in Mexico for you to discover the most wonderful places around the country.
Cancún’s legendary nightlife and tropical climate aren’t the only reasons it has become one of the most popular Spring Break destinations: it’s also a fantastic place for diving and snorkeling. Located on Mexico’s southeastern coast, it is bordered by the Great Maya Reef, the second largest in the world, whose 62 miles are home to coral of the fire, fan, staghorn, and brain varieties. From Punta Nizuc, seasoned divers can spot angel fish, snappers, barracudas and over 230 species of aquatic flora, while snorkelers can swim with friendly whale sharks from June to August. Then, prepare to be awed by the Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA), with more than 500 underwater sculptures made from special marine materials that provide nutrients to coral life. Discover all this wonders in one of our 5 star hotels in Cancun.
If you’d like to experience rich history and a cuisine bursting with flavor as well as top-notch diving sites, you can, in Yucatán! Forty miles south of Cancún in the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is notorious for being lively and colorful, and its sea life is no different. While the district has become synonymous with romance, you don’t have to be a newlywed to fall in love with its turquoise waters, breathtaking cenotes, complex underwater cave systems and sloping walls teeming with life. Swim with sea turtles in Punta Maroma, one of the most beautiful beaches of the Mexican Caribbean, before heading down to Playa del Carmen, a popular honeymoon destination.
The most unique marine experience in Mexico awaits you just a thirty-minute ferry ride away, on the tiny island of Cozumel. Considered one of the best diving destinations in the world, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau was allegedly charmed by its crystal-clear waters, which give a sharp view of its seabed, populated by over 500 species of fish. Wall divers are in for a treat with stunning sites such as the Columbia and Santa Rosa Walls, while the Devil’s Throat will delight the most experienced divers with its black corals and sea whips.
CRETE: DIP INTO THE WATERS OF HISTORY
Once the cradle of Europe's earliest recorded civilization, the Greek island of Crete exudes history. Some historians refer to Crete as the birthplace of snorkeling, invented by Cretan sponge farmers who created the first snorkel tubes from hollowed out reeds. Greek philosopher Aristotle likened the snorkeling mechanism to that of an elephant's trunk in his Parts of Animals and even recorded the whales that still populate the southern coast of the island today. And for a better memory, stay on one of our hotels in Crete!
In fact, Crete is the only place in the world where sperm whales can be spotted year-round. Many centuries later, Crete’s marine mammals continue to inspire sea lovers.
Located 12 miles west of Heraklion, the beautiful landscape of the small coastal town of Agia Pelagia hints at the marvels that can be found underwater. Sea rabbits, scorpion fish, squid, cuttlefish, snappers, sea horses and jellyfish abound. If you wish to immerse yourself in Greek history, there is no shortage of wrecks on the island. One of the most mesmerizing reefs is the Big Anchor, so named because of the 10-foot-high anchor that sank there over 400 years ago, frequented by snappers, groupers and, if you’re lucky, scarlet Spanish Dancers. A little over 18 miles away lies the astonishing Messerschmitt Wreck. Suitable only for seasoned divers because of its location at 78 feet, this German fighter plane from World War II still has machine guns and ammunition belts inside its cockpit. Seeing eels slither in and out of it is a surreal, one-of-a-kind experience.
To the east, the waters surrounding Chania, the island’s second largest city, display magnificent black corals, framed by stone arches and volcanic reefs, while the southern coast enjoys a North African climate, with significantly higher temperatures that make its waters an ideal playground for squid, octopi, sea turtles, and the divers who love them. In Skinaria, the clear waters of the Mediterranean allow you to feast your eyes on the richest sea beds on the island, rife with marine vegetation and life. Once you’ve emerged from the sea, refreshed and with a new understanding of the world, a hearty Greek meal among friends is imperative. After all, part of the fun of going on a marine adventure is telling the tale afterwards.