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Palancar Reef, a Paradise For Scuba Divers

Palancar Reef - main picture

The famous documentary maker, Jacques Cousteau, showed Palancar reef to the entire world. Since then, divers from the 5 continents come to discover this reef its wonders that they call: The ‘Underwater Garden of Eden’.

Palancar reef is in the Mexican Caribbean, exactly at the far south of Cozumel Island, in front of the Yucatan peninsula.

This impressive reef is part of the Great Barrier Reef of the Western Atlantic, also it is known as the Great Mayan Reef. So, when you dive into its clear waters you will be facing the second largest coral formation in the world, surpassed only by the Great Australian Barrier.

Fortunately, Mexican authorities, because of the need to safeguard this marvel of nature, included Palancar reef under the protection of the Marine Park Law. So, since 1996, it has been freed from overfishing and sediment pillage.

Everything commented above allows Palancar reef to be an underwater Eden, with thousands of species of corals, marine life everywhere and stunning beauty as far as the eye can see. Diving on Palancar reef justifies traveling to Cozumel.

And, as if that were not enough, among its natural treasures there are endemic species such as the splendid toadfish of Cozumel, giant anemones or fire coral.

Besides, hawksbill turtles, green and spotted moray eels, eagle rays, angelfish, filefish, damselfish, butterflyfish,…

Dependent on the depth and coral formations, Palancar reef is divided into 4 parts. These are:

Palancar Reef - eagle ray - el arrecife palancar

An Underwater Stroll Through The Gardens Of Palancar Reef

Depth: 10m / 30ft- 25m / 80ft

Palancar Gardens is a beautiful reef suitable for beginners and experienced divers alike. Diving Palancar Gardens begins in the sandy area. Here the current, usually moderate, leads the divers to a beautiful coral wall. During the route, you will enjoy rock towers, passages, arches and coral cliffs covered by gorgonians and sponges. So rich is the vegetation here, you might think that animals have many places to hide. Do not be afraid! There is such a huge amount of them, you will be able to enjoy seeing them up close without problems and if any escape your vision, the expert eye of our guides will discover them for you.

You Will Dive Palancar Reef Caves But You Will Not Do Cave Diving

Palancar Reef - Grey angelfish Palancar Reef - eagle ray - el arrecife palancar

Depth: 12m / 40ft- 37m / 120ft

Palancar Caves is a reef suitable for intermediate and advanced divers. Although advanced divers can dive deeper, most dives end at approximately 25m / 83ft. So, keep calm! with the PADI Open Water and Advanced recreational diving certifications, you will have sufficient knowledge and skills to enjoy guided diving at this dive spot.

The coral reef is woven as an exquisite lace forming swim-throughs, canyons, and caves. These “caves” have a limestone base on which coral skeletons grow in compacted shapes to form interconnected tunnels. Relax, you will not perform “cave diving“, where the sunlight is always visible. Although a superb collection underwater life inhabits this wonderful place, the real show is offered by the corals and sponges. One recommendation, put the largest lens on your camera, there, the microscopic life adds a plus of beauty to the already colorful party this dive is.

Palancar Reef Has Bricks, But Its Wall Is Formed By Corals

Depth: 15m / 50ft- 27m / 90ft

This diving spot was named Palancar Bricks because of a shipwreck that happened during the 50s. – What was that ship carrying? Let’s see if you guess… – Bricks, of course. Still today you can see some of them scattered on the floor of the reef. This further south Palancar reef section is a discontinuous wall where you will find dramatic coral formations, separated by sandy slopes. While schools of colorful fish, hawksbill turtles, groupers and nurse sharks populate the reef mantle, look for the southern rays in the sandy area.

There Is a Horseshoe In The Middle Of Palancar Reef

Depth: 15m / 50ft- 27m / 90ft

Palancar Horseshoe is available for intermediate or advanced divers. The latter will be able to dive as deep as the Palancar Horseshoe reef’s depth allows them. But not only divers will enjoy here.

This reef is ideal for snorkeling because of its transparent waters that allow you to see the coralline heads from the surface.

This natural amphitheater which looks like a giant horseshoe has enough attractions to delight any diver because of its convoluted coral formations and the abundance of life that inhabits here.

You can bet that you will have an encounter with some sea turtle, as well as numerous reef fish dazzling by their colors and shapes.

Now that you know Palancar reef, tell us, when will you come to dive to paradise?

palancar reef - splendid toadfish- el arrecife palancar