Updated: Nov 18
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 and its wonders that they call: The ‘Underwater Garden of Eden’.
Where is it located?
Palancar reef is in the Mexican Caribbean, exactly at the south of Cozumel Island, in front of the Yucatan peninsula.
This impressive reef is part of the Great Barrier Reef of the Western Atlantic called “the Mesoamerican Reef”, also 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 in size only by the Great Australian Barrier reef.
A protected Area
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.
Cozumel Underwater Life
As if that were not enough, 4 different types of turtles, nurse sharks, white tips, eagle rays, green and spotted moray eels, giant lobsters can be found while diving, and let’s not forget the Splendid Toad Fish an endemic species that can be found only here in Cozumel.
Different dive sites in Palancar
This beautiful part of the reef is 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.
This is a suitable reef 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 here forms swim-throughs, canyons, and caves. These “caves” have a limestone base on which coral skeletons grow in compacted shapes to form interconnected tunnels. No worries, you will not perform “cave diving”, where the sunlight is always visible. Although a superb collection of 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.
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 Palancar reef section is a discontinuous wall where you will find 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.
Is available for intermediate or advanced divers. Named after the shape of a part of the reef, this natural amphitheater which looks like a giant horseshoe has enough attractions to delight any diver because of its coral formations and the abundance of life that inhabits from sea turtles looking for food on the top of the reef, to the macro life hiding in the vast corals.
Now that you know Palancar reef, what are you waiting for?