Akumal, Mexico
September 23-27, 1999

The locals...

Another weekend, another Mexico trip (see Isla Mujeres trip for a trip earlier in the month)... Once again an American Airlines' Netsaavers fare down to Cancun. This time I brought Gale and we decided to do our diving in Akumal, about 100 km down the coast from Cancún. It's THE place to go cavern (cenote) diving. Gale had been there before and made it sound like paradise with great caverns and crystal clear water - and of course she was right!
We arrived on time Friday night and went to the car rental booths to pick up our car that I had already reserved. Unfortunately (for Budget), the agent was in the rest room so we shopped around and got a better car for less money at Avis. The road down to Akumal was an excellent four lane highway and we were constantly being past by cars going considerably faster than our 120 km/h (speed limit 110 km/h in most places).
The directions were good, but the the entrance was very difficult to find and then the "hotel" (Casa Norte, an efficiency at Caza Azul) wasn't that much easier to find.
After a good nights sleep, well sort of as the beds were like concrete slabs, we went over to the dive shop to sign up for three ocean dives on Saturday and one cenote dive (Dos Ojos) on Sunday. Originally we thought we were going to be only divers, but Norma from Merída joined us for all three dives. The first dive was the deep dive not too far away and we went to around 95 feet. There was a little more silt in the water than I had expected, but we had a good dive anyway. We saw a turtle that was eating and Gale got him/her on film. We went back to the shop to get new tanks and then we went back out for our second dive at "Lobster condos". Unfortunately the lobsters had rented them out, because we didn't see a single one. I tried Gale's video camera and tried to capture some interesting fish. After the dive Gale and I went to have lunch and there I ran into a former boss of mine, Dennis. He and his wife were celebrating their anniversary in Cancún and went on a tour down to Tulum and stopped by in Akumal for some snorkeling. What a coincidence! We had a nice surface interval before our last dive of the day - at Half Moon Bay. For this dive we got some more company, Suzanne and another guy going for his instructor's certification. It was a fairly shallow dive but interesting. I'm terrible at identifying the fish we saw, but we did see a wide variety of fish. Norma got to try Gale's camera and filmed Gale and me. I saw the raw footage and she's a natural with the camera. For dinner we went to small restaurant close by with just sand instead of a floor inside and a real tiled floor out on the patio. Interesting concept... We sat outside and had a great dinner. Akumal is all about seafood, but the steak wasn't too shabby... For desert I had some excellent homemade coconut ice cream - it was heavenly!
Sunday morning we were ready for our cenote dive! We loaded our gear in an Ohio registered van and drove to the cave. The last mile was on a small very bad dirt road which the divemaster/driver had driven before, judging by his speed. Once there I put on my BC and tank and carried all my other gear another half a mile on a very rocky path down to the entrance. Gale got help with her tank and BC and had it a little easier (to her defense, she carried everything the previous time she was there...) Once there we put our wetsuits on - I wore the 0.5 mm wetsuit I used for the ocean dives and a 3 mm farmer john on top. I also put on a hood to make sure I didn't freeze as the water was cold (mid 70's). Looking down into the water you could tell it was really crystal clear - you could see everything down below! The cave was shaped like a peanut with two open water areas (therefore the name Dos Ojos). There was a red line we slowly swam along though the cave. It was magnificent with tall stalagmites and stalactites. There was still light from above but we needed our lights to see better. There were lots of neat rock formations but very little fish. We saw a few and when you shone your light on them their shadows could be seen on the walls of the cave - the two-inch long fish had two feet long shadows! Almost halfway through we stopped at Elephant cavern for a short breather. Then we continued to the turning point where someone had put a three foot alligator with a barbie doll in its mouth, complete with painted on blood!! It was beautiful and a completely different sensation to silently glide through this cavern. Not at all like ocean diving. After the dive we walked back to the van, me still in my wetsuit(s) and carrying all my gear. I could feel every pebble on the rocky path in my thin booties!
After getting back to the dive shop we rinsed our gear and then went to our room to pack and get ready for the drive up to Cancun. It rained heavily for a good part of the trip. Once there we couldn't find the hotel I had called before so we stopped by at a Holiday Inn to check if they had a reasonable room for the night - they did and the beds were great. We drove around in Cancún for awhile and managed to get lost. We found our way back though after asking a cabdriver at a traffic light. We had dinner at Rainforest Café - a neat place! On the way back to the hotel we noticed a beeping and after some confusion we found the source - Gale's divewatch. We couldn't make it stop beeping and finally ended up leaving it in the car out in the parking lot overnight, thinking that by morning the batteries would have run down. No such luck though - it was still beeping when we got back to the car in the morning. Gale tried to run it over with the car, but it was a very tough watch. She left it in a trash can outside the hotel. I wonder if the staff will go crazy when they hear the beeps and can't find it... The flight was for 6.55am so we had to get up at 4.30 to pack and drive to the airport. We dropped of the car at the car rental place and the night watchman was kind enough to have us drive to the terminal so we didn't have to carry our gear ourselves. He then drove the car back himself. The flight back was uneventful and we smoothly went through immigration and customs. I dropped Gale of at her house and drove to work. Another quick trip down to Mexico - I could do this every weekend...

Click on thumbnail to see the full size picture

a restaurant.

The diveboat we went out with.

The fridge in the room. It couldn't have been more than a couple of years old so I guess the ocean air is not good for metallic surfaces...

Don't drink too much or you'll end up like these two...

Gale, me and two locals at the bar

Ok, move over so I can get a good picture of the water.

The "original" Akumal Dive Shop.

A mermaid getting out of the water...

A great dive!

The path to the cenote is less than half a mile, but after the dive and with full equipment on, it sure felt longer!