The Xcalak reefs are part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest barrier reef in the world. The American Continental Shelf also ends here, giving us a sheer dropoff only a few hundred meters from shore. Since the top of the shelf is formed by the barrier reef itself, we can conduct all of our decompression along the reef—tech diving heaven!
The deep portions of the reef are teeming with life. Once in a while, this region is hit by hurricanes or tropical storms—such as Hurricane Earl in August 2016—that affect the reefs closer to the surface. However, the deeper portions of the reef aren´t affected by the weather at all. There are sponges and coral heads down there that have been undisturbed for millennia and have grown to massive proportions.
Also, there’s a good chance of running into pelagic life that are following the Gulfstream current up the coast. Pelagic billfish, such as sailfish, marlin, sharks, goliath grouper and more inhabit the deeper parts of the reef.
Recreational divers often enjoy diving on the reef walls, spur and grove reefs because of the interesting topographical features—it feels like swimming among buildings. Diving off the ledge of the Barrier Reef and onto the abyss gives a whole new meaning to “perspective.” Instead of a 40-meter (120-foot) wall, divers at 100 meters (330 feet) have 100 meters above them and no bottom in sight below—a completely different experience that highlights the tremendous scale of the reef and the ocean (and how tiny we are in comparison).
Even with cutting-edge Technical diving equipment and procedures, we can only access the ocean’s shallowest depths.