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Make A Splash With The Family

In The Friendly Waters Of Cancun

Though Cancun is best known for its sparkling resorts and pristine beaches, this stretch of the Maya Riviera is also one of the world’s best destinations for family-friendly recreation. As conditions vary from open Caribbean waters to calm lagoons within close reach of the Hotel Zone, nearly every water sport imaginable is offered somewhere in Cancun. Families can dive and snorkel in the Laguna Nichupte, a calm body of water connecting the mainland and the Hotel Zone. Experienced divers can explore coral reefs and shipwrecks in the Caribbean Sea or plunge into the world’s longest underground river. Throw in sailing, fishing, jet skiing, windsurfing and kayaking and you can see why Cancun is one of the Caribbean’s best destinations for water sports.

Considering that Cancun is a favorite destination for families, it seems almost too good to be true that the city is also one of the world’s premier locations for beginning scuba divers. In fact, the waters surrounding Cancun rest atop the Great Mesoamerican Reef – the largest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere. Offshore from the small village of Puerto Morelos south of Cancun, the reef can be viewed at depths below 9 feet. Supporting an incredible variety of submarine life, the reef can be enjoyed by families thanks to such shallow depths and great visibility.

In addition to the sprawling coral reef system, there are several more underwater oddities for families to explore. Like many other places in the Caribbean, Cancun has its share of sunken vessels. At each site, you will find plenty to explore – from the corals that sprout from the ships’ hulls to the families of fish that call these boats home. As Cancun is also home to the world’s largest underground river, the inland caves and sinkholes are also popular destinations for more adventurous divers. Lastly, whether you plan to scuba dive or not, all visitors to Cancun should visit the pristine coral reefs and exotic surroundings of El Garrafon National Park.

Like scuba diving, snorkeling is a great way to see the underwater sights of Cancun. However, snorkeling doesn’t require as much equipment or training as scuba diving. If your time in Cancun is limited, your family might want to consider snorkeling as it is easy for all ages and skill levels to get involved. Snorkeling tours visit many of the sites popular with scuba divers as the reefs are shallow enough to be viewed from the surface.

If you want to dive or snorkel while in Cancun, you won’t have any trouble finding equipment or dive operators. Rental equipment is available at most resorts, while several dive tours operate daily and visit all the most popular sites. If you have never experienced scuba diving, it is also possible to receive training and certification while in Cancun. Affordable courses are available for all ages and range from brief classes to acquaint divers with the sport’s basics to full certification seminars that can last several days.

As the Caribbean Sea is generally calm off the coast of Cancun, jet skiing and kayaking have also become popular activities. Jet skis and other water toys can be rented from a number of shops at Cancun’s marina or directly through your resort. Kayaking can be enjoyed by simply paddling in the calm Caribbean water or by combining the sport with snorkeling for a complete Cancun experience. Where the waves begin to pick up along the northern end of Bahia de Mujeres, windsurfing is the sport of choice.

For those in search of a more relaxing way to enjoy the Caribbean, charter boats are available for deep sea fishing or simple cruises. Big game fishing is popular with locals as well as tourists, supported by annual fishing tournaments throughout the region. In the spring and summer months, fishers can reel in marlin, sailfish, mahi-mahi and Spanish mackerel. Much like the other water sport activities mentioned here, it is easy to find boat rentals in Cancun and many are available with full staffs. For the ultimate in relaxation, take a ride with one of Cancun’s sailing catamarans – you won’t have to do anything but enjoy the sun and sea.

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