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Dive Review of XTC Dive Center/Playa Sonrisa in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Xcalak, Mahahual Peninsula

XTC Dive Center/Playa Sonrisa, Apr, 2010,

by Ken New, SD, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 5439.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Most recently St. Vincent & the Galapagos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 79 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Generally, everyone ascended when one person reached 750 psi (there was a max of 4 divers); but when I had lots of extra air on one dive, the dive master stayed down with me.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments No rinse tank on the boat, the captain did keep my camera in a safe location during travel. Rinse tank at the dive shop. Boat trips were short so the camera was not un-rinsed for long; I took a big bottle of fresh water to use in between dives.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The bad (very little!): Nitrox $14 a fill, due to difficulty of obtaining it in this remote location. No rinse tank on board.

The good: The most complete, friendly, professional concierge service for our gear we have encountered anywhere -- complete care of everything from beginning of first dive to end of last dive, including a final rinse & hang-to-dry. Knowledgeable, enthusiastic dive masters, willing to let us set the pace -- no hurrying of the photographer! Small groups -- one day it was just the 2 of us, two days we were 4. VERY accommodating about taking us to sites we'd read about, even one that meant using more fuel; also great suggestions about other sites. This is a great operation doing a wonderful job in a somewhat difficult location logistically.

Both coral & fish life were much more abundant & healthy than we'd expected. Black coral (big "forest", very healthy), Staghorn (small as it's regrowing after hurricane several years ago). Several large groups of Tarpon that swam around us; Barracuda. Turtles; one curious one came to "visit". Wide variety of reef fish. Nudibranchs, shrimp, conchs. Sadly, Lionfish.

This was easy diving but very interesting. Small chop, very little current (one drift dive). Lots of dramatic structure to the reef -- swim-throughs, canyons, overhangs. Most dives were close to or over an hour, even on air.

Xcalak has a rustic, end-of-the-earth feel & the beach is absolutely gorgeous. We wish we could have stayed longer; and we will be back!
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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