Xcalak, in Mexico’s far south, is the kind of unspoilt gem divers dream about and it’s all thanks to the local fishermen. There are very few places, in our overpopulated world, which retain an atmosphere free from the complications of modern life and tourism. However, these forward thinking fishermen banded together to make their local waters a marine park. The result is extremely healthy coral reef system, mangroves and seagrass beds which support an enormous diversity of marine life, including a large population of the illusive manatee.
The story behind the creation of Xcalac Marine Park is an inspiring one. In the late 1990's fishermen saw a dramatic drop in catch numbers. Average fish sizes were also going down and prize fish, like grouper, were becoming rarer. This did not bode well for their future. They realized that the main reason for this decline was that the reef and fish stocks were being put under pressure by fishermen from neighboring villages.
In order to preserve their fish stocks for future generations the Andres Quintana Roo Cooperative took action, which resulted in the creation of the marine park, covering a total area of 17, 949.456 hectares which encompasses the manatee reserve located on the Mexico-Belize border.
Gallo, one of the boat captains, summed up the essence of Xcalac ‘I feel privileged to be one of only three captains who take divers out to the reef, to explore the marine environment’.
Visiting Xcalac is fantastic as the only dive shop in the area is XTC so there are no other divers and the reef is all yours to explore.