Costa Maya is also well known for Chinchorro Bank (Banco Chinchorro), the largest atoll in Mexican waters. The Chinchorro is part of the Meso American reef system and it has an elliptical ears' shape.
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The majestic Banco Chinchorro is a 30 miles out the Costa Maya, separated by a channel that in some places is 1000 meters deep, and located at depths that range from two to 25 meters.
It consists of the islets of Cayo Norte, Cayo Centro and Cayo Lobos and is a protected reef system and also an important fishing area for pink conch and lobster.
The reef has been converted into a biosphere reserve in 1996 with the objective to promote the sustainable use of its fishing resources.
Banco Chinchorro reef varies in depth from 2 to 200 meters; making it dangerous to ships but fantastic for Snorkeling and Scuba Diving.
It's estimated that there are over 180 ships that have sunk in the area, but many are very very old and hard to recognize due to the rapid grown of Coral. Most of the dives are in the 10-20 meters range.
The diving is spectacular with large blue sponges, many fish, turtles, sea walls full of life and a clear sunlit scenario that includes many a sunken ships.
The Chinchorro Reef was known to sailors who dreaded it as early as the colonial period. Traveling from Colombia, to Spain by way of Cuba required ships to pass close to the bank. The winds and currents of the region worked against them, and many Galeon went sank on the reef. The remains of at least 20 ships that sank between 1600 and 1800 have been discovered. These reefs have been "death trap" for ships sailing these waters since colonial times, this is the reason Chinchorro it's known as "the ships graveyard".
It's possible to reach Banco Chinchorro from Mahahual and Xcalak villages, there are lots of tours offered by Costa Maya's Diving Center.
» View the Costa Maya Map
» View the Chinchorro Bank Map
Cayo Norte: N 18° 45.83' - S 87° 19.45'
Cayo Centro: N 18° 35' - S 87° 19.17'
Cayo Lobo: N 18° 23.63'- S 87° 22.8'