The remote, pristine reefs of the Chinchorro Bank , featuring beautiful swim-throughs, more than 250 wrecks and a huge diversity of flora and fauna, are an often-mentioned but seldom-visited dive destination in the Mexican Caribbean, just north of Belize. Explorer Ventures is pleased to announce its new partnership with Fernando Urquia, owner/operator of M/Y Moondiver in Mahahual, Mexico. Offering weeklong trips to Chinchorro Bank, the vessel will operate as M/Y Moondiver Explorer -the first liveaboard dive vessel ever to offer access to the area.
"We're hugely excited to be the first to offer access to the Chinchorro Marine Reserve on a liveaboard," said Clay McCardell, EV president. "The owner-operated Moondiver Explorer is an outstanding platform to access the area, and the well-protected Chinchorro Bank area is one of the last diving outposts in this part of the world."
Travellers will be able to take advantage of the easy and inexpensive flights into Cancun, and will be transported down the beautiful Yucatan coast to Mahahual, Mexico, a quaint fishing village where the Moondiver Explorer will await guests to begin the 2 hour transit offshore to the Chinchorro Bank. Pricing for 2011/2012 will be $1,895 per person, double occupancy, with departures on Saturday for the 8-day/7-night trips. Specials are being offered on the first 4 trips scheduled in September and October.
Black corals, large sponges, bull and hammerhead sharks, lobsters, turtles, groupers and snappers are among the most commonly seen species along the Chinchorro Bank. The reef varies in depth from 3 feet to 3,000 feet, making it dangerous to ships but extremely attractive to divers. Over 250 ships are estimated to have sunk in the area, but many are very old and hard to recognize due to the rapid growth of flora. You can expect sea walls full of life, including blue sponges, queen conch and huge schools of gray angelfish. Reports of huge elephant ear sponges are common.
Visibility ranges from 60 to 200 feet, depending on wind and sea conditions. Drift dives are done when strong currents are running, but many dives are done on sites with little or no current. Due to the complexity of the reef structure and in order to provide access to the best sites, many dives are done from the vessel’s large tender. Water temperatures range from the low to mid 80s in the summer, to the high 70s in the winter.
The Explorer Ventures Fleet now comprises six liveaboard destinations including the Chinchorro Bank, Southern Bahamas, the Turks & Caicos Islands, the Northeastern Caribbean (Saba/St. Kitts/St. Maarten), the Galapagos Islands and the Maldives. The M/V Turks & Caicos Explorer II also spends 10 weeks in the winter/spring each year offering snorkeling with humpback whales on the Silver Bank, Dominican Republic.