The Chinchorro Banks, Jacques Cousteau once referred to it as the "best diving in the world".
4 years after starting our travel adventure, documenting it on YouTube, we were in stilt houses off the southwestern end of Cayo Centro on Banco Chinchorro with local fisherman.
Banco Chinchorro is an atoll reef lying 35 kilometres (22 mi) offshore in the Caribbean Sea.
There is an American crocodile reserve on the southernmost (and biggest) island, Cayo Centro.
The Chinchorro Banks are one of the last unspoiled dive destinations this side of the world, and certainly in the Caribbean. They benefit from being both remote and inaccessible with access requiring special permits from the Mexican Federal Government.
They are located approximately 19 miles (31 km) off the coast of Mahahual, which is about a 4 hour drive south of Playa del Carmen. It is part of the Meso American reef system and covers an area of approximately 300 sq. miles (800 sq. km) of which less than one percent is above water.
This is the largest atoll in the Northern Hemisphere, and the only atoll in Mexican Waters. It is approximately 9 miles (15km) wide and nearly 30 miles (48km) long. There are 95 different species of coral and over 200 different species of fish.
On the windward side of the banks, there are a variety of wrecks from all time periods—everything from tankers to (rumor has it) a sunken German U-boat and XVII-century Spanish galleons. The remains of at least 18 ships that sank between 1600 and 1800 have been discovered, and the reef has proved just as treacherous to modern ships. Near Cayo Centro there is a wreck called the Glenview, a British cargo ship with a 120-meter draft that went down in 1960 not far from the Ginger Scout, which preceded it four years earlier.
There are anywhere between 30 and 200 wrecks in total at Chinchorro (depending on who you ask), the list of ships that have ended their days on the reef is long and includes the Cassel, Far Star, Tropic, Huba, San Andres, SS Caldera, SS Escasell, SS Ginger Screw, SS Glen View and SS Penelopez just to name a few, and others so torn up, only their canons and the river rocks they used for ballast are left. At one spot a line of anchors, obviously dropped one after the other in a desperate attempt to save the ship, is all that remains.