Frequently Asked Questions
Everything You Want To Know (And Are Not Afraid To Ask)
What’s The Weather Like?
In a nutshell: warm.
The Riviera Maya has a tropical climate, which means there are only two seasons: summer (hot, humid, and occasionally rainy), and winter (cooler and drier).
Hurricane season is between June and October. Unfortunately, due to global climate change, hurricanes have been making landfall locally with increased frequency. However, we have taken steps to ensure our guests' safety and comfort should such weather hit us during your stay.
The traditional holiday “high season” is from December to March, and the area is thronged with divers and other holidaymakers. On the upside, guests will enjoy cooler weather, but popular cenotes will obviously be more crowded. Outside of these months, the crowds are much thinner, which makes for a more relaxing environment. The downside is, is that kitting up can be an especially sweltering experience. We recommend donning wetsuits in the water, where possible!
How do I Get to XOC-Ha?
Two and a half options.
Land at Cancun International Airport (CUN). As of 2024, the new Tulum International Airport (also known as Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport (TQO)) is an alternative. You could consider Cozumel International Airport (CZM) at a stretch, but catching a passenger ferry to the mainland and renting a car in Playa is messy, whereas the car ferry's sail-times are limited. Ideally, then you drive from the airport to XOC-Ha in your rental car.
Do I Need A Rental Car?
We recommend it.
One of the things we love the most about where we are is that while we are only a very short drive from Playa, Tulum, Akumal, and a zillion different cenotes we are set back in the jungle a bit where it's quiet. However, this does mean access to public transportation is very limited. Taxis and transfer services can be accessed with a little bit of planning, but even these typically only offer service to the front gate by the highway. Both Cancun and to a much lesser extent Tulum airports have rental car desks with the usual assortment of big-name agencies.
The rental agencies WILL try and up-sell you all sorts of insurance. It's part of their sales spiel, but you don't have to say yes to all of it. It is compulsory for renters to purchase third-party insurance (also known as personal liability insurance) to legally drive in Mexico; it covers personal injury claims and material damage done to the other driver. But anything else is optional, no matter what the agency tries to sell you. If you decline the additional coverage, the rental agency will probably request a larger security deposit. Also, be aware that international rental car insurance provided under your credit card will likely not extend to Mexico, so read your fine print carefully to ensure you’re protected, if you plan to go that route.
What Do I Need For Exposure Protection?
More than you think.
The caves’ average water temperature is about 25°C /77°F, so at a bare minimum, we recommend a 5 mm wetsuit plus hood for cavern dives, and a 7 mm wetsuit and a hood for cave dives.
Due to the shallow depths and lack of flow that characterize Mexican caves, dives are fairly long in duration and not very strenuous. After a few consecutive days of diving, you will feel chilled towards the end of your dives, which is why you’ll see a lot of guides and instructors sporting drysuits.
Am I Qualified?
We'll get you there if not.
To sign up for a guided cavern dive, we ask that you have a minimum of 25 logged dives, have dived within the last six months, and have excellent buoyancy control. You must complete the Diver Medical Statement, present certification cards, and sign and understand our Guided Dive Liability Release – you can find these forms on our website here.
If a diver has any affirmative “yes” answers on the medical statement, the diver will need a doctor’s clearance to dive.
For more advanced levels of guided dives we will be happy to bring you on dives to whatever your certification level allows.
For prerequisites on more advanced levels of training you can read here.
Do You Ocean Dive?
We’re big believers in diving in diverse environments, and with the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System lying just meters offshore, it’s hardly a chore. We can arrange dives out of nearby Akumal, and of course, there are also day trips to Cozumel for magnificent wall diving. Of course, a quick detour to a cenote to rinse the salt water off your gear is highly recommended!
What Should I Bring On A Guided Dive Day?
A sense of keen anticipation and your dive gear.
Sunglasses and some bug-spray (during the summer months) also wouldn’t go astray. We’ll provide ear-beer, a packed lunch, and lots of fluids to keep you hydrated and happy.
Is There a Nearby Hyperbaric Chamber?
Yes, there are two hyperbaric facilities in Playa Del Carmen and one on Cozumel.
Of course, we have a full DAN oxygen kit and first aid kit onsite for all guided dives, and Rog is moreover a certified emergency medical technician, as well as a DAN First Aid and O2 Administration Instructor.
For more general health issues, there is a large public hospital and several small private hospitals in Playa Del Carmen, some 25 minutes north of XOC-Ha. Tulum also hosts a small private hospital, and both towns have 24-hour Red Cross posts. There are also numerous clinics and pharmacies in the area, and we can always refer you to places staffed with English-speaking medical professionals. We can also arrange a home visit from an English-speaking physician, if you're unable to travel.
What’s There To Do Other Than Dive?
There’s all sorts of amazing stuff to do...
...but we’re usually too busy cave diving or stocking XOC-Ha with provisions to actually do any of it. You can snorkel with the turtles in Akumal Bay, or doze on the white sandy beaches that stretch along the 120 kilometers of the Riviera Maya: there are about three public beach clubs just a two-minute drive from XOC-Ha with sunbeds and cafe service. If you’re of a more cultured, cultivated mindset, you can visit the picturesque Mayan ruins in nearby Tulum or Muyil, or drive further inland to Chichen Itza for a day-trip. Nature-lovers will revel in the plants and animals that populate the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, whereas more active folk can visit the numerous adventure parks that populate the area, or get their zen on at Tulum’s plentiful yoga studios.
Do I Need A Mexican Visa?
The same as what Nelly used to wear under her drysuit: Depends.
It depends on a lot of things, especially whatever passport you carry. Consult your friendly Mexican Embassy or Consulate at home before making travel plans.
Is Your Water Safe?
Absolutely, providing you use the "right" water" for the "right" function.
The tap water is fine for showering and brushing your teeth, and while it is contaminant free (we are upstream of any significant development that might pollute), it is very, very hard and tastes salty. Everyone here drinks bottled purified water. We provide free bottled water at all our guesthouses.
All the water/ice cubes in the restaurants and bars you visit in Tulum or Playa del Carmen is purified – while you’re out and about, you will no doubt see water trucks making their rounds in all the towns. So drink up with absolute peace of mind– hydration while diving is especially crucial.
Is the Riviera Maya Safe?
While there has been a recent uptick in news-stories (thanks to the enormous influx of Tulum ravers needing rave drugs for their raves) the bulk of cartel-related violence that makes the headlines is chiefly confined to the country’s border territory with the United States – very distant from the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s a three-day drive, in fact (we should know, we did it).
That’s not to say you should leave great flipping wads of cash and credit cards in your car while diving, or walk around Playa del Carmen with your passport sticking conspicuously out of your back pocket, but surely you never do stuff like that anyway? Leave all that stuff back at your guesthouse, and it will be as safe as – well, houses.
If you prefer a more visual representation of this region's safety, this graphic pretty much says it all!
Where's The PayPal Family/Friends Payment Option?
It doesn't exist for business registered with PayPal in Mexico.
PayPal scrapped the option in 2017 at the request of the Mexican government due to pressure from the country’s banking sector (the banks were aggrieved that people were using PayPal accounts to buy and sell goods/services without incurring fees, and using them as proxy credit lines). It’s a bummer that we can’t treat our clients as family and friends under PayPal, but the rules here just don’t allow it anymore.