Chinchorro bank is part of the Meso American reef system. It has 3 islands:
- Cayo Norte
- Cayo Central
- Cayo Lobos
Cayo Central is the largest one with a surface of 5.6 km2.
Over the centuries quite some vessels foundered on the coral reefs. After that these sunken ships turned Chinchorro into a true “ships graveyard”. As a result the seafloor is dotted with wrecks of many Galleons, 19th century merchantmen and modern cargo boats. Around the wrecks you will see an amazing world of beautiful colored fishes & coral reefs. With its crystal clear waters Chinchorro is a true divers and snorkelling paradise. Some of the shipwrecks have been identified as: SS Tropic, SS Far Star, SS Ginger Screw, SS Caldera, SS Glen View, SS Penelopez, SS San Andreas and SS Escasell .
In 2009 Pedro González-Rubio filmed the semi-documentary Alamar at Banco Chinchorro.
Snorkel and dive tours to Chinchorro Bank
Since 1996 Chinchorro Bank is a Biosphere Reserve. Consequently the 3 atols are ecologically protected. Only a few dive shops in Mahahual have a permission to take tourists on snorkel and dive tours. Above all, you need good weather and a minimum of 6 persons to go to Chinchorro bank. When the weather is good and the sea is calm, the average time to get to there is 1.5 hours. However, when the sea is rough, it will take easily 2 hours or more to get there.
Dolphins are spotted during many of the boat trips from Maya Luna to Chinchorro. For instance during our first trip we ran into a group of 60 dolphins on our way back to Maya Luna. So our boat captain encouraged us to jump in the water and swim with the dolphins. It was a beautiful experience, one that I will never forget.
Banco Chinchorro, Patrimonio Cultural Sumergido – Arqueología Subacuática INAH / SAS.
An online book about the history of Chinchorro bank (in Spanish)