What do you do when you’re a hardcore diving enthusiast wishing to share your skills with others eager to see an underwater world but the coronavirus pandemic has at times brought international travel to a near standstill over the the past year, jeopardizing the financial viability of many companies dependent on tourists?
Well, if you’re Javier Garcia Rubio, you follow your dream and end up landing a dive operation on a part of Mexico’s Caribbean coast that’s flown under the radar by many eager to participate in some sub-surface exploration.
Barcelona native Garcia Rubio – who since 2012 has taught more than than 600 divers under the PADI banner and 200 others with SSI in such far-flung locales as Spain, Thailand, Malta, Cuba and the Dominican Republic before relocating to Playa del Carmen, Mexico – is now running Costa de Cocos Dive Resort in Xcalak, found near the border with Belize. Garcia Rubio says the dive operation had been dormant for 10 years, and he subsequently took it over on Jan. 1, beginning business in April.
Xcalak doesn’t have the same familiarity with divers as such more northerly Quintana Roo locales as Cozumel and Isla Mujeres but Garcia Rubio says it fit his sub-aquatic game plan perfectly.
“I chose Xcalak because it’s the wildest and most natural area of the entire Riviera Maya,” he says, pointing to a long barrier reef found off its shores that extends into Belize waters.
Among marine creatures found in the area are manatees, large but gentle mammals that spend much of their days gorging on sea vegetation.
“There is a lot of diving tourism in Quintana Roo, but unfortunately most of the tourism does not leave the northern part of the Riviera Maya,” says Garcia Rubio, who this year got cave diving certification. “Diving in Xcalak will be unforgettable and probably one of the best dives of your life.”
Garcia Rubio is working with his girlfriend and fellow dive instructor Rut Aguado Martinez, who he met in Playa del Carmen.
Southern Quintana Roo’s coast hasn’t seen nearly the amount of development that points farther north – such as Cancun – have undergone, with Garcia Rubio noting visitors will easily find eco-hotels in the Costa de Cocos area, but won’t come across sprawling resorts.
Garcia Rubio has worked with Canadian clients in different parts of the world, and says we “look for natural places. What the Canadian diver wants is an excellent service where detail is taken care of. Our philosophy is not to mix levels of training with certified divers.”
French-speaking instructors can be provided to those wanting to take a course in that language.
Transfers are available from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
Smallish Xcalak has seen fewer coronavirus cases than other parts of Quintana Roo, says Garcia Rubio, who says the pandemic wasn’t going to deter him from acquiring his own dive operation.
“I’ve been waiting 15 years, since my first dive,” he states. “There is no virus to stop a dream.”