When I decided to move to the UK in December of 2020, the country was just coming out of its second national lockdown and things were starting to look a lot like CHRIStmas (literally and figuratively). So, while the US struggled with how to stop a president from using Twitter, I moved to what I assumed would be greener pasture. Well folks… let me tell you, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Within 3 weeks of moving, the UK discovered a new COVID variant and before we knew it, most of Europe wouldn’t let the UK in (those whoors). So, instead of getting the jet setting life I expected and a fancy European holiday break, I was left with almost no options for a holiday and a country that announced yet another national lockdown at the very beginning of 2021.
I wasn’t going to let some fancy shmancy rules get in my way of travel though! After exploring every available option that was open for travel from the UK, I eventually decided on Mexico! That’s right, I moved from the US to the UK, only to travel back to Mexico… #genius.
While I had been to Mexico in November for our Ironman, we failed to see the Bull Sharks that Playa Del Carmen is famous for in the winter months. This time around, I wasn’t going to miss seeing these predators yet again (eat a dick, wind!).
So after flying back across the pond to get back to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico we decided to stay at the Thompson Playa Del Carmen. The hotel is absolutely incredible with a rooftop club and restaurant! It was so good in fact that this was the 2nd time I stayed here, as I liked it so much when we stayed there in November for the Ironman. And while the bathroom layout in the rooms still confuses me, I can’t recommend the rooftop restaurant enough! The octopus was some of the best I have ever had and the desserts… you better just bring an extra stomach, or take a page from my book and look at fullness as an obstacle to overcome :).
Back to why you are here though, the sharkies and their teefies! For this trip, we booked several dives with Phantom Divers, and they were just fantastic. Our guides were all great and so were the divers with us. They were so good in fact, that when our first bull shark dive went awry, they rebooked us for another bull shark dive later in the week for no charge; talk about service!
You might be asking, what went awry, cause that doesn’t sound like a word you want to put in the same sentence as bull shark and dive… And if you were anybody but me, you might be right.
Now for the good stuff. We get to the dive site and our guides let us know there is a strong current gearing up, but we jump in and descend. Within seconds, a wild bull shark appears! At this point I am already over the moon, I finally got to see a bull shark!! As we hit the bottom, the current they warned us about starts wreaking havoc. For the feeding dive, you are supposed to lie on the sandy bottom in a line while a designated feeder stands away from you and gives the sharks chum.
With a strong current, the other divers weren’t able to stay in a line so they start getting swept toward the feeder, who has chainmail (not quite Dwarven Mithril) to keep him semi safe, while the divers just have wetsuits (in case you were curious, shark teeth > neoprene). The chum bucket gets opened for a second by the current and the sharks come swooping in! I had grabbed hold of a rock thinking this is amazing, there’s so many circling us… only to realize we are surround by these sharks and none of the divers are doing what they are supposed to do. It seemed like a perfect storm was brewing for a disaster.
I have to give credit to the guides here though, because when they noticed the group couldn’t handle the current, they rounded everyone up and swam us away from the feeder and circling sharks. All of this happened in a matter of minutes, but felt like an hour. I was still in awe as we ascended. We even had a few of these thicc bois follow us to the surface in what I assume was hope for more tasty treats. All in all, I would give this dive an 8/10. I loved it and this was the whole reason I came back to Mexico, but it could have been a little longer with a smaller chance of limb loss. Lucky for us though, the dive shop rebooked us for the same dive later that week.
As the saying goes, the 2nd time is the charm! Back in the same dive location, we were able to descend with no issues since this time there was no current (hooray). The group lined up and the feeding frenzy began! We had bull sharks everywhere! I felt like my head was on a swivel that I couldn’t turn fast enough. There sharks coming in for the chum, sharks coming around behind us, and even sharks swimming right over top of us! It was basically a perfect feeding dive. Unfortunately, you chill at about 80 feet, so deco comes quick (*insert your favorite sex joke here*) so you really only get about 20 minutes of bottom time. That said, I would take that dive over a lot of longer dives I have had.
Having now gotten to see these bad boys on 3 dives, I can honestly say… 3 times isn’t enough! I can’t wait to find them again, though next time I am hoping to do so on a normal dive without the feeding. For this, our first stop will be Costa Rica in late August/early September.. come on “Big Scare”, don’t let me down!! Without being able to accurately tell you which spot is better for these sharks, I can say that I am thoroughly looking forward to diving in the country of “pura vida,” but would go back to Playa Del Carmen in an instant. You should go too!
PS- happy to join if you need a dive buddy 😉 or soon to be divemaster!