Dreamtime Dive Resort

After a spectacular coastal drive south from Cancun — perhaps with a lunch stop in historic Tulum — you'll slip into sheer barefoot comfort at Dream-time in Mahahual on the Costa Maya. And you might as well shove those shoes under your bed for the duration because this beachfront resort is a 100-percent-barefoot kind of place. Calm waters lap the beach, palm trees cast shadows on the sand and hammocks swing in the shade while the rest of the world races on. Your home is a traditional cabana with a woven palapa roof and split-wood walls. Climate control and electricity are courtesy of the sun and the wind: effective and environmentally kind.

This is a PADI resort, and even though it seems like a sleepy, quiet spot, the standards are quite high. Check the rental gear, and you'll find a good selection of well-maintained late-model equipment. The boats are custom-designed with the largest taking a max of 12 divers. No cattle-boat diving here. All are equipped with modern four-stroke outboards and full safety gear, including oxygen.

Mahahual is a little fishing village on the cusp of big change. The fishermen have become dive-boat captains, sharing their secret spots with enthusiastic divers and leaving the fish to reproduce.

1. Cabana interior 2. Sea turtle at Front Garden dive site in front of resort 3. Dreamtime beachfront

Accommodations: Seven cabanas

— built by hand by Maya craftsmen

— each with two double beds, a bathroom with a hot shower, a private deck and a hammock

Amenities: Full continental breakfast, high-speed wireless Internet, fullservice instructional PADI dive center

Contact Information: Tel.: 904-730-4337 (U.S.), +52-983-834-5818 or +52 983-834-58 23 (Mexico); website: dreamtimediving.com; e-mail: [email protected]

1. Cabana interior 2. Sea turtle at Front Garden dive site in front of resort 3. Dreamtime beachfront

The drill is easy: Just walk across the sand and board the dive boats right from the beach. A short ride across the lagoon and through the reef puts you on any of dozens of sites, but the whole area is so lightly dived that there are still areas to be explored. The bigger boats make the 19-mile run to Chinchorro Banks, a true diver's delight where you're likely to be the first human the fish have ever seen.

Accommodations: Seven cabanas

— built by hand by Maya craftsmen

— each with two double beds, a bathroom with a hot shower, a private deck and a hammock

Amenities: Full continental breakfast, high-speed wireless Internet, fullservice instructional PADI dive center

Contact Information: Tel.: 904-730-4337 (U.S.), +52-983-834-5818 or +52 983-834-58 23 (Mexico); website: dreamtimediving.com; e-mail: [email protected]

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