Shop Talk | Extreme Control in Tulum, Mexico

Photo: Jonathan Kemnitz

Photo: Jonathan Kemnitz

Extreme Control in Tulum, Mexico

By: Rebecca Parsons

Nestled on the picture-perfect coastline of Tulum, Mexico is Extreme Control, a standup paddle and kiteboarding shop centered around one word: adventure.

From the exterior, Extreme Control isn't much to look at, but step through its doors and you'll be greeted by powder fine sand, a balmy breeze, and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Stroll down the beach a ways and you'll find adorable beachfront bars and famous Mayan ruins hugging the coast.

Founder Marco Cristofanelli hails from Rome, Italy, but made his way to the Riviera Maya in 2000 to teach scuba diving. In 2003, the waterman was sipping a beer in the midst of a tropical storm when he spotted a kite boarder navigating the choppy seas. It was love at first sight.

Extreme Control began after the owner fell in love with this sport.

Extreme Control began after founder Marco Cristofanelli fell in love with kitesurfing.

"I was mesmerized," Cristofanelli recalls.  "After that moment, I could not stop thinking about how I could learn and practice this new sport."

And so, in 2005, Extreme Control opened its doors as the first kiteboarding school in Tulum. Fast forward five years and standup paddling was added to the agenda.

Like many SUP shops, Extreme Control offers rentals and yoga classes, but what sets them apart from the others is that they offer cenote tours. Cenotes are essentially sinkholes, thousands of which are found throughout the Yucatan.

Extreme Control's tour takes place in Casa Cenote, a breathtaking cenote that is located only a short drive from Tulum. The brackish water is a vibrant blue and the cenote serves as a playground to standup paddlers, divers and kayakers. The water is impeccably calm, making it an ideal tour for beginners and experienced paddlers alike.

SUP and snorkeling go together like peanut butter and jelly. Photo: Jonathan Kemnitz

SUP and snorkeling go together like peanut butter and jelly. Photo: Jonathan Kemnitz

The tour starts off paddling through lush mangroves, while your multilingual guide provides interesting tidbits about the local flora and fauna as you go. After about ten minutes, you'll reach the end of the cenote and have the opportunity to don your snorkeling gear, alongside your guide.

While reef snorkeling is amazing, cenote snorkeling is unlike anything you've ever experienced. Some cenotes have overhangs, some have stalagmites and stalactites protruding from their walls and others are entirely underground. Casa Cenote offers unique views of the underside of a mangrove forest, schools of tarpon and other fish, and perhaps the most spectacular feature–a 200-meter cave that leads to the Caribbean Sea. The guides at Extreme Control know the mangrove forest like the back of their hand, and as result will help you navigate the reeds effortlessly. Just be sure and stay close.

Exploring the many mangroves of . Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Exploring the many mangroves of Tulum, Mexico. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

After your initial snorkel, you'll paddle to a second location where you'll have another opportunity to explore the underwater world. Once you've had your fill, you'll paddle back to shore where you'll cool off with fresh coconuts and have the opportunity to feed friendly raccoons tortillas. Take the opportunity to walk across the road to the beach, where you'll find a congregation of divers who have just completed the cenote cave crossing.

If you ever find yourself in Tulum, take the chance to swing by Extreme Control. The staff is friendly and the tours are well worthwhile. In addition to SUP, kiteboarding, and diving, they also offer lodging in downtown, making them the perfect one stop shop. And as promised, you'll be sure to find adventure.

Learn more about Extreme Control at their website.

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