Cozumel - Scuba Diving Paradise

 

No description could do the diving in Cozumel justice. Here are just some short videos I have taken (or borrowed from youtube) to share some of our favourite Cozumel dives. While there are numerous dive operations in Cozumel, we would recommend one that is a partner of the Coral Reef Alliance in Mexico found here: http://coral.org/what-we-do/where-we-work/mexico/partners-people/ 

 

Cozumel Up North

 

One of the first times I had put a dive camera to use, was Cozumel. A little Canon SD130. Little did I know that on day 1, I had not sealed the housing properly, and glub glub glub, the camera went for a swim...

 

This was the last day of diving we did, up north to see some beautiful eagle rays.

Drift Dive Capital of the World

 

Cozumel is the drift diving capital of the world, virtually all diving here involves varying degrees of drifting. With an understanding of the techniques involved, drift diving becomes one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to explore the reefs. Other benefits of good drift diving skills are air conservation and extended bottom time. 

 

Check out this awesome video of a free diver drifting...

Cenotes - Playa Del Carmen

 

Diving the cenotes is not for the faint hearted, and these unique environments deserve much respect. A short ferry ride from Cozumel as a day trip, we headed out to Chac Mool cenote and were blown away by the shear beauty of something very unfamiliar...

 

Sunset at the end is back on San Francisco Beach, Cozumel.

Cozumel - Dive map and sites

 

From fast and adrenalin high speed wall drifts  up near Barracuda in the north to rolling reefs at Palancar Gardens to the deep blue drop offs and swim throughs near Punta Sur and Maracaibo, Cozumel has it all, with a great wreck at C-53 thrown in for good measure. Read about some of our favourite dives (yellow dots) below:

Cenotes - Playa Del Carmen

 

Diving the cenotes is not for the faint hearted, and these unique environments deserve much respect. A short ferry ride from Cozumel as a day trip, we headed out to Chac Mool cenote and were blown away by the shear beauty of something very unfamiliar...

 

Sunset at the end is back on San Francisco Beach, Cozumel.

Maracaibo

Depth 70'-150' Experience level. Advanced.

 

Current is sometimes unpredictable. Swells are usually large. Danger of being lost at sea. Maracaibo is an extremely impressive wall dive. This is the southernmost reef, very close to the Punta Celerain Lighthouse. There are usually large ocean swells when entering the water. The edge of the wall is about 90' down....descend slowly and keep your bearings. Once to the edge, look over, and you can see a sheer cliff overhand that plummets to the deep blue. Some divemasters will continue on down, as there are some beautiful formations at about 150'. However, most divemasters will take you along the edge of the wall. As you approach the arch, you will see a deep fissure that cuts across the lip of the wall. You will enter this fissure and descend about 30' and come out on the face of the wall and swim north. Looking at the face of the wall you will see one of the most dramatic formations in the area...a large perfectly shaped arch that is about 30' across. You will enter the arch from the bottom and swim up through it, following the fissure that created the arch. Most divemasters will then take you towards the shore and you will come to the Chun-Chacaab reef. Look for Spotted Eagle Rays, Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks, and lots of turtles.

Punta Sur - Cathedral and Devil's Throat

Depth 50'-90' Experience level. Advanced. Current is sometimes unpredictable.

 

There are two main parts of Punta Sur. The Punta Sur reef to the south consists of nice swim throughs and a spectacular chamber called the Cathedral. The northern part of Punta Sur contains the infamous Devil's throat. Due to the depth of the dive and the distance travelled, you will usually do one or the other, but not both. However, if you do the Cathedral section of the reef, you will usually dive by the Devil's throat section on the way to Colombia. The Cathedral section is spectacular. There are large swim throughs at about 110'. The Cathedral is further north from the start of the swim throughs. Currents can be strong when you are out over the wall. Due to the depth of the dive, the strong currents, and the long swim throughs, this dive should only be done by experienced divers. As for Devil's throat, it is a constricted swim through that starts at about 90' depth. There are a few ways to go. One way takes you steadily down and you come out on the wall at 130'. Another way takes you to 115'. You may spot reef sharks here. You will usually see some turtles here, but the fish and animals are not as numerous as other areas.

Santa Rosa

Depth 50'-120' Experience level. Intermediate. Wall dive with moderate current.

 

Santa Rosa is one of Cozumel's signature dives. It is a nice wall with quite a few nice swim throughs. It is not too far from San Miguel so it is easy for the dive boats to get to it. It does get a lot of diver traffic, so try to plan your dive accordingly. It makes a nice afternoon dive, when most of the divers have gone elsewhere. On the top edge of the wall towards shore are sandy bottom areas and with nice big overhangs to hide out from the current. The coral is rocky with large rocky outcrops that are 30-40' tall. The wall drops steeply, but there are ledges and some sandy areas on the way down. There are beautiful swim throughs that take you from the wall back to the sandy area, and vice versa. Look for French Grunts and Schoomasters in the darker areas. You can go deep on this wall, well over 100', and check out some areas that don't get many divers. The wall is steep and rugged, you feel like you are flying along a cliff. There are not as many fish here as there used to be, which may be due to the high traffic. However, there are still a lot of things to be seen. Be on the lookout for Scrawled Filefish, Turtles, Groupers, giant Parrotfish, French and Queen Angelfish, and quite a few Toadfish. There is a good chance of spotting a giant Green Moray eel. You can start Santa Rosa on the Cedral wall. It makes a nice dive with Nitrox, so you can see both walls in one dive. Also, the light is great in the late afternoon. Consider doing this, and then one of the shallow reefs as a night dive. Another option is to do Santa Rosa as a second dive and glide along the top of the wall. It is not done very often and you will see a lot of fish there.

C-53 Wreck

Depth 50'-70' Experience level: Intermediate to Advanced.

 

The C-53 is a 184' long Mexican Navy minesweeper that was sunk in June 2000. Divers may swim around the wreck. In good visibility you can easily see the whole thing. There is a line that can be followed that runs the length of the wreck. Dive masters will take those willing to go on a tour inside of the wreck. There are several openings along the way that could be used to exit the wreck. Divers should be experienced. A light is highly recommended. The wreck can easily be seen in 1/2 hour. If the currents are favorable, and your air supply is OK, you might be able to make a drift dive to Chankanaab. However, for the most part, there is mostly sand close to the wreck, and if you leave the wreck, you will be looking for sand dwelling creatures, such as Manta Shrimp or Peacock Flounder. Inside you may see a giant Green Moray Eel. In addition, you will find Glassy Sweepers in the dark passages. Sponges and coral are starting to form thick colonies on the metal of the wreck. Look carefully for tiny Blenny's, starfish, and cleaner shrimp. 

Paradise Reef/Paraiso

Depth 45' Experience level. Beginner to Intermediate. 

 

The dangerous thing about Paradise is that it is situated south of Puerto Maya Cruise Ship Pier. If the current is strong, you need to be careful to make your ascent prior to drifting into the cruise ships. It is the first reef when entering the Marine Park. It is a popular second tank dive. Experienced divers can dive it from the Caleta as a shore dive. It will take some strong kicking up current to get back to where you started. Paradise Reef is actually three separate reefs with a maximum depth of 45 feet. That makes for a host of awesome dive sites that are easily accessible from the beach which makes it a great dive site for those who are new to scuba diving. Expect to see plenty of lobsters, crabs, angelfish, yellowtails, octopuses moray eels and toadfish here among all of the colors, not to mention balloon-shaped corals. This is a popular site for night dives, so if you’ve ever dreamed of doing one, hire a good divemaster to tour you through the best spots and keep you safe.

Eagle Ray/Cantarell/Barracuda

Depth 40'-120' Experience level. Advanced-Expert

 

There are few other boats there, if any, due to strong currents and danger of being lost at sea. Located on the north end of the island, this reef area can be dangerous to dive if current is running fast.  Because of the severity of conditions, the Port Captain monitors and restricts tourist diving in this area heavily. Rough conditions both topside and below at reef levels are not conducive to recreational divers on a regular basis. Expect to descend, dive, and ascend as a group. If one diver gets separated, the dive should be aborted. Divers have been lost forever doing this dive. Carry a safety sausage. Expect large swells when you surface.

 

The drop is important in order to not scare the Spotted Eagle Rays and to arrive at the right notch in the wall. The wall should be approached from the shallows. You will stay on the edge of the wall for about 30 minutes. If you use nitrox, you can stay about 15 minutes longer, before heading for the shallows to degas. The young Spotted Eagle Ray females start to promenade in December and stay until the end of Febuary. As many as 20 rays will swim by the wall at about 80', although sometimes they are lower and sometimes up higher. The divers will hold onto the dead coral on the wall and just watch the parade. It is difficult to photograph the animals here, as the current is usually very fast. There are usually lots of Turtles. The reef is very deep and consists of a rocky ledge that drops off to the blue. There are a few overhangs where you can rest and wait for the group. Look for lobster, crabs, and Cozumel Splendid Toadfish, as well as the usual French Grunts. You'll see Turtles, moray eels, and Nurse Sharks fairly often. There are some interesting fish in the shallows, dominated by juvenile fish of all kinds, razorfish, an occasional moray eel, and lots of lion fish. Keep an eye out for sea horses and juvenile file fish.

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