Mexico is home to the world's second largest coral reef, and
perhaps the best drift diving in the world.
Visibilities here range over 200 feet, and the water never strays
far below 80°F. Home to over 100 dive shops, Cozumel is
Mexico's only Caribbean island. For more information about
Isla De Cozumel, and photos from our trip, please visit our
This page will focus on our diving experience. For other
diving information, you may want to check out our
scuba page, our
our Playa Del Carmen
page. For these dives, water temperatures were generally
about 80°F on the surface, and about 75° at depth. I wore
a 3mm shorty and Sandra wore a full 3mm wetsuit. We were
quite warm, though on the deeper dives, especially the drift
dives where we weren't moving much, I got chilly at the end.
Air temperatures were in the low 80's all week and the water
was placid and clear. Just beautiful.
We arrived in Cozumel Christmas Day, 1999, and stayed through
the Millennium. We opted out of any millennium dives,
as we were flying to Cancun on New Year's Day. We chose
With Martin as our dive operator, as they offered good packages
at good prices.
They shot an underwater video for us and included dive computers
and equipment in their prices.
With Martin had very fast boats with no more than 8 people
(usually six), and well-maintained equipment. They offered
unlimited shore diving from their dive shop at the International
Pier, a free night dive, and had friendly and helpful staff.
The boat operators generally allowed us to choose where we wanted
to go, and other boats made trips clear to the east side of
Cozumel for some (apparently) really great diving. These
were to be our first boat dives after receiving our certification
and we were a bit nervous, but the divemaster helped us out
and everyone was patient. Overall, we thank
With Martin and our divemaster, José, Jesus and Scott for
their part in making our stay very enjoyable, and we highly
recommend them to anyone.
Choose a link from the table below to visit our experiences
on each reef, or click
here to see
our photos of
our dive trip in Cozumel.
dive was a shore dive, primarily made to inspect our equipment
and rehearse our skills before going on a boat dive. We
checked our weights and hand signals and everything seemed okay.
We didn't actually make it all the way out to the pier, where
we're told there is a lot to see, but it served our purpose.
On the sandy bottom were several species of sponges, a few grunts
and other fish, and one really weird-looking arrow crab.
Visibility here was probably only 60 feet or so, with some surface
chop and 80°F water. Bottom time was about 50 minutes.
This was our first boat dive, so we were a bit nervous, and
my ears didn't equalize well at all. Unlike diving in
Puget Sound, however, I could keep an eye on everyone else while
I descended, even though they were as much as 110 feet down.
I was really nervous about getting separated from the group,
but it was no problem at all. This dive was a drift dive
with a moderate
current. We spent a lot of time keeping track of each
other and I missed a good portion of the dive trying to descend,
but it was still fun. A large portion of our dive was
spent getting used to our buoyancy and equipment and just exhilarating
at the underwater world. Yucab is a large reef on one
side with a deep wall on the other. We stayed at about
50 feet or so (conscious of our open-water certification), while
other divers descended a bit deeper. The reef was alive
with fish, especially butterfly fish, remora, parrotfish, and
grouper. The reef itself was nice, with a large assortment
of sponges and sea fans. We also saw a great barracuda,
over six feet long, looking at us. That made us a bit
nervous, as we were only fifteen feet from it, but it just hung
out. Our bottom time was 52 minutes, and visibility was
over 100 feet, which was great at the time, until we saw what
other areas Cozumel had to offer...
After stopping at a
beach-side restaurant for lunch, we made our way to Las Palmas
Reef, which was similar in constitution to Yucab, with the primary
difference being that it didn't offer the deep wall dive that
Yucab did, and that we were much more comfortable now.
We got a fabulous view of a spotted eagle ray in the distance.
They are so graceful and beautiful... We also saw huge clams
and lobster (5-6 feet), spotted moray eels, lots of featherduster
worms, an array of sponges, and lots of grunts and parrotfish.
After we had ascended to our 15' safety stop, other divers reported
seeing small reef sharks down below, but we didn't get to see
any. Bottom time was 51 minutes with visibility again
around 120 feet.
The next day, we set out again, this time to Santa Rosa Wall.
Our guidebook spoke highly of Santa Rosa, so we were
excited. This was our first wall dive, so we didn't know
what to expect. On this day, descent was easier for me,
as my ears were adjusting to being equalized, although I had
a bit of hearing loss after rupturing a few blood vessels on
my eardrum the day before. We backrolled off the boat
and were soon surrounded by incredible beauty. The coral
which had attached itself to the wall was fabulous. Sponges,
Anemones, Sea Fans, Sea Cucumbers, Angelfish and other gorgeous
neon-colored fish abounded, and simply overwhelmed us.
Sandra was a bit afraid to approach the wall, and struggled
a bit with the current, but close to the wall the current
was perfect. It was enough to carry you, but calm enough
that you could thoroughly examine whatever you wanted.
There were crabs running in and out, moray eels hiding in the
crevices, and just about anything you could want to see.
At the end of our dive, as we began our ascent, we ran into
another great barracuda. He was a little smaller than
the last one, this one only measuring 4 1/2 to 5 feet, but he
looked hungry. Then, as a school of grunts enveloped us
and the barracuda, and he just sat there, we realized that they
just always looked like that! This was a fantastic dive,
one of our favorites. I would do this one again in a heartbeat.
This wall is as deep as you want to go, and visibility is easily
For our shallow dive of the day, we chose Paradise Reef, which
was close in to the shore and a popular site for night dives.
We were a bit skeptical of this dive at first, as we approached
it and saw a lot of dive boats all around, but we were pleasantly
surprised. Tropical fish were
everywhere, and the reef was just a flurry of activity.
Although the reef itself was rather short, the current was mild,
and you could thoroughly explore the ins and outs. We
saw large crabs, some huge triggerfish, a scorpionfish camouflaged
in the reef, some huge shrimp, and just about any variety of
fish you can imagine. Butterfly Fish, Squirrelfish, Angelfish,
Parrotfish, Grunts, and more were absolutely everywhere.
After drifting past the reef, we encountered a sandy bottom
with patches of reef. Although the fish life diminished
greatly here, we saw a number of flounder, hermit crabs, and
an enormous Snapper (6-8 feet long). The snapper had really
big teeth and was checking us out, so we moved on quickly...
Visibility was over 150 feet, despite the popularity of the
site, and our bottom time was about 51 minutes.
was aimed more at seeing larger marine life than fish, and our
group went pretty deep. We weren't certified for this,
but we stayed close to the divemaster. Sandra was very
nervous on this dive, aside from being 100 feet deep, the vastness
of the open ocean on the far side of the reef was spooky, as
it was so deep you couldn't see the floor, and fish life was
scarce. "Perfect Shark Water", she insisted. The
reef was amazing in its
formations, and there were caves and tunnels throughout the
reef that we explored, thoroughly freaking Sandra out.
We d I think we would have enjoyed it
more if we were certified to that depth, so we weren't guilty,
and Sandra was more comfortable.
It was back to Paradise Reef for our second dive. We had
already been to Las Palmas, and the other couple we were
with had been to Chankanab, but nobody but us had been to Paradise
yet. This was so far Sandra's favorite dive, as it was
calm, lots of fish, and not too deep, so we all headed off there.
Again we were swarmed with millions of fish, especially grunts,
angelfish, butterfly fish, parrotfish, and squirrelfish.
We again encountered our friend the Giant Barracuda, who again
did nothing, and saw several huge lobster and crabs. Sea
Cucumber many feet long and lots of flounder also flourished.
This time we spent most of our time on the reef, looking in
and out and chasing schools of fish. Another
good dive, but we had to move along, as another group of divers
was approaching. Visibility was again over 150 feet, and
this dive was a lot of fun. Bottom time was 49 minutes.
Wow. Gorgeous reef formations all around us and fabulous
fish life. Visibility ranged over 200 feet at the beginning
of the dive, diminishing down to around 100 feet toward the
where the fresh water runoff was entering the salt water, bringing
the previously 80°F water down to 65° in places. That
was a shock! But this was a dive where you could have
just sat in one place and screamed "WOW!" and still had a good
time. We didn't see that much in the way of large sea
creatures, but a large variety of fish life abounded at all
depths, which could be as shallow or as deep as you desired,
and tunnels in and around the incredible formations of reef
were fun, and this reef area was unlike any other we had seen.
A great dive, with bottom time around 51 minutes, and a beautiful
sunny day when we got topside. We stopped at a beach for
our surface interval (complete with topless sunbathers), with
a really beautiful jungle. Probably my favorite dive.
This reef was swarming
with activity. Beautifully-colored fish swarmed everywhere.
We found a cave with 8 or more giant lobster, and another with
an octopus trying to cover himself with hermit crabs.
The current was moderate in this area, and although you could
swim against it to look at certain things, it was a bit too
strong for our liking. We ended up just floating over
the reef, admiring the plethora of fish life. Visibility
was well over 150 feet and the water was warm. Bottom
Time: 51 minutes.
Unfortunately, that was our last dive in Cozumel. I wanted
to do more, but we just didn't have enough time. We did,
however, enjoy some really good
snorkeling at our
hotel, Coral Princess Club, and some more at Chankanaub. We
never got to see Columbia Reef, where other groups were sighting
sea turtles, or anything on the easterly side of the island,
but for our first diving trip, it was great. Cozumel was
everything we'd heard it was and more. We had said that
this would be our last trip to Mexico, but after seeing the
reefs of Cozumel, I'm not so sure...