Scuba Diving Cozumel

Cozumel is an island paralleling the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and even though the island is only 30 miles (50km) long and 10 miles (15km) wide, it boasts all the advantages of the mainland plus the clear, teal blue waters of the Caribbean.

Cozumel scuba diving is a diver’s paradise with waters that are sparkling clear and numerous reefs, and a diversity of restaurants and accommodations to fit every budget. Atmosphere and splendid reefs, an extensive watersport program including windsurfing, jet skiing, parasailing and sunbathing makes this island have something for everyone.

The island of Cozumel is separated from the mainland by a 11-mile (18km) channel. You can take a ferry across the channel and then a bus to Cancun. Because of the friendly people and perfect diving conditions, Cozumel is a popular stop for cruise ships. If you have time, Chichen-Itza is the most famous of the ancient Mayan cities. It is only a one hour plane ride from Cozumel. Tulum is another Mayan city that can be reached from Cozumel by taking the ferry to Playa Del Carmen and then by bus or taxi. I enjoyed the picturesque sandy beach located just below the cliffs of the ruins.

The Chankanaab National Park is located 5 miles (8km) south of town or 3 miles (5km) south of the international pier. There are dive operators, restaurants and beach facilities on the premises. It is a great snorkeling area and a good checkout dive. You can see anchors, sunken boat, cannons, and many species of marine life. To the south, you will find several openings in the rock leading to a cave system. Inside the cavern, you will see schools of minnows and several tarpons. Only cave certified divers should proceed past the entrance room.

Another good snorkeling spot and checkout dive would be the DC3 twin engine plane wreck, located just behind the La Ceiba Hotel near the international pier. I gained access by going through the La Ceiba hotel. Another great spot is Playa Corona located just south of Chankanaab Park. There is a dive shop and restaurant on the premises at both locations.

Most of the Cozumel scuba diving is done by boat since the major reefs are well offshore. The current usually goes from the south to the north and constantly washes the island with clear nutrient-rich water. You will be drift diving over the reefs where you will see seafans, gorgonians, bright colorful yellow and orange sponges. You will see French and gray angels swimming in pairs, blue and yellow queen angels, moray eels, sergeant majors, and groupers within touching distance, expecting handouts from the divers. The variety and abundance of marine life are exceptional. The drop offs are dramatic at several locations.

The most famous reef in Cozumel is Palancar Reef. The reef is more than three miles long (5km) and about one mile (1.5km) offshore. Palancar is a conglomeration of many different coral formations with names such as Palancar Gardens, Little Caves, Horseshoe, Palancar Caves, and Deep Palancar. Santa Rosa Reef is probably the second most popular reef. This is a wall dive starting at 50′ – 60′ deep (15m – 18m) and drops off into the deep blue.

Two of my favorite Cozumel shallow dives are Paso El Cedral and Punta Tunich. Both areas have an abundance of marine life. The groupers and angels approach the divers within touching distance. In fact, on my last dive, I saw an eagle ray, two green morays, several spotted morays, and a nurse shark inside a small cave.