Diving in Cozumel
Cozumel is Mexico’s third largest island and is regarded as one of the best diving spots in the Mexican Caribbean, perhaps the entire world.
Cozumel is just off the Yucatan Peninsula and is easily reached by ferry from Playa del Carmen. There are 2 different companies that provide ferry services and the crossing takes about 45 minutes. With a dive-friendly climate all year round, Cozumel is one of the most beautiful and, at the same time, the most hidden diving wonders.
While you snorkel or dive, you won´t experience being shoulder to shoulder with a stranger in the water. We dive as early as possible to ensure that your dive is as relaxed and enjoyable as possible.
Reefs and coral formations in shallow water are the backdrop for almost every marine adventure you can enjoy at Cozumel. These stunning underwater landscapes are omnipresent on the west coast of the island, from the southern tip to almost San Miguel. The entire coast is a marine national park and is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef system in the world. In this protected area, fishing is not allowed. As you lazily drift along the reefs of Cozumel, be prepared to see a wide range of aquatic life from huge groupers and lobsters to the smallest pipehorses and nudibranchs. Simply enjoying nature is always a good reason to linger here.
The world-famous Colombia and Palancar reefs form a ring around the southern tip of Cozumel. These wonders feature towering pinnacles and gorgeous formations that divers just love. The natural treasures of the sea are plentiful on these two reefs – the abundance of colorful corals and other marine life takes your breath away.
The story of Cozumel:
Like the rest of the Yucatan, the island of Cozumel was formed from limestone.
The teardrop-shaped island is 45.3 km long and 16.6 km wide. With a total area of 477.85 km², it is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island.
It’s not certain who the first settlers of Cozumel were. The Maya left traces of having settled there long before the Spanish conquest.
The island was an economic and religious center of the region as early as 1000 AD. It was sacred to the Maya and consecrated to the moon and fertility goddess, Ixchel .
Ixchel was the goddess of the earth and the moon and the patroness of water, the rainbow and pregnant women. According to Mayan legends, the islanders erected temples to honor her and they became an important pilgrimage site for the Maya, especially women who wanted children.
As a gesture of gratitude, the goddess sent the swallow, her favorite bird, to the island. Cozumel´s original name is believed to have come from the Mayan “Ah-Cuzamil-Peten” (“Land of the Swallows”).
The first Spanish explorer was the conquistador Juan de Grijalva. He landed on Cozumel in 1518 and named the island ” Isla de Santa Cruz “. For Hernán Cortés, it was the first stop in 1519 on his campaign to conquer the Aztec Empire.
About 40,000 Maya lived on the island at the time. They were later almost completely wiped out by the smallpox virus introduced by the Spaniards.
There are several ruins on the island. The largest Mayan ruins on the island were blown up and leveled to build a runway for aircraft during World War II. The ruins of San Gervasio, in the center of the island, are the largest surviving Mayan ruins on Cozumel.
Cozumel dive details:
We start in the morning at 8 AM with pick-up in Playa del Carmen. After a 10-minute drive to a small harbor in Playa, we board the speed boat that takes us directly to Cozumel.
The travel time to the reefs of the island is only about 35-45 minutes, which is much faster and more comfortable than arriving by ferry. We’ll do the first dive at one of the phenomenal drop offs for which Cozumel is famous.
After the first dive, there are light snacks on the boat. Typically, there are sandwiches to make yourself as well as fruit and muffins. The second dive takes place on one of the inner reefs. Usually a moderate current allows us to see large schools of jacks or sometimes eagle rays or nurse sharks.
Since Cozumel is a national park, the nature here is untouched by fishing and this easily can be seen by the size of the marine life.
Diving on Cozumel is and remains something very special. So what are you waiting for?
Just some of Cozumel´s Divesites
Palancar Gardens 10-35 meters
Palancar Gardens is one of the reefs within the Palancar chain to the south. It is usually made as a first dive.
The dive usually begins in the shallow sandy area (6-7 meters) from where you make your way to the steep wall. On the wall you simply let yourself glide along with the pleasant current or you dive inside the reef through one of the countless reef caves.
The fish population is not as high here as on other reefs, but the gigantic coral towers are guaranteed to give you an unforgettable dive.
La Francesa 10-18 meters
La Francesa is usually done as a second dive. The moderate currents take you past a series of coral heads about 3-4 meters high that run parallel to the shore.
The best way to dive this reef is to follow the edge on the left side of the reef. Many turtles, nurse sharks and species of large grouper are at home here.
With a trained eye, you can always find lobster, octopus or even the splendid toadfish. Southern stingrays and sea urchins are often found in the sandy sections.
Paso del Cedral 15-20 meters
Paso del Cedral is one of the dive sites that you can dive in several ways. For a deeper dive, there is the steep wall that is very similar to Santa Rosa Reef. Another option is to dive the shallower inner reef.
The current here is moderate to strong, as is often the case when diving on Cozumel, but this gives us a lot of marine life to see.
Parrotfish, barracudas, nurse sharks and large grouper cavort here. This dive site is very suitable for photographers.
Tormentos 15-20 meters
Tormentos is an easy second dive. The reef edge runs permanently on your right side. Divers with good air consumption can start their dive at Yucab Reef and continue on to Tormentos.
The reef is full of overhangs where you can find schools of grunts and snappers.
Many crabs and lobsters also feel at home here. With a bit of luck, you´ll be surprised by an eagle ray or nurse shark while diving