Scuba diving in Cozumel
The island of Cozumel, Mexico’s third biggest island, is located 16km east of Playa del Carmen in the Caribbean Sea. Cozumel is approximately 45km wide and 15km long, and most of the 77,000 inhabitants live in the capital of San Miguel. Two ferries run almost hourly between Playa del Carmen and San Miguel. The ferry is air-conditioned and quite comfortable, the ride lasting about 45 minutes.
Around 1000 A.D. Cozumel was a religious and cultural center of the Mayan world. The Spanish conquistador Juan de Grijalva landed in 1518 on Cozumel and named the island “Isla de Santa Cruz.” Hernán Cortez began his campaign of conquest against the Aztec Empire in 1519 on precisely this “Isla de Santa Cruz.” In 2005, Cozumel was directly hit by the hurricanes “Emily” and “Wilma.”
Cozumel owes its special reputation as a diving and snorkeling paradise primarily to the French pioneer of diving Jacques Cousteau. He discovered the beauty of this underwater world in the 1960s. Cozumel is part of the second longest barrier reef in the world, the Meso-American reef. This runs from Cancun to Belize. Since 1996, the southwest, south and southeast of the island have been a protected marine park. This includes 85% of the dive sites of Cozumel. Though Cozumel was hit repeatedly in the past by hurricanes, reefs have almost entirely recovered.
We offer two different dive excursions to Cozumel.
Cozumel by ferry:
We start our Cozumel dive adventure with the ferry to San Miguel. We are then picked up by our dive boat, and our excursion takes us far into the south of the island to the dive sites around the Palancar reef. After the first dive we spend the lunch break on the beach. The second dive will be in the range between Punta Dalila and the Wreck C-53. Before we start the return trip by ferry we usually still have time for a beer or a Coke in the smallest Hard Rock Cafe in the world.
Cozumel direct by boat:
The big advantage of this direct trip to Cozumel is the time. We take you to the diveboat and cross directly the chanel with the diveboat to Cozumel and head for the first dive site. Usually we start with one of the amazing wall dives in the south of the island. After a break with snack lunch aboard the dive boat we go for the second dive site. The second dive will be shallower but usually with medium to strong current. After the second dive we go directly back to Playa del Carmen and you will have most of the afternoon for yourself.
The reefs of Cozumel
The Barracuda Reef is a dive site with strong currents for advanced divers. The actual reef is at a depth between 20m and 40m and is no more than a ledge of overhangs. The conditions are rarely good enough to safely dive here. But when you can, you will often see nurse sharks, turtles, moray eels, eagle rays and sometimes also the famous Splendid Toadfish which only exists in Cozumel.
San Juan is the perfect second dive after Barracuda or Cantarell. The reef is between 12mand 18m depth with strong currents, an abundance of corals and large sponges. It is also possible to dive the second channel.barracudas and turtles.
The reefs depth is in between 12m and 30m. An excellent dive site in the months of December to February due to the passing eagle rays. This special parade can be observed along the wall beginning at around 24m depth. Later it goes into the shallower area with Schnepf knife fish and maybe a seahorse.
Villa Blancas Wall is located in front of the Hotel Villa Blanca. Here there is usually a strong current. The reef is between 12m and 40m and is covered mostly with various sponges. Villa Blanca is home to many juvenile fish and some turtles.
Paraiso is a simple reef with a maximum depth of 10m – 12m. It is the first dive site of the Marine National Park, located right at the harbor entrance Carleta and is a good dive site for the second dive. Several coral series parallel to the coast with sponges and anemones. There are good opportunities to spot moray eels, groupers, pits, Knight fish, lobster, grunts, snappers and many queen angelfish. In the surrounding sand you also may find stingrays and pheasant Butt-fish.
Las Palmas is an easy dive site with 10m – 15m depth. It is a good alternative to Paraiso, only here the drift from time to time changes. Sponges and brain corals abound, and chances are good for spotting turtles, Honeycomb Cowfish, parrot fish and lobster. In the surrounding sand, there may be found a stingray and pheasant Butt-fish like in Paraiso.
The wreck C-53 is a Mexican shipwreck that sunk in 2000, intentionally in the Marine National Park. It still has two sister ships, one in front of Puerto Morelos and one before Cancun that have also been deliberately sunk. The dive is easy to moderate. The wreck is surrounded by sand at a depth between 15m – 20m and almost every time you can find a giant green moray eel inside.
Chancanaab is an easy dive with a maximum of 10m – 12m depth. The reef is in front of the homonymous Chankanaab Park and is also suitable as a beach dive. The visibility is usually not so good, but coral heads stick out of the sand and there are cavort crab, lobster, grunts, snappers and moray eels in the area. Look out for cleaning stations of boar wrasses and French angelfish and maybe you’ll even find a seahorse.
Tormentos is a good second dive, moderate to 18m depth with normally strong current. Divers with good air consumption can start in Yucab and dive to Tormentos. The reef is a beautiful coral with tunnels and overhangs full of swarms of grunts and snappers. We often find nurse sharks, turtles, coral frogfish and barracudas in the drift.
Yucab is similar to Tormentos. A good second dive, moderate to 18m depth with normally strong currents. Divers with good air consumption can start in Yucab and dive to Tormentos. The dive starts in the grasslands with stingrays and maybe a seahorse. Later it goes to the coral back with tunnels and overhangs full of swarms of grunts and snappers. Here you will find nurse sharks, turtles and barracuda coral frogfish in the drift.
Punta Tunich Wall
Punta Tuních Wall is a moderate dive between 15m – 40m. Actually, it’s more of a slope than a cliff with a flat growth of innumerable sponges and corals. Here are also a lot of black spring polyps (just look… don’t touch!). Between the coral, swim countless monk fish, schools of grunts and snappers, parrotfish and angelfish. Maybe even a nurse shark or turtle.
San Francisco is similar to Punta Tuních Wall. Moderate between 15m – 40m depth, not too strong of a current, actually more of a slope than a cliff with a flat growth of sponges and corals. From time to time you will find at the beginning of the slope an eagle ray gliding over the sand surface. Beyond the slope, wait with parrotfish, turtles and French angelfish.
Santa Rosa Wall
Santa Rosa Wall is just the kind of dive that makes Cozumel famous. Moderate between 15m – 40m depth with moderate flow. Here we find a steep wall with countless overhangs and tunnels which connect the wall to the overlying sand surface. One can find turtles, parrotfish, angelfish and maybe a Green Giant Moray. With Nitrox you can start the dive at the Cedral Wall and enjoy a long dive along that beautiful wall.
Paso El Cedral
Paso El Cedral is a where you can choose to dive at the wall or at the reef. The drift is usually medium-strong and the reef consists of an endless coral back full of sponges and hard corals. Here you will find cavort parrotfish, turtles and large groupers. The wall of El Cedral is similar to the steep face of Santa Rosa.
La Francesa is a very good second dive. Simply 9m – 18m depth and little drift. The reef consists of a coral ridge surrounded by and repeatedly interrupted by sandy areas. Between the corals and sponges are lobsters, crabs and the famous coral toadfish. On the top reef you can see groupers and turtles.
Punta Dalida is a very interesting second dive with 12m – 18m depth and rather mild drift. The reef consists of an elongated coral back with overhangs and tunnels full of surprises. The reef is covered with countless sponges and with a little luck you may encounter a green turtle or eagle rays.
Palancar Gardens is part of the famous Palancar Reef. The site has moderate current and a depth of 9m – 40m. The dive usually starts on the sand surface and slowly floats to the outside wall. Towering pinnacles and coral-covered slopes provide a stunning backdrop for this diving experience. It is a multilevel dive and ends on the top reef at 9m.
is also part of the famous Palancar reef and owes its name to the large, horseshoe-shaped formation also visible from the surface. The site has moderate drift and a depth between 15m – 40m. Worth seeing are the canyons, pinnacles, towers and tunnels of coral that drop steeply to the outer wall. It is a multilevel dive.
The special thing about Palancar Caves are the countless caves, passages and tunnels that wind through the canyons of coral. Palancar Caves is part of the famous Palancar Reef. The site has moderate drift and a depth between 12m – 40m. It is a multilevel dive that ends in the shallower reef at 12m.
Palancar Bricks is also part of the famous Palancar reef and owes its name to the red bricks a vessel once has lost here. The site has moderate drift and a depth between 15m – 40m. Palancar Bricks is repeatedly interrupted by stretches of sand. Also worth seeing here are the canyons, pinnacles, towers and tunnels of coral that drop down steeply to the outer wall. This is a fantastic multi-level dive.
Colombia is divided into 3 sections. You can dive that reef on the Wall but also on the top reef, it is a perfect Multilevel dive. Numerous passages and great coral formations make this dive site one of the most diverse dive sites of Cozumel. Turtles, lots of fish and maybe an eagle ray are the icing on the cake of this fantastic dive.
Punta Sur is one of the most famous reefs in the south of Cozumel. Actually, this reef is divided into two parts: the Cathedral and Devils Throat. Because of the depth of 15m – 42m and the sometimes very strong currents, this dive is for advanced divers only. Here you will find lots of turtles but not so many fish.
Cathedral is a spectacular dive to 35m depth on the outer wall. Huge coral formations and large passages to the outer reef before reaching the northerly Cathedral.
Devils Throat is a narrow tunnel in the wall of the coral that starts at 25m and drops. Here you have the possibility to choose between two variants. The first variant falls to 35m and ends at the outside wall. The second, spectacular variant falls from up to 42m with a constriction before you reach the outer reef.
Chun Chacaab is the surface area of the Maracaibo reef between 18m – 25m. Again, there are unpredictable currents and high wave conditions. Chun Chacaab is a unique reef, shaped by the sometimes very strong current and finger-like coral back. Here you will find countless columns full of life. A fantastic reef rich in turtles, nurse sharks and eagle rays.
Maracaibo is the most southern reef of Cozumel, possibly the most spectacular site and only suitable for advanced divers. Unpredictable drift, high waves and a depth of 21m – 45m. The reef starts at a depth of 25m with breathtaking overhangs above a deep blue abyss. The highlight is the perfectly-shaped arch that is swimmable along the steep wall. Here one regularly encounters nurse sharks and turtles, and with a little luck you can see reef sharks and eagle rays in the blue water.
|Cozumel ferry||120 USD||➤ Full day 2 tank diving trip at the reefs of Cozumel (Ferry included).|
|Cozumel Direct||140 USD||➤ Half day 2 tank diving trip at the reefs of Cozumel.|
|Full equipment||20 USD||➤ Full diving equipment including diving computer.|
|Partial Equipment||5 USD||➤ Each part of the equipment (mask and fins, bcd, suit, regulator, computer).|
- All prices are in US Dollar and subject to change without notice.