Scuba Diving in Cozumel, Mexico
Located 16 kilometres/10 miles off Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the island of Cozumel is one of the most popular scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean. Cozumel has all the ingredients for a great getaway: friendly locals, good food, lively nightspots, towering coral formations, warm water, great underwater visibility and white sandy beaches. Plus, the peaceful currents mean serene drift dives at most sites.
The Marine Park of Cozumel, created in 1996, has 26 types of corals with more than 100 subspecies. Living in the park are also approximately 500 fish species, including the endemic splendid toadfish. Due to marine life protection programs, divers can also often see loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles.
Cozumel has a variety of different types of dive sites. From shallow dives featuring abundant coral and tropical fish life to challenging drift, wall dives, Cozumel has something for everone. For the most part, it’s all live boat diving – boats drift along behind divers and don’t anchor at all.
Depth: Most sites are between 9-27 metres/30-90 feet deep.
Visibility: Often ranges from 24 to 30 metres/80 to 100 feet.
Current: Cozumel is known for drift diving and can have mild to strong currents, depending on the season and dive site.
The water temperature averages 25 degrees Celsius/77 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 29 degrees Celsius/85 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. Although this might sound warm and cozy, you might need a light to medium wet suit or skin.
Just about any time of year is a great time to visit Cozumel. The rainy season runs from May to September and the middle of autumn is considered hurricane season.. December through March is the commonly the busiest time of the year for tourists. As a result, prices are generally but that also means more activities are on offer for travelers.
Temperatures usually range between 21 and 29 degrees Celsius/70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
A short boat ride will get you to most dive sites but beach diving is also available from a number of access points.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced diver, Cozumel has a dive for you. Divemasters typically allow divers to agree upon the dive site (depending on divers’ experience and skill level). When picking a group to dive with, you’ll get the most our of your experience by sticking with divers at your skill and experience level.
Recommended Scuba Gear:
Recommended Length of Stay:
- 7-14 days
You can spot the endemic splendid toadfish, eagle rays, grunts, snapper, angelfish, parrotfish, moray eels, grouper, hawksbill turtles, trumpetfish, wrasse, hogfish, spotted drum fish, amberjacks, lobster, octopus and even longsnout seahorse.
Featured Dive Sites
Punta Sur Reef
This advanced dive site can be exposed if the weather is acting up and there is just about always current. About an hour’s boat ride, Punta Sur is a fascinating, ethereal dive.
- Minimum depth: 24 metres/80 feet
- Maximum depth: More than 40 metres/130 feet
- Average visibility: More than 30 metres/ 100 feet
Although visiting the site is weather dependent, the deep wall, caverns and fissures put this site at the top of most divers’ lists. You enter one of the larger cavern systems and follow it down a sand chute to 27 metres/90 feet where you enter a complex of coral tunnels and caverns that are absolutely bursting with life.
One of the larger caverns, the Devil’s throat, opens up into an underwater room with four passageways. One leads to the Cathedral, a vast cavern with another three interconnecting passageways.
This is an advanced dive and all divers should explore them only with an experienced local divemaster or instructor and with appropriate training. You’ll need an underwater light and should modify your kick to avoid stirring up sediment that obscures visibility.
Because it is an exposed site, you’ll see more invertebrate life than fish life (outside of angelfish and butterfly fish pairs usually swimming along the reef edge). The deeper coral walls have whip corals spiraling out into the depths and large black corals. There are also small, brightly colored gorgonian sea fans, such as the deep-water fan and sea whips, including the devil’s sea whip. This is an excellent dive, but your time underwater will be limited due to the depth and complex nature of the site.
Divers of all levels will enjoy the slight-to-moderate current that carries them along while exploring the many finger coral formations.
• Minimum depth: 5 metres/17 feet
• Maximum depth: 21 metres/69 feet
• Average visibility: More than 20 metres/66 feet
This strip reef is up to more than 20 metres/66 feet wide and dissected by many fissures and caverns. Within the many sheltered areas, divers can spot huge stovepipe sponges stretching out from the reef and black coral in the deeper areas. Fish like juveniles yellowhead wrasse hide in the deep yellow tube at night for protection and you’ll nearly always see butterfly fish, angelfish, parrot fish and damsel fish.
While scuba diving is Cozumel’s main attraction, you may want to also work some land adventures into your itinerary:
- Chichen-Itza: These famous Mayan Ruins (an UNESCO World Heritage site) are in the northern part of the Yucatán Peninsula.
- Dos Ojos: A day trip to the Sistema Dos Ojos, will introduce you to one of the largest and most beautiful cavern dives around. You’ll want to be cavern certified to make this dive. There is also an extensive underwater cave system but you should not attempt this unless you are fully certified and experienced cave diver. Dos Ojos is just south of the X’el Ha ecopark. See a video clip of this beautiful dive.
- Take an all terrain vehicle jungle tour with Wild Tours.
- Surf Cozumel’s east end at Punta Morena, but be aware of surf conditions.
- Visit the Punta Celerain Lighthouse at Cozumel’s most southeastern point and soak in the breathtaking view from the top or stroll along the surrounding beautiful beaches.
- Explore Chankanaab National Park.
- San Miguel’s nightlife features the famous Carlos’ Charlie’s, salsa dancing and other events including live local music at the plaza on Sunday nights.
- Two great local restaurants are El Foco, which features traditional Mexican fare and the El Capi Navigante seafood restaurant.
Language: Spanish and Mayan, but most people speak English too.
Currency: Mexican Peso
Transportation: Scooters, taxis, rental cars
Want to know more? Visit www.scubaearth.com for further information on thousands of dive sites, marine species, destination essentials and more.
Article Credit: Padi.com