Cozumel – A Diver’s Dream
The Caribbean… crystal clear azure blue water, fine white sand beaches and tropical islands. Don’t forget Mexico! And don’t be dismayed that you didn’t know that Cozumel is an island off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean. Cozumel (pronounced co-soo-MEL), more often than not, is lumped together with Cancun in casual conversation. Though it is relatively nearby (35 miles south), it is a far different experience from its highly developed counterpart.
In 1961, Jacques Cousteau produced a documentary on the diving in Mexico. His find was so impressive that in the years to follow, divers ranked it among the top five snorkeling and scuba sites in the world. The island of Cozumel measures only 29 miles long by 9 miles wide and is surrounded by coastline that boasts more than 30 spectacular reefs stretching for nearly 20 miles. The water visibility ranges as deep as 280 feet at some reefs with water temperatures averaging around 82 degrees in the summer and around 73 degrees in the winter. Both scuba divers and snorkelers will find Cozumel’s underwater world astounding. There is such a range of possibilities here that many divers find themselves returning again and again just to experience the pure magnitude of these remarkable waters.
The Palancar Reef is the island’s most famous resident. This reef alone has about 40 different dive spots to choose from, each offering its own unique perspective of this incredible natural wonder. The visibility here is said to be 250 feet on most days and is known for over 200 species of tropical fish. The San Francisco Reef is perfect for divers who are interested in shallow wall discovery. The huge coral formations near the surface make these walls easy to access for divers who may feel a bit uneasy with deep diving. The Columbia Reef is for those who want something more challenging. It has canyons and ravines and deep walls for those seeking a quick adrenaline rush. If you are a very experienced and adventurous diver, you will love the Santa Rosa Wall. It is famous for dramatic overhanging corals, tunnels, caves and sharp drop-offs. If you are attracted to deep or drift diving this is the place for you! Also, don’t forget to bring your underwater camera and catch a glimpse of the scenery at the Tormentos Reef. Particularly colorful, this has become a favorite spot for photographers.
For those who haven’t quite mastered deep sea diving, snorkeling is an equally attractive venture on Cozumel. There are countless small reef areas extremely close to shore for the kind of thrill seekers who like the secure knowledge of the beach being nearby. There are also many companies around town who cater to snorkelers and will bring you further out by boat for some fantastic underwater viewing.
Don’t worry about finding a dive shop as there are over 100 on the island! They offer courses from introductory to advanced and specialty shops will arrange cave, cavern and night dives. Any way you look at it, Cozumel is the dive capital of Mexico and a top contender in the entire Caribbean. Town and Country Tours offers direct charter flights from Phoenix to Cancun and they will also package your dive trips to Cozumel. Call your travel agent for details.