Scuba Diving Cozumel

Scuba Diving Cozumel

A Diver's Paradise


Scuba diving Cozumel is at the top of many divers "must do" list. It is one of the most popular dive destinations in the world. Fascinating marine animals and scuba dive locations that are riddled with twists, turns, cracks and swim throughts that are covered with bright red and orange encrusting corals have made Cozumel the Western Caribbeans diver's paradise.

Scuba diving destinations are generally either both overflowing with tourists and missing the serene tranquility that should accompany diving, or they are so remote and uncommon that accommodations are nearly nonexistent. However, there is one destination that, even after years of tourists flooding in and out of it, has managed to hold onto its serenity while still being an excellent host to adventure seekers.

While scuba diving Cozumel divers can experience a rare luxury, as well as breathtaking views, incredible sea life, and a fantastic subtropical climate. If you are considering a scuba diving holiday destination, you need look no further than Cozumel.

The Island Basics

Cozumel is the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean at 28 miles long and 10 miles wide. Located just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and about 40 miles from Cancun, the diving industry regards it as one of the best scuba dive locations worldwide, though it attracts just as many non-diving visitors.

Cozumel is one of the ten municipalities of Quintana Roo and was originally settled by the Mayans over 2,000 years ago. The very name of the island, "Cozumel", is derived from the Mayan words meaning, "Land of the swallows". The island was once also considered sacred to the Mayans. Pilgrimages were held to travel to the island to worship the goddess Ixchel, believed to be the goddess of fertility.

Almost the entire population of the island lives in San Miguel, a town with a population of just over 90,000. Other than San Miguel, the majority of the island is flat and barren. Spanish is the official language of the island, though there are a few who have held onto their heritage and still speak Mayan. English is very widely spoken, though, so travelers need not worry.

Scuba diving Cozumel can be done through out the year. A subtropical climate means that you can expect rain year round as well as plenty of sunshine. May through September is considered the rainy season, but most days divers are still safe to venture out. The water temperature varies between seasons from about 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 85; divers are advised to come equipped with a medium wetsuit.

The Reefs

Scuba diving Cozumel is centered on the island's amazing reefs. There are both reefs and coral formations that are relatively shallow extending from the island's southern tip all the way to the west coast. There are over 30 incredible reefs that divers can explore. Which ones you choose to dive will all depend on your personal preference, availability, and your skill level.

The reefs themselves are amazing sights to take in. The Chankanaab Lagoon has coral and limestone that extend anywhere from 6 to 30 feet. This site is one of the most popular among those scuba diving Cozumel and was described by Jacques Cousteau as the dive of a lifetime.

The two main reefs that surround the island are the Columbia and Palancar reefs. This reef system begins as shallow as 30 feet deep. Perhaps even more brilliant than the reefs themselves, is the sea life that divers can take in. Thanks to the incredible abundance of sea life as well the crystal clarity of the water, you don't even need to be a diver to catch a glimpse. Simply slipping on a snorkel and mask will give you plenty to observe.

The reefs are so outstanding and unique that the Mexican government established a marine environment conservation area. The Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park was created in 1996 to help protect the marine ecosystem. Under this protective act, everyone is prohibited from removing, or even touching, any form of marine life inside the set boundaries of the park. When scuba diving Cozumel divers will be treated to one of the most pristine underwater environments found anywhere in the Caribbean.

Taking a Dive

When scuba diving Cozumel, diver will find a number of day trips as well as amazing night dives. A diver will never get bored or run out of things to do since each dive site has something totally different to offer. Cozumel is also an excellent location for divers of all skill levels since they have everything from shallow 20 foot depths to over 130 feet deep.

Here are a few popular dive sites that you don't want to miss when you are scuba diving in Cozumel:

  • Paradise Reef - an excellent dive site for beginners, the depth is only 20 to 50 feet. Snorkelers can also enjoy this site since the shallow water along with its clarity make it easy to see everything. This site is also a great spot for night dives and divers can expect to see reefs, large brain coral, and sea sponges. If you are lucky, you may also catch sight of a Toadfish.

  • Chankanaab Caves - another great spot for beginners and experienced divers alike, the depth here as a maximum of 35 feet. The limestone caves, called cenotes, allow you to see cold fresh water flowing into the sea. Tarpan are commonly found swimming here, and the mix of warm salt water with cold fresh water is indescribable.

  • Tormentos Reef - experienced divers can appreciate the incredibly fast currents found at this site. At 50 to 70 feet deep, large brain and whip corals, angelfish, and eels are common sights to enjoy.

  • Maracaibo Deep - this 90 to 140 foot deep dive site is the farthest south reef on the island. A site only intended for the most advanced divers, you can expect current and topside turf. At 90 feet, the wall begins and is completely covered in huge elephant ear sponges that are a vibrant orange. Beautiful black and sheet coral are also found here, but nothing compares to what you may find swimming through the channel; rays, turtles, and sharks.

These are just a few of the many dive sites you can find when scuba diving Cozumel. With an abundance of marine life and amazing reef systems it is easy to see why Cozumel is considered to one of the best scuba dive locations in the world.

Photographers - Zanzibar and Rafael Robayna

"Scuba Diving Cozumel" was written by Rutger Thole, founder of Book Your Dive. Rutger is a scuba instructor who use to work in Cozumel. He has been gracious enough to share some first hand information about diving on the island. You can catch Rutger and see other diving experiences he has written about by visiting his website.

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