Of all the places in Mexico to dive, Cozumel is the most famous because almost every hotel and resort caters to divers first, and rightfully so since the current washed reefs are some of the most colorful and notable on the planet. Every dive here is a current dive, in some places faster than others, but it's like being wrapped in the arms of the sea and being guided through a wonderland. The sponges, corals and marine life all conspire to wow you with the maximum amount of color anyone can take in at once. Sea turtles and spotted eagle rays are common, as is 45-meter/150-feet of visibility. Truly, a world-class dive experience. Between dives, the town of San Miguel packs in enough restaurants and bars to please any diver, and there's even a Mayan ruin, San Gervasio, on the island if you feel like exploring. But, life on this island centers around diving, partying, kicking back and indulging.
When to go:
The dry season lasts from November through April. Check ahead during hurricane season in September and October.
Marine Life Seasons:
Annual coral spawning, full moon in August or September. Green and loggerhead turtles nest from May through September.
When to Get the Best Deals:
What to Pack:
A 3/2 mm wetsuit, inflatable safety tube for the drift dives, whistle or signaling device, sunscreen, mosquito repellent. DAN card.
Seasonal averages: 25°C/78°F in winter and 27°C/81°F in summer.
Seasonal averages: 23°C/75°F in winter and 33°C/92°F in summer.
Mexican Peso; Credit cards are accepted at some hotels, restaurants and large stores.
Valid passport; check with local immigration office for visa requirements.
Usually included in your airfare.
What to Eat:
With the wide variety of restaurants in Cozumel, you'll eat well. Don't hesitate to try local Yucatan and Mexican dishes, such as Tikin-Xic (baked fish) or Huevos Motelenos (tortilla topped with beans and fried eggs smothered in sauce). Churros are always good for dessert.
What to Drink:
All the Mexican beers are readily available - Corona, Pacifico, Sol, Tecate, Dos XX, Montejo, etc. You can sample a wide variety of tequila in Cozumel, as shots, in margaritas or mixed into other cocktails. Try one of their home-made aguas (flavored water and sugar), like tamarindo and Jamaica, or horchata (sweet rice drink).
Although diving is the focus on Cozumel, you can visit the San Gervasio Mayan ruins; learn to kiteboard; the local salsa dancing scene is lively; and if you play golf, you'll find a couple of courses on the island.
Customs and Culture:
Cozumel is all about fun.
Of course, Cinco de Mayo is a great party day for locals and divers; Cozumel Carnival in February grows every year; and there's a local festival about once a week, mostly around a saint or other religious figure.
Electricity and Internet:
The electricity is 110 volts, 60Hz. Internet is available at most hotels.
Drink the water?
Bottled water is recommended.
Spanish. English is widely spoken.
Amazing Marine Life
Found only in Cozumel, this toadfish sports electric blue-and-black stripes.
Hawksbill, loggerhead, and green turtles can be found swimming in leisurely fashion or napping under ledges on most reefs.
Small but dramatic blenny pops out of the reef and signals to all the women around with its large dorsal fin.
This electric-blue or fuchsia-colored fish (with a dark patch on its head) sometimes swims upside down while feeding inside the cenotes.
Seen prowling the reefs on night dives.
These predatory pelagic fish are often seen on the reefs. They can swim at incredible speeds and can grow up to two meters/six feet in length, but even a small one can earn a diver's respect with a flash of its razor-sharp teeth.
Spotted Eagle Ray:
This dappled cousin of the manta ray can be seen soaring near reefs near open water.
Take a close look under ledges and around reef structures for nurse sharks.
Brown and white grouper that likes to have its chin scratched.
Top Dive Spots
Santa Rosa Wall:
A popular wall dive, this reef starts at 15 meters/50 feet and plummets into the deep. Among the immense sponges, enormous hard coral formations, caves, overhangs, and swim-through tunnels, divers may see rope sponges, tentacle file clams, hermit crabs, gobies, blennies, barracuda, parrotfish, eagle rays, turtles, and large black grouper.
This deep reef is accessible only from May through September, but the clear visibility in those months allows divers to peer into the depths. Look for parrotfish, turtles, sharks, and eagle rays.
The tumultuous ocean conditions here attract large pelagics like schooling jacks, turtles, reef sharks, eagle rays, barracuda, and even hammerhead sharks looking for converging currents. Be cautious of the strong current here that heads out to open sea.
San Juan Reef:
Noted for stunning corals and enormous barrel sponges (sculpted into odd shapes by the currents), this drift dive offers a plethora of reef fish, turtles, nurse sharks, schooling jacks, dolphins, and even hammerhead sharks when currents and conditions allow for a dive. Be cautious of strong currents.
Villa Blanca Shallows:
A great beach dive or night dive, this gentle slope offers abundant coral and reef fish, as well as squirrelfish, sea fans, green morays, and spotted golden-tail eels.
Actually a trio of reefs parallel to the shore, this site is accessible from the beach and enjoyable for both day and night dives. Look for octopus, crabs, lobsters, and the splendid toadfish (only found in Cozumel waters). The annual coral spawning here (under a full moon in August or September) is a spectacular night sight.
Punta Sur, Devil's Throat:
Start with a coral swim-through and descend into a narrow tunnel at 27 meters/90 feet, which opens onto a sunlit wall at 40 meters/130 feet with a view overlooking the abyss below. Look for angelfish and butterflyfish, black coral, whip corals, small sea fans, devil's sea whip, eagle rays and sharks.
Sculpted with buttresses, tunnels, and large caverns, this site features crabs, lobsters, brain coral, star coral, and sheet coral, as well as glimpses of eagle rays, turtles, and large grouper.
Offshore of Chankanaab National Park from a white-sand beach, this site is famous for its 3-meter/9-foot-tall underwater Christ statue. In calm, clear water, divers can see an array of corals and reef fish, including fan coral, trumpetfish, squid, sand rays, stonefish, scorpion fish, toadfish, triggerfish, tangs, crabs, horse-eye jacks, and the occasional barracuda. Night divers will likely see a profusion of lobsters, crabs, and octopus.
Although this 21-to-27-meter/70-to-90-foot site is referred to as the "shallows," that designation is only in comparison to the reef of the same name that ranges from 27 to 29 meters/90 to 160 feet deep. Green and loggerhead turtles nest here from May through September, and divers may also spot barracuda and jacks along with the coral and reef fish.