Sub-headings and links in Ken's Cozumel Report include:
- Cozumel Island
- Cozumel's Coral Reefs
- Drift Diving - Go with the Flow
- Selecting a Cozumel Dive Operation
- Selecting a Cozumel Hotel or Resort
- Cozumel Palace All-inclusive Resort
- Early Booking Discount
- The Bottom Line on Cozumel
Cozumel Island - My initial Cozumel experience came way back in 1978. Throughout the 1980's I worked as a trip leader and dive guide bringing groups of new scuba divers from Texas to Cozumel, sometimes making as many as ten trips per year. From a sleepy fishing village with a handful of hotels and dive shops, I've watched Cozumel morph into a major tourist destination, with thousands of hotel rooms, 130+ different dive operations, and as many as 20 cruise ship arrivals per week. Not all development makes things better, but if you know where to look Cozumel still holds some of its original charm and remains an excellent destination for scuba diving and fun-in-the-sun tourism. The diving still rocks, and above all I carry an abiding love for the people of this beautiful island, some of whom are my oldest and most-beloved compadres.
Cozumel's Coral Reefs - It is the unique physical location of this island that makes it such a great destination for scuba divers. Cozumel lies eight miles east of the Yucatan Peninsula, Eastern Mexico. After sweeping the coasts of South and Central America, the prevailing Gulf Steam current hits the southern tip of Cozumel and is then forced between the island and the mainland. Over hundreds of thousands of years, this inexorable flow has continuously bathed the shore with life-giving nutrients, resulting in massive coral reef structures and vibrant marine life. Unless you visit during a rainy period, water clarity is excellent. On this visit I enjoyed visibility in excess of 150-feet on both the deep dives and inshore reefs. The fact that most of Cozumel is a protected marine park has really paid off. Eight turtles accompanied me on my first wall dive at Palancar Caves, and had little fear of divers. Fish life ranged from tiny blennies and juvenile boxfish to a wide variety of multi-colored angelfish, filefish, triggerfish, butterfly fish, parrotfish, and more. Quite a few huge Nassau and black grouper could be found lying in ambush under shadowy coral ledges, or camouflaged in plain sight amidst schools of hundreds of snapper. Friendly moray eels are common on the shallow reefs and one coral grotto I peered into harbored more than one dozen spiny lobster waving their antennae cautiously. Simply put, Cozumel's healthy reef environments offer a wide range of diving with plenty to offer everyone from beginners to old salts.
Drift Diving - If the currents are what make Cozumel's reefs so special, they also influence the way the diving may best be enjoyed. Those who have not learned to drift dive may have some trepidation, but the fact is that drift diving is easy and fun. There is no need to fight against the current. All you have to do is go with the flow…riding the current on a one-way trip down the reef, with the dive boat following along above. If you want to stop to see some fish or take some pictures, simply duck in behind a coral head. You will find that the locals (the marine life) do the same thing. In these eddies there is no current at all and it's easy to stop and enjoy the view while you wait for your dive buddies to catch up with you. If you are new to drift diving, follow your dive guide and you'll soon be comfortable with the process.
Selecting a Cozumel Dive Operation - It is a tribute to the allure of the dive experience that there are more than 130 different dive shops in Cozumel. Some operators strive for quality, while others can only stand out by being the cheapest option. On a good day, any of these can take you on a dive. But when a situation becomes challenging, you will quickly appreciate the importance of using an operator that exceeds the standards of their community. On this count, Island Dreams Travel's decades of experience in Cozumel work well to your advantage. We will connect you with the dive operators that have a long history of quality dive boats, properly trained staff, well-maintained dive equipment, and who pay extra attention to safety and customer service.
Selecting a Cozumel Lodging - The tourism reality to which I alluded at the beginning of this report is one of supply and demand. The simple fact is that Cozumel has too many hotel rooms relative to the number of airline flights serving the island. The result is that the hotels are forced to compete for your interest. The less expensive properties compete on price, while the higher quality hotels and resorts entice you with finer amenities and better service. If you are able to adjust your schedule to travel during off-peak periods, the values available to you are even greater. Whether you seek in-town value or beachfront luxury, the dive travel specialists at Island Dreams will match you with the properties that best meet your expectations…and your budget. You, the consumer, are the winner!
Cozumel Palace All-inclusive Resort - On this visit I lodged at the all-inclusive Cozumel Palace, so I'll try to give you a feel for the experience. Located an easy walk from the center of town, this oceanfront property has 175 upscale guest rooms. Amenities include four themed restaurants, al fresco dining options, and multiple bars. The all-inclusive program includes dining throughout the day, 24-hour room service, and all beverages including top brand alcohol. My Junior Suite was spacious and immaculately kept, with an excellent bed and high quality bedding. The bathroom has a large shower, while the room itself includes a very large double occupancy Jacuzzi tub with a view to the ocean. My balcony had a nice hammock, and proved a great place to watch the sunset, or the full moon glistening over the ocean. Entertainment is provided every evening at poolside. There is free high-speed WiFi throughout the property. The on-site dive operator is Aqua Safari, and they provide a very good service. But should you have another preference, the hotel's dive pier is open to all Cozumel dive operations. Beyond the quality of the public areas, room, amenities, and easy dive access, I was impressed with the hospitality and service at Cozumel Palace - attentive, efficient and genuinely friendly. For those seeking a high-quality, all-inclusive option, Cozumel Palace should be at the top of your list.
Your Palace Awaits - If Cozumel Palace sounds like something you would enjoy, follow this link for the details: Cozumel Palace pricing and details.
The Bottom Line in Cozumel...is more than just great bottom time - Cozumel has plenty to offer divers, snorkelers, sun worshipers, and water sports enthusiasts of all persuasions. There is great dining, happening night spots, fun shopping, and enlightening cultural opportunities. The people are friendly, and most everyone speaks English, though I encourage you to try out your Spanish. Even if you only know a few words, the effort will be appreciated. In the final analysis, Cozumel is close to the USA, easy to get to, offers great scuba diving, and plenty of fun! So don't keep putting it off until mañana. Enjoy Cozumel soon.
Ken Knezick - President, Island Dreams Travel
Island Dreams has detailed knowledge of Cozumel and the Caribbean. You are invited to call or e-mail for additional information, advice, or assistance with bookings.