Diving in Cozumel

Cozumel is renowned as one of the greatest diving destinations in the world. Most of the diving and snorkeling activity on Cozumel is focused on the reefs and shallow coral formations that extend from the southern tip of the island to just south of San Miguel on the west coast. Scuba diving is the premier attraction. Palancar Reef, the second largest in the world and a national park, was hailed by the French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau as one of the world's best diving sites. There are plenty of opportunities for snorkelers to enjoy this underwater world. Both Colombia and Palancar reefs have plateaus in less than 30 feet of water. At Chankanaab Lagoon, divers and snorkelers can observe small coral and limestone formations at 6 to 30 feet. Yucab Reef, just south of Chankanaab Lagoon, has colorful coral formations in only 15 feet of water. Except for those at Chankanaab Lagoon and those just off the hotel beaches, the major dive sites can be reached only by boat. The easiest way to get to Cozumel's reefs is to take a dive trip. These range form one and two tank dives to half and full day trips, and the longer trips usually include lunch. You often have a choice of a fast boat, which gets you to the reefs quickly, or a cruising boat, which lets you take in the sights along the way.

Snorkelers can sign up for special trips that go to shallower parts of the reefs; the boat usually makes three to four stops. At Chankanaab Lagoon and Playa San Francisco, there are several dive shops that offer equipment rentals. With the possible exception of the bay at Chen Rio, diving and snorkeling are not recommended on the east coast due to the size of the waves and the strength of the invisible undercurrents.

Tips for Easier Diving

If you're new to Cozumel diving, you're probably already aware that they use a "live boat" drift diving technique exclusively. No, you won't have the security of an anchor line. Yes, you will be expected to keep up with the group and everything does move rather quickly when the time comes to make that giant stride or back roll off the boat. If all this tends to give you the jitters, STOP! There is something you can do to assure yourself a very pleasant first experience. Once you've boarded the boat and it is underway, tell your divemaster that you're new to Cozumel and ask him to give you your tank, NOW. Then proceed to get "set up. Now you can take your time. So what if you make a ton of mistakes. Better now than at the last minute. Once you've made all those adjustments, ask your divemaster about the exit procedures. Should he tell you to just wait and see, insist, or seek advice form a more Cozumel experienced diver aboard. When the time does come to take the plunge, you will have eliminated that horrible "peer pressure" and 90% of the stress which causes those stupid little life threatening mistakes.

The most important time to equalize pressure (clear your ears) is on the surface immediately prior to descent. This assures you open and receptive U-tubes and makes subsequent equalizations much easier. Until you develop the skill of "equalizing" you might want to make it habit to pinch and blow on every exhalation for the first 40 feet or so.

Maximum Peace of Mind

Cozumel Drift Diving is the easy form of diving once you get the knack of it. But for many, the first time jumping off the boat and descending in a current without the security of an anchor line (not to mention having to keep up with the rest of the group) can be a bit taxing. If you're a new diver or out of practice or feel jittery for any reason you should be accompanied by your own private divemaster. Special Guide Service is available for 1 or 2 persons at US$ 35. Utilizing this service, you won't have to worry about "keeping up with the group" as you will have your own in-water divemaster/lifeguard to introduce you to Cozumel's unique drift diving techniques and assure that your first experience is an enjoyable one.

Recompression Chambers

The island of Cozumel now has over sixty diving operators. It is estimated that they have as many as fifteen hundred divers a day! Cozumel is proud to let the visiting divers know that there are three recompression chambers on the island. All are staffed with hyperbaric certified physicians waiting to respond to the medical needs of divers. Divers are encouraged and welcome to visit the chambers


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