Reef Info & Descriptions:

1. Barracuda Wall (90'-120'+)
2. Barracuda (90-120'+)
3. San Juan (40'-50')
4. Villa Blanca Wall (50'-60')
5. Paraiso Reef (40'-70')
6. Paraiso Wall (60'-120')
7. Chankanaab (35'-40')
8. Bolones de Chankanaab (40'-70')
9. Tormentos (50'-60')
10. Yucab Wall (80'-120')
11. Yucab (40'-50')
12. Punta Tunish Wall (50'-120'+)
13. Cordona
14. Cordona Deep (50'-60')
15. San Francisco Wall (45'-120')
16. Santa Rosa Shallows (40'-50')
17. Santa Rosa Wall (50' - 120+)
18. Paso del Cedral (50'-60')
19. Cedral Wall (60'-120')
20. Palancar: La Francesca (30'-60')
21. Palancar: Big Horseshoe (35'-120')
22. Palancar: Gardens (30'-80')
23. Palancar: Little Horseshoe (50'-90')
24. Palancar: Palancar Caves (50'-120'+)
25. Columbia (60'-120')
26. Punta Sur (90'-120')
27. Chun Cha Cab (80'-120'+)
28. Maracaibo Shallows (70'-90')
29. Maracaibo (120+)

Cozumel's Top Dive Sites (Courtesy of Flamingo Divers)
  • Paradise Reef
    Depth: Shallow Dive: 40 to 50 feet
    Skill level: Novice
    A series of three separate reefs running parallel to shore approximately 200 yards out. This is the only reef accessible to beach divers. All three sections have abundant marine life including the reclusive Splendid Toad Fish, reputed to live only in Cozumel. Most popular spot for night dives.

  • Balones of Chankanaab
    Depth: Shallow Dive: 60 to 70 feet
    Skill level: Novice
    A series of balloon - shaped coral heads. Lots of marine life, lobster and crab.

  • Chankanaab Caves
    Depth: 35 feet max
    Skill level: Novice
    This is an interesting dive at the south end of Chankanaab Park. Excellent beach dive that can be reached either from Chankanaab Park itself or by entering south of the park towards Corona beach where there is no park entrance fee. Cold fresh water flows out of limestone caves called cenotes. Large Tarpan can be found swimming around in the entrance to the caves. Stay in the ambient light and do not venture far back. Interesting mixing of cold fresh water on the top layer with the warm salt water below.

  • Tormentos Reef
    Depth: Shallow Dive: 50 to 70 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate
    A series of colorful coral heads separates by blue sand valleys. Home to very friendly and big green moray. Some of the fastest currents can be found here. Angelfish, groupers, grunts and snapper are common.

  • Yucab Reef
    Depth: Shallow: 45 to 60 feet
    Skill level: Novice
    Excellent 2nd dive. Dense, low profile is full of life and color. Popular barracuda hang out as the current is usually swift.

  • Punta Tunich
    Depth: 50 to 130 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate to Advanced
    Often swift current. From a sand bottom at 70 feet, a long ridge of coral rises from the sand dunes between 40 to 60 feet. Big grouper and playful green moray eels.

  • San Francisco Reef
    Depth: Shallow: 35 to 50 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate
    Begins on the Southern end of Old San Francisco Beach. This half mile reef is broken into three sections, separate by about 60 yards of sand. This is Cozumel's shallowest wall dives and loaded with life between 35 and 50 feet.

  • Santa Maria Reef
    Depth: Shallow: 40 to 60 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate
    This reef begins where San Francisco ends. A little less coral but large schools of angelfish.

  • Santa Rosa Wall
    Depth: Deep Dive: 50 to 130 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate
    Very popular deep dive and for good reason. The wall starts at 50 feet and drops straight into the deep! Usually a very swift current that allows you to "fly" along the wall. Immense sponges, huge overhangs of stoney coral and lots of caves and swim through tunnels. Eagle rays and turtles often spotted.

  • Paso el Cedral (Oak Pass)
    Depth: Shallow: 35 to 60 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate
    A series of many reefs marked with expansive low profile caverns at the beginning and lots of big fish. Less dived than most spots, but not to be missed.

  • Cedral Wall
    Depth: Deep Dive: 50 to 90 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate
    Expect a good ride on the usually strong currents. Kind of flat but full of color and marine life.

  • Little Caves
    Depth: Deep Dive: 50 to 70 feet
    Skill level: Novice
    Great dive with winding, colorful canyons, deep ravines and narrow crevices. Lots of passageways, tunnels and caves. Great dive at 50 -70 feet.

  • Palancar Horseshoe
    Depth: Deep Dive: 25 to 125 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate
    A series if tightly pack giant coral heads rise from 100 feet to within 20 feet of the surface. One of Cozumel's busiest deep dives.

  • Palancar Gardens
    Depth: Shallow: 40 to 70 feet
    Skill level: Novice
    Best dived from 40 to 50 feet. Beautiful dive with many large caverns.

  • Palancar Caves
    Depth: Deep Dive: 60 to 90 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate
    Abundant marine life. Deep buttresses, tunnels, caves and big caverns. Very popular deep dive

  • Columbia Reef
    Depth: Deep Dive: 60 to 90 feet
    Skill level: Intermediate
    Impressive drop off at 60 to 80 feet. Deep diving at its finest, at least as spectacular as any part of the Palancar. A series of gigantic coral pinnacles, most over 90 feet, marked with caves, tunnels and caverns. Large marine life such as eagle rays, turtles and large barracuda often seen.

  • Columbia Shallow
    Depth: Shallow Dive: 15 to 35 feet max
    Skill level: Novice
    Maximum bottom time. This never ending sea garden is a favorite 2nd dive for maximum bottom time.

  • Punta Sur
    Depth: Deep: 90 to 130 feet
    Skill level: Advanced
    This is diving for the experienced at it's best. Home to the famous "Devil's Throat" which starts at the opening of a dark narrow tunnel at 90 feet and takes you out into a sunlit opening at 130 feet on the wall. Eagle rays and sharks are occasionally spotted here. Other spots include the cathedral, which is a large cave opening with giant sponges that form a cross in the ceiling of the cave where light passes through.

  • Maracaibo Reef
    Depth: Deep: 90 to 160 feet
    Skill level: Expert
    This is the southernmost reef on the island and is very exposed to current and topside surf. From 90 - 120 the wall is a waste of time and money, but from 140 - 160 feet, its awesome. But that's decompression diving! Maracaibo or Lighthouse reef is excellent diving slightly in from the wall with lush and rarely dived huge heads in 60 -90 feet.

  • Barracuda & San Juan Reefs
    Depth: Deep: 70 to 110 feet
    Skill level: Expert
    On the north side of the island, these two reefs can be dove safely by only small groups of experience current divers using a hand held ascent line. Rarely visited due to rough conditions, even in good weather, the current runs 2 to 3 knots and downcurrents are not uncommon.

  • Virgin Wall
    Depth: Deep: 40 to 130 feet
    Skill level: Expert
    Heavy currents prevent local divemasters from bringing in large groups of unexperienced divers (which usually leads to ruin) and has left this dive pristine and lush. 2 to 4 different dives to experience it all.

    Marine Park Rules

    Mexican government declare a National Marine park on July 19, 1996; covering area of more than 11 thousand hectares including the beaches and waters between Paradise Reef and Chiqueros point. The environmental, natural resource and fishing Secretariat SEMARNAP, administers the park.

    The financing of the parks programs is shared by the federal government and the civil environmental groups; represented by COPRENAT, and the dive operators through ANOAAT.

    Do your share to preserve the flora and fauna for future generations.

    Corals are fragile.

    Kicking, touching, dragging your gear causes damage, buoyancy control is your key to healthy coral.

    Photographers in particular, take pictures without causing damage.

    Marine organisms are protected by law.

    Fishing, feeding the fauna and taking souvenirs is against the law. Refrain from extracting or annoying the marine flora and fauna.

    Help us prevent pollution.

    Report fuel, oil, sewage and garbage spills to the National Park office.

    Pressure your dive operator to instruct novice divers and divers without adequate buoyancy control, and to refuse service to destructive divers.

    If you use gloves, do not grab the corals.

    If you carry a knife, keep it in the sheath.

    Use biodegradable sunblock products.


    Introduction to Coral

    Coral is often mistaken for a rock or a plant. However, it is composed of tiny, fragile living organisms called coral polyps. The coral polyps take calcium carbonate or limestone from the sea and build protective structures around themselves. These protective limestone structures are known as coral. So when we say "coral" we are referring to coral polyps and the skeletons that they leave behind when they die.

    What are coral reefs?

    As coral polyps die, new generations of coral polyps then grow on top of the coral and coral reefs are formed.

    What's the Hype?

    Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the planet's surface but are homes to over 25% of all marine life (over 4,000 different species of fish, 700 species of coral, and thousands of other plants and animals). Coral reefs are among the world's most fragile and endangered ecosystems. "In the last few decades, mankind has destroyed over 35 million acres of coral reefs. Reefs off of 93 countries have been damaged by human activity. If the present rate of destruction continues, 70% of the world's coral reefs will be killed within our lifetimes." (The Coral Reef Alliance.)

    Coral Reef Animals:

    Sponges provide shelter for fishes, shrimps, crabs, and other small animals.

    Sea anemones are close relatives of corals.

    Bryozoans encrust the reef.

    Variety of worms, including both flatworms and polychaetes, Christmas tree worms, feather duster worms, bristleworms.

    Sea stars, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins.

    Shrimps, crabs, lobsters, and other crustaceans find protection from predators in crevices or between coral branches.

    Octopuses, squids, clams, scallops, marine snails, and nudibranchs are all molluscs that live on or near the reef.

    Both schooling and solitary fishes are essential residents of the reef ecosystem.

    Some species of sharks, skates, and rays live on or near the reef.

    Parrotfish use chisel-like teeth to nibble on hard corals.

    Wrasses comprise a large group of colorful cigar-shaped fishes.

    Eels are one of the reef's top predators.

    Other fishes found on the reefs include angelfishes, butterfly fishes, damselfishes, triggerfishes, seahorses, snappers, squirrelfishes, grunts, pufferfishes, groupers, barracudas, and scorpionfishes.

    Sea turtles frequent reef areas.

    Sea snakes.

    A variety of human activities are driving the destruction of coral reefs:

    growing coastal populations

    shoreline and inland development

    pollution from sewage, fertilizers, chemicals and sediment runoff

    over-fishing and over-use

    Destructive fishing practices including poisons and explosives, and

    ship groundings and anchor damage.

    What can one individual do?

    All Travelers

    Don't buy coral souvenirs.

    Support marine protected areas.

    Don't order turtle, shark fin or other restaurant dishes made from threatened wildlife.

    Avoid "live-fish" restaurants where the fish may have been captured using cyanide.

    Divers & Snorkelers

    Maintain control of fins, gauges and other equipment so they do not bump against the reef.

    Practice diving in a pool or sandy area before diving near reefs.

    Get trained by experts so that you can understand and enjoy your dives more.

    Follow the marine park rules.

    Educate others not aware of marine park rules when the opportunity arises.

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