Our second day of diving with Pro Dive we decided to go diving in Cozumel. I had heard from my uncle and cousin (both avid divers) that it was some of the best diving they had ever done, so we had to try it.
Getting to Cozumel
Getting to Cozumel was the most time consuming part of the day. Working with ProDivers made the whole experience really easy as they arranged transportation for us and representatives were with our group every step of the way. The cost we paid for the excursion covered everything including food and transportation.
The driver picked us up around 9am. From our resort in Playacar it was a short 10 minute drive to the Cozumel ferry terminal in Playa Del Carmen. There we met with the other groups got our ferry tickets from the group leader. We boarded the 10am ferry which takes about 45 minutes to reach Cozumel. After disembarking the group was herded to the taxi stand where we piled into a few different taxis and headed away from the main town of Cozumel - a welcome departure as Cozumel is essentially a cruise ship town, and in December (peak season), they can have up to 65,000 people swarming the touristic beach themed restaurants and clubs. Driving away from town and we quickly found a quieter island.
Pro Dive has a partnership with Allegro Hotel in Cozumel and that’s where we arrived for lunch. After eating at the Royal Hideaway for a few days we realized how spoiled we had become. The lunch buffet at the Allegro was mass produced burgers, fries (which were somehow both overdone and soggy), hotdogs, and other food - none of which looked that appetizing ahead of an afternoon of diving. This was the low point of the day. We ate a few bites and headed to the dive shop for our 1pm departure.
Dive One: Diving Palancar
After bringing out gear to the boat we took a short boat ride to our first dive site: Palancar Gardens. We were broken up into two groups with 7 in our group. After getting in the water and doing our pre-dive checks we descended into the most magical dive I have ever done.
The typography of Palancar is stunning. I’ve never felt so much like I was in Finding Nemo. The reef rises up nearly 50 feet from the floor and is absolutely teeming with life. You ride the current throughout the dive and have a never ending scene of fish and corals to look at. The typography of the reef juts upwards unpredictably creating interesting swim throughs, overhangs, and stunning formations.
This all plays out in depths of 15 - 50 feet of water and if you’re lucky to have a sunny day, the color contrast between the deep blue ocean and the reef is simply magical. During the dive I saw fish I have never seen before in my life - from huge grouper to tangs, angel fish, sea cucumbers, fans, barracuda, and much more.
The pictures will never do it justice. I wasn’t ready to come up and the 50 minute dive seemed to fly by. I hope to go back to Palancar again sometime very soon.
Dive Two: Diving Santa Rosa Shallows
After a brief stop at the dive shop to change out tanks we headed to our second dive site - Santa Rosa Wall - which was even closer than the first site. This site is a part of a bigger dive site called Santa Rosa Wall.
This was a totally different dive but still very good. Instead of massive coral formations, Santa Rosa Shallows was broken up into patchy islands of coral in a sea of sand. As we swam between the different coral islands we saw all kinds of fish an sea creatures. This is the first (and only time) that I saw a Ray this trip.
Despite the 80 degree water I was starting to get cold by the end of this dive (I dove without a wetsuit). Being ‘used’ to Michigan And Monterey diving, I thought the idea of getting cold in that warm of water somewhat ridiculous, but after 2 hours of diving it does suck the warmth out of you.
Conclusion: Diving in Cozumel
After the second dive we packed up and started the journey back to the Royal Hideaway. We got back to the hotel around 7:15pm. They had originally suggested you’d be back around 6pm - so if you have to get dinner reservations at your resort (we did) try to make them for 8pm. Your family will appreciate not stressing about you making it on time :)
That aside, the diving in Cozumel is amazing. The marine sanctuary seems to be protecting the corals (and they’ve even shut down a few reefs all together to protect them). If you’re a diver, it is absolutely worth a day trip. Just make sure your dive company is taking you to the marine preserve. We’ve heard reports from other divers that dove close to the harbor that it was underwhelming. We expect that was because they didn’t make it to the reserve (which is on the opposite side of the island than the ferry and cruise port).
Have you dove in Cozumel? If so, what are your favorite spots? Let us know in the comments!