TRIP DATE: 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
LOCATION: Cozumel, Mexico
TRAVEL INFO: Trips were taken with Lone Star SCUBA as Adventure Tours travel packages, including lodging at the Villas Del Rey (Days Inn) and chartered air transportation.
ON THE INTERNET:
I've been remiss at writing up a report on Cozumel, but fortunately there is a wealth of information available on the internet that gives good information on Cozumel, hotels, dive operators, etc. For all my trips, lodging at the Days Inn was comfortable and off the beaten track enough that prices are a bit more reasonable for short trips where one is trying to keep costs down. The hotel is a good 10-15 minute walk to the central plaza, with taxis readily available for a faster trip. For those on a modest budget and not renting a car, the taxis in Cozumel are a great alternative, typically charging $2-5 per car for service between most hotels on the south end of the island and the main shopping/dining district around the plaza.
Dining on the island is superb, with excellent restaurants being plentiful. Among the favorites of the groups I've traveled with are La Choza, Pizza Rolandi (now operating under a new name that I've forgotten), La Mission, El Moro, Prima, and Ernesto's Fajita Factory. If you like lobster, go north to La Cabaña Del Pescador (The Lobster House) for some terrific lobster...that's all they sell and the price is by weight.
When you're not diving, dining, or sleeping, there are plenty of places to shop for jewelry, t-shirts, mexican handicrafts, etc. Cozumel has a growing entertainment scene too. Long one of the most popular partying places on the island, Carlos & Charlie's remains a favorite of many tourists. Be careful though...more accidents probably occur coming down the stairs after a few too many drinks than occur at any dive site! Giving some competition to Carlos & Charlie's are the larger establishments such as The Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood.
As for the diving in Cozumel, it remains some of the easiest and best in the Caribbean, with consistently good visibility thanks in large part to the currents that sweep the area. Those same currents help nourish a thriving marine environment, including some of the largest grouper I've ever seen. I'm inclined to think that I've seen the greatest variety of fish in Cozumel, in comparison to my travels to Cayman Brac and Honduras, but Cayman Brac may rival Cozumel in this regard. Diving in Cozumel is about as easy as it gets...drift dives are the norm, with divers entering the water and just allowing the currents to take them along the reefs as the dive boat follows the divers' bubbles. Diver operators abound on the island, with a good many having well-established operations and good reputations.
One of Cozumel's premier dive operators, Rodolfo Soltero and Anita Divers has always been host to the group trips I've taken. Typically departing around 9am on his boat, The Anita, from Marina Coleta, two-tank trips to the dive sites take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more depending upon the location. This allows plenty of time to relax and catch some sun, chat with fellow divers, or to eat a delicious lunch on the boat between the morning and afternoon dives. Attentive to the needs and safety of the divers, Rodolfo always suggests the dive profile that will be followed while allowing experienced divers and those with computers to somewhat follow their own profiles.
Among my favorite dive sites are Palancar Gardens, Santa Rosa Wall and Shallows, as well as Paso Cedral (Cedar Pass?) where a large green moray is commonly found. Another favorite is Chankanaab Park, well worth taking in for shore diving that is easy and shallow, providing for enjoyable dives that can easily last an hour or more. For a more advanced dive, one of the most impressive is Devil's Throat at Punta Sur, where a series of tunnels through coral pillars ends with a third tunnel entering at 80 feet and exiting a wall at 130 feet into the open channel. More recent dives to this site have reversed the course as a wise safety precaution.
All in all, for value, great diving, excellent food, and opportunities for topside shopping and touring around the island, it's really hard to beat Cozumel diving!