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Trip Report Blue Angel- June 11-18 2022

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Redfoot

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Returned to Cozumel June 11-18, and used a credit from 2020 booking that had to be rolled several times due to COVID. I had booked their "Liveaboard" package for $995.00 which covered lodging, 3 meals a day, 6 x 2 tank morning dives, one night dive and unlimited shore diving.

I had Delta miles to use (and there were no good flights on other carriers) , so I flew Detroit to Cancun and did the bag drag. Left Detroit at 8:15 am, landed in Cancun before noon, and used the "van guy" noted on this forum. It turns out this individual now just contracts a taxi to take you, so not much was gained except having someone waiting right by Senor Frogs, and I was happy with the price for a private shuttle.

Arrived to the ferry terminal in time to catch the 2:00 pm boat, and was at Blue Angel right around 3:00 pm. Check in was a breeze, I had a quick bite to eat and then did a 35 minute shore dive. Pretty convenient, and I would do the same trip again without hesitation.

Blue Angel is about 1.7 miles from the ferry terminal/centro area. The small hotel, dive shop and restaurant are all very conveniently connected. Every room has an ocean view with balcony. I had room 206, a corner room on the northern end of the resort. The room is very large, with ample storage area, two beds, full bathroom, great AC, minifridge, TV and strong WiFi. The open air lobby extends out to the rear garden and pool area overlooking the dock. Easy swimming, snorkeling and relaxation opportunities.

The restaurant is up a small flight of stairs (Mexican elevator :) ) As noted, I had all meals included with the package I booked. Since I was there to dive as much as possible, I took advantage of this for all except a few snacks I had while walking around downtown The restaurant was very good- I really enjoyed breakfast especially. They have an acai bowl with beets blended in that was incredible. The banana French toast and pancakes were also excellent. Coffee was OK, but espresso was out of this world- they use a local vendor who gets the beans from a single farm in Chiapas, then roasts on Cozumel. (you can find the coffee downtown at a few of the stores "Oro Magico" brand) Lunch was usually tortilla soup (wow) and tacos, then back out for afternoon dives. Dinner varied, I often ordered whatever was on special that day. I was never disappointed.

They also have a full vegan/vegetarian menu available, which is new and attracts diners to the restaurant that are not staying there.

The restaurant staff were awesome. I made quick friends with Sergio, Pancho, Carlos and both Armando's- I was traveling solo, so ended up talking with them quite a bit. I practiced a little Spanish and they helped me with new words and corrections. These gentleman really work hard, they made my trip much better for the friendship and conversation we shared.

The dive shop is very convenient, well run and professional. There are always tanks available for shore dives ( 80 CF air and 32% EAN). Nobody is policing your shore dive, so solo diving, night diving, dawn diving are all at your own discretion. They do lock the doors to the gear storage area around 5:30 (unless there is boat night dive) so if you want to dive between 5:00 pm and 7:00 am, you should keep your gear with you. I dove with Ramon and Julio most of the week, they are both excellent DM's and I really enjoyed their company above and below the surface. Boats are small and fast, usually only 4-6 divers per boat, I think there was only one morning with 8 divers on board. Their boat captains are awesome- (especially Chango!) I can only think of a few dives (out of 18 I did with them) where the boat was not waiting for us as we surfaced. They will handle your gear full valet style if you like, or you can manage all of your own stuff. Just let them know at the beginning of the week, and you never have to ask again. Most dive sites less than 20 minutes away, max ride for us was to Columbia at around 35 minutes. Our morning boats left at 8:00 and always back right around noon.

I did 12 (6 x 2 tank) morning dives, 3 days of afternoon dives (3 x 2 tank), and 3 days of twilight/night dives (3 x 2 tank) plus the shore dive for total of 25 dives.

2 days of the twilight/night dives were with Jungle Divers. Their shop is only about 1/2 mile from Blue Angel, so I walked there with my gear in mesh backpack. We drove from there to the marina. They were having a tough week, with gear issues and cancellations. The first day was great, it was Steff (the owner) myself, and 3 others. We had both reefs (twilight and night) to ourselves that day. The next day with them, we arrived to the boat and learned that there were about 15 other people (from another dive op) joining us. I am not sure if this was planned, but it was not the experience I was expecting. Many brand new divers who were just certified dumped in for a night dive. The boat we were on was also a total tub of junk, a huge beast that was not in great shape. It all worked out, we still had a nice dive, just a mention here if you book with them ask what boat they are using and how many other divers will be joining if that is a concern to you.

The night dives were the absolute highlight for me. I loved hanging with the octopus, and could have spent a whole dive with just one of them. Also loved to hear the toadfish croaking, and we saw tons of purple mouth eels. We also saw a school of squid, which was really cool.

The day dives, while still great, felt a little underwhelming for me compared to the trip I took in November. Not sure if it was the water temps, or the timing, or the dive sites/days we picked, but I felt there was a lot more life on my last visit. Still got a decent amount of turtles, schools of fish, eels and a few nurse sharks, but I noticed less stingrays and less fish than I remember. Some of the coral on the shallower sites also seemed to be more damaged/dead.

One highlight was a HUGE grouper inside a cave at Palancar. I was the last in the group, and as I rounded a corner towards the exit, the grouper slid out of the cave, stared me down, then backed right back into the cave. Nobody else saw it, and I think it may have been a trap.... luring an unsuspecting diver into the grouper hole for dinner :oops:.

Did the reverse trip back to PDC on Saturday 6/18. Took the 9:00 am ferry, picked up around 10:00 on PDC and arrived to airport by 11:00 for a 1:30 flight.

All in all, for the money this was an incredible trip and the diving was very good. I think I lucked out last November- less traffic on the reefs, more animals, and great topside weather.

Here is video of the trip:

 

drrich2

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Excellent report. A few follow up questions...

I had booked their "Liveaboard" package for $995.00 which covered lodging, 3 meals a day, 6 x 2 tank morning dives, one night dive and unlimited shore diving.
Glad to hear of the meals included option. A common debate on ScubaBoard is the convenience of A.I. vs. the claimed greater taste and value (and likely variety) of eating out. At Blue Angel Resort, one can apparently do either.
The restaurant was very good- I really enjoyed breakfast especially.
And the restaurant being 'very good' is important, since A.I. food on Cozumel seems to often get reviewed on SB as mediocre.
There are always tanks available for shore dives ( 80 CF air and 32% EAN). Nobody is policing your shore dive, so solo diving, night diving, dawn diving are all at your own discretion.
Did they have larger tanks for the boat dives? 100-cf?

Very glad to hear solo shore diving is an option. Did you like the shore dive?
They do lock the doors to the gear storage area around 5:30 (unless there is boat night dive) so if you want to dive between 5:00 pm and 7:00 am, you should keep your gear with you.
Were the rooms all ground floor, some 2nd floor, or what? I ask because heading back to your room hauling full dive gear could be a strain for some people. Did you have to take the tank you used to your room, or was there still an accessible place to leave them?

At the ends of boat dives, did the group have to all come up together, or was the guide okay with pairs or solos going up?

Thanks again for the clarity on Blue Angel Resort. It's often praised on ScubaBoard, but I'd had some lingering questions about it.
 

dflaher

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Great report and video! Thanks for the write-up. I considered BA for my upcoming trip but was told they weren't offering the LOB package anymore, plus I wanted to stay in town, so I went another route.

Sounds like a great trip, and man you got a lot of diving in! Probably more dives than a liveaboard! That's a great price for what you got. How was the shore dive? EDIT: A call came in before I hit "Post" and @drrich2 beat me to it. I shoulda known :p.
One highlight was a HUGE grouper inside a cave at Palancar. I was the last in the group, and as I rounded a corner towards the exit, the grouper slid out of the cave, stared me down, then backed right back into the cave. Nobody else saw it, and I think it may have been a trap.... luring an unsuspecting diver into the grouper hole for dinner :oops:.
I had a similar experience in a Grand Cayman swim-through. Was the last one in the group, and a big ol' grouper decides to block the exit. I'm in one of those "what do I do now" moments, and after what seemed like an hour it must've felt sorry for me and backed out.
 

ReefHound

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Were the rooms all ground floor, some 2nd floor, or what? I ask because heading back to your room hauling full dive gear could be a strain for some people. Did you have to take the tank you used to your room, or was there still an accessible place to leave them?

It's been a few years since my last visit but I can tell you there are 4 floors and there can be a lot of steps but you do not have to take the tanks to your room. They are set out on the ground near the rinse tanks just a few yards from the water.
 
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Redfoot

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Excellent report. A few follow up questions...


Glad to hear of the meals included option. A common debate on ScubaBoard is the convenience of A.I. vs. the claimed greater taste and value (and likely variety) of eating out. At Blue Angel Resort, one can apparently do either.

And the restaurant being 'very good' is important, since A.I. food on Cozumel seems to often get reviewed on SB as mediocre.

Did they have larger tanks for the boat dives? 100-cf?

Very glad to hear solo shore diving is an option. Did you like the shore dive?

Were the rooms all ground floor, some 2nd floor, or what? I ask because heading back to your room hauling full dive gear could be a strain for some people. Did you have to take the tank you used to your room, or was there still an accessible place to leave them?

At the ends of boat dives, did the group have to all come up together, or was the guide okay with pairs or solos going up?

Thanks again for the clarity on Blue Angel Resort. It's often praised on ScubaBoard, but I'd had some lingering questions about it.

Thank you- I always enjoy your reports, glad I am able to provide any information others use can on a future trip.

The food- Yes, I think this is a great compromise for a taste of island food while getting a all inclusive value/option. I found their Mexican food to be very good, they had different salsas every few days, made their own tortillas, used super fresh ingredients and had very good portions. They also had Italian options (which the staff always recommended), sandwiches, burgers, salads and desserts that were all made fresh and in house. There are also the food options between BA and town- Rockn' Java, La Tinta Taqueria, the cruise ship terminal, etc. One could throw a football from Blue Angel and hit 3-4 other dining options.

Tanks: yes they had 100CF available for air or EAN. I do not know the upcharge, but dove with a gentleman all week that used them.

Shore dive: I forgot to mention in initial post, thanks for catching Drrich! The shore dive was surprisingly good, you can giant stride off the dock (maybe 30 yard walk from shop) or enter through sloping walkway right below the shop (a little rocky, and stays shallow for a while). The dive has some concrete rubble and pilings to the south which had very good fish life, eels, small stingrays and all types of macro stuff if you have the patience to look (I don't haha) There was no current to speak of when I did it, so it was essentially a long bath tub dive. Navigation is very easy, and max depth is maybe 25' at the very most. I wanted to do it at night, but I ended up doing the night boat dives and never had the energy (or NDL time) to go for it.

Rooms: I think there are 4 floors- 1st floor is street level, and then the floors climb with maybe 10 steps in between each. Tanks are always left in piles outside shop (not hotel room)- very easy to grab and then return. It could be tough to haul gear up to top floor. I didn't think of it until now, but I would guess the night staff could unlock the gear storage area for you if you did a night dive. Some folks left their gear outside the shop all night, and I was told it is safe, but did not want to risk it myself.

Boat dives: I was lucky that most of the groups were small and everyone had the same air consumption, so we generally did a 60-70 minute dive and then went up as a group for safety stop. Two dives, another person had gear issues (camera and leaky regulator hose) and the DM shot his SMB, the divers went up on their own under his watch, and we all continued the dive. There was no strict buddy policy or enforcement, I tended to stay near the DM as I was traveling alone, and got along so well with them.

Also another thing I forgot, but is often mentioned here, is the noise from the road and a local bar that plays loud music. I got used to the road noise, but it is noticeable, and the electronic music was downright annoying, but neither factor can be controlled, and I think everything else at Blue Angel more than makes up for those two things.
 
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Redfoot

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Great report and video! Thanks for the write-up. I considered BA for my upcoming trip but was told they weren't offering the LOB package anymore, plus I wanted to stay in town, so I went another route.

Sounds like a great trip, and man you got a lot of diving in! Probably more dives than a liveaboard! That's a great price for what you got. How was the shore dive? EDIT: A call came in before I hit "Post" and @drrich2 beat me to it. I shoulda known :p.

I had a similar experience in a Grand Cayman swim-through. Was the last one in the group, and a big ol' grouper decides to block the exit. I'm in one of those "what do I do now" moments, and after what seemed like an hour it must've felt sorry for me and backed out.

Ha! Yes, this grouper on (in?) Palancar was a monster- reminded me of the goliath in West Palm. It was just so funny how it slid out for a moment, then eyed me down, and slid back in. It was like a cartoon or something.
 

ReefHound

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Rooms: I think there are 4 floors- 1st floor is street level, and then the floors climb with maybe 10 steps in between each. Tanks are always left in piles outside shop (not hotel room)- very easy to grab and then return. It could be tough to haul gear up to top floor. I didn't think of it until now, but I would guess the night staff could unlock the gear storage area for you if you did a night dive. Some folks left their gear outside the shop all night, and I was told it is safe, but did not want to risk it myself.

I was thinking. Maybe you could leave your gear bag with the front desk, or at least leave in the lobby and let them know? Another thought, maybe kit up a tank. Someone might be less likely to mess with that (looks like someone will be back shortly) or maybe kit up a tank and leave it in the lobby. I wouldn't leave small loose items like computers and masks though.
 

Brodydog

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Wow, that’s a great price for diving, meals and a stay. And those banana pancakes were to die for when we were there last. It’s been a few years but I don’t remember banana French toast being an option. I’m sure it was equally good if not better.

Were lunch and dinner from the menu or did they have a special select few options for your package? Our first visit to Coz we stayed at Blue Angel with a similar package deal and breakfast was from the regular menu but for lunch and dinner we had a special menu which had fewer options. The special menu got old by the end of the week and I think we paid extra a couple of times for items off of the regular menu. But they do have great food.

Our first visit we were in the second level. I could not stand those damn birds. I never got used to them. After that we requested and were granted the bottom floor and the barrier (a hallway and maybe rooms on the other side of the hallway) from our room to the street, along with the birds being higher up in the trees, kept us from hearing all that squawking. We’ve now moved on to another place in town but I can only imagine the music noise.

Thanks for trip report. I enjoyed revisiting a place, through your eyes, that we’ve been to.
 

morecowbells

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Turtles are my favorite. You managed to capture some amazing video of these beauties.
 

ggunn

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Our first visit we were in the second level. I could not stand those damn birds. I never got used to them. After that we requested and were granted the bottom floor and the barrier (a hallway and maybe rooms on the other side of the hallway) from our room to the street, along with the birds being higher up in the trees, kept us from hearing all that squawking.
Those birds are caged parrots that belong to the Stingray Experience a couple of door south of the hotel.
 

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