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Finding a (Best) Dive Op in Cozumel

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DandyDon

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Hi Don. Do you know if they were doing SSI back in April?
I don't. I just dive with them, but looked at his site. Sorry.
 

tridacna

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Hi Don. Do you know if they were doing SSI back in April? I went back through each dive op’s website before posting the updated version but obviously didn’t catch that - thanks for sharing the link - I’ll make the correction in the event that I post an updated version of the chart sometime in the future.
They were. They offered SSI courses last year on SB. A bunch of us took them. I also referred several SSI students to them for their checkout dives.
 

DangerousDan64

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First let me reminisce: a year or so after joining SB in 2009, I read a thread about the best dive op in Coz with people cheerleading for their choice. I found myself looking at the different websites of those dive ops and was surprised by how many claimed, on their webpages, to actually be the best.

Two older threads caught my attention: 1) “best Cozumel dive operator?” from 2015, started by @BFEIII; the idea of a spreadsheet with info about the different dive ops was suggested with a list of criteria that grew to 38 items divers might want to know about 2) @drrich2 has a thread from 2018 with really good information about Coz dive ops - My Research Notes from Planning Cozumel Trip.

Quite often, threads still pop up about the best dive op or “who do you recommend”, so I thought I’d make my contribution and put a spreadsheet together providing information mainly for first time Coz divers to give them a starting point to find the best op for them. Interestingly, 9 of the first 13 I looked at (still) claimed to be the best in some way or another (best experience, best shop, best sites, best boats.)

My spreadsheet is of 31 ops that seem to be mentioned often in the SB threads from trip reports, roll calls, and other Coz threads. All of the info comes from the dive ops website, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and a couple of recent SB trip reports. Of course due to the pandemic, there may be discrepancies as to what is really offered at the moment. I limited the criteria so the spreadsheet could more easily be shared on SB in a pdf format. My master list is in Numbers since I have Apple products and I can share that also so a person can have it to make changes or additions for themself. The font size is 8 pt but, of course, you can zoom in to enlarge the print.

A few notes about the spreadsheet and things I learned (if you look and see something that needs correcting - @ChuckP you would be a good source since you're there!):
  • Although I used info mostly from a dive ops website, that doesn’t mean it is current. As it gets closer to when I go to Coz later in the year, I will be contacting the ops I’m going to dive with to get the latest info I want to know.
  • Row 2 shows the address of the dive op and pier it (first) leaves from. Added distance from ferry pier as people who may cruise in the future or those who ferry over from PDC often wonder which ops are nearby. Also the nearer one stays to the south generally means shorter boat rides as you are closer to the marine park.
  • If one stays at a hotel/resort with a pier that your chosen dive op picks up from, there may be a small ($2-4) pier fee to pay. It seems most of those are paid to the resort. There was at least one op website with a current list of hotels/resorts with a fee. Didn’t include it in the spreadsheet as I don’t pick where I’m staying based on a few dollar pier fee.
  • Rows 3 & 4: There are many SB requests on where to dive based on where one is staying, therefore my attempt to show hotels/resorts nearby. I could use some help on improving this info.
  • Row 5: Showed prices as they were indicated on the op website. Several have no indication whether tax is included or not. Also only showed for up to 5 days although a few ops offer a little more discount beyond that. One op showed a cheaper rate on their FaceBook page than on their website!
  • Dive With Martin, the 2021 “Best Overall” op according the Scuba Diving magazine (Marine World has the best boats), currently has a $15 surcharge per dive package until things are back to 100%. Blue XT Sea, one of the often mentioned and well-liked ops has shut down operations.
  • Row 10: The daily marine park fee price varies from website to website (whether it has updated info or not) but the current fee is US $4.50/day. Some ops show it is included in the dive price.
  • Row 11: Shore diving is often asked about on Coz, so I included whether or not shore diving is available - most at the hotel/resort that the op is located at and a few that take you to a site.
  • Row 14: Diver limit is important for many. I believe there is a marine park rule that, even if one is on a larger boat with many divers, the maximum number that can be in a group is 8. The current pandemic rules may be limiting number of divers on boats anyway.
  • Row 15: Showed dive times which are mostly the time leaving the pier. A possibility is that if one is diving with an op that leaves downtown and picks up from other hotel/resort piers the actual dive time may be 30-50 minutes from the time shown.
  • Row 16: Only a few ops use larger tanks for longer dives, 70+ minutes. Many divers can get 60+ minutes with the smaller 80cf tanks. If one is diving with a resort op, dive time, generally (but not always), is cut down to 45-50 minutes as those ops try to stay on a schedule.
  • Row 17: Did not show types of entry an op used (only 1-2 websites provided that info) but did list, where I could, boat size (large/small) and if an op had a fleet of boats. Figured small boat would be back roll and large a stride. Read that sometimes, because of weather, small boats are prohibited from going out but larger boats can. Some ops with a fleet have small and large boats. All boats indicated there was shaded area. I also indicated if there was a head available when info was provided.
  • Row 20: Showed what dive ops do during surface intervals. The first time I dove in Coz, the surface interval was at a beach bar - didn’t like it then - today I wouldn’t care.
  • Row 25: Showed courses offered by the op. Some of the OW courses are e-learning. Most ops offer much more than what I listed, but again, I am gearing this more towards first timers to Coz.
  • Row 27: A few ops indicate that they give a % discount if you pay in cash which is generally equal to the service fee they will charge on credit cards. The service fee could also be charged if using PayPal. Only 1-2 ops indicated they do not charge a service fee.
  • Row 32: I indicated if the op had a current footprint on FaceBook and TripAdvisor. Mainly it let me know people are currently diving. Of course, with TripAdvisor, all of the ops are the best, but I was able to glean a little extra info about a few of the ops.
  • Many regular Coz divers have their personal favorite op and DM. Most ops have a highly recommended DM, so didn’t list any by name.
  • Most ops show they will go to more advanced sites , such as Maracaibo or Punta Sur for a surcharge.
  • Most of the dive ops that aren’t located at a hotel/resort offer stay and dive packages with other hotels/resorts.
  • Tipping is mentioned by several ops on their webpage, with only one suggesting $10/tank and the others suggesting anywhere from $5-10/tank.
Although I’ll probably keep the number of criteria the same (I might be able to add one more row) I will include any updated info anyone has. Can also add other ops I may have missed.
This is a fantastic resource- thanks not only for taking the time to do the research and put it all together but for sharing it with us as well.
 

tridacna

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Here's what I would like to see. A two minute video of each resort - outside, lobby, restaurant, room, pool, beach. Just so people could have a quick glimpse of what each place looks like. No undersea or diving - just the resort or hotel. If everyone did a video on their mobile devices and posted that in a single thread, THAT would be really useful.
 

jonhall

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A two minute video of each resort - outside, lobby, restaurant, room, pool, beach.

Thanks for refreshing my memory. I used to look up resorts on YouTube. It wasn't really what you suggest (a thread with videos, all in the same place) - kind of a mix like looking things up on Trip Advisor - but whether a bashing of the resort or a glowing review, there is video to look at and get an idea of the place. Some were done pretty well.

Actually just looked up the 2 resorts we're staying at in November/December. Several videos, some old and some recently posted. I'm excited as there have been changes at the one resort since the last time I was there and the other (video posted 5 days ago) looks great.

Maybe someone with some time could start a thread that has links to the YouTube videos of each resort ScubaBoard members frequently use such as:

Coral Princess Hotel and Dive Resort:



Not a great example as this one is pictures - not video - set to music, but you get the idea.

Edit: This was just supposed to be a link to the video, but it looks like the video is ready to play.
 

jonhall

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or at least a new thread with the PDF list in post number 75 of this thread.
Thought about doing this, but have a made a few updates since. Will make some final additions before posting a "final" copy, maybe in December (after I return from Coz.)
 

DandyDon

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Will make some final additions before posting a "final" copy, maybe in December
And then they'll change things listed. But you have done an outstanding job.
 

Sloeber

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Hi Don. Do you know if they were doing SSI back in April? I went back through each dive op’s website before posting the updated version but obviously didn’t catch that - thanks for sharing the link - I’ll make the correction in the event that I post an updated version of the chart sometime in the future.

5 years for the diver center. We are the #1 SSI training center in Cozumel for the past 4 years.
 
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