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Help with planning a Coz dive trip

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Outbound

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I’m looking for a little advice as I start to plan a trip to Cozumel, probably in mid-February. So, while no rush, I know that things in traveland are starting to pick up and I don’t want to wait until the last minute and find everything booked. I will be traveling with my wife — who is not a diver — so that puts some restrictions in place, since I need to make sure she has a relaxation vacation (so she will let me dive!).

It seems there are two basic directions we can take: 1) Book a hotel and a diver operator separately, and then do our own thing for meals; 2) go the all-inclusive route and have more convenience but with more expense and fewer options.

For #1, I was thinking of booking something like Villa Aldora and going with Aldora Divers. I like that they use HP100 tanks for everyone and guarantee 70 minute dives. I’m not an air hog at all and can easily last that long on an AL80, but I hate it when dive ops start banging on the ladder for people to get back on the boat at 45 minutes because someone went through their air too fast. Also, it seems that booking Villa Aldora and diving with them too is pretty inexpensive. I read that the hotel has a private beach (necessary for my wife so she can relax while I dive). The downside would be having to take a cab to go into town for meals. Does Villa Aldora have a restaurant? And if so, is it any good?

For #2, I was considering the Iberostar and Dressel Divers. The big plus is that it is all-inclusive so it has the convenience factor. My wife would have a nice and relaxing vacation. The downside is that it is more expensive that option #1, and the even bigger issue is that I’ve read mixed reviews about Dressel Divers. No one has said that they are a bad op, just that they have a set schedule for dive sites, and that they limit dives to about 45 minutes. The former doesn’t really matter to me that much since it will be my first time diving in Cozumel. The latter is a concern because who wants to be herded back on the boat when you still have plenty of air left in your tank?

The plan is to do at least a 2-tank dive per day, perhaps with a few days of extra diving so long as my wife is happy and feeling relaxed :)

Anyone have any experience with Iberostar and Dressel? I know Aldora Divers gets good reviews, but I haven’t read much about Villa Aldora. Any reviews people can provide?

Thanks!
 

drrich2

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My old notes from researching a trip for 2018 may have some info. (though I haven't stayed at Aldora Villas or Iberostar):
My Research Notes from Planning Cozumel Trip
Tres Pelicanos/Casa Mexican Trip Report Sept. 2018

Aldora is known for the option for 120-cf HP steel tanks, IIRC. So unless that's changed, they don't use 100-cf tanks for everyone. Villa Aldora is north of town (whereas most popular reefs are south of it), though Aldora has had a rep. for fast boats; do you have a strong preference for short boat trips to reefs, or enjoy scenic trips? If Aldora still has bicycles to ride to town, is that of interest?

Does that sandy beach need to slope down into the water, like most people think of a beach doing, or is just a patch of sand on shore from which one can view the ocean from a lounge chair sufficient? Could impact options for where you stay.

There are other A.I. resorts south of town; how did you come to focus on the Iberostar? I've nothing against it, just curious.
 

ReefHound

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This might be the first time I've heard Alora and "inexpensive" used together in the same sentence. No restaurant at Villa Aldora and nothing really close. Taxis are cheap and they provide free use of bikes. The "beach" there is a man-made area of sand. Only the southern resorts have a true beach. The ocean comes to a rock wall there which makes for a decent shore dive called "Aldora wall". Aldora provides bigger tanks but is one of the few ops that requires the entire group to ascend together.

There is no "banging on ladders" because Coz is drift diving. Most ops other than the cattle boat house ops will let you dive 60-70 minutes.
 

Outbound

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Thanks for the input so far. Iberostar was brought up in a discussion with a buddy of mine who is also thinking of planning a Cozumel trip. I didn't mean to fixate on Iberostar though, nor on Aldora for that matter. I'm very much open to other suggestions. I think my wife would prefer an actual beach, so that might mean focusing south of town.
 

mcohen1021

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Stay close to downtown, not north of downtown is my recommendation. Casa Del Mar, El Cid, Palmar condos all great. Dive With Martin is very good, although I havent dove with them since 2015. South side means you'll have to get shafted with the $600/week car rental... The car rentals is probably the most lucrative business/scam on the island. Stay near downtown, take a cab to eat.

DONT GO AI!!!
 

ReefHound

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Just go to google images and put in the names.

I've stayed at Villa Aldora and liked it. Nice to have the boat pickup, gear storage, and tanks for shore dive all in one place. You have to go to town for bars and restaurants and groceries but there are free bikes and it's not a long walk. I think it cost us more than an AI would have, however.

I've stayed at Iberostar and like it. Nice to not have to worry about where to eat or how to get there. Pay one price and forget about it. Otherwise I'm the type that keeps a running total in my head and hears ka-ching ka-ching every time I order a drink or a meal. It's really remote so to go into town requires taxi or rental car.

I've stayed at Blue Angel and liked it. Similar to Villa Aldora, it's a small resort right on the water with a pool, pier, onsite dive shop with tanks for a nice shore dive. You can use their dive op or someone else can pick you up at the pier. There is a restaurant onsite and you can put everything on your room to have an AI feel. It's a short taxi to town and many find it walkable, especially in February. Should be less expensive than the previous two options.

I've stayed at Villa Tan Kah and liked it. It's a small number of villas with a pool owned by Scuba Shack which is across the street. We dived with them, nice convenience of everything you need close together. It's a taxi to town for all but world-class walkers. There are a handful of restaurants adjacent or nearby. Should be even less expensive than the Blue Angel option. We've stayed and dived here the last 4 times.

I've also stayed at Villa Blanca a few times, like it at the time, but too many better options to go back. It's not far from Blue Angel. A few restaurants nearby but a taxi ride to town.

Same for Hotel Barracuda but they have a nice waterfront location with a pool and we sometimes go there to hang out at the active pool bar. They are in town and a mega grocery is across the street. Very spartan.

I've also stayed several times in town at Casa Mexicana, which formerly was infamous for the best breakfast buffet in town. Just a small wading pool though and across the street from the ocean. Nice views but no one gets in the water there. In the center of town with all the shopping and restaurants and bars right outside the front doors.

I've also stayed several times at Quinta Suites, an apartment hotel in town, for extended working vacays. Close to everything and it had a separate living room and bedroom and full kitchen.
 

ReefHound

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Stay close to downtown, not north of downtown is my recommendation. Casa Del Mar, El Cid, Palmar condos all great. Dive With Martin is very good, although I havent dove with them since 2015. South side means you'll have to get shafted with the $600/week car rental... The car rentals is probably the most lucrative business/scam on the island. Stay near downtown, take a cab to eat.

DONT GO AI!!!

We usually rent a VW bug from ISIS for $35/day all insurance included. No hidden fees. A week would be $245.

Plus there is no major need for a car rental if staying at the AI resort.
 

MMM

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There's an "in-between" option: the Palace is a very nice, all-inclusive, in town. Beach is man-made but decent. Eat in or try some other stuff in town. Save money on taxis; you will be able to walk most everywhere. Aldora (and many other ops) will pick you up there. I agree with an option reefhound made above: Blue Angel. It's within walking distance of town (a long walk, however) and it doesn't feel like you are on vacation with a million other people since it is more of a boutique property.
 

judydivescoz

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Stay close to downtown, not north of downtown is my recommendation. Casa Del Mar, El Cid, Palmar condos all great. Dive With Martin is very good, although I havent dove with them since 2015. South side means you'll have to get shafted with the $600/week car rental... The car rentals is probably the most lucrative business/scam on the island. Stay near downtown, take a cab to eat.

DONT GO AI!!!
I have never thought in that in the 20 plus years of renting cars in Cozumel I was getting “shafted”. I also never paid $600 a week either! I have always liked having a car.
 
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