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Trip Report Jungle Divers and Casa del Mar, November 8-15 2021

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Kimela

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We decided to try a different area – we’ve been in the Centro area and south, so went midway, near the mid-island cruise ship pier. We were worried there wouldn’t be anywhere to eat and we’d be frustrated. We found decent eats and also found the area to be more well-tended. Maybe that’s because locals want a cleaner looking area for cruisers – but there’s a cruise ship pier downtown too, so I don’t know. The streets are cleaner and the store owners take more time to clean up in front of their store fronts in this area – at least that’s my observation. And even though it’s near the pier it felt quieter (except when the ships blow their horns to announce they’re leaving). Overall, it was a more relaxed vibe. We did go up to Mega to get pesos and stopped for dessert at Rock n Java – and went to Jeanie’s on another day.

Taxi fares – I didn’t realize there was a chart in many places to tell you what the pre-set taxi fare is to different locations. To get from Casa del Mar to the Centro area (where Mega is) was 95 pesos – that’s about $5. When we saw that we realized we’d been overpaying for the years we’ve been going to Cozumel. We’re happy to tip well, but now we know how much we’re tipping.

We stayed at Casa del Mar but did not purchase the all-inclusive. We dove with Jungle Divers.

Casa del Mar - Someone told me ahead of time that we should bring camp mattresses because the beds are so hard. I’m very grateful for their advice because the beds were very hard.

The food at Casa del Mar wasn’t very good and it was overpriced. There were several options within walking distance that were ok or good. A block away was Paprika & Tikila (across the street from one another). I liked Paprika. The ceviche at Tikila was just ok. Serenos (about a 5 minute walk) was really good and has a great view for sunset. Blue Angel was about a 20 minute walk and also good – and also has a nice sunset view, as well as a band on the weekends (we had fun listening to the Smooth Cats).

The upgraded room a CDM was just ok. It was small and there was only one – yes, ONE – drawer in the room – with an open cabinet under it (the tv console) – and it had a small closet. If you want a lock for your safe you have to ask for a lock. After two days we upgraded again to the Cabana room (digital safe is already in the room). It’s set up like a townhouse, with an upstairs that has a kitchen/living room area (with a futon that can pull out to sleep two more people) and full bath and lots of storage as well as a table that seats four; and a downstairs that has a king bed (or two full beds), plenty of storage and a full bath and sitting area. I think it was an extra $39 per night (before all the taxes and fees). Worth every penny. We will probably stay there again because the location is a short walk to Tikila and Jungle Divers – but we’ll bring a bigger mattress pad instead of two singles. Helpful hint: if you’re there in the rainy season just hang all your stuff in the upstairs area with the a/c turned low enough to get the moisture out of the air and turn on the overhead fan. All but our boots were bone dry in the morning.

Jungle Divers - Now we get to the best part – the diving. We went out with Jungle Divers, run by Alex and Steph. Alex runs the office and Steph took us out for the dives on the My Way – a Dive Charro boat. The boat had a marine head (alway a plus for me) and maybe 10 divers - but when we were in the water it was just two or three of us and Steph. I think we were technically limited to 100 minute dives and we generally got 90+ minute dives on AL80’s and nitrox. We went out about 9:30 in the morning, did our first dive and then had lunch on the boat and then did our second dive. It made for a long day, but we really enjoyed this way of spending a dive day. It was very relaxing and unhurried – and lunch was provided. We’re there to dive – diving isn’t something we want to ‘hurry up and get done’, so going out at 7:30 in the morning so we can be back by lunch isn’t our goal. We want to enjoy every moment, including chatting with other divers and just relaxing. This was great. Including our shore dives, over 6 days we logged 13 dives and 19 hours and 43 minutes of bottom time! If we’d been diving on a boat with a 50 minute limit that would have required at least 22/23 dives. Love diving with these guys!

Steph took us out hunting for macro stuff and delivered – he enjoys the small stuff too. We also managed to see an eagle ray, a logger head and a green turtle, baby black and gray sharks, as well as all the regular stuff you see in Cozumel. The reef looked great - I was so happy by how healthy it was. He also took us out for a night dive on Tikila as well as two day-dives there.

Note: the water was 82 or 83 degrees, but we had some windy and rainy days. I was really glad I'd brought my boat coat as we were all shivering. There were a couple of days that the second dive was a warm relief from the cool air topside. If I ever go in November-January again I'll bring a 3 or 5mil AND my boat coat to maintain core heat. At the very least, bring a solid rain coat to protect yourself from the breeze.

Tikila diving – make sure your first dive is during the day so you can get a good idea where to place your feet during the shore entry. I misplaced a foot and went down on my right elbow and on my tank at my butt – ouch – but still had a great dive. (Btw, I also scratched the face of my brand new Peregrine on the tumble, but had the protective cover on it so it’s not actually damaged! Yay! Kudos to Shearwater for providing it with the shield on it from day one – and an extra.) Tikila is right next to the Reef Restoration project and that was a blast to dive through and see huge busts of a couple folks I didn’t know and one I recognized – Jacques Cousteau! Lots of little stuff – really a great shore dive – and Steph took his time to show us all kinds of wonderful little things.

American Airlines – no delays or cancellations on the way down or the way back! Woo hoo! Time to buy a lottery ticket!!

We completed our Verifly app procedure but I’m not sure it was ever needed. When we got to the airport we were greeted by a guy with a QR code so we could complete an AA online ‘contact tracing’ questionnaire that I’m pretty sure is part of the Verifly app procedure. We were asked to show pictures of our vaccination cards and negative covid tests (which had already been validated via the Verifly app). Another traveler who was unvaccinated said that the Verifly app basically forced him into agreeing to be vaccinated in the future or wouldn’t let him complete the app process (can’t confirm it as absolute truth but have no reason to doubt him either). Still had to fill out the printed form that asks name, country of residence, passport and if I’ve been exposed to covid or am symptomatic. That was collected by security as we went through the checkpoint – as always. Makes me wonder why we bother with the other steps, but it is what it is.

We witnessed a pay-off at the Cozumel airport (folks who wanted to jump line for check-in) and extreme rudeness at DFW. But that's just business as usual and part of what makes the traveling frustrating. Life is so much more pleasant when folks make the effort to be nice. I don't understand the rudeness. Weirdos!






 

Rob9876

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Great report! We've done cenote and shore dives with Jungle Divers (great folks!), but have not done boat dives with them yet. A few questions:
  • Where did the boat leave from, and did you have to arrange your own transport there?
  • 90+ minutes on AL80s is pretty long -- were most of the boat dives fairly shallow?
  • What time did the boat end up getting back?
 

scubadada

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...90+ minutes on AL80s is pretty long -- were most of the boat dives fairly shallow?...
I'd need an average depth of about 35 feet to get 90 min out of a normally filled AL80, at my average RMV of 0.36 cu ft/min
 
OP
Kimela

Kimela

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Great report! We've done cenote and shore dives with Jungle Divers (great folks!), but have not done boat dives with them yet. A few questions:
  • Where did the boat leave from, and did you have to arrange your own transport there?
  • 90+ minutes on AL80s is pretty long -- were most of the boat dives fairly shallow?
  • What time did the boat end up getting back?
We met Alex and Steph at the shop (about a block from CDM) and went by taxi to the Fonatur marina - courtesy Jungle Divers. Yes, our dives were shallow (some as deep as 60-ish feet - but that was by request so we could see more macro stuff. They'll do whatever profile you request, and you'll get less bottom time the deeper you stay, of course. I think most days we were back around 3:30.
 

jonhall

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Glad you had a great trip. Nice report. I'm staying down the road from CDM (at El Cid La Ceiba) early Dec. and have a few questions, if you don't mind.

Tikila diving

I've not done any shore dives on Coz before and want to on this trip. Since you dove with Jungle Divers, did you just meet them at Tikila's? Do you know if anyone rents tanks or leads shore dives at Tikila's?

Did you get a chance to eat at Ernesto's? It's between ECLC and CDM. Had a great breakfast there several years ago. Nothing flashy, a view of the water from outdoor seating, and seemed like pretty authentic Mexican food. Only stopped in before flying home, but plan to try more this trip.
 
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Kimela

Kimela

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Glad you had a great trip. Nice report. I'm staying down the road from CDM (at El Cid La Ceiba) early Dec. and have a few questions, if you don't mind.



I've not done any shore dives on Coz before and want to on this trip. Since you dove with Jungle Divers, did you just meet them at Tikila's? Do you know if anyone rents tanks or leads shore dives at Tikila's?

Did you get a chance to eat at Ernesto's? It's between ECLC and CDM. Had a great breakfast there several years ago. Nothing flashy, a view of the water from outdoor seating, and seemed like pretty authentic Mexican food. Only stopped in before flying home, but plan to try more this trip.
I wish I'd known how close Ernesto's was - for some reason I had it in my head that it was in town and to the east. Next time we'll go there. El Cid is pretty close to CDM.

I believe you can get tanks, weights and guides at Tikila. We met Steph at the shop and then walked down to Tikila. On our night dive we geared up and walked down to Tikila, which is a little bit of a hike for me at 61 (5 minute walk according to google maps). The next day Steph took our tanks down for us, but Alex mentioned that she could just have them delivered directly to Tikila also. Just ask and my guess is they'll accommodate whatever you'd like to do. I felt it was worth it to have a guide because we wouldn't have known where to look for specific landmarks to the south and then the Reef Restoration project to the north. But if you wanted to go unguided you'd probably be ok too. Just watch those first steps, especially if there's much of a surge coming into shore.
 

BoundForElsewhere

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we generally got 90+ minute dives on AL80’s and nitrox.

good lord. I could only dream of 90 minutes on an 80. are you sure you don't have gills?
 

mcohen1021

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I never experienced hard beds at CDM, but i like frm mattresses.

I'm surprised you didn't like the food @ CDM, I love their breakfasts, grilled fish, shrimp....

Yes, Ernestos is awesome

Cab rides haven't gone up much, they were either $2 or $3 from CDM on 1990ish.

I used to LOVE the shore dive at casa del mar... wish they'd sink something else out there.

Fyi, if you don't care for casa del mar, try palmar condos next door, they're awesome
 

Cozdreamer

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Thank you for sharing your trip here! Been missing the island and your write-up helps.
 

jonhall

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We were asked to show pictures of our vaccination cards and negative covid tests (which had already been validated via the Verifly app).
Thanks for the earlier reply. I forgot to ask one other thing. Regarding Verifly, I'd read that a problem with the app was adding the negative Covid test result from Mexico - not sure if the issue was being able to add it to the trip or there being enough time for it to be validated before one's return flight. Did you have any issues?

Was going to give it a try (also read that next year, Verifly may be required) but would also have all paper copies or pics on phone.
 
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