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Staying in Cozumel longer term -- any recommendations for "off the beaten path" diving?

Discussion in 'Cozumel' started by eckoback, Apr 30, 2021.

  1. eckoback

    eckoback Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: California
    Hey all, I've been living in Mexico (with a few trips to Cozumel specifically) for the last few months and will be basing myself out of Cozumel full time for the next few months. I've done around 30 dives here, visiting the following sites:
    • Barracuda
    • San Juan
    • C-53
    • Yucab
    • Tunich
    • San Francisco
    • Santa Rosa
    • Cedral
    • La Francesca
    • Dalila
    • Palancar
    • Colombia
    • Punta Sur
    • Maracaibo
    Are there any dive sites you recommend that I haven't done yet? I'm especially interested in knowing more about lesser known dives, since I'll be here longer.

    I've been extremely happy with the shop I've been diving with, but I'm still a relatively new diver here so I haven't really explored other options around the island. The only (small) slight I have is that the DMs like to favor a smallish pool of the same sites like Colombia, San Francisco, Tunich, etc. so I end up repeating those more often. Is this something that other shops do as well? Is there any reason why I should explore other shops, or should I just stick with my current one?

    Thanks in advance all!
    jocamero likes this.
  2. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
  3. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Pacific Northwest, USA
    Looks like you have hit most of the established sites- only one's I see missing are:

    * Tormentos
    * Villablanca
    * Chankanab
    * Chankanab Bolones
    * Paradise (better as a night dive and usually done as a night dive)
    Cozdreamer, eckoback and kelemvor like this.
  4. andyhi

    andyhi Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: The Woodlands, TX
    Count yourself lucky if you've made barracuda as a new diver. My wife and I have not been able to get it scheduled on our last 3 trips... and now we have a new diver in tow, so it will be a while longer.

    I'm sure you realize this, but many of the major locations listed have multiple dive sites. For example Palancar Caves, Bricks, Gardens, and Horseshoe.

    Also many of these can be done as deep or shallow dives. And then some can be done as the last part of one site along with the first part of another.... and if the current is moving, you can sometimes cover two or three in one dive if air consumption is good and you start shallow enough.

    You may also want to check out Franko's Map of Cozumel. The large double sided map w/ ~40 - 50 individual dive sites listed along with the mini fish ID guide on the right side of the front... Franko Maps Cozumel Dive Map for Scuba Divers and Snorkelers

    Also given your length of stay, make sure you take the ferry over to Playa and pick up a Cenote Dive. I much prefer the open blue water of Cozumel, but you will regret not knocking out Dos Ojos when you have the opportunity.

    I'm interested in hearing about any hidden gems as well... some of the divers on this board have thousands of Cozumel dives under their belts.
    Mark IV and Trailboss123 like this.
  5. divingjd

    divingjd Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Michigan
    If you want to see something different, try to get around the southern end of the island to Islotes. It’s on the east side. I’ve been there several times with Aldora and have never seen anyone else over there. I don’t know if anyone else goes. The weather has to be just right. Maracaibo Shallows is also a very good, rarely-visited site. It can be done on its own or as the second part of a dive starting on the wall. The far northern sites Aldora does have already been mentioned. There are also some sites, like Cedral and Dalila, that are normally done on top of the reef but can also be done as wall dives. North of town and south of San Juan is Cantarel, which is know primarily for schools of Eagle Rays during the season, which is in the winter. You probably would not want to go there in the next month. I don’t think anyone has mentioned San Clemente yet. It’s in the park, but not usually mentioned.
  6. ColoDale

    ColoDale ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Cozumel
    As mentioned there are multiple sites in some you mentioned - Palancar, Cedral, Colombia, Santa Rosa, Tunich and Punta sur (sur). Other ones have been mentioned not in your list above. There are shallows on many of the ones listed - yours and others. There can be quite a bit there. You can also dive sites closer to shore in the north but there is not alot. A caution on the shallow sites closer to shore - there is alot of boat traffic and every once in awhile there is a smartass snorkeler that wants to come down to breath off your octo.

    I've dived San Clemente - it can be good but a bit sparse. During eagle ray season they do use the sand flats to travel south.

    By averages, you have dived the ones you listed twice. I can guarantee you that there is much more to see on each. Additionally we do dives like SantaFrisco, part La francesa/Dalila, part Cedral pass and wall, Tunich and wall, Santa Rosa and shallower, Cedral wall to Santa Rosa wall. They all depend on where you start and you may have some sand between them - just go up a bit to save air and for NDL time. Some like Devils Throat are bucket list dives or going deep over walls but that is up to you and your skills.

    I assume from your list that these were day dives. Paraiso is a good night dive, not so much in the day, Others for night I have done are Cedral pass, top of San Fran wall, Tunich, Dalila, Santa Rosa shallows, Villablanca, and some others I can't remember. Some of these we only do when we all know each other, including DM and current.
    You can do goal oriented dives - camara or not - like small stuff in the reef, sand or grass, deep, swimthroughs, follow sand channel cuts in reefs, superman (pick the highest current site and fly), scavenger, eagle rays in season, rumor diving - "There was a hammerhead on site x so let's look" (this has never worked for me), etc.
    eckoback and andyhi like this.
  7. ggunn

    ggunn ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Austin, TX, USA
    That's never happened to me although a non-diving friend asked me about it once. I explained to him how bad and possibly lethal (to him) that would be.
    Norwegian Cave Diver likes this.
  8. ColoDale

    ColoDale ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Cozumel
    One grabbed my octo and a couple more pointed and asked (palms up question sign). All no from me.
  9. ggunn

    ggunn ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Austin, TX, USA
    To any trained diver it's obvious why this is such a bad idea, but to others, not so much.
  10. divingjd

    divingjd Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Michigan
    Just to reinforce this point and expand on it a little, you can dive the same site several times and have a different experience each time. Different captains and different DMs do the drops in different places and there are almost always different routes. Some DMs will cross over sand flats into shallower water to finish a dive, which can make it completely different. For example, I've done Columbia Deep in at least three different ways, making for very different dives. My favorite version drops into the sand in an area where the reef forms a sort of amphitheater, goes out over the wall, comes back in through some swim-throughs, and ends over the shallow side of Palancar Bricks. There's another version that is sometimes called Columbia Pinnacles, where you swim from one towering coral formation to another over deep sand flats. Diving a particular site is not really a "been there, done that" sort of thing. Every day and every dive is at least a little different. I've been to Cozumel about 20 times and been to most sites repeatedly, often more than once in the same trip. The only one I really try to avoid is the C53. I could probably dive Dalila every day. But it is always fun to see something completely new.
    andyhi and eckoback like this.

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