Guide to Scuba Diving in Cozumel Mexico – Everything You Need to Know
Cozumel is a tiny little island off the eastern coast of Mexico which offers truly breathtaking diving all year round. It used to be relatively quiet, until a certain Jacques Cousteau visited in the 1960s and proclaimed it one of the best sites to go diving in the world…
Ever since, it’s been onwards and upwards for the picturesque island of Cozumel. Today people from around the globe flock here to experience its stunning reefs, wonderful marine wildlife, and the thrilling drift dives which currents around many parts of the island make possible.
If you’re wondering whether you should add Cozumel to your list of potential next holiday locations, you’ll find everything you need to know about Cozumel scuba diving here:
When’s the best time of year to go scuba diving in Cozumel?
You can dive around the island at pretty much any time of year. The height of the season – that’s usually December to March – gets pretty busy, but that’s for good reason. The waters are almost pristinely clear all year round and visibility can get as high as 100 feet beneath the cerulean waves.
Even during the so-called rainy or off-season – that’s March to September – the water still remains pleasantly warm. In fact, it often increases in temperature during these months. You’ll never need a thicker wetsuit for daytime diving here. Many divers prefer coming during the off-season as conditions are a little calmer and the various sites far quieter. The only potential downside is that there might be slightly fewer activities going on out of the water during this time of year – but even then there are quite a few!
The only time of year to really be wary of is August, as that’s hurricane season.
You should also bear in mind that while you’ll see amazing marine wildlife no matter what time of the year you to choose to visit, you will have a better chance at meeting some of the larger creatures – we’re talking bull sharks and eagle rays here – during certain seasons…
What sort of marine wildlife will I find and when?
Many people choose to go diving around Cozumel because of the sheer abundance of under-sea life that can be found here. More than 500 species of fish make their home in and around the island, primarily in the reefs. Swimming with bullsharks is one of the most sought-after experiences. These majestic creatures can most often be seen near Playa del Carmen – the town on the Yucatan Peninsula directly opposite the island and only a very short boat ride away – best months for diving with bullsharks is between March and September.
You will also find around the island, in no particular order:
The Splendid Toadfish, parrot fish, angelfish, drumfish and trumpetfish and groupers
Octopi, stingrays, moray eels and lobsters
Seahorses and barracuda
Hawksbill turtles, some of whom lay their eggs on nearby beaches at certain times of the year
Eagle rays, green turtles and loggerhead turtles during their migration season
In short, take your camera. Cozumel is absolutely loaded with enough colourful fish and more to make a nature lover’s heart sing.
Cozumel scuba diving – prices
Cozumel scuba diving prices are, broadly speaking, heavily affected by the time of year. The busy December-March period will usually see you paying above average – depending on the pricing scheme of the dive shop you choose – or struggle to find somewhere to stay for a reasonable rate if you don’t plan pretty far ahead. That said, if you do plan in advance or choose your time well you’ll find that your whole diving trip is surprisingly good value.
How easy is to get to Cozumel?
Cozumel has its own airport, Cozumel International, so it’s very easy to reach. You can then take a taxi directly to wherever you’re staying, as the island is only 28 miles long and 9 miles wide. Even if you prefer to fly to Cancun International Airport it’s only an hour’s journey and a short boat ride away from getting to the island. You won’t struggle to get there.
What are the best Cozumel diving sites?
There are nearly fifty good and outright amazing places to dive near the island. Most are part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is only second behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef when it comes to being the largest in the world.
Some of the best Cozumel diving sites include:
1. Punta Sur Reef
Punta Sur will almost certainly be one of the most intriguing dives you’ll come across. An almost eerie experience, the deep wall of the reef has a large number of tunnels and caverns which you can swim through if you have the requisite skills. It should probably feature near the top of your list of dive sites to visit around the island no matter your skill level, though only those with the correct training can go into the deeper caverns.
2. Columbia Wall
A short trip out from the coast you will find Columbia Wall, which is directly adjacent to the deeper depths of the ocean. Beyond the wall, the water seems to fall away into black nothingness so it’s probably one for the more skilled diver.
But closer to, it is home to some truly diverse sea life. Mainly of interest, as far as the visitor is concerned, are the many species of tropical fish, nurse sharks, eagle rays, barracuda and turtles.
3. Palancar Gardens
Palancar Gardens, on the other hand, are perfect no matter your level of diving experience. An almost always gentle current will help you explore the many sheltered areas and caverns which the gardens offer, many of which are absolutely teeming with stovepipe sponges and tropical fish.
The Gardens are part of the larger Palancar Reef which also contains several other named sites, all well worth your time.
What level of diver do I need to be to enjoy my trip?
Because of the sheer variety of brilliant places to dive around the island, Cozumel caters to divers of all levels. From the Santa Rosa wall’s high-octane speed drift dives to the pleasant sights and tranquil reefs of Palancar Gardens, you will find something to suit you no matter your tastes – and no matter your prior diving experience.
Many local dive shops offer certification in the glorious shallow waters around the island. Perfect if you don’t have that much in the way of experience or have considered getting your Open Water Certification.
For the experienced diver, when scuba diving around Cozumel the possibilities are endless.
About The Author: Jesús Guzman Diaz
Jesús is one of the founders of Koox DIving
and a local to Tulum, a dive
explorer who knows his area so well, that he have helped discovering and mapping several cenotes in Mexico, together with National Geographic. When Jesús isn’t diving
, he is spending time with his two lovely kids. He also loves surfing, and if the wind is right he can be found on a wave somewhere. He is also the co-founder of the first true wood surfboards called XookBoards.