Drift diving Cozumel is a ton of fun. Cozumel is well known for its drift diving and the island attracts tons of divers each year. In drift diving, you just float along with the current and sometimes you are really flying! Talk about fun. If you're not familiar with drift diving, I'll discuss it below and also our experience during our last Cozumel scuba diving vacation.
Drift Diving Cozumel: An Intro
If you have never been on a drift dive before, you are in for some fun. On a drift dive, the boat does not anchor or tie up to a mooring. Divers get in the water together and then go along with the current. The captain on the boat will follow the bubbles of the divers or a dive float on the surface that a diver (the divemaster in a guided dive) drags along behind him.
If this is your first time, it is normal to be a bit nervous. Be sure to tell the divemaster your experience level and the fact that this is your first drift dive. If he isn't too receptive, just talk to the more experienced divers on the boat. Most divers are more than happy to share their experiences.
Depending on the current, you may have to get off the boat fairly quickly and close together. To be more relaxed, you can start to get ready early so you have time to get everything together and not have to rush off the boat and forget something important (such as turning on your air).
Listen to the pre-dive briefing closely. The divemaster should tell you what to expect and what the procedures will be for getting off and getting on the boat. If you run out of air earlier than the rest of the group, you may have to surface with your buddy while the rest of the group continues their dive.
If you are not sure, ask questions so you will now what to do in this instance. It is not at all uncommon for some people to surface early so don't worry about it. Just know the procedure.
The divers need to stay pretty close together on this type of dive so the boat can follow and pick them up. Now is not the time to go off sightseeing by yourself.
Scuba Dive Cozumel: Underwater Drifting
Once you are underwater, the fun begins. Depending on the current, you can either have a slow relaxed dive taking in all the sights or have an exciting dive and fly by the sights in a stronger current. Sometimes it is hard to tell until you get down there. Currents can change but you can ask the divemaster what the typical conditions are for this site.
The current will take you along and you normally don't have to do alot of kicking. Just relax and enjoy. Go with the flow. You certainly don't want to be going against it. That is one way to run out of air more quickly. Keep track of your depth and air at all times.
Depending on the formations, you can duck behind the reef or in a channel to get out of the current. This is helpful if you are getting ahead of the group and need to wait for them to catch up. Divemasters normally tell you to stay behind them, so follow their directions.
When the dive is over, if the divemaster hasn't been dragging a float, he will send up a surface buoy so the diveboat will know where you are. Surface close to the group and the surface marker so the boat will know where you are. This is especially important if you are in a busy boat traffic area (such as the case when you go drift diving Cozumel).
The boat will come and pick the divers up. Normally they will have a drag line you can hang onto while you are waiting to get on the boat. Get on the boat, take off your gear and enjoy. You made your first drift dive.
Drift Diving Cozumel: Our Latest Experience
If you read some other pages on this site, you will know we love Cozumel. This is our latest experience drift diving during our last Cozumel scuba diving vacation.
Our hotel (Occidental Grand) was south of town and very close to the dive sites. So we essentially started gearing up as soon as we left the dock. Each divemaster had a max of 8 divers assigned to him. A bit crowded but it wasn't that bad.
The current on top wasn't too strong so there wasn't a huge rush to get everyone off at the same time. A couple of times we were instructed to get in and descend right away and wait for the rest of the divers down there.
The first couple of dives we did at Palancar, there wasn't alot of current which is typical for Palancar. It was relaxing but not really drift diving Cozumel - we had to kick! French Reef (La Francesca) which is a shallow dive, had a nice gentle current. A few divers had never done a drift dive before and they loved it. Just float along and enjoy the view.
The dive with the most current was the Santa Rosa wall. It was a fairly strong current and you got that flying feeling that drift diving Cozumel is so well known for.
There was one diver who hadn't done a drift dive before and he was a bit out of control at some points. The current pushed him up against the wall at 2 different points and he was kicking the wall to get away. While you are going with the current, you need to keep an eye out for what lies ahead of you and steer yourself away from any obstacles. On the Santa Rosa wall, there are niches/tunnels that you can dive into to get out of the current if need be. It was a blast!
So if you haven't done this type of diving before, you really should try drift diving Cozumel - you won't regret it. It's not difficult, just different. So give it a try and enjoy.