Scuba Cozumel. You could call it a rite of passage for divers. It's on just about every divers must do list. And deservedly so because Cozumel diving has some of the best diving in the Caribbean with lots of great dive sites to choose from.
Scuba Diving Cozumel Mexico
Cozumel is particularly known for its drift diving. There's nothing like the feeling of flying along a wall while you're not moving a muscle. Now we're talking fun!
Not to mention the margaritas. Only after diving, of course.
(If you haven't been to Cozumel since Hurricane Wilma hit in October 2005, there is no need to worry. The diving is still fantastic. Click here to read our trip report from our latest Cozumel scuba diving vacation.) Scuba diving - Cozumel Mexico - it can't get much better.
The Lay of the Land
Cozumel is Mexico's largest island and is 28 miles long and 12 miles wide. Check out our Cozumel maps page to see the island.
There is only one town, San Miguel, on the island. San Miguel (population of 71,401 per 2005 census) is on the west side of the island, which is the developed side.
The water here is calm as this side of the island faces the mainland. This is where all the snorkeling, water-skiing, etc. takes place. It is also where you will scuba in Cozumel.
The east side of the island is like another world with almost no people and, usually, crashing waves. Swimming can be dangerous so be cautious here. No scuba in Cozumel here.
The isolated beaches on this side, however, are great for sunbathing. You can find some great rustic beach bars to quench your thirst as you make your way from the west side to the east side.
In between coasts, the interior is overgrown and scrubby. A few small Mayan ruins can be explored. Don't expect a Chichen Itza, though (or anything remotely close).
Cozumel is located about 12 miles off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. It is across from Playa del Carmen and about 35 miles south of Cancun, one of the party capitals of the world.
There are quite a few hotels and other types of accommodations to choose from when you go to scuba Cozumel. Whether you want a small villa or an all inclusive resort, you'll be able to find it.
Check out our page on Cozumel hotels for more info and to make sure you are getting the best deal.
In my opinion, the high season has the best weather to scuba in Cozumel (of course). During the high season, December to March, air temperatures are around 85 degrees during the day and 70 degrees at night. The summer season gets hotter with daytime highs of around 95 and nighttime temperatures of 80 degrees. The summer can get hot and humid, though, as this is also the rainy season.
The rainy season generally starts in June and goes through October. Even though it is the rainy season, you could still get lucky and get some days without rain. Chances are you will get some type of rain though.
We've traveled to Cozumel during the rainy season and it wasn't too bad. We generally had a couple of rainfalls during the day, but not bad enough to ruin the day. It all depends on the luck of the draw, I guess.
Hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June 1 through November 30. Cozumel's most active hurricane months historically have been September and October. But people go scuba diving Cozumel Mexico all year long. It's just your risk tolerance.
Water temperatures around Cozumel varies between mid 70's to mid 80's.
In the winter months (December to February), it is around 75 to 78 degrees. It warms up in the Spring (beginning in March) to the high 70's, typically between 78 and 80 degrees.
Summer months are warm with water temperatures in the 82-85 degree range. If you scuba in Cozumel during the summer, it might feel like you are in a bathtub!
My husband and I don't tend to get cold easily so many times we will just wear a skin when we scuba in Cozumel. However, if we are doing a week of multiple dives, I will usually wear a 3mm shorty. It's all personal though.
Most people on the boats we've been on have worn 3mm scuba diving wetsuits. Whatever makes you comfortable is the right choice.
Reefs and Rides
The reefs are not located far from shore. However, depending on where you stay when you scuba in Cozumel, your boat ride can differ significantly.
If you stay in San Miguel and want to dive off the southern part of the island (where, among others, the world famous Palancar reef is located), make sure your dive operator has a fast boat. During one of our trips we stayed at Plaza Las Glorias, right on the edge of town (the hotel has since changed hands and is now part of the Palace Resorts chain).
Talk about a slow boat to China. It took us 1-1 1/2 hours to get to some dive sites. That gets old. Quickly. Even if it is to scuba Cozumel.
It doesn't have to be this way if you opt to stay in town. We had boats zipping by us all day. So just make sure you're on the boat that is zipping, not watching when you go scuba diving Cozumel Mexico. (You can find our boat scuba diving tips here.)
We both enjoy the diving in Cozumel immensely. There are alot of great dive sites to choose from. Including some of the best wall diving and drift diving anywhere.
Underwater you'll find interesting formations, some great swim-throughs, a large variety of marine life and good visibility, all of which make for a fun diving experience. Currents can range from mild to ride-'em-cowboy fast.
While some of the dive sites are more advanced, we had a couple friends do their open water certification dives with no problems.
However, if you aren't that comfortable in the water and/or with your diving skills, you might want to wait a bit before you scuba in Cozumel. Or alternatively, make sure your diver operator knows your skill level and see if the dive sites that day are appropriate for you.
OK, I hate to admit it, but to me, Cozumel has lost some of its charm since the new cruise ship pier was built.
Shopping and partying in an antiseptic mall that looks like it could be in Anywhere USA doesn't hold alot of appeal. Neither does fighting through crowds of just dislodged cruise ship passengers. Just my 2 cents.
Or maybe I'm just holding a grudge since they built the pier at the spot for a popular night dive in Cozumel (you can find our page of night diving tips here).
Once the crowds leave, though, you do get to experience some of the charm and character that made Cozumel so popular in the first place.
One of our favorite things to do on the island is rent a jeep. Be forewarned, though, most of the jeeps are in pretty tough condition. A couple of them we rented had rags as a gas cap. Just so you know.
But it's fun! A road runs around most of the perimeter of the island. There is not alot of development outside of town. You'll find some great beach bars as you drive along. Perfectly placed to break up the trip and have a cold one while you enjoy the views. Two of our favorite pit stops are Coconuts and Mezcalitos.
You can also stop and snorkel along the way and visit the light house at the tip of the island. If you give the caretaker a couple of dollars, you can climb up for some great views.
All in all, scuba in Cozumel is a great experience. The wonderful diving more than makes up for the cruise crowds. So go, jump in and start flying!
Drift diver by Wally McChippus. Pier picture by Captured Soul Photography. Thanks!