Cozumel Diving

This is my primary reason for loving Cozumel. Bear with me while I give a little bit of narrative about the diving. If you just want some underwater pictures of Cozumel, try these:

 August 2007 Cozumel

 August 2006 Cozumel

 June 2005 Cozumel

 August 2004 Cozumel

 Early Cozumel

As in most things, the operator you choose to work with makes all the difference in the world. Sure, Cozumel is a world-class diving destination, but having a lousy operator can really downgrade the overall experience. I like to use Rodolfo Soltero's firm, which is called "Anita Divers". I first heard of this operator from some friends who have been going to Cozumel to dive every year for a long time. Rodolfo doesn't advertise; his service is so good he gets all the business he needs from referrals.

What sets Rodolfo apart are two things. First, he has a beautiful big boat, called the "Anita." Second, the service levels on the boat are truly a cut above every other operator I've ever used. His people are very experienced, courteous, and willing to help. The ratio of divers to professionals is also great. A typical trip includes about 12 divers on the boat who will be serviced by Rodolfo and as many as 4 others.

Cruises on the Anita are always relaxing and leisurely. The boat departs between 7:30am and 9:00am from "La Coletta", which is the marina next to the Hotel Presidente Intercontinental (very convenient if you're staying there, which I recommend). A taxi can drop you right at the boat, and the crew will load your gear. Let them have your regulators and BC, and they'll set everything up for you. The boat cruises out, typically taking about 1 hour to reach the first dive site. There's ample time to get geared up, and nobody rushes. There's plenty of shadey spots to hang out on the lower deck, or you can climb to the top and get some sun. The ride is very pretty and you get to see a lot of the Cozumel coastline.

The divemasters will get suited up before everyone else, and believe me, there's plenty of time if you just relax until they get started preparing. The divemasters are easily identified in the water because they all were knee-length socker socks, and are wearing extremely long fins. Rodolfo winds up looking much like a younger Jacques Cousteau. Entry is via giant stride off the back of the boat, or if you prefer, a backwards roll off the sides. If you have difficulty with equipment, they can give you as much help as you need, including donning equipment in the water so you don't have to carry the weight.

Here is Rodolfo Soltero, the Master of Anita Divers. Rodolfo is an extremely talented and knowledgeable diver, and a wondeful host as well. Having lived in Cozumel for years, he is a veritable fount of information about the island. Don't hesitate to ask him for recommendations about post-diving activities, as well as about the latest colorful local gossip and goings on.
Boarding the Anita is an easy step down. Everyone drops their shoes in a convenient sack on boarding.
In this view you can see the Presidente Intercontinental Hotel in the background. Unfortunately, a fence prevents walking, but a taxi ride is quick and easy. This shot also gives a good view of the sun deck up above.
Here's my friend Edna stepping off the boat. Standing at the rail to help is Ariel, who is Rodolfo's Chief Divemaster and a very nice fellow. He was a diver for the Mexican Navy for many years and is expert.
Looks like Steve's ready to dive, so let's get suited up and go!

Once in the water, you begin a well guided dive. There's flexibility if you want to spread out a bit, but in Cozumel there is current, so you don't want to get too far from the divemaster. They will be equipped with a "safety sausage", which is an inflatable float that the boat uses to find the divers at the end of a dive. Fundamentally, every dive is a drift dive, so you don't have to move a muscle. This makes air consumption much better, and many people can now dive for up to 1 hour on an aluminum 80 tank. I found I could be down for a little over an hour, get tired of it, and come back with 1200-1400 lbs left!

These guys know all the best dives from years of experience, and they will steer you to excellent locations. The wildlife in Cozumel is abundant and great fun to see. At the end of the dive, divers make their safety stop floating in mid-water. You can hang next to the dive master if you need help with bouyancy control, but frankly its easy even for rank beginners. All this time the current is carrying you along and the boat is following at a safe distance. When you surface, there's no need to kick over to the boat; it will come to you. Egress is really easy as the boat is stable, there are crew aboard to assist, and the swim platform is well-constructed.

Next, the boat cruises to a secluded beach for the surface interval and lunch. Lunch is invariably the same delicious menu--lots of guacamole, tomato and onion salad, tuna, fresh fruit (mangos and banannas, for example), chips, fresh salsa, ham, and cheese. You can make a sandwich with buns. I really like a ham, cheese, tomato, and guacamole sandwich--Yum! There are unlimited softdrinks, and I have to call this the best feed of any boat short of a live aboard I've been on. They make the guacamole and salsa fresh on the boat so everything is very tasty.

The surface interval lasts for 1 1/2 hours to allow plenty of off-gassing, rest, and lunch consumption. As mentioned, the boat will anchor just off a beach. You can snorkel, swim, or go onto the beach. Many people elect to just laze about on the boat and take in some sun. At the conclusion, it's off to the next dive site! The ride is typically only about 10 minutes or so to get to the new site and then it's time to dive again. If you are staying at the Presidente, Rodolfo will drop you at the hotel dock at the end of the day, which is a nice touch.

Cozumel is my absolute favorite dive destination to date, and I plan to go there once a year if possible to revisit. For my next trip, I'll try to get some underwater photos and some pictures of the boat to liven up the page.

Careyitos Divers

Another potential dive company would be Careyitos Divers. During our 2006 Cozumel trip, my son Bobby was certified by Tony Perez, who was an excellent PADI instructor. We did these dives on the Anita, Rodolfo's boat, but Tony normal hangs his hat on the Careyitos. After diving with him, I'd have no reservations about trying that boat too.

Map of Cozumel with Dive Locations Marked

 
All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.