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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
the Anita is an easy step down. Everyone drops their shoes in a
convenient sack on boarding.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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