Discovered by our national Jean-Jacques Cousteau, Cozumel is undoubtedly one of the most best dives of the caribbean with Roatan and Bonaire. I appreciated its crystal clear water, the topography of its diving sites, its splendid reefs, its abundant marine life, its eagle rays in season. If you come at the right time, you can also swim with whale sharks and the swordfish (see the seasons in the article), dive with bulldog sharks of Playa del Carmen and experience the famous Cenotes from Mexico.  All this makes Cozumel a perfect place to spend a diving styles for the French and the quebecois !

Context : I took a 2 month trip to Mexico and I dived on all the destinations of Yucatan: Cozumel, the cenotes, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Mahahual, Banco Chinchorro and Xcalak.

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ARTICLE GUIDELINES
# Summary 
# Presentation
# Diving with
# cenotes 
# Whale sharks
# Sailfish
# Bulldogs sharks  
# Seasons and conditions 
# Dive sites
# Dive centers 
# Dive prices 
# Accommodation 
# Get to
# My diving review

COZUMEL DIVING INFO

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  • Best diving season Cozumel : December to September.
  • Best Cozumel dive sites : Palancar, Colombia, Devil Throat (Punta Sur), Paso del cedral.
  • Nice marine life : turtle, feeding shark, stingrays, big groupers, barracudas, scorpion fish, toadfish…
  • Eagle ray season Cozumel : December to February.
  • Diving nearby: Cenotes (Tulum, 2h journey), bulldog sharks (Playa del Carmen, 1h journey).
  • Snorkeling nearby (above Isla mujeres): whale sharks (June to September) and swordfish (from mid-January to the end of February), but very long journey.
  • Cozumel French diving clubs : Phocea, Blue note.
Logo-plongeur-baroudeurRecommendations by category of divers:

> New diver : good for a baptism or spend your open water.
> Confirmed : to do absolutely if you come to Mexico!
> Experienced : not worth Asia, but one of the best reefs of the Caribbean.
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PRESENTATION OF COZUMEL

Where is Cozumel located in Mexico?

  • Cozumel is an island found in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
  • She is in front of Playa del Carmen and 1 hour from Cancun.
  • It is 56 km from north to south and 14 km from east to west.

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San Miguel de Cozumel

  • To describe Cozumel I would say that everything is concentrated in San Miguel de Cozumel.
  • This is where we arrive by ferry from Playa del Carmen, everything is almost there but it is not the most beautiful…
  • There are no beaches…
  • The city center is not like Playa del Carmen, but it is very Americanized anyway.

East side of the island

  • The most beautiful beaches are on the east side of the island (Playa Punta Morena, Playa Chen Rio, Playa Bush…), they are deserted, it's great!
  • You will need to rent a scooter (around 20$ a day) to explore the other side, but it's well worth the cost.

carte-de-cozumel

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COZUMEL DIVING OPINION

Cozumel is a marine reserve with a superb reef

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  • Cozumel is a marine park
  • The reef is just beautiful and visibility is exceptional !
  • All the common species of the Caribbean are at the rendezvous (angel fish, butterfly fish, parrot fish, major sergeants, surgeon fish, cleaning shrimp, arrow crabs…).
  • But also sea turtles (roughly 1 dive out of 2), barracudas, snappers, huge lobsters (the biggest ones I have ever seen) and it is not uncommon to see nurse sharks.
  • There are also a lot of sandy parts in Cozumel between the different reefs, so you will come across a lot of stingrays and soles.
  • Finally, you may be lucky to find a toadfish, endemic fish in Cozumel.

The best dives in Cozumel are to the south!

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  • The dives in Cozumel are magnificent !! Again, you just need to know which ones to do ...
  • The first thing to know is that you have to go south to find the best dive sites!
  • Basically the further south you go, the better! You have to dive from Yucab (see map below). Those before are going to be good compared to the Caribbean, but in the south it's really great!
  • Most of the centers are located between San Miguel de Cozumel and Villa Blanca, they are always more reluctant to go far, so the further south, the less they want to go!
  • They will take you to the Palancar Reef (which is superb), but either, will not want / can not take you further, or you will have to pay extra to go (but it's really worth it).

Drift dives!

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  • In Cozumel it will be drifting!
  • Depending on the time of year the current can be strong!
  • I did not have too much current (in November), but apparently winter (January-March), they can be really strong!

Access to sites and organization of dives in Cozumel

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  • The best sites being in the south, it will take a little time by boat to reach them.
  • With almost all the centers I have dived with, we needed about 1 hour to get to the first morning site...
  • With the right centers you will eat your midday meal between the 2 morning dives and you will return around 2 pm-3pm.

Season of eagle rays in Cozumel: December to February

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  • One of Cozumel's flagship events is the period of eagle rays.
  • Of December to February, many young rays eagles females come to gather north of Cozumel.
  • You have to go north of Cozumel, Cantarel (Eagle ray wall), a drift dive along a drop-off where can sometimes admire them by the dozen !!

Not many large pelagics in Cozumel

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  • So, there is not many large pelagics in Cozumel, like manta ray or big shark…
  • Except for the nurse sharks which are quite common and the rays eagles in season, don't expect to see big in Cozumel.
  • However, in season you have the bull sharks of Playa del Carmen.

Macro is rare in Cozumel

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  • Like all of the Caribbean, it is not in Cozumel that you can get your fill in macro.
  • Well i was lucky to see a sea horse, but I think I was lucky, I did not see any nudibranch, frogfish…

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The coolest species to see while diving in Cozumel

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  • We see a lot of stingrays, some big groupers, some barracudas, some sea turtles, some scorpion fish and of nurse sharks.
  • You will also have the chance to see the famous toadfish of Cozumel, which is endemic to the island.

Cozumel dive video

Cozumel dive photos

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DIVING WITH CENOTES FROM COZUMEL

Can you dive in the Mexican Cenotes from Cozumel?

  • Yes, you can dive in the Cenotes of Mexico from Cozumel.
  • You will have to take the boat (45 min) and go to Playa del Carmen.
  • Then, about 1 hour drive to the Cenotes.

The full article on diving in Cenotes here!

How are the dives at Cenotes?

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  • World famous, the best Yucatan Cenotes can be found between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
  • JI strongly recommend that you do at least one Cenotes day, it's really exceptional! I loved it !!

What are the best Yucatan Cenotes in Mexico?

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  • Dream Gate and Dos Ojos: the best ones to really explore cave systems.
  • El Pit : the best light shows.
  • Angelita: experiment with the transition from fresh water to salt water by a layer of halocline.
  • Car wash: spectacular lighting effects.
  • Calavera: impressive view from the top of the Cenote.
  • Tajma Ha: a beautiful system of caves.
  • Zapote : a unique configuration with kinds of bells under the halocline.

What is the price of Cenotes dives from Cozumel?

  • Between 100 and 150$ the 2 dives depending on the center
  • + transport from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen.
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DIVING WITH WHALE SHARKS IN COZUMEL

Where to see whale sharks in Cozumel?

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  • There are no whale sharks in Cozumel.
  • It is often thought that there is a whale shark season in Cozumel, but no.
  • The gathering of whale sharks in Mexico is actually happening above Isla Mujeres, off Isla Contoy.
  • It is very very complicated to go there from Cozumel because it's far, but it is possible, departure around 5.30 am, around 200$.

When is the best time to see whale sharks in Cozumel?

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  • The whale shark season in Mexico (off Isla Contoy) is from mid-June to mid-September, the best period being July-August.
  • They come to feed on tiny translucent tuna eggs, abundant in the area during this season.
  • There is never a guarantee to see them, but in season there is a very good chance.
  • It's until today, the largest gathering of whale sharks in the world at the same location.

Dive or swim in snorkeling with whale sharks in Cozumel?

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  • You can't dive with whale sharks in Mexico.
  • We can just swim with them in a palm snorkel mask (PMT, snorkeling).
  • For a confirmed diver, the exit will seem very touristy, with a lot of people, all the boats in the same place, people trying to touch the sharks…
  • But hey, when you've never seen one, I understand that the desire to go there, even in snorkeling.

The 15 essential info on whale sharks here

SNORKELING WITH SWORDFISH IN COZUMEL

Where to see swordfish in Cozumel?

plongee-playa-del-carmen-sailfish-run-espadon

  • Just like whale sharks, swordfish or the famous "Mexican sardine run", doesn't quite happen in Cozumel.
  • But in fact above Isla Mujeres, off Isla Contoy.
  • It is very very complicated to go there from Cozumel because it's very far, but it is possible, departure around 5.30 am, around 200$.

When is the best time to see swordfish from Mexico?

  • The swordfish season in Mexico is very short: from mid-January to the end of February.
  • Macro: best time being clearly at the beginning of February (that's what all the instructors have told me on site, otherwise, it's really not guaranteed to see them!).
  • The waters cool and Banks of thousands of sardines gather together, which attract the swordfish who come to feast!

Be careful, the season is short, the seats are limited, I advise you to book well in advance!

Dive or swim in snorkeling with swordfish from Mexico?

espadon-playa-del-carmen-mexique-3

  • The exit is not not diving.
  • So you can see and swim with swordfish (the fastest fish in the world) in the middle of schools of sardines snorkeling (snorkel mask, PMT).
  • It's not at all on the same level as the famous sardine run in South Africa, but it seems to be a unique show (I could not do it) !
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DIVING WITH THE BOULEDOGUES SHARKS IN COZUMEL?

Or see the bulldog sharks in Cozumel?

photo-requin-bouledogue-playa-del-carmen

  • Bulldog sharks are not in Cozumel, but in Playa del carmen.
  • Playa del Carmen is featured in the world's top 3 diving with bulldog sharks with Ponta do ouro in Mozambique and Beqa in Fiji ! 

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When is the best time to dive with the Playa del Carmen bulldog sharks?

photo-requin-bouledogue-playa-del-carmen9

  • Bulldog sharks are not there all year long !
  • There is clearly a season for diving with bulldog sharks in Playa del Carmen : they arrive around mid-November and stay until mid February.
  • To be sure to see them, and in larger quantity, the best period is therefore clearly december to january.

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The full article on diving with bulldog sharks here

Bulldog shark diving video Playa del Carmen

Bulldog shark diving pictures Playa del Carmen

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COZUMEL DIVE SITES

Map of Cozumel dive sites

carte-sites-de-plongee-cozumel-mexique

What are the best Cozumel dive sites

The best sites of Cozume are in the southwest of the island, do not dive before Tormentos.

  • Palancar reef in Cozumel

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The Palancar Reef is absolutely stunningNo matter which one you do (Garden, Horseshoe, Cave or Bricks), they are all superb! You dive in the middle of a just dazzling reef, the colors are bright, the topography allows you to explore caves and caves. I loved it!

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  • Colombia deep (just after Palancar)

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Colombia is the beginning of the Palancar Reef, it's a deep dive, it's a spectacular site ! We dive 25-30m above a falling dizzy. Of numerous tunnels, cellars and caverns to explore in the middle of a magnificent reef.

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  • Devil Throat (Punta Sur)

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It is necessary absolutely do it Devil Throat (or Garganta del diablo in Spanish) in Punta sur. Devil throat has a unique topography ! We go down a tunnel from 27m and we resort to 40m above a vertiginous drop, just breathtaking! I loved !! It's a must in Cozumel!

  • Paseo del Cedral

I enjoyed Paseo del Cedral. The topography is not like the Palancar Reef, fewer pinnacles and other tunnels, but there is a lot of life over there. There is often some current, so we drift and we appreciate all types of fish from the Caribbean. Nurse sharks and turtles are very common. The dive is not deep, so it is perfect for a 2nd dive. If you make a "Palancar" + Paseo del Cedral, you will have a nice day!

  • Santa Rosa wall, yucab, Tormento

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Dives where you can drift along beautiful reefs. A lot of life, turtles, sandy parts where stingrays are frequent. Beautiful dives to do after a "Palancar" or Punta del sur.

  • The wreck of C-53

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There is also a wreck in Cozumel, a small cargo ship (50m long and 10m wide), a C-53, which sits between 17m and 24m. It was sunk in 2000. I was advised not to do it, a little wreck, nothing special ... so I did not do it!

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Faire Colombia, Punta sur (devil throat), Chun Cha Cab and Maracaibo

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  • As stated above, most centers do not go beyond Palancar. If you have a week of diving, organize your week well to be sure to go at least 2 times further south (see more if you can!), once for Devil Throat (Punta sur), once for colombia.
  • I dive mostly with Phocéa (more info in the diving club party) but in 10 days I could only go once more south with them, it depends on their planning, so I had to organize myself with other centers:

photo-plongee-cozumel

  • For Devil throatI did it with my hostel (Hostel Algarve) for $ 69 (+ $ 10 / regular price). The price was really cheap, good after you get what you pay for! Boat very slow and polluting, divemaster not very chatting (I was with a friend so that's ok, it's just for the principle!). More info on the center below.
  • For ColombiaI dive with Deep Blue. Good reputation, nice shop, after I paid $ 90 (without equipment) to go south. Too expensive ! I am sure you will find cheaper. More info on the center below.
  • Chun Cha Can and Maracaibo. Even further south, I could not do them. Apparently it's quite complicated to go there, it takes good conditions, captains who hold the road, experienced divemasters who know the sites ... But it looks great! A next time for me !!
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WHAT IS THE BEST PERIOD FOR DIVING IN COZUMEL?

You can dive all year round in Cozumel, but the best diving season is considered to be from December to September.

When to dive Cozumel ?

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  • Macro: best diving season at Cozumel in terms of visibility is from November to April.
  • Avoid the rainy season at Cozumel from October to November.
  • Bira eagle rays Cozumel : December to February.
  • Bira whale sharks (snorkeling, Isla Contoy): June to September.
  • Bira bull sharks (Playa salt Carmen): mid-November to mid-February.
  • Bira swordfish (snorkeling, Isla Contoy): January / March, but especially in February.

Diving conditions Cozumel :

  • Visibility to Cozumel : 25-40 m all year round.
  • Water temperature at Cozumel : around 25 ° C in winter and 29 ° C in summer.
  • Current Cozumel : there is a lot of current in Cozumel, especially in winter.

Best month for diving in Cozumel for me: February

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Difficult to choose because of the seasonality of the species! But I would say that the month of February seems not bad.
In addition to the classic dives of Cozumel and Cenotes, during this period you can:

  • See the bulldog sharks on Playa del Carmen.
  • See the eagle rays on Cozumel.
  • Go snorkeling with swordfish off Isla Contoy.
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COZUMEL DIVING CLUBS

Cozumel is a very popular island for diving, there are at least 50 diving clubs !

3 types of dive centers in Cozumel

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  • The classic diving centers : those who have a place to welcome you, boats, several instructors / divemasters, departures every day, equipment in good condition, good organization…
  • The resorts (big hotel): as always, each resort has its own diving center, always more upscale, but also more expensive!
  • The hostels (small hotel): they also sometimes have a diving activity. So, they will be cheaper than conventional centers, but are not as well organized / equipped and are not all at the top in terms of security!

The best dive centers in Cozumel

  • Difficult to recommend one…
  • The best club for the French is without a doubt Phocea (see below).
  • Other centers have good reputation : Blue note (French center) and Blue Magic Scuba.

French diving club in Cozumel

The best French-speaking dive center in Cozumel is Phocea.

Phocea Mexico
phocea-logo

  • A well-known French club in Mexico with 3 centers (Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and La Paz).
  • Great organization! They are nothing else for you, there is nothing wrong with that.
  • Large, super comfortable boats, meals included during the dives, a lovely and very professional staff, equipment in good condition, teams adapted to the level of divers ...
  • The only small remark that I will make is their big boats a little slow, we came back around 2 pm-3pm after our 2 dives, but hey, in the end, we are on the boat, we enjoy, we chat with the other divers!
  • It is also a very busy dive center, so in high season (July-August for example), they will surely not have the flexibility of a smaller center, but that's always the same.
  • I recommend without problem !!
  • Price: $ 89 for 2 dives (or $ 40 for diving if you are at least 8).

Blue note Cozumel

  • I did not dive with them but they have an excellent reputation.
  • They seem very well organized and very friendly.

The centers with which I dived

Deep blue

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  • A Mexican center that has been there for many years.
  • They have a store, it's well organized, the equipment is of good quality.
  • It's just the atmosphere is not very warmThey are nice, but we feel that it is not sincere, that we are only "business" for them ...
  • The divemasters are not all "equivalent" either, the 1st day I dived with a Portuguese divemaster installed there for 10 years, great, very pleasant, top security, good knowledge of Cozumel ...
  • on the 2nd day, I dived with a Mexican divemaster, who I think hardly spoke to me!
  • I will not go back home.
  • Price: 80 $ for 2 dives + 5 to 15 $ for equip. Diving South = + 10 $.

Hostel Agave

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  • So I absolutely wanted to do Punta on (Devil Throat), reputed to have the best dives and it was not possible with Phocea (organizational question) and too expensive at Deep blue, so I tried that of my hostel!
  • So that's exactly what I thought, we get what we pay for!
  • Small slow and polluting boat, divemaster not very "communicating", no oxygen kit or first aid kit on board ..., no meal included, a briefing of about 10s (!) ...
  • After, he took me to the south of the island, underwater he let me do what I wanted, we stayed 65 and 70 minutes…
  • If you are very experienced, you can dive with them, otherwise I do not recommend it! I
  • It is better sometimes to pay a little more and to be in good conditions to dive!
  • Price: 59$ for 2 dives including equipment. Diving from the south = + 10$.
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COZUMEL DIVING PRICES

There is a huge choice of diving packages and packages for a stay in Cozumel, impossible to tell you how much it will cost you!

Cozumel diving rate

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  • Dive only rate : approximately 50$ without equipment per dive.
  • Equipment rental price : about 10$.
  • Cenote diving price from Cozumel: about 150$ for 2 dives + boat to Playa del Carmen.
  • Diving price Bull shark Playa del Carmen : 100 to 150$ + boat to Playa del Carmen.
  • Price swimming with whale sharks (snorkeling, snorkel mask, PMT): around 180 to 200 $ + boat to Playa del Carmen.
  • Price swimming with swordfish (snorkeling, snorkel mask, PMT): around 180 to 200 $ + boat to Playa del Carmen.

Cozumel diving packages, packages and packages

All clubs offer decreasing prices depending on the number of dives, the location (Cenote, Playa del Carmen ...), special outings, with or without accommodation.

HOTEL PLONGEE COZUMEL MEXICO

There are not as many accommodation in Cozumel than in Playa del Carmen, but as often, there are all ranges to choose from:

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HOW TO GO TO COZUMEL?

Getting to Cozumel is easy with Cancun International Airport right next door.

How to come to Cozumel by plane

  • Cozumel has an airport, but it is not large and only has connections to cities in Mexico I believe.
  • The easiest way from Europe or Quebec is to land in Cancun, it's a huge international airport.
  • Cancun to Playa del Carmen: 1 hour by bus / van.
  • Route from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel: 45 min-1 hour by boat (all day, Cozumel Ferry Schedule).

Route to come to Cozumel by bus

Tulum and Playa del Carmen are easily accessible by bus from many cities in Mexico (Cancun, Mahahual, Mexico city…) and belize thanks to Teen bus.

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MY OPINION ON COZUMEL DIVING

After having dived a lot in Asia and 1 year at Roatan, I wondered if Cozumel's reputation was overrated or not, and well i would say no ! I really enjoyed myself. The visibility is exceptional, the reef is beautiful and varied with resplendent colors, the south of the island is absolutely to do, the Palancar reef, colombia and especially Devil Throat (Punta sur). Also if you can, do not miss the passage of eagle rays during winter, it must be an unforgettable spectacle! Finally from Cozumel you can also access other events (in season): whale sharks, bull sharks and sailfish swordfish. Cozumel is definitely in the top 3 dives in the Caribbean !

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