Reefs of Cozumel

Reefs of CozumelCozumel´s National Park has some of the most spectacular reefs in the world. Steep walls and giant coral towers take your breath away. The great bio diversity, warm water and average visibility of 90ft. makes it one of the ideal places to dive, snorkel or learn to dive. The water temperatures range from a low 78F in the winter to a high 83F in the summer, making it an all-year-round diving place.

These are some of the main reefs, diving level(s), predominant currents and characteristics. Take note that this information has been provided from personal experience and by no means is scientific in nature, which reminds us to bow before all of our world scientists/explorers!NOTES:The currents are predominant currents and if not noted otherwise are from north to south but can change. Currents can change from mild to very strong or vice versa, or east to west or west to east, or downward or upward.When we mention depths on the wall these represent depths at which there are interesting things to see. You can go deeper on these walls, but then, do you want to prove you can go deep just for going deep?

Unless otherwise specified all descents are normal: roll back or giant stride entry and group gradual descent.
PLEASE STAY CLOSE TO YOUR DIVE MASTER OR INSTRUCTOR AND FOLLOW ALL OF HER/HIS DIRECTIONS. IF UNDERWATER CONDITIONS CHANGE THESE PROFESSIONALS HAVE EXPERIENCE AND WILL TAKE THE APPROPRIATE ACTION FOR THE BENEFIT AND SAFETY OF ALL DIVERS.

Maracaibo

CURRENT: Medium to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Strictly Advanced.
DEPTH: 100-200 ft.
TYPE: Wall.
DESCENT: Quick drop to the bottom.
A MUST: dive computer, good air consumption.

Some people like this dive because you may get a chance to see “big” animals (sharks), which is not always the case (sharks are not in any dive shop´s payroll…), and because they like to go deep. At about 180ft. the wall starts to turn inwards toward the island so you may be diving “under the island”, some divers like this sensation.
Not too many coral formations, big sponges and some fish.

PERSONAL OPINION: I’ll go, once, just to check it out…

Punta Sur

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Advanced.
DEPTH: 90-130 ft.
TYPE: Wall with large coral formations and some caverns.
DESCENT: Quick drop to the bottom.
A MUST: dive computer, good air consumption and dive flashlight.

This is as good as it gets! The major attraction on this dive are the group of caverns, one of which is called the Devil´s Throat. If you dive this section of Punta Sur you will probably expend most of your time inside the caverns. The contrast of the blue water when coming through a cavern that exits on the wall is quite an experience. The Cathedral is just south of the main attraction, which is just as beautiful. Actually, some of the best diving I’ve done here was when I descended on Devil´s Throat. Anywhere you dive here is just spectacular.

PERSONAL OPINION: The ultimate diving experience, but early in the morning, like 7 AM, before everybody else gets there!
MY FAVORITE DEPTH: 90-110 ft.

Columbia

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Beginner to Advanced.
DEPTH: 25 to 120 ft.
TYPE: On the wall side big formations with some dive throughs, on the shallow section flat bottom with a long section of coral
A MUST: Dive computer, good air consumption when diving on the wall section.

Colombia has 3 different sections to dive: 1)Wall with huge formations(60 – 120 ft); 2)Middle section(50 ft) between the wall and the shallow, and 3)the shallow section(25 ft) which is about 80 yds. from the middle section toward the island(this is recommended for all levels of diving).
All 3 sections are parallel to each other. Most of the turtles and eagle rays I’ve seen have been here. Colombia´s sections are long and makes it ideal to repeat the dive without feeling that you have been there before, but then, who wouldn´t want to stay down there?

PERSONAL OPINION: Fantastic dive. If the conditions are rough you can always go towards the shallow section(50 or 25 ft).
MY FAVORITE DEPTH: 50-90 ft.

Palancar Caves

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Intermediate to Advanced.
DEPTH: 50 to 100 ft.
TYPE: Lots of dive throughs next to the wall.
A MUST: A dive computer if you’re diving the wall.

This is one of my favorite spots when I have a mixed group of intermediate and experienced divers. I know both will enjoy it because you can take quick peeks on the wall and then swim back towards a protected area where intermediate divers feel more comfortable. It is a good site to introduce intermediate divers to walls and dive throughs.

PERSONAL OPINION: Fun dive with magnificent formations.
MY FAVORITE DEPTH: 50-70 ft.

Palancar Horseshoe

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL:Beginner to Advanced.
DEPTH: 20 to 120 ft.
TYPE: Congested formations from 100 to 20 ft.
A MUST: A dive computer if you’re diving the wall.

This is the continuation of Palancar Caves, there are not a lot of dive throughs since the coral gets more congested – as in a large city… If you’re a beginner you can dive at the top of the reef at about 20 ft. Between 60 and 70 ft you swim doing zig-zags around the coral formations. If you go deeper to about 120 ft and look toward the reef, it is an impressive site, especially if there is another group diving close to the reef and here you can see how tiny they look against the reef.

PERSONAL OPINION: Always a nice dive with towering formations.
MY FAVORITE DEPTH: 60-70 ft.

Palancar Gardens

CURRENT: Mild to Medium.
DIVER LEVEL:Beginner to Advanced.
DEPTH: 20 to 90 ft.
TYPE: Congested coral with small dive throughs.
My favorite to make beginner divers very happy. It has small dive throughs, a sloped terrain towards the wall (makes it safe). Relaxing and fun.

MY FAVORITE DEPTH: 60-70 ft.
PERSONAL OPINION: Great for fresh Open Water Divers.

La Francesa

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL:Beginner to Advanced.
DEPTH: 30 to 60 ft.
TYPE: Congested formations from 70 to 20 ft.
A MUST: A dive computer if you’re diving the wall.

This reef starts at about 30 ft. on the sandy area and then has a 30 ft. high structure which starts at about 60 ft. that contains little caverns (just to look inside). Relaxed dive. Plenty of giant crabs (if you can spot them…).

Cedar Pass

CURRENT: Medium to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Intermediate to Advanced.
DEPTH: 50 to 90 ft.
TYPE: On the shallow section some areas of concentrated coral some scattered. On the wall section lots of sponges.
Its easy to get lost without a good guide, they know exactly where to go and where to find the green or spotted eels, but especially they will help you to not take a “sand tour” and miss all of the neat stuff. I have seen some of the biggest groupers here – like dogs following you around. If you are a beginner and do not mind a strong current give it a try, just stay close to your buddy or dive master.

The wall which is about 60 yards from the shallow section has neat things to see. Sometimes you find groupers, hiding from the divers on the shallow side since this is a very popular spot. Often you will see barracudas close to the end of the dive. The wall is worthwhile at around 60-80 feet.

PERSONAL OPINION: A “have-to” shallow dive.

Santa Rosa

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Beginner to Advanced.
DEPTH: 35 to 90 ft.
TYPE: There is a shallow section at 35ft. with scattered coral and sand dunes, where you can often find lobsters and nurse sharks. Not too many people dive this section. The wall section is one of the most spectacular sites in Cozumel.
If you are diving the wall there are swim throughs that you can follow in and out of the wall… at one time you are in a tunnel with a deep blue exit and when you swim out you are floating outside with a drop to the abyss, just impressive! Worth while depths 35-90 ft.
The shallow section is about 50 yards from the wall, and it is a good spot to go if the current gets wild.

PERSONAL OPINION: Top quality wall dive.

San Francisco

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Beginner to Advanced.
DEPTH: 35 to 70 ft.
TYPE: This is a good wall for beginners, shallow and comfortable to swim.
Here you can either dive on the wall side or on top just looking over the edge. There is a great bio diversity and you can sometimes be surprised with a nurse shark or an spotted eagle ray. Best depth 35-60 ft.

PERSONAL OPINION: Wonderful dive over the wall…

Tunich

CURRENT: Medium to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Intermediate to Advanced.
DEPTH: 35 to 80 ft.
TYPE: When the currents are strong this is a really fast dive. This reef has quite a bio diversity of fish, not much coral and lots of sponges. You must be careful with your depth since the reef stands next to the wall, and as you dive along the top the reef drops to 80 ft. in some sections, so watch your depth gauge as you drift along. Best depth 60-35 ft.
PERSONAL OPINION:Lots of fish and great first or second dive.

Yucab

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Beginners to Advanced.
DEPTH: 40 to 50 ft.
TYPE: This reef has the most bio diversity of all reefs in Cozumel, so I will not say anything more… When the current is strong you will end up starting the next reef, Tormentos.
PERSONAL OPINION: Top quality dive.

Tormentos

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Beginners to Advanced.
DEPTH: 35 to 70 ft.
TYPE: This is the continuation of Yucab but in a more coral-dune distribution. The overhangs are beautiful with a wide variety of sponges and corals. You often find barracudas lurking in the background. If you complete the entire reef you may be diving at 70 ft. At the end of this reef the current always pushes you toward the wall, so do not be surprised when you see your Divemaster swimming toward the island close to the end of the dive.
PERSONAL OPINION:A favorite among experienced divers.

Chankanaab

CURRENT: Mild to Medium.
DIVER LEVEL: Beginners to Advanced.
DEPTH: 40 to 50 ft.
TYPE: A favorite for a second dive and common for night dives. This reef usually has a mild current which makes it comfortable for beginners and photographers. During the day look for small strange-looking fish, and at night you will find giant crabs and lobsters lurking around.
PERSONAL OPINION: Nice and relaxed night dive…

Dzul-Ha & Palmas Wall

CURRENT: Medium to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Beginners to Advanced.
DEPTH: Dzul-Ha 10 to 15 ft. / Palmas 50 ft. to 90 ft.
TYPE: Dzul-Ha is a nice snorkeling shallow reef where you can enjoy a day off from diving and snorkel from the beach, or just jump out of your boat for a nice snorkel session during your surface interval. Palmas wall has wonderful surprises as you drift along. Most of the time if you drop in front of “Club del Sol” hotel (not an ad!) you will drift North and enjoy a dive from 70 to 45 ft. along the wall. If you drop a little South of the hotel you will drift South, and here the wall starts sloping down towards the deep after 20 minutes with a medium current, so you will have to plan swimming 45° parallel to the wall toward the island across the sand(50 ft.) where after a few minutes will come in contact(if your guide knows the place or by accident!) with a few boulders of coral that explode with life,.a nice surprise after that long swim(10 min.) across the sand. To get to these boulders, which are almost in front of “Fiesta Americana” hotel (again, not an ad!), we recommend a medium current that will push you right into them. If not you will find yourself tired when you get there when the current is mild, or it will be difficult to stop and appreciate these small boulders as you fly by!…
PERSONAL OPINION: Dzul-Ha, nothing fancy but enjoyable. Palmas, beautiful and different dive either way of the wall

Paradise

CURRENT:Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Beginners to Advanced.
DEPTH: 10 to 50 ft.
TYPE: This reef has two sections: the shore section which runs from 10 to 25 feet, and it is a great shore dive, but the entry/exit points are difficult due to the sharp rocks on shore. The middle section about 50 yards west, from 35 to 50 ft., and which by the way is one of the most popular shallow reefs in Cozumel. A favorite for night dives you will find schools of grunts, trigger fish, crabs, octopus and a wide variety of sponges and soft and hard corals.
PERSONAL OPINION:A must for relaxed diving. Nice biodiversity.

Villa Blanca

CURRENT: Mild to Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Beginners to Advanced.
DEPTH: 10 to 70 ft.
TYPE:There are two sections: the shallow and the wall. The shallow section you can do from shore and it has enough coral and fish to make your check out dive a good one. If the current is strong you will always have easy entry/exit locations. The wall section is about 400 yards away from the shallow. It is a different option for diving when you have seen it all. This dive has a starting inclined drop off wall at 60 ft. You may will find scattered fish and sponges. On both of these dives watch out for boat traffic!
PERSONAL OPINION:Nice shore diving and a different wall dive.

Barracuda

CURRENT: Medium to Very Strong.
DIVER LEVEL: Strictly Advanced.
DEPTH: 70 to 120ft.
TYPE: This dive requires permission from the Port Master and all divers must prove they have and advanced level. The dive goes through canyons and a wall with currents that at times are just too strong to do the dive. Here you may find eagle rays, groupers and great barracuda