Description of Cozumel Island

Cozumel is a large island just 20 km (12 miles) off the Yucatan Peninsula. The island is about 48 km (30 miles) long and 16 km (10 miles) wide. With safer conditions, sand beaches, beautiful reefs and ancient ruins this island has everything to offer to tourists who want quitter and safer vacation. Besides Cozumel has international airport (CZM) that receives planes from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Halifax, Houston, Miami, and Toronto. Another way to reach the island is to fly to Cancun, take a bus or a van to Playa del Carmen and then take the ferry across to Cozumel to city of San Miguel, largest settlement on the island (pop. 71,401). Ferry runs on hourly bases and costs 110 pesos per adult one way. Another ferry travels from Puerto Morelos, but it is less reliable and less frequent, just twice a day. You can get taxi, scooter or even rent a car for $55 American dollars per day.

Diving on Cozumel Island

In 1959 Jacques Cousteau visited Cozumel and publicized its reefs as one of the most remarkable. Protected by the island, south western part of the island is the best place for both diving and snorkelling. This laid grounds for the popularity for scuba diving as well as snorkelling. In 1996 Mexican government established Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park however growth of cruise ship traffic undermine ecology of the island. Most popular reefs are Santa Rosa and Cedral.  Now those who are lazy to get to the reefs and see the fishes can make fishes come to them. Take some bread in both hands and walk just couple of yards into a sea. Even at waist height silvery fishes will come and start eating your bread. They don’t have teeth and their bites feel ticklish on your hands.



Boats on Cozumel Island

Those who want to get away from an island can rent a glass bottom boat for about $40 per couple or a fishing boat. Fishing is enjoyable way to stretch sea legs, but it might take a long time to catch the fish so do not feel disappointed. We caught one after 2.5 hours of driving around aimlessly. But just then hope was vanquished and we started taking down the poles we actually caught barracuda.


Other activities include swimming with dolphins, catamaran sail boat or just baking in the sun. Most of these you will find on the western side, but few surfers and wind surfers take it to more isolated eastern part of the island. After 2005 Hurricane Wilma this side is slow to repair.


History of Cozumel Island

The Maya are believed to be the first inhabitants of the Cozumel island. Judging by artefacts people came to island in the early part of the first millennium. It is not clear why it happened, but Cozumel island has become closely associated with Ix Chel, Mayan Moon Goddess. It became the site of pilgrimage for Mayans from the mainland, in particularly women who asked for fertility. Most of ruins on the island are from post- Classical period (10th- 13th century). Unfortunately the largest ruins were bulldozed to make room for airport during World War II. San Gervasio is the largest settlement left on the island.


Mayan pilgrimage and permanent settlement on the island continued until 16th century. The first European explorer who visited the island was Juan de Grijalva in 1518. He put the island on the map and a year later Hernan Cortez came with a fleet. He destroyed pagan temples and shrines. In addition smallpox brought by Europeans devastated the population. From population of about 40,000 then Europeans came only 30 survived by 1570. The island remained virtually deserted, visited only by pirates and refugees who flee the mainland to escape wars, plagues and starvation.


In 1861, American President Abraham Lincoln ordered his Secretary of State, William Henry Seward, to meet with the Mexican chargé d'affaires Matias Romero to explore the possibility of purchasing the island of Cozumel for the purpose of relocating freed American slaves offshore. The idea was summarily dismissed by Mexican President Benito Juarez, but in 1862 Lincoln did manage to establish a short-lived colony of ex-slaves on Île à Vache off the coast of Haiti.


Scuba diving is still one of Cozumel's primary attractions, mainly due to the coral reef on the western shore of Cozumel. These coral reefs are protected from the open ocean by the island's natural geography. In 1996, the government of Mexico also established the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park, forbidding anyone from touching or removing any marine life within the park boundaries. Despite the importance of healthy reefs to Cozumel's tourist trade, a deepwater pier was built in the 1990s for cruise ships to dock, causing damage to the reefs, and it is now a regular stop on cruises in the Caribbean. Over the past few decades, coral reef health has significantly declined in Cozumel, with much lower coral cover now present than was historically recorded.

The island was struck directly by two Category 4 hurricanes during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. In July, Hurricane Emily passed just south of Cozumel, exposing the island to the storm's intense inner core. Despite Emily being a powerful storm, it was the larger, stronger, slower-moving Hurricane Wilma that caused the most destruction when it hit the island in October. Wilma's eye passed directly over Cozumel.

There was some damage to the underwater marine habitat. This included the coral reefs, which suffered particularly at the shallower dive sites, and the fish that inhabit the reefs.


Scuba Diving

Cozumel is one of the premier scuba diving destinations in the western hemisphere. The island abounds with dive shops, most willing to give you a scuba class (resort course) and take you out if you are not yet certified. A boat dive for certified divers (two tanks) will cost around US$70, plus any equipment rental and Marine Park Fee. Most dive sites are located well south of the city proper, as are a number of dive shops if you want a short boat ride. Most diving in Cozumel is drift diving, where you are dropped off by the boat at the beginning of the dive, are carried along the reef by the current, and picked up at the end of your dive by the boat. There is some shore diving, but it is limited compared with what you can enjoy further out and places like Palancar Reef and the walls. Along with other marine life divers are able to see seahorses and eagle rays and turtles especially during turtle nesting season sees large numbers of Turtles on Cozumel's beaches during nesting seasons.

Aldora Divers. Training, certification and fast 6-person boats with high capacity steel tanks and long surface intervals, usually at Palancar Beach Club. Rental equipment. Night Dives. Nitrox available. Villa Aldora room and suite rentals. edit
Aqua Safari. Training, certification and two types of daily dive trips (fast or large boat). Good company but they tend to pack more people on a dive trip (up to 16 on the big boats). When the wind is blowing and the small boats cannot go out, their seaworthy boats often still can provide service. They also have a 8-person fast boat available. 1 tank afternoon dives are a very good deal. Night dives Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Nitrox Available. Hotel packages with Safari Inn, Cozumel Palace and several other hotels.
Blue Angel. Training, certification and equipment rental are available from this dive op. Three two tank dives available each day with the additional opptions of Twilight and Night dives given a party larger than 3. PADI instruction available up to Instructor level. Excellent staff and crew.
Blue Magic. Compared to most other companies here, operates much faster and smaller (8-person) boats with good local divemasters. Office in downtown Cozumel, with free taxi service.
Blue XT~Sea Diving. Training, certification, equipment rental, and nitrox are available from this dive op. Personalized service, max 6 divers per fast boat. They'll keep and clean your dive gear (except wetsuit) if you wish and have it on the boat the next morning. Night and Afternoon dives based on demand, and hotel packages with decent savings are offered. edit
Bottom Time Divers. Training, certification and 6 pack diver fast boat are available from this very popular family run dive op. Owner/instructor with excellent local knowledge, beach SI's and dive gear overnight wash and rinse etc. Private groups accepted.
Buena Ventura Diving. A small, personable dive outfit dedicated to the specialized needs of its diving clients.
Deep Blue. Training, certification, nitrox, technical and known for fast boats. At most 8 divers with 2 divemasters or as few as 4 divers with 1 divemaster. Rental equipment. Night Dives. Hotel and dive package is available through numerous hotels. Dive shop is located in town across the street from La Choza. Divers are usually called the day before diving to arrange dive location and possible divemaster.
Dive Paradise. Training, certification and two types of daily dive trips (fast or slow boat). Night dives. Numerous dive and hotel packages. Several dive shops. Rental equipment. In Cozumel since 1984.
Living Underwater. Small, personalized service offering steel 120s (super-long dives). Best for advanced divers.
Mestizo Divers. Small groups of divers on a modern fast boat. Custom trips to the dive sites of your choice. When not diving they also offer fishing charters.
Ocean Tours Scuba and Water Sports (At Cozumeleño Beach Resort & Hotel), North Hotel Zone, ☎ +52 9878721379, e-mail:  7AM to 7PM. Since 1986, Laura and José De la Fuente have been hosting and diving with Cozumel´s visitors. PADI scuba dive operation, fully equipped with top of the line gear available. Dive Trips for certified divers, scuba school all levels, equipment rental, repair and retail. Deep sea fishing charters.
Scuba Mau. Training, Discover Scuba, Hotel/Dive packages, Dive trips. Utilizes small boats (six people) with a well-trained but personality-filled dive staff. Located next to the Villablanca Hotel. $60 per day for two tanks, US$10 per day for full equipment rental.

Scuba Gamma diving center, 5th str. just before the crossing of 5th Av. Cozumel center, ☎ +52 987 878 4257, +52 987 878 5437 (Cel), e-mail:  everyday 8:30AM till 7PM, a bit sooner on sundays. The ScubaGamma trilingual team provides the same attention whether you are a beginner or experienced. The shop can deal with individuals as well as small groups, typically up to 7 divers by trip, but will also handle larger groups. The boat used is a 25 foot small cabin cruiser with a 225 hp engine. IAHD certified staff, and handicapped divers are welcome! US$70 for a 2 tank dive trip, US$75 for a discovery dive.