Cozumel is one of the best places in the Mexican Caribbean for scuba diving, as it is almost surrounded entirely by the Mesoamerican Reef, (the second largest barrier reef in the world) which is why the island is considered one of the best dive sites in the world, with 40 different dive sites that have depths ranging from 3 to 30 meters (10-100 feet) and which are teeming with tropical fish, colorful reefs and are several marine species.
Some of the reasons that make divers from all around the world want to come to the so called “Island of the Swallows” is the clarity of its waters, which allows a good 60-meter visibility; its warm temperature, which varies between 25 and 28°C, and its different underwater settings, such as sunken ships, limestone tunnels and caves.
This activity can be done throughout the year, however it is better to do it in summer, due to the clarity of its waters and the warm temperatures.
All these diving sites are home to a wide variety of marine life like sea turtles, nurse sharks, eagle rays, parrot fish, and the endemic splendid toadfish of Cozumel. If you want to experience a great wildlife encounter, the sea turtle nesting season is from May through December.
Some of the best places for scuba diving are Barracuda, Cardona, Chankanaab, La Francesa, Los Atolones, Maracaibo, Palancar, Colombia, Punta Sur, Cantarel, Paraíso, Paso del Cedral, la Pared de San Francisco, la Pared de Santa Rosa and Yucab. You can learn more about these places down below:
The Cozumel Reef National Park
It features two of the most beautiful reefs of the island. The Colombia reef has a depth of 50-90 meters, with enormous pinnacle reefs, caves, tunnels and caverns that are full of rays, sea turtles and different kinds of fish. It is an excellent place for underwater photographers in order to get great pictures, while the Palancar Reef stands out due to its underwater caverns with passageways and is divided into three areas, Palancar Herradura, where you will find enormous brain corals; Palancar Cuevas, full of abundant marine life and Palancar Bricks, which is a great place to spot sea turtles.
Recommended for experienced divers due to its depth (50-130 feet) and strong currents. Here you can see all kinds of coral formations, from tunnels to caves (including the famous “La Catedral” and “La Garganta del Diablo”. “La Garganta del Diablo” is an underwater cave formation that starts at approximately 80 feet (24 m) of depth and opens up at approximately 135 ft (41 m) -right at the edge of recreational dive limits. Here you can see barracudas, angelfish, toadfish, eagle rays, sharks and sea turtles. This site represents one of the biggest challenges for any diver. Another section of Punta Sur is “La Catedral”, a large cave full of giant sea sponges forming a cross on the roof through which the light passes.
Felipe Xicoténcatl C-53
This was once a minesweeper owned by the United States Navy during World War II, then, it was sold to the Mexican Navy in 1962, and renamed as Felipe Xicoténcatl C-53. After 55 years of service, it was decommissioned and subsequently donated to the Cozumel Reef National Park in the year 2000, so it could be sunk and be used as an artificial reef. Only advanced divers can access this spot, as it is an area of strong currents and a depth of about 25 meters.
Cantarel Reef (Eagle ray encounter)
From December to March. This place is teeming with eagle rays, as it is the spot where they mate. This reef´s seabed is full of seaweed, which gives it some beauty to the underwater landscape resembling green meadows.
If you have never scuba dived, but you want to give it a try, Cozumel´s waters are the best. In some of these places you can even free dive. It is a totally different way to enjoy the underwater world!
If you are interested in getting a diving certification, around the island you will find several dive shops providing everything you need: boats, trained instructors, rental of specialized equipment and underwater photography equipment.
IMPORTANT: Remember that in order to dive in some of these sites you must provide a diving certification.