Cozumel Reef Conditions Update – 2007

March 6th, 2007

coz-octo.jpgBased on feedback from my last Cozumel update, I figured it was about time to post an update about one of my favorite dive destinations. Around the same time, my friends down at Deep Blue sent me an email giving me the local scoop on the current state of recovery after Hurricane Wilma, as well as a heads up about their new Cozumel Dive Guide. Here’s the latest from my favorite dive operator down there:

We are happy to report that 2006 was one of the mildest hurricane seasons ever in the Caribbean. The reefs are recovering at record speed from the very active 2005 season and the marine life is more abundant than ever.

Eagle rays, turtles, nurse and black tip sharks are everywhere. The island itself has fully recovered. Vegetation is lush and green again and all waterfront hotels, shops and other facilities are fully rebuilt. It’s back to the beautiful paradise it’s always been.

One diver from Northwest Dive Club noticed a lot of remaining damage back in August of ’06.

The reefs have taken a horrible beating. All the purple fans are gone and the hundreds of Conch that once were everywhere have been replaced with dead shells. The beautiful basket coral the Island was famous for are now in warped shapes and in many cases, non-exsistant. Many of the reefs are now completely covered with sand or twisted dead pieces once-living rocks. Large fish are gone and it is common to only see 1-2 Queen Angelfish on a dive, compared to hundreds 2 years ago. In Devil’s Throat, the Coral Cross has been destroyed. Evidence of Emily and Wilma still remain in large areas where the sand looks poorly swept across the ocean floor. It breaks my heart to see this devistation. – Pinkpadigal

While another, who had never been to Coz, found the diversity and abundance of life to be terrific.

It was diving in an aquarium! The water was so clear. We saw a crazy amount of different wildlife, and I shot a lot of pictures. So many different fish, it would take awhile to type them all out, and I’m not motivated enough to do so. Most fish have very vivid colors. We saw nurse sharks, and both Hawkbill and Green Sea Turtles, Barracudas, Green and Spotted Moray Eels, as well, Southern Stingrays, and Spiny Lobsters, amongst many other things. Splendid Toad Fish can be found only in Cozumel, so what trip wouldn’t be complete without seeing them. Of course, there are all sorts of sponges and coral. I have never dove Cozumel before, so I can’t say much about the post-hurricane damage, but according to our fearless leader, he only noticed some changes (a lot more sand in some places), but not much, and everything seemed really healthy. By the way, because all diving is inside a marine preserve, neither gloves, nor knives are allowed. – Diver_C

Either way, Cozumel remains one of the World’s diving meccas and if you haven’t already been diving there, you should go at your soonest opportunity. While you’re there, you might want to take the short ferry ride over to Playa Del Carmen and go diving in the cenotes, a beautiful network of freshwater caves.

Another note from the Deep Blue crew, is that they’ve just released the second edition of the highly-acclaimed Cozumel Dive Guide, complete with 3D graphics of the dive sites. The first edition of the book was one of the best of its type I ever saw while traveling. From their site:

The main focus of this book was to produce quality underwater maps of Cozumel’s 25 major reefs from a never before seen perspective, and to provide divers with the most comprehensive, concise and accurate portrayal of Cozumel’s reefs available to date. Each map is accompanied by a description of the reef’s physical characteristics, typical marine life found there, and possible dive plans.

If you’re in Cozumel or have recently returned from there, feel free to add your own account of the current conditions there – for the benefit of divers planning a trip to island.

Entry Filed under: Travel

7 Comments

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  • 1
    T. Carter
    March 9th, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Just returned from Cozumel (my first warm water dive trip), so I’ll post a quick report. We stayed at Hotel Barracuda, on the waterfront, within reasonable walking distance of both downtown and the Chedraui supermarket (good for stocking up on drinking water). The hotel was fine for a dive trip, clean, and with a nice ocean view balcony for watching the sunset or hanging wetsuits. My only complaint was the bed, it was very hard.

    Our dive op was Dive Paradise, and I would use them again. Good DM’s, especially Jorge – entertaining guy on the surface, and great at pointing out small life I would have swum right by during the dive. And he blows a mean bubble ring. They put us on their big (slower) boats, but that’s what we paid for, so no complaints. The ops seemed more willing to make the long runs to the far south sites with small (faster) boats, but even the big boats we were on made a couple runs almost all the way south. And the closer sites are great anyway.

    Hurricane damage, well some folks said the deeper reefs were less damaged than the shallow ones, others said no difference, but to my eyes they all looked amazing. The quantity, variety and color of life was stunning. And the visibility was like nothing I’ve seen…floating on the surface, watching stingrays cruise along the bottom 80 feet below, was like looking through air.

    My favorite dives were Palancar Caves and Colombia Deep for the swim-throughs and bottom structure, and Paradise Reef and Paso del Cedral for the life. And it was fun swimming with the tourist submarine at Chankanaab Bolones.

    I had great food at Casa Denis in the main square, and (a bit further away from the waterfront) at El Foco on Av. 5 Sur (excellent fajitas and lime soup).

    Can’t wait to go back.

    T.

  • 2
    Rich
    June 2nd, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Hey,

    This is a great website/blog. Very informative.

    I am planning my first dive trip to Cozumel with my best friend. We’re both amateur divers and are looking for the “must dives” at Cozumel. What is your recommendation?

  • 3
    Calvin
    June 2nd, 2007 at 4:19 pm
    Calvin

    T. Carter – Thanks so much for the trip report!

    Rich – My favorite dive sites there are (in no particular order): the Palancars, Tormentos, Punta Sur, Santa Rosa, Columbia and Maracaibo (advanced dive).

    Though, the dive sites may have changed somewhat since I was there, since there have been hurricanes, etc. that have shifted the sand. Your best bet will be to talk to people on the ground there and also to take a look at the Cozumel Dive Guide.

    Have a great trip, you’ll love the diving there.

    Calvin

  • 4
    alice
    March 6th, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    I am planning my first trip to Cozumel in this May. I am an inexperienced diver. I heard current @ Cozumel is very strong and they do drift dive. Would it be safe for inexperienced diver? Can you please recommend dive operator? thanks.

  • 5
    Calvin
    March 6th, 2008 at 7:06 pm
    Calvin

    I would dive with Deep Blue (link above). Ask for Debbie or Kevin there and tell them that I recommended them to you. Yes, an inexperienced diver has plenty of options in Cozumel. There are two types of dives there, “platform” and “wall” dives. Platform means that there is a bottom, typically at 40-60 feet (great for an open water diver). There are currents but the divemaster is always with you and the boat follows your bubbles, while you are carried along for the ride. It’s a very pleasant way to dive and it’s a bit like sitting back and watching television. Enjoy your trip to Coz and let us know how the trip went when you get back :)

  • 6
    Evette
    March 5th, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Hi there,
    Trying to find a spot to go dive and hang out. Cozumel was recommended by some friends, but was worried about the hurricane damage. What are your thoughts? Yes, it will be our first trip out after getting certified. Planning to go in late June.

    Thx,
    E

  • 7
    Calvin
    March 6th, 2009 at 1:15 pm
    Calvin

    I would check out scbuaboard.com for latest updates on the condition of the reef there. Just so you know though, Coz is all about diving – not much beach/town to be had there, compared to other destinations in Mexico.

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