Cozumel Scuba Diving is one of our best dive sites in the world
Named by Jacques Cousteau as one of the 10 best destinations in the world, Scuba Diving in Cozumel is aptly named. Add to the fantastic diving, fabulous beaches, stunning scenery above land and vibrant nightlife, and the place is the perfect getaway for a diving holiday.
The diving season in Cozumel lasts approximately ten months of the year, with excellent dive sites suitable for all levels of divers. The water temperature varies between 78 and 82 F/25 and 28 C throughout the year, making it ideal for diving in a light suit or more resistant in a simple rash vest.
Cozumel offers a wide array of marine and coral life, with over 60 species of coral, 500 species of fish, and 350 different species of sea grass, algae, molluscs, and marine mammals documented in its waters. Whether you want to see nudibranchs or manta rays and bull sharks, there’s something for everyone on a Cozumel scuba diving trip.
The ARM General Felipe Xicotencatl C53 is one of the best known wrecks in the waters around Cozumel. Originally a minesweeper that was built for the United States Navy during World War II, it finally made its way to the Mexican Navy in 1962. The ship was finally retired after more than 30 years of service in the Mexican Navy in 1999 and was sunk in the waters off Cozumel. in June 2000.
The C53 is 56m/184 long and sits upright on the seabed in 21m/70ft of water. The top of the wreck is around the 15m/50ft mark. The wreck is an area sheltered from strong currents, which, coupled with its shallow depth, makes it the ideal dive for all levels of divers, including relatively inexperienced divers.
Diving with the C53 is relatively simple; there are plenty of openings to get in and out of the wreck, so entering and exploring the wreck is relatively easy. Swimming around the wreck not only allows you to discover a small piece of history but also to encounter a rich and varied marine life.
Inside the wreck you will find sponges and coral growing on the wreck, as well as green moray eels, blenny and more. Outside the wreck you can find barracuda and groupers hanging around and a host of other small reef fish. If you love wreck diving, visiting the C53 on your Cozumel scuba diving trip would not be a disappointment.
Columbia Reefs is a couple of different dive sites that when put together are a great dive destination for every diver and an ideal destination for a two dive trip. The two Columbia Reef sites are the Columbia Wall and the Columbia Shoals.
Arguably the most famous of the three dive sites and the one that is really only suitable for experienced advanced divers. As the name of the site suggests, it is a massive wall that measures between 18m/60ft and 36m/118ft. You can find many tunnels and caverns to explore as well as gigantic and truly huge coral pillars that are over 20 meters high (that’s almost the height of a 6-story building).
While diving, there is a lot to see. Besides the stunning geography, the site is rich in marine life, including some larger species, due to the unpredictable and strong currents in the area. You can regularly encounter turtles, groupers, large barracudas and even nurse sharks, to name a few.
As the name suggests, a nice, easy, shallow dive with depths varying between 8 and 14 meters / 26 and 50 feet. Columbia Shallows is not a dive that is done often, which means that a lot of marine life has been left undisturbed. Although it is generally classed as a beginner’s dive due to its shallow depth and relatively easy conditions, there is still plenty to see here.
The corals are in excellent condition and the marine life is rich. Encounters with lobsters, reefs, fish and turtles are commonplace on the site. You may also catch a sleepy reef shark if you’re lucky. The Columbia Shoals are pretty much the place to be if you’re looking for a great snorkeling experience. With great marine life and a shallow reef, it’s the perfect place to explore nature for a few hours.
Caves and reefs of Palancar
Arguably one of the best dive destinations in Cozumel Palancar is actually 4 dive sites. All 4 sites have something to offer every type of diver, and with varying depths and conditions, every level of diver will find a perfect spot here. If you tell someone you’re planning a scuba diving trip to Cozumel and ask them which site you shouldn’t miss; the answer will almost always be Palancar!
Caves of Palancar
By far one of the most geographically impressive dive sites in Cozumel. The site is only suitable for intermediate and experienced drivers with depth ranging from 15-40m/50-120ft. The highlight of the dives are the huge tunnels and caverns that lie at the edge of a sloping wall. Swimming through these is a truly awe-inspiring experience.
There is much more to the caves of Palancar than geography; the site is teeming with marine life, with plenty of snappers, grunts and reef fish. Encounters with eagle rays, turtles and sharks are also regularly encountered in the caves of Palancar.
Another spectacular dive with interesting topography Palancar Bricks makes a spectacular deep dive ranging from 15-30m/50-90ft. The site is a white sand slope with large coral formations and structures rising from the ground. The contrast of white sand, extravagant corals and deep blue water makes for a spectacular dive site.
Dive conditions are generally not too difficult and visibility is generally very good at the site. Add to that fantastic corals, rays, sharks and turtles, and Palancar Bricks is an underwater photographer’s dream location.
Palancar Garden is almost the perfect dive site; it has something for everyone and is suitable for advanced and experienced divers. The depth of the site ranges from 9-36m/30-120ft, and it’s a vast coral garden teeming with marine life, corals, critters, and more. As well as the beautiful reef, there are also exciting swim-throughs and caverns to spice up the diving.
The marine life in Palancar Gardens is varied with the usual screeching and growling and the more unusual splendid toads. As with many scuba dive sites in Cozumel, you may also encounter nurse sharks, eagle rays, and turtles when diving Palancar Gardens.
Scuba Diving in Cozumel Deep Heaven Santa Rosa Wall
A spectacular dive; if you love deep dives, don’t miss the Santa Rosa Wall on your next Cozumel dive trip. The site is only suitable for intermediate and advanced divers with depth ranging from 14-40m/45-120ft.
The wall starts at a depth of 6m/20ft and quickly plunges into the abyss. On the wall there is a lot of action. Corals are everywhere, with plenty of caves, swim-throughs, overhangs and more to explore.
Generally, strong currents mean “big stuff”, and the situation is no different here. The reef is home to many reef fish, lobsters, barracudas and other creatures. At the same time, encounters with turtles, large groupers, sharks, eagle rays, etc. are regular.
The highlight of the dive is the huge tunnel that cuts through the entire reef at a depth of 24m/80ft. The tunnel turns what would have been an incredible dive into a spectacular dive and arguably the highlight of your next Cozumel scuba diving vacation!
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Our Top Dive Sites of the World guide is brought to you by Suunto. We recommend using a Suunto dive computer scuba diving or snorkeling at one of these dive sites. Suunto is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of dive computers providing dive instruments for recreational, technical and freediving. You can learn more about Suunto.com.