Are you thinking about taking a trip to Cozumel and diving into its crystal clear waters? The island is well-known for its impressive coral reefs and sunken ships that can be found in Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park. It’s a top destination for diving in Mexico, with a wide range of diving spots available for both beginners and experienced divers.
You’ll have the chance to see a diverse array of marine life, including sharks, turtles, giant moray eels, and frog fish. And don’t miss the opportunity to go night diving for an unforgettable experience. I’ve put together a guide that covers the island’s most famous reefs, like Santa Rosa, Colombia, Chankanaab, Paraíso, and Palancar, complete with a map of Cozumel and its reefs. Plus, I’ve included some tips to help you make the most of your diving adventure.
Best Travel Insurance for Mexico
Cozumel Island in Mexico
If you are planning a trip to Mexico (👉GUIDE to MEXICO), you need to know that it is a country with a great cultural and natural wealth. It is full of sites to discover, traditions to learn about and activities to join.
If you’re looking for an exciting experience in Cozumel, you can take a JEEP TOUR around the island, with a tequila tasting and snorkeling. But if you’ve come to Cozumel to relax, you can also enjoy a drink and ceviche on the beach after SNORKELING among STARFISH.
If you want to explore the depths of the sea without getting wet, how about seeing the fish from a SUBMARINE? It’s a unique experience that you can’t miss. To end the day, join this DINNER on a PIRATE SHIP with a show included! You’ll discover a fun and different way to enjoy local cuisine.
If you’re foreigner planning a trip, in this link you can check the ✅ SANITARY REQUIREMENTS and get a VISA. Also, to help you travel without spending too much, in this link you’ll find ✈️ CHEAP FLIGHTS and a 💥10% DISCOUNT on your TRAVEL INSURANCE.
When browsing the internet during your trip, it is essential to use a 👉 QUALITY VPN to ensure your privacy and security. Additionally, bringing a ⭐ TRAVEL DEBIT CARD will help you avoid issues with carrying cash and reduce the risk of theft.
Cozumel dive map
The map in the image below will be your go-to guide for finding the best places to dive in Cozumel.
To help you navigate, I’ve marked the location of the pier where the ferries arrive from Playa del Carmen and the airport. The red dot labeled “Cozumel” is the center of the island, where you’ll find plenty of options for accommodation, dining, shopping, and supermarkets.
The Cozumel Marine Park is highlighted in light blue on the map and is where you’ll find the majority of the island’s reefs. Lastly, the label “Lighthouse” marks the location of the lighthouse, which is a nice spot to visit.
In the following link, you can find more information about the best reefs for diving in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
Best Cozumel Reefs
If you’re looking for information on the top spots for snorkeling or scuba diving in Cozumel, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find a list of the best reefs on the island along with some of their key features and highlights.
Diving in Santa Rosa wall
Diving at Santa Rosa Wall reef in Cozumel is an experience not to be missed. It’s a drift dive with moderate to high currents that draws many divers, but access to the reef is only possible by boat.
The reef boasts sandy bottoms at the top, complete with large overhangs to shield divers from the currents. The coral is made up of towering rock outcrops that reach 30-40 meters high. The wall drops off steeply, but there are ledges and sandy areas along the way.
Divers can delve deeper than 30 meters and reach areas with fewer divers. As you swim under the overhangs, be sure to look up and take in the sight of the giant sponges.
While the reef isn’t teeming with fish like it used to be due to the high volume of divers, there’s still an abundance of marine life to discover, such as filefish, turtles, groupers, giant parrotfish, angelfish, frogfish, and giant green moray eels. All in all, the Muro de Santa Rosa reef is one of the most impressive places to dive in Cozumel, with a wide array of marine life and a huge vertical wall that stretches for several hundred meters. Plan your trip in advance and make sure to take full advantage of this one-of-a-kind experience.
Diving in Punta Sur
The Punta Sur reef in Cozumel is known for its abundance of caves and underwater caverns, but what truly sets it apart is the Garganta del Diablo. This underwater cave is a real challenge even for the most seasoned divers, but its unique landscape makes it well worth the effort.
Located at the southern tip of Cozumel island, Punta Sur boasts an impressive deep wall that drops off to a depth of 50 meters. Its incredible tunnels will lead you to the Garganta del Diablo.
This narrow tunnel within the cliff boasts red sponges and leads to a large cave and a smaller cavern, featuring a narrow “throat” opening that can be crossed in a matter of seconds but is a memorable experience.
In the area, there are also multiple tunnels that form a labyrinth of coral and lead to a 10-meter-deep sandy slope, where you can spot rays, turtles, sharks, and eagle rays.
Given the potential danger, diving Punta Sur is only recommended for very experienced divers who possess excellent buoyancy control and air consumption skills.Regenerate response
The Colombia reef is a great option for beginner divers due to its shallow depth, but that doesn’t mean the dive will be dull. You’ll find a wide variety of sponges, octopus, spotted rays, corals, and sea turtles, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a nurse shark in the area!
Not only is the Columbia reef great for practicing diving due to its shallow depth, but the surrounding reefs and ocean currents also provide protection. In addition to the diverse marine life, it also boasts caves and tunnels for a unique diving experience on the island. Keep in mind that the Colombia reef can only be accessed by boat.
Scuba diving in Paradise reef
The Paradise (Paraíso in Spanish) reef in Cozumel is one of the most popular diving destinations on the island, offering a diverse range of marine life and a depth suitable for beginners. It’s a great place to start exploring the underwater world and it’s also perfect for night diving due to its moderate current.
The southern part of the Paradise reef features three reefs parallel to the coast, where you can see huge sponges, fish, mollusks, and corals, such as oilfish, angelfish, and sea cucumbers.
The northern sector of Paradise reef features two slightly deeper reefs that reach a depth of up to 17 meters. In this area, you can observe parrotfish, triggerfish, angelfish, and even frogfish.
Diving in Palancar
The Palancar Reef in Cozumel is a must-see destination for scuba divers. It’s part of the Cozumel Reef National Park and boasts a wide array of marine life and stunning coral formations.
Divers can expect to reach depths of up to 30 meters while exploring Palancar. However, the currents in this area can be strong, so some diving experience is recommended. You’ll have the opportunity to discover hidden caves and encounter a variety of creatures such as sharks, barracudas, and more.
Palancar is made up of four different reefs: Gardens, Coves, Bricks, and Horseshoes. Each reef offers a unique diving experience with varying currents and the opportunity to spot groupers, turtles, sharks, rays, and sea eagles. The coral formations are also a highlight, with caves, arches, and canyons to explore. If you’re interested in visiting all four reefs, it’s possible to do so with two dives.
Scuba diving in Chankanaab reef
Chankanaab is a must-visit destination for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts visiting Cozumel. Located on the southwestern coast of the island, this natural space boasts intense hydrological activity that promotes the growth of a rich and diverse array of marine life. The name “Chankanaab” translates to “little sea” in Mayan.
Divers and snorkelers will be amazed by the variety of coral formations found at Chankanaab, including “balloons” and coral heads that can reach up to three meters in height and five meters in width. The reef is also home to a wide variety of marine life, including lobsters, moray eels, and manta rays.
One of the highlights of diving at Chankanaab is the opportunity to explore the C53 Felipe Xicoténcatl, a sunken ship that has been a popular dive site since 2000. The ship rests at a depth of between 18 and 24 meters and is home to an array of fish and other marine life.
With a maximum depth of 15 meters and a gentle current that mostly flows from north to south, Chankanaab is an ideal diving spot for beginners. The coral platforms are teeming with marine life, including schools of snappers, crustaceans such as lobsters, crabs, and shrimps, huge parrotfish, and frogfish.
Diving in Punta Tunich
Punta Tunich is a great spot for diving and snorkeling, offering a unique experience for both beginners and experienced divers. The shallow depth of the site makes it easy for beginners to navigate, but the strong currents present in the area make it a challenging dive for more advanced divers.
The abundance of marine life is what makes Punta Tunich so special. You can expect to see a wide variety of sponges, corals, and sea turtles, as well as the occasional nurse shark swimming through the area. The sandy bottom of Punta Tunich lies 21m/70ft below the surface, and as you dive deeper, you’ll encounter long hills of corals and colorful sponges, which lead to a vertical drop-off. The top of the wall is where you’ll find the majority of marine life.
Scuba diving in Cedar Pass (Paso Del Cedral)
Paso del Cedral is a popular diving where you’ll encounter a variety of creatures including barracudas, turtles, groupers, and even nurse sharks. The reef is also home to green and spotted moray eels.
At depths between 30 and 60 feet, the reef boasts impressive corridors and mounds of coral with ledges. This makes it a great spot for divers of all skill levels. However, for more advanced divers, there is also the option to dive on the wall where the currents are stronger and the coral formations are more vibrant. It’s definitely a must-see for any diving enthusiast visiting Cozumel.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO DIVE IN COZUMEL?
Diving in Cozumel can be enjoyed year-round due to the constant water temperatures between 25 and 28ºC. This means that divers have the opportunity to dive approximately 300 days a year.
However, the currents can be strong at certain times of the year, which is more suitable for advanced divers. There are also shallower reefs that are more protected from strong currents.
The best time to see bull sharks is from November through March, and May through September are ideal months for diving due to warm waters, fewer people at the dive sites, and generally calm conditions.
Personal experience scuba diving in Cozumel
I had the opportunity to go on two dives, one in Yucab and the other in Santa Rosa. The first dive in Yucab was rocky, with small bridges and caves that you could pass through. However, the current can be strong at times, so it’s important to be careful. The highlight of this dive was the deepest area, where you could follow the reef and its corals and fish. As you turned your view, you could see a cliff of dark waters just below you, it was an impressive sight.
The second dive in Santa Teresa was flatter, but it was one of my favorites. The sand looked white, and the light made a phenomenal play of colors. On this dive, I saw barracudas (yes, with their pointy teeth!), two sharks (grey, I’m not sure of the species, but they were beautiful), an extra large lobster, large light brown striped fish, prawns in anemones, and a variety of corals, such as lilac, red, and white. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any turtles. There were also giant clams, yellow sponges, huge shells, and a lot of fish of different colors, both alone and in schools.
In the area, there is also the Palancar reef that I’ve heard is very beautiful. Additionally, there are sunken banks, which are not actual shipwrecks, but boats placed there on purpose to attract tourists and reduce the visitor load on other reefs. I also went snorkeling in one that was muddy near the shore, and it was an exceptional experience.
How to get to Cozumel
If you’re planning to visit Cozumel, two popular starting points are Playa del Carmen and Cancun. To give you a quick idea of what’s involved, I’ve included a summary below. However, if you want more detailed information, you can check out this article on getting to Cozumel from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
From Playa del Carmen
If you’re based in Playa del Carmen, the main pier for catching the FERRY (👉price) to Cozumel is located at the end of Benito Juarez Avenue. From there, regular ferries depart for Cozumel.
There are two different ferry companies, but I’d suggest focusing on the schedules rather than the specific boats since they’re quite similar.
In this case, there are 3 options:
By shuttle + ferry
If you’re traveling to Cozumel and arriving at Cancun airport, I highly recommend using the SHUTTLE + FERRY SERVICE (👉price and schedule) to get to your hotel. This convenient service will take you straight from the airport to your accommodation on the island. Just be aware that you’ll need to book at least 4 days in advance.
It’s worth noting that there are two different minibuses available, each with a different price. The first option will take you to hotels located in Zone 2 of Cozumel, which is the island’s central area where the town and airport are situated. The second option is for Zone 1, which includes the hotel zone in the southwest area, outside of the central area of Cozumel.
By bus + ferry
If you’re looking to save some cash and you’re staying near the Cozumel ferry terminal, taking the bus is your best bet. BUSES (👉price and schedule) leave from the ADO Bus Terminal and Cancun Airport.
These buses will take you to the Playa del Carmen terminal, which is conveniently located near the ferry dock (just a short walk away). From there, you’ll need to catch the FERRY (👉price and schedule) to get to Cozumel.
También tienes la opción de ir en avión, pero se trata de vuelos privados que pueden llegar a ser un poco caros.
Where to stay in Cozumel
On the island, there are two areas for accommodation, depending on your preference and budget. The first is near the ferry pier, while the second is in the southeast part of the island and offers a more peaceful atmosphere. Here are some hotel suggestions for each area to help you find the perfect fit for your needs.
Near the Ferry Pier
If you’re seeking a variety of accommodation options, both budget-friendly and luxurious, or enjoy having bars and restaurants nearby, it’s a good idea to stay in this area.
Additionally, you’ll find the local market and a big supermarket in the heart of Cozumel. These options can be helpful if you have dietary restrictions or want to save some cash.
- HIGHT BUDGET: COZUMEL PALACE (👉prices), with its beautiful oceanfront location, is an all-inclusive resort that offers an array of activities for families and relaxing spa treatments. It’s conveniently located just minutes away from popular tourist destinations and features a pool and gym.
- MEDIUM BUDGET: The B UNIQUE HOTEL (👉prices) is in a prime location near the Cozumel Museum and Golf Club, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy sports. Take a dip in the pool, stay active at the fitness center, and treat yourself to a spa experience. And for ultimate freedom to explore the island, you can use the hotel’s complimentary bikes.
- LOW BUDGET: AUIKYANI HOSTEL (👉prices), situated right by the sea, provides you with a one-of-a-kind experience. Choose from shared rooms that accommodate 4 or 6 guests, or opt for a private double room, all fitted with 24-hour air conditioning and hot and cold water. Enjoy unlimited coffee and tea, and make the most of your beach vacation with free snorkeling gear.
South east of the island
This is where you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches on the island and it’s perfect for those looking to relax and unwind. However, keep in mind that hotels in this area tend to be more expensive and there’s no public transport to get there.
The only way to get to this area is by taxi. But if you’re willing to spend a bit more and want to be close to the main beaches and tourist attractions, this is a great option.
- HIGH BUDGET: COZUMEL LANDMARK (👉price), a luxurious seafront resort, invites you to an unforgettable experience. Take a dip in the pool, lounge in the private beach hammocks, hit the tennis court, or soak in the outdoor jacuzzi. For those needing to get work done, the resort offers a convenient business center. Book now and indulge in the perfect balance of work and play at Cozumel Landmark.
- The Explorean Cozumel (👉prices) is an all-inclusive hotel that offers breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea, surrounded by lush tropical jungle. Immerse yourself in a unique experience with opportunities for snorkeling right on the property. Relax by the outdoor pool, pamper yourself at the spa, or enjoy the kids’ facilities. And if you’re traveling with your furry companion, pets are also welcome for an extra fee.
- MEDIUM BUDGET: INTERCONTINENTAL PRESIDENTE COZUMEL (👉prices) is a luxurious resort that boasts a private beach, swimming pool, and a well-equipped business center. For families traveling with children, the resort offers babysitting services and features specially designed facilities for kids. In addition, guests can enjoy a relaxing spa experience and a game of tennis on the on-site court. Pet owners can also bring their furry friends along, provided they make a prior request.
- FIESTA AMERICANA COZUMEL (👉price) is an all-inclusive resort that provides guests with the perfect blend of relaxation and comfort. With its tranquil pool, fully equipped business center, and a spa, guests will have everything they need for an unforgettable stay. For families with kids, the resort offers special facilities and attentive care. Pet owners can also bring along their furry friends for an extra charge.
Tours and activities in Cozumel
One of the advantages of Cozumel is that it has many organized activities and excursions around the island. There is something for all tastes and budgets.
This is a list of the TOURS and ACTIVITIES that you can do in Cozumel, so you can get the most out of your visit to the island.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico?
Mexico is a country where violent crime, such as robbery, homicide, and kidnapping, is common. There are states that it is not recommended to travel to ecause of safety reasons. Bellow, you’ll find a list of the places that you should avoid.
The following states are not recommended for travel: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas. And take extra precautions in Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Mexico State, Morelos, Nayarit, Sonora, and Zacatecas.
Remember to follow these recommendations:
- In case of robbery, do not resist physically.
- Do not show a high purchasing power, that is, do not go with jewels, bags, etc … that are expensive.
- Be careful if you go out at night, and stay in crowded places where you are surrounded by other people.
- Thefts are usual (at guntpoint and during daytime), so don’t go with the camera or mobile in your hand or hang out of your neck.
- Try to avoid carrying the backpack on the back. Put it in front of you, or use a belt pouch or a cross bag.
I, personally, spent 4 months solo traveling around Mexico (I was in Puerto Escondido + Chacahua, Huatulco, Mexico City, Holbox, Merida, Valladolid, Tulum, Bacalar, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen) and I didn’t find myself in any dangerous situation.
Although in most of these places murders took place in the middle of the street and people staying in the same hostel as me were robbed at gunpoint. But don’t let this scare you! Traveling to Mexico is totally possible, in fact it is a country with a lot of tourism.
In any case, it is always a good idea to have a TRAVEL INSURANCE that can compensate you economically and help you if a medical emergency arises.
If you are interested in traveling alone, I recommend this article on the reasons and benefits of solo traveling and this other article with tips for traveling alone as a woman. I encourage you to try it as it is a great and very beneficial experience for oneself.
Useful resources for your trip
While you’re getting ready for your trip, don’t forget to find a flight that fits your needs and budget. With this easy and efficient guide on how to find CHEAP FLIGHTS step-by-step, you’ll be able to snag the perfect flight for your pocketbook.
When it comes to financial aspect of your trip, it’s important to also think about how you will MANAGE your MONEY and cash once you arrive in the country or if you decide to travel by plane. Additionally, these tricks on how to WASH your CLOTHES during your trip, whether you’re staying in a hotel, camping, or dorm, can help you save money and keep your clothes fresh.
If you’re eager to explore the world but have a limited budget, a popular option is to VOLUNTEER while TRAVELING volunteer while traveling. This approach allows you to experience other cultures while also giving back, and it’s also a great way to travel solo and meet new people.
If the idea of traveling alone interests you and you want to learn more, be sure to check out this post where I discuss all the BENEFITS of SOLO TRAVEL and how it can change you. And, if you are a woman, I highly recommend reading these tips for TRAVELING SOLO as a WOMAN, they will give you insight on how to ensure your safety while traveling and how to choose the right destination and avoid any unsafe situations.
Before I say goodbye, I want to share one final tip with you. From my personal experience, I understand how challenging it can be to TRAVEL while staying VEGAN. That’s why I’ve put together a comprehensive guide filled with advice for traveling as a vegan. Inside, you’ll find plenty of suggestions for ordering vegan meals at restaurants, information on where to purchase vegan personal care products, and even tips on how to prepare food in your hotel room!