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Scuba Diving in Cozumel – Columbia and Dalila Reefs December 19, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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Fortunately in 2006 the hurricanes left Cozumel alone, so our trip went ahead as planned. Mother nature didn’t cooperate fully, though, because at that time of year Cozumel gets frequent Nortes – steady north winds – and when they’re strong enough, close Cozumel’s  Harbour near La Caleta Marina. Unfortunately this was the case with my trip, so while I had 6 days of diving booked, I only managed to get in four.

My wife and I stayed at the Occidental Grand Cozumel, near the south end of the island on the west side. Except for a little bit of civilization when you turn the corner at the south end of the island, the west is not developed, although Donald Trump is apparently negotiating to have the land opened up for some mega-hotel. Hopefully the recession will put paid to that idea, at least for a while.

It turned out that the hotel was perfect for us. There are two restaurants in addition to the buffet, but we found the buffet much to our liking, and they changed at least some of the food daily, so we didn’t get bored with it. We’re not big fans of fancy dining or rich food, so the variety of the food on offer was great for us. The hotel has a decent beach, a couple of swimming pools, and to my shame I don’t know what the exercise facilities are like – although I’ll find out on my next trip  in February 2009.

Nice Marble Floor - too bad about the Tarantula

Nice Marble Floor - too bad about the Tarantula

Despite the relative luxury of the hotel, we were still aware of being in Mexico. One of the first things we had to deal with was my wife’s discovery of a big black spider in the bathroom. I took this picture of it and showed it to the concierge, who sent someone down with a dustpan and broom to shoo it away into the little garden just in front of the room. For the rest of the week we always turned the light on if we had to walk around the room at night!

I got hold of Christi, owner of Blue XT Sea Diving, on my first night, and diving was scheduled for the next day. With so many dive operators on the island, there’s a lot of competition, so service is really good. It was unfortunate on the first day due to the weather than I couldn’t be picked up on the dock as planned but had to take a taxi to La Caleta Marina to board the boat, followed by a long boat ride back to near the hotel. Palancar Reef is just offshore from the Grand.

Saw more turtles there than anywhere else

Saw more turtles there than anywhere else

What I liked the best about diving in Cozumel is drifting in the current. This is real lazy man’s diving – nice warm water at 85F (29C) and a chase boat meant my air supply lasted a long dive, so on the first day each dive lasted an hour, even though I reached depths of 94 feet and 72 feet on the first and second dives respectively, so my computer indicated a few minutes of deco on each of the dives.

Wilma opened up new swim-throughs in Cozumel

Wilma opened up new swim-throughs in Cozumel

By the end of the second dive it was 25 minutes to 3. The waves had calmed down by then so I was dropped off at the hotel dock, saving about an hour of travel.

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