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Dive Review of Aldora Divers/Villa Aldora in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Cozumel

November, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Karen Gordon, AK, USA
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 2137
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Yap, Chuuk, Fiji, Samoa, Pohnpei,
Kosrae, Belize, Turks & Caicos, Caymans, Honduras, Cozumel, Hawaii,
Alaska, and Washington
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
82   to 83    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
100   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
The group must go down and come up together.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
4 stars    
Diving with Aldora was simply wonderful.  I chose Aldora after pouring over
and over previous Chapbooks, and was not disappointed.  American Dave
Dillehay has done a great job creating a company that essentially caters to
experienced divers, but in my case, welcomed a newbie diver in my group. 
Managed by Memo Mendoza, this operation pretty much consistently conveys a
pure sense of professionalism.  The divemasters excelled in customer
service, knowledge of reef critters, divesites, history of the area, and
generally being fun guys to be around.  Each one had very good command of
English, and also seemed to be college educated.  They took good care of us
underwater and took good care of our equipment (except wetsuits) overnight.
 The boats don't take more than six people, which was perfect.  No
cattleboats here, and it made a supreme difference in the quality of the

I was the trip leader for a small group, and to a person we thought we had
a most excellent adventure with Aldora.  The entire experience was
wonderful, as we expected.  With the larger steel tanks, the air hogs don't
rule the dive.  Available are 120 and 100 cu ft tanks.  I used the 100 cu
ft tank and consistently came up with about 1200 psi.  Still, that means
that we got dives pretty regularly around an hour long for the first dive
and sometimes almost 90 minutes for the second dive.  Those large tanks
make a serious difference in down time. 

There were tons of turtles and fish, though only a couple sharks for the
week.  We saw eagle rays a few times, and some very interesting
nudibranchs, in addition to the normal contingent of arrowline crabs,
anemones, and other cool critters.  I found two Splendid Toadfish on my
own, and the divemaster found one during the week.  Lobsters were aplenty
as those mighty coral-gnawing denizens, the prolific parrotfish.  Colors
abound along with terriffic swim-throughs, tunnels, walls, and just
visually spectacular coral formations.

We spent our surface intervals at one of two beach clubs, each with a
swimming pool, jacuzzi, restaurant, and shady palms on a lovely beach.  At
both places the food was really good, so we made that our lunch stop for
the day before going on the second dive.  If lying in the sun is your
thing, then there were beach chairs available for that as well.  The
previous time I'd been to Cozumel, we had to spend the time sitting on a
crowded boat with no shade, so I was all the more excited about having a
special treat afforded us between dives this trip.  The only shortcoming
was we had different divemasters every day who had to keep learning our
skill levels.

Another great advantage of diving with Aldora means their Villa is made
available as your accommodation in Cozumel.  Managed by the Bielmans, they
treat you like family, make you feel welcome, and provide you all the
suggestions how to get around in Cozumel as well as where to eat and what
to see.  You couldn't be treated better than these folks treated us.  The
villa is actually an intimate grouping of several rooms and suites
conveniently sited on the ocean, most with lovely ocean views, and a
straight shot watching the sun go down.  The dive boat comes to pick up
divers right at the villa at 7:30am, to beat out the hords who will come
later to the most popular dive sites.  A pool was being constructed when I
was there, and might be done now.  If not, hey, it's Mexico, why hurry?

Another great opportunity that I will enjoy again is the cenote dive
offered by Aldora when there is enough folks to make it rational.  This is
an early morning departure, catching the ferry to Playa del Carmen at
8:00am and getting to the mainland, acquiring coffee and sandwiches and a
van to take us down the coast past Akumal to Dos Ojos Cenote.  Absolutely
exotic and mysteriously intriguing, this opening in the jungle
"floor" which opens up into caves, simply calls to be explored. 
And with Memo and Mateo, both certified cave diving instructors, our group
went on a tour in fresh water of glass-like clarity through a maze of
stalactites and stalagmites that were breathtaking.  Eery at the same time
as being wonderfully ancient, it made me feel like I was transported back
into something like an underground Jurassic Park without the wildlife. 
After the first dive, with a maximum depth of 27', we took a break, had
lunch, and then went back in, but this time went in another direction and
came out at a bat cave open to the sky, again a very shallow dive.  The
water is cooler than the ocean at 75 degrees, but as short as the dives
are, a lycra or 3mm suit is plenty.  When we were done, we packed up and
headed back to Playa del Carmen where we were dropped off to either take
the ferry straight back to Cozumel or enjoy Playa at a beachside bar, find
an interesting restaurant, or just cruise the town.  We took the ferry back
just before sunset, and felt the entire day well spent.  This is a
not-to-miss adventure, and with the Aldora staff, you will be glad you
chose to go on the cenote trip, for which there is an extra charge, but
worth every penny.

Cozumel has too many good and inexpensive food establishments to waste
money on an all-inclusive hotel.  Adventure out and experience some of the
exciting and flavorful Yucatecan cuisine Cozumel has to offer.      
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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