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

Aldora Divers/Hotel Barracuda, Feb, 2007,

by Karen Gordon, Alaska, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports). Report 3210.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Yap, Fiji, Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Rota, Samoa, Caymans, Honduras, Belize, Alaska, Turks and Caicos.... and more
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 81 to 0 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 90 to 0 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions When diving in extreme current (3-4 knots) we were asked to stay at the same depth to keep together because the current varies in speed through the water column and it would be easy to get separated in current that fast.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The compromise for having a fast boat that only holds 6 people is that there is comfortable room for the divers, but no room for a rinse bucket. I imagine that if requested, Aldora would provide a bucket for cameras.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments DIVING
I love Aldora Divers - personal attention, fast boats, no more than 6 on a boat, early departure schedules to minimize divesite crowding, they rinse and store gear (not wetsuits/skins), they use big 100 or 120 cubic foot tanks to assure no air hog limits your dive, staff consists of educated and articulate divemasters (our hero is Mateo), and they are willing to dive the site YOU want. Computers are mandatory, and we dived them exclusively. With long bottom times, doing so was compulsory. If you don't have one, they will provide one free of charge for your use.

The staff, whether it was the boat captain, divemaster, or the staff in the office, were always helpful, kind, patient, and knowledgable. Memo Mendoza, one of the owners, was generous beyond the call of duty and a genuinely wonderful man with a fine sense of humor. We enjoyed him greatly. Likewise, our divemaster Mateo was a perfect joy and an intellectual to boot. He enhanced our whole dive experience by discussing the natural history of the area and the reefs as well as giving a fantastic dive briefing on the cenotes. Mateo has been cave diving for many years and has even done some research on the cenotes of Cozumel.

We wanted to go cenote diving, and it was arranged. Mateo and Mostro were our divemasters, and we dove Kukulkan and Chak Mool which had less stalagtites and stalagmites than Dos Ojos, but somehow exhibited more dramatic and huge rooms with lots of crystals that I don't recall having seen at Dos Ojos (which I dived on a previous visit to Cozumel). It was worth spending a day exploring something different than "normal" Caribbean diving.

Sitting on my balcony after my dives, watching the bovine boats come unload their herds on the hotel dock, I was so thankful to have been diving with Aldora. Aldora's rates are not cheap at $87 a day for 2 tanks. You can get much cheaper, along the lines of $65 or so, depending on the operator, and with that you get 80 cu.ft. aluminum tanks, shorter bottom times, and spending your dive with 15 other people.

Having said that, I admit that some people like diving with a crowd. I don't. If you like a crowd, don't go with Aldora. If you prefer short dives, don't go with Aldora. If you must dive a table, don't go with Aldora. If you want to make a long day of diving two tanks, don't go with Aldora. Check out the Aldora difference [---] and see for yourself the unique qualities sets this operation apart from the crowds.

HOTEL
I wanted a room on the water with a balcony like that of Caribe Blu where I stayed last Christmas. I would have stayed at Caribe Blu, but their hotel was full. Still, at the Barracuda, which provided a balcony for every room, I got the very best deal through www.travelnotes.cc at $85 per night plus tax. The hotel's rate is $99. I really appreciate the help and information Jidan provided on the front end! Thanks, Jidan! We stayed there two weeks.

The Barracuda Pros:
The room was basic but clean. Dive boats can pick you up right at the Barracuda Hotel dock. The swimming pool is attractive and has a swim-up bar. The rooms are a good value. Where else can you get a view room on the water for $85 in San Miguel? It is close to Chedraui, the local supermarket. And being so close to town, is a $2-3 cab ride to most of the best restaurants. Our room's balcony was wonderful, providing a 180 degree perspective of activity on that exquisite azure Cozumel ocean, including the transit of cruise ships daily except Sundays. Wireless internet was available at the No Name bar that sits between the hotel and the ocean next to the pool, allowing us to keep in touch with family, friends and work.


The Barracuda Cons:
The shower had almost no water pressure, but was scalding hot and difficult to control the hot/cold ratio that dribbled out, but hey, we did fine just the same, it just took longer to shower. The Barracuda has those famous rock hard beds we read so much about in Cozumel. It was only slightly better than sleeping on the floor. The noise from the bar floats up to the rooms during the day, but seems to carry worse at night. The bar generally shut down by about 11:00pm or so, so for those who were getting up for a 7:30 dive boat pickup, the bar music and the loud voices could be bothersome. But for me the balcony view was worth the bar chatter. I suggest simply taking ear plugs if you must go to bed before 9pm and noise is a problem. To some degree the air conditioner helped muffle some of the sound.

General Cozumel Comments:
One of the very best things about Cozumel is the wide variety of food choices, both in price and in culinary styles. From roadside taco vendors to elegant fine dining was offered. Unless you want to hole up in some all inclusive and never go anywhere but your resort, an all inclusive is fine, though questionably worth the hefty add-on for the generally mandatory all inclusive fee. With all that Cozumel offers in terms of food, however, it is almost a crime to use an all inclusive on Cozumel, especially if one either is on a budget or enjoys trying new food.

Rock-n-Java, has coffee drinks, sandwiches, HUGE salads, a fantastic peanut butter milkshake, and a great trading library. They also are a "front" for the Cozumel Humane Society, and appreciate folks who bring books or good clothes to donate so they can raise money to help fund the animal shelter - a very worthy cause worth supporting, so bring extra books and clean clothes to donate if you are going to Cozumel. Fill that empty space with souvenirs going home.
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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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