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

November, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Jeff Hauser, CO, US (1 report)
Report Number 6349
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Hawaii, Florida Keys, Caymans, Aruba, CA, Cancun
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, windy  
Seas
calm  
Water Temp
82   to    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
60   to 100    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
no  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Tough to dive your own profile when you are doing deep drift dives with
groups of divers using steel 120's (some nitrox).  Divemasters superb at
planning great multi-level that fit experience levels of group.  If mixed
group with some using nitrox, profile created for that.  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
yes 
What I saw
Sharks
None 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
None 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
N/A
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
Not particularly set up for UWP, although divemasters and boat captains
very accommodating with equipment.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
N/A
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
N/A  
Snorkeling
5 stars  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
Beginners
5 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
This report is a bit long, and long overdue.  I found Aldora Divers and
Villa Aldora through Undercurrent right after the Villa opened in 2004 and
it has become my home away from home for diving. Make sure you read how
Aldora Divers will spoil you for diving forever!

The Villa is north of downtown, away from all the hotels and the cruise
ship docks along a strip of private homes...but only a 15 minute boat ride
away from the most popular dive spots on the south end.  Aldora Divers
picks you up right at the Villa -- all of your gear is already on board and
set up -- and at the end of the day drops you back off.  Boats are small
and fast, with dive groups no larger than six divers plus divemaster. 
Typically, the group ends up being smaller.  Divers are grouped together by
ability (and air mix); sometimes during slow seasons different small groups
will share a boat but may have separate divemasters.  The divemasters are
all very knowledgable and safety oriented, and dive sites are chosen daily
based on group ability, preferences and water conditions.  The boat
captains are extraordinary.  You get dropped in exactly the right
places...and picked up perfectly after some very very long dives.

And that is what makes Aldora so special for me.  Their tanks, Instead of
standard aluminum 80's, are steel 120's (sometimes 100's for the ladies). 
Having all that extra air allows much longer dives than most people have
ever done (warning...you may want to step up a thickness in wetsuits -- or
wear one, if you don't normally; when you spend 90 minutes underwater on a
single dive, your body starts reminding you of the difference between its
core temperature and the 82-85 degree warm water temperature.  Then, after
Adora's usual two hour surface interval to off gas on the beach at Mr.
Sancho's, back out for a second dive.  And not necessarily a shallow one.

As I go back in my logbook, did 103 ft (51 ft average) for 76 minutes then
a 2nd dive to 66 ft (average 49) with dive time of 92. Next day went to 99
ft (average 53) for 85 minutes, followed a 2:27 minute surface interval
with a 2nd dive to 80 ft (49 ft average) for 91 minutes.  So these two days
of two tanks dives totaled bottom time of  168 minutes and 176 minutes. 
(BTW< Aldora provides computers for your use if you don't have your
own.)

And at those times when weather is so knarly that they close the port and
all the dive sites on the west side of the island are effectively shut
down, Aldora Divers is the only operator to bring boats to the east side
and dive over there.

Staying at the Villa is like visiting family.  There are a couple of
beautifully appointed two bedroom suites with full kitchens, living and
dining rooms (and each of the bedrooms is a master bedroom); there are a
host of various size studios with full kitchens, and a couple of smaller
rooms with mini fridges, microwaves and coffee makers.  The people who man
the Villa have all become my friends...they take you to the grocery store
upon arrival; point you to restaurants, or even take you there...the
atmosphere at the Villa can be as private and intimate as you like, or you
can visit with other divers from all over the world.  Families come with
non divers as there is fabulous snorkeling right in front of the Villa as
well as a beautiful pool...but no, there is no bar or restaurant and you
need to bring in your own supplies.  They also have free wifi and internet
phones which allow free calls (and a US number for people to call you) to
the US and northern Europe (I believe).

I looked back and I did four trips to Cozumel last year with Aldora,
staying at the Villa.  I first stayed at the Villa within months of their
opening, back in 2004.  As you go back, you will be pleasantly surprised to
hook up once again with others whom you have met before, and who (like you)
would think of going nowhere else in this part of the world.  I have never
taken advantage of their hurricane insurance (basically, guarantees you
will get value even if a storm hits), because I've always been lucky
(including trips this year end of July, September and early November).  I
have never written about them before, because I am afraid that they will
become so popular that I won't be able to book when I want.  But being part
of a community where I am always looking for good advice on operators and
places to stay in places unknown--and having been disappointed that there
aren't a lot of current reports in Undercurrent on a lot of dive locales I
am interested in visiting--I decided I better do my party and contribute to
the Undercurrent community,

So cmon people.  Please do reader reports and share the good operators and
good places...maybe it will make the others step up and do the right
thing(s)!!!

See you at the Villa!

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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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