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

January, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Ronald Riesenbach, ON, CA (2 reports)
Report Number 6436
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
26-50 dives
Where else diving
Eilat/Israel, Roatan/Honduras, Key Largo/Florida
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
79   to    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
All dives were Dive Master guided and we were asked to keep generally
close. All divers in our group consumed air at about the same rate - we
collectively started ascending when our air was about 600. Aldora's high
pressure steel 120 tanks enabled long dive times - about an hour using only
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Many of Aldora's dive boats are small-ish and don't have a lot of space for
a camera soak-bucket. Nonetheless, cameras are handled by the crew with
care and are placed in safe corners when they are handed-up from the water.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
4 stars   
4 stars    
A lot has already been written about Aldora's diving service and their
great little villa. My review only adds another ringing endorsement to an
already highly regarded operation.

As you will see by the many reviews in and on TripAdvisor,
Aldora's dive operation is truly top-notch. The staff are friendly, helpful
and service-oriented. We had a dedicated Dive Master for our small group of
4 divers. Once or twice, another person joined us. But we never had more
than 5 divers in our group in the 6-days of diving we did with them. Aldora
is a full-service operation. You can leave most of your gear on the boat
when you are finished diving. They pack it, rinse it in fresh water and dry
it over night and then mount it on fresh tanks for you in the morning.
Everything is ready to go when the boat pulls in to pick you up at the dock
in the morning. Nice. There are also facilities to rinse your own wet-suit
and other personal gear in the dip tanks at the Villa and hang it up in
their dedicated racks (or on your balcony, if you prefer). 

They have several different kinds of boats. We mostly dove on their smaller
ones, which were relatively roomy and fast, but didn't have a head. That
wasn't much of a problem since most dive sites were within 30-minutes of
the Villa. The surface was usually calm during the days we dove and no one
had problems with sea-sickness.

The captains we had were helpful and alert. Never did we have to wait more
than two minutes on the surface after a drift dive for our boat to pick us

Our Dive Master ("Julio") was friendly, competent and
accommodating. Aldora prides itself on having the DM work with the divers
to choose a customized dive experience for them. On the ride back to the
Villa's dock after a days diving, Julio would make recommendations for the
next day's activities and we would discuss the options. It was up to us to
choose what we wanted to do the next day. Interested in seeing some shark
hang-outs as the first dive and then doing a wreck-dive as the second? No
problem. Want to experience some of Cozumel's famous currents at a
out-of-the way Northern dive site? No problem. Feel like going across to
the mainland and diving the Cenotes?  No problem - Aldora will make all the
arrangements. It's easy to get spoiled with this kind of customer-focused

The reefs on the Western side of the Island are still in pretty good shape
with lots of life. The area is a marine park and so fishing and other
destructive activities are not allowed. There are probably more than 50
different dive sites along the Southern part of the West coast. Despite
having lots of divers in the area (there are dozens of dive boats on the
water by 8:30am), we didn't feel crowded. Often we were the only divers at
the site.

There are a vast variety of geographies to be seen; post-card perfect
swim-throughs, walls, breath-taking canyons, rolling hills, sand-flats,
etc. We saw lobster, crab, nurse shark, mantas, eels, grouper, barracuda
and many many more smaller critters. At the site called Columbia there was
so much life to look at, we felt like we were diving in an aquarium. We
even saw an elusive a "Splendid Frog Fish" hiding in a hole that
didn't escape Julio's sharp eyes. During our night dive, we saw hermit
crab, blood worm and octopus among many other nocturnal feeders.

If you are looking for a Taj Mahal 5-star type of lodging, Villa Aldora
isn't for you. There is no restaurant and no bar on site and none within a
half a mile of the property. However, dozens of bars and eating places are
in town, a 20 minute walk away (or borrow a free bicycle and get there in 7
minutes, or flag a taxi and get there in 3 minutes). But, if you want a
quaint place that is small, safe, clean, well kept, quiet, comfortable and
welcoming, this is place for you.

Steve is a great property manager and really (really!) cares about his
guests. From the moment we arrived, he made us feel welcome. He drove us to
town to pick up groceries when we arrived and offered us lifts several
other times. He communicates frequently with the dive shop and ensures that
you are ready for your dives when the boat arrives in the morning.

Most rooms have little kitchenettes and you can fill your fridge with
goodies from the "Mega" store in town (it's sort of a Mexican
Walmart). Hard-boiled eggs, bread-and-jam, yogurt, cheese, fruit and coffee
are easy to buy and easily prepared in your room. This arrangement works
surprisingly well since a typical diving day has you eating a light
breakfast in the room before you set off. Lunch is purchased during your
surface interval at a beach club called Mr. Sanchos (they have reasonably
priced and tasty food and lots of places to sit under their massive
pallapa). Dinners are usually taken in town after an afternoon spent
tanning at the sea-shore, shopping or exploring. The only other food/drink
you need at the villa are for a late afternoon or mid-night snacks. So, the
lack of a restaurant on site really isn't that big a deal. The Villa has
free VoIP telephone and internet service in each room. Although at times we
couldn't get a wireless signal in our rooms and (horrors!) had to go out on
the patio to check our email.

In summary, we felt very comfortable, safe and cared-for and had a
memorable trip. I whole heatedly recommend Aldora divers and Villa Aldora
for folks planning to dive in Cozumel.
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