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Dive Review of Aqua Safari/Safari Inn in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan

Aqua Safari/Safari Inn, Nov, 2005,

by Nick Macelletti, CT, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 2223.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Taiwan, Hawaii, Curacao, New England
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy, noCurrents
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Stay with Divemaster. Not overly restrictive. Very accomodating as to dive site.
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 3 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 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 I dived 6 days, Nov 15-18 and 21-22. We were the first commercial boat out after hurricane "Wilma" 3 weeks before.
Did 16 dives on a variety of reefs. We were three divers and there were three crewmembers on an Aqua Safari boat that has a capacity of 28 passengers. For the first 3 days there were no other boats in sight. Weather good, current mild. We left from Puerto de Abrigo since Aqua Safari's downtown reef had been destroyed by the hurricane. (It has since been rebuilt.) Bill Horn, the owner of Aqua Safari, personally drove us to and from the dive boat.
First of all, the reefs are still there, both shallow and deep. (Didn't see the snorkling reefs but they probably suffered more severe damage.) The visibility was about 50 to 60 feet at the beginning of the week but improved to 90-100 feet by the end of the week.
The main difference was that the soft corals, tube and rope sponges, fans, and even barrel sponges were 90 % gone. If you haven't dived here frequently you might not even notice since there were no remnants other that the occasional broken purple vase sponge forelornly rolling around on the bottom. (I tried to replant some of these by sticking them in a convenient hole in the reef.) I am told that these corals regenerate very quickly.
However, in the meantime you can enjoy the hard corals, swim throughs, and the abundance of large fish. Spotted Eagle Rays, Stingrays, Turtles, Nurse Sharks, large Barracuda, large Groupers, a 3 foot Porcupine Fish, Lobster, Crab, and Supermale Rainbow Parrots were seen on almost every dive for the first 4 days. On 5 or 6 dives we saw all of them on each dive. Also,we were able to get extremely close to them, especially the Eagle Rays and Turtles, apparently because there were no other divers and the fish were not spooked. We frequently saw lobsters walking across the sand. A dive buddy photographed an octopus out in the open.
The hard corals in the 40 to 60 foot range did have sand on them. Hopefully this will be swept off by the current in the coming weeks and months. The deeper reefs, especially the walls at 80 to 100 feet were intact and mostly clean of sand although every now and then you would come upon a massive piece of the wall that had fallen to the sand below from the force of unimaginably powerful surge.
On one dive to Palancar Gardens we came upon a section on the botton at 90 feet where the sand had been swept from the base of the coral pinnacles for a depth of about 15-20 feet exposing coral that the divemaster/instructor said had been covered by the sand for tens if not hundreds of years. It was kind of spooky and I expected to see a dinosaur bone sticking out of the coral.

San Miguel was 95% open and eager for visitors. I stayed at the Safari Inn downtown, clean and spacious, and had a great time with a bucket of 6 Coronas in the square going for $5 and all the great restaurants open and almost no cruise ships.
If you want to be treated like a king, see large fish, and also help the islanders recover, visit Cozumel in the next year or so.
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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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