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Dive Review of Dive Palancar in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Cozumel

Dive Palancar, Nov, 2011,

by Randall S Preissig, TX, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 30 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 6358.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Galapagos, Cocos, Tahiti, Fiji, Palau, Sipidan, Thailand, Burma, Australia, Red Sea, Hawaii, Truk, Caribbean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 81 to Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 75 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions All dives were group dives with the buddy system. Usually an 80 foot limit but some were up to 120 feet. Usually 40-50 minutes dive time. 700 pounds of air ends your dive. Always a 3 minute safety stop.
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 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Each dive originated at the Occidental Grand dock. It was 15 minutes to the farthest dive sites. 4 dives are offered during every day and night dives MWF. This allowed you to use your room as your photo center.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I have dived Cozumel many times over the last 35 years. It is one of the few places that is actually getting better as a dive location. Before they established Palancar as a national park, you rarely saw a turtle or large fish. You now see them virtually every dive. The coral is spectacular--world famous for it's huge formations. Visibility can be the best I've ever experienced, and is always good. Wilma damaged some of the shallow reefs, but they are recovering rapidly. The dive operations, which were infamously dangerous 30 years ago(Undercurrent gained my and others' respect by reporting this--unlike "Dive Mags" that took advertising money) are now state of the art, with oxygen on our day boats, good dive briefings by professional divemasters, etc.
As far as sightings, this was probably my best trip ever to Cozumel(out of 15-20). I was able to follow a GIANT spotted eagle ray feeding in shallow water for 5 minutes--close enough to touch if I'd wanted to. On the same dive, we were within touching distance of the largest turtle I've ever seen(and I've been to Sipadan)--a 6 foot loggerhead that was busy crushing conch shells for the hermit crabs within. Toadfish were seen anytime you asked, turtles on most dives, and a pair of seahorses on one dive. Small schools of Barracuda and Jacks, a large pompano feeding in the sand, huge groupers and parrot fish, multiple nurse sharks, an assortment of filefish, tiny shrimp in the anenomies, and much, much more. Night dives (3) always had several octipi in the open and too many lobsters(some HUGE) and king crabs to count. Stingrays were seen day and night.
The Occidental Grand is great. It is working its way back to the 6 star resort it was prior to Hurricane Wilma and it's location minutes from the very best dive sites in Cozumel make it the optimal choice for divers and their families--and at a bargain price considering the quality of both. Packages of dives were $30 each, and tips were routine and usually deserved.
The large number of cruise ships have changed the town forever, but they have had little effect on the reefs and distant resorts. Congratulations to Cozumel.
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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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