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Dive Review of Living Underwater/Casa Del Mar in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Cozumel

July, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Pat Wikstrom, NC, USA
Contributor   (14 reports)
Report Number 2614
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas; Belize; Bonaire; California Channel Islands; Cayman; Cocos; Costa
Rica; Cozumel; Florida- springs, west coast, & keys; Indonesia; North
Carolina; Massachusetts; Palau; Puerto Rico; Roatan; Socorro; South Africa;
Thailand; Truk; Turks & Caicos; TVA lakes; Yap; Yucatan Caves;
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry  
calm, choppy, currents  
Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 90    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
perform safety stop, board boat with 300psi  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
5 stars    
I first stayed at the old Casa del Mar in 1995 and it looks about the same
as it did. The biggest change is the sand thats been sucked off the
beaches along this stretch of shoreline leaving the underlying limestone
base exposed and barren. Most resorts are slowly building/ rebuilding their
bulkheads and trucking in sand to create a new tourist beach. The hotel had
been completely renovated with fresh paint, new A/C units, and wireless
internet in the lobby. Each room has a small balcony with gear drying pegs.
All utilities functioned as expected. I had booked an all-inclusive package
($107. per nt sngl occ.) and the food and booze was of surprisingly good
quality. Breakfast started at 7:00 and featured a large buffet including
breads, fresh fruit, cold cereal, eggs and omelets cooked to order,
sausage, bacon or ham, and several carbohydrate choices. Lunch and Dinner
was ordered off the same comprehensive menu of Mexican and American
entrées. I particularly enjoyed the stuffed and rolled fillet of
grouper in a cream sauce, the spicy garlic squid, and their steak dinner
with enchiladas and quesadillas. My package didnt allow lobster or shrimp
without additional charge but the friendly wait staff often suggested meal
choices I might not have otherwise tried which were consistently delicious.
During my early July visit a large contingent of Canadian students provided
much youthful exuberance and some wonderful topless presentations around
the poolside bar. Copious allotments of Bacardi Anejo was poured without
additional charge. 

Around 8:00am the Nautilus submarine dock across the street got pretty busy
with hordes of divers waiting for their boats to arrive. I booked two days
of two tank morning dives with Jeremy Anschels Living Underwater. Jeremy
was under the weather and couldnt participate. I shuffled between two of
his Bimini topped fast boats alternately booked by experienced Canadian
divers and a family from Minnesota. Jeremy prides himself on providing
Cadillac service including cold drinks, fresh fruit, cookies and crackers
between dives as well as long dive times with LP steel 95s and 120s. My
dive log attests to that fact with 106ft for 76min on Palancar Gardens
followed by 77ft for 73min on Paso del Cedral, 163ft for 63min on
Maracaibo, and a lengthy 90 min dive on La Francesca. But the dive spots
just werent what they used to be. 

Reefs above 50ft were basically scoured clean of living coral. Whips, sea
fans, and other gorgonian that used to sway in the current were no longer
evident; fields of finger coral lay blasted on the bottom, and much of the
shallow reefs were covered by a fine layer of sand that seemed to choke the
substrate. Many famous second dives, like Deliah and Paradise, were no
longer highlights on the menu.  First day on dive boat Alfa, the family
requested dive sites that were shallow so the kids wouldnt have to go
below 60 ft. I suggested Palancar Gardens where I could pop over the wall
into the triple digits and they could stay close to the reef top. I
promised Eric, the divemaster, that Id keep the group in sight and would
come up along with everyone else. I wasnt long before they were all
cruising on down to the better sponge and coral growth which started
getting good between 60 and 80 ft. We saw several Hawksbill Turtles along
the way and three large Black Grouper in some sort of mating or territorial
interaction. Although I racked up 6 or 7 min of deco by the half way point
the big 120 cu ft tank gave me plenty of time to clear my obligation during
the shallow half hour and I surfaced well into the safe zone on my

Like many of the dive ops on Coz. Living Underwater brings their boats to
one of the public beaches during the surface interval. There is a minimum
purchase necessary to use the facilities. We lounged around Playa Palancar
eating nachos and quesadillas priced at about $5.50 each. Second dives at
Paso del Cedral and La Francesca were very different than I remembered
them. The beautifully delicate coral, fans, and sponges that used to adorn
these sites had pretty much been wiped out. Caves, overhangs, and leeward
facing grottos were the only spots where isolated remnants still existed.
There were, however still a large number of fish. We saw schools of Tangs
and Black Durgeons, Stingrays, Filefish, all three Angels, Porkfish,
Grunts, Soldier and Squirrelfish,  along with many other Caribbean
regulars. There did appear to be fewer predators. Only a few Bar Jacks were
spotted and noticeably lacking were the old Green Morays and Barracuda.

On my second day I was assigned to Jesus on the dive boat Gaviotta and a
more experienced group of divers that wanted to do Maracaibo. Unfortunately
Jesus missed the  site, gave us the backroll signal anyway, so we spent 25
minutes swimming over sand flats below 145 and then doing 30 minutes of
prescribed deco performed rigidly with 30 for 10, 20 for 10, & 10 for
10. None of us had more that 11 or 12 min of obligation when we started
lifting off the bottom and the needlessly long deco stops were a little

But overall Living Underwater gets a hearty thumbs up. Jeremy was honest
with me in our e-mail communications, stating hed have to fit me in with
groups of varying experience. Great customer service and attitude was
demonstrated by all his employees. They changed tanks between dives, rinsed
and stored your gear at the end of the day, and had it ready on board
tomorrow. The boats were well equipped, drinks and snacks were first class,
long dive times with big capacity tanks was the rule, and an mind-set of
letting experienced divers do their own thing completely outweighed the $85
price per two tank trip. I would use them again.
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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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