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Dive Review of Living Underwater/Fiesta Americana in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Mexico

August, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by William Ungerman, CA, USA
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 5016 has 1 Helpful vote
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Pacific
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry  
calm, choppy, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
84   to 87    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
100   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Stay in proximity to the dive guide (reasonable)  
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
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Not specifically catering to UWP but assists as necessary.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
4 stars   
4 stars    
Based largely upon diver reports in the Chapbook, we opted to sign on with
Living Underwater.  The owner is Jeremy, a transplanted Minnesota native
who has been in Cozumel for ten years, long enough that he speaks eloquent
Spanish as well as having a Mexican accent when he speaks English
(something he guffaws at when pointed out).  Jeremy is a great guy.  His
boat is named the "Jew Fish."  That's right.  Not the
"Goliath Grouper."  Ask him how it got that name.  It's a 35 foot
runabout equipped with twin Yamaha 115 outboards, a DAN oxygen kit, radio
communication and ample overhead cover.  The dive staff includes great guys
Mateo, Julio, Alphonso, and Ricardo.  It's a backwards roll into the blue
and a re-mount via an exceptionally nice ladder.  BC's and fins are removed
in the water and retrieved.  Easy.  The boat is fast, pick-up times
relatively early and return by Noon for lunch.  Long surface intervals are
taken at either Palancar or Paradise Beach.  You have your choice of 120 or
95 CF steel low pressure tanks.  Nitrox was NOAA I (32%) and cost $10.00
per tank extra.  Fruit, snacks, water, and soft drinks were liberally
offered as well as towels and hooded parkas for the occasional thunder
shower or apres dive chill.  The latter is a nice touch not often seen. 
The crew keeps your gear, rinses, dries and remounts it.  You never touch
it except to put it on.  Even though he could have put more people on his
boat, Jeremy opted to rent another craft rather than place a new diver
family with some of us "old salts" (just a term of art).  Now
that's class.  The dives were never less than one hour and were sometimes
almost an hour and a half on the shallower second dive.  Remote sites?  No
problem for the most part except winds were gusting keeping us from
Chunchakab and Maracaibo.  Jeremy sometimes even dives El Islote.  Tell me
who else ventures there?  In any case, for the first time in eight
excursions to Cozumel we were taken to Barracuda and San Juan.  Both were
nice high speed drifts over varying U/W terrain.  No excuses about
"dangerous currents", "weather", "harbormaster
permission" or "evil spirits."  We just went and did it.  We
also dove "The Devil's Throat" at Punta Sur.  Jeremy has captured
(so far) 21 invasive Lion Fish and haunts the reef hunting the voracious
critters.  Marine life was prolific on the shallower reefs, not so much on
Palancar, Santa Rosa, and the deeper reefs where the towering butresses of
coral are phenomonal.  A little coral damage from Hurricane Wilma in 2005
is still visible but things are recovering nicely.  Nurse sharks, huge
groupers and parrot fish, three splendid toad fish, turtles everywhere and
the usual reef suspects.  A grand time was had by all.  I give five stars
to Jeremy only because there is no six.

Fiesta Americana.  This used to be the old Holiday Inn about fifteen years
ago.  Great place.  We stayed here in November 2008 and dove with the
on-site operation, "Dive House."  See that report in this issue
of the Chapbook.  The Fiesta Americana is far enough out of town to avoid
the rush of cruise ship visitors that overun St. Miguel, which is looking
like downtown Tijuana more and more.  Going there means running an endless
gauntlet of hawkers and aggressive vendors.  The "all-inclusive"
package at the FA is the best deal but not as good as last year.  This year
it does not include bottled beer or bottled water and there are
restrictions on the menu.  Otherwise, the food is splendid and varied, as
good as a cruise ship (and that's saying something).  Now here's a bit of
hot info:  Take notes here.  The tip to the waiters is INCLUDED in the
price of the meal, this despite the line on the bill that states "La
Propina" (tip).  This appears to be a common practice, not only here. 
Uninformed diners invariably add another 15-20% on top of the 12% already
factored in to the cost.  I added in something extra for exceptional
service but did so with foreknowledge.  A word to the wise.  The FA is a
good bet and our choice of Cozumel resorts.

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