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Dive Review of None/Hotel Faro Viejo in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Holbox (Yucatan)

July, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Bob Speir, VA, USA (2 reports)
Report Number 3481
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Bonaire, Curacao, Grand Turk, Belize, Cozumel
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
80   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
8   to 15    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
See text for restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
1 stars  
Small Critters
  1 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
5 stars    
After 50 yards swimming as hard as I could, tucked behind the mouth of a 30
foot whale shark, I conceded that he (she?) could indeed out-swim me.  I
stopped, remembering to dodge the tail as the shark lumbered past.  Looking
up, I saw another coming right at me, but what my friends on the boat were
screaming at me about was that this shark was swimming in formation a giant
manta with a 10 foot wing span.

This was not a freak occurrence on our three-day trip to Holboxit was the
standard format for every turn in the water for each of two three-hour
sessions with the sharks and their friends.  We scheduled two trips to see
these magnificent creatures because, after much diving in many areas, we
knew that a trip rarely produces what is advertised.  In this case, all in
our 11 person group agreed that we got much more than we even hoped for. 
Most of the time, we were in the midst of as many as 20 whale sharks and 5
to 10 giant mantas feeding on the plankton blooms, with a few pods of
dolphins nearby, attracted, I guess, by schools of bar jacks mixed in with
the sharks and mantas.  It was not uncommon to get off one shark and see
three more coming at you, or see a manta actually flopping a wing on an
approaching whale shark.

The whale shark spot is about a 25 mile boat ride from Holbox60-90 minutes
in the fast boats that dock at the Holbox pier.  The boat operators enforce
the rules: two snorkelers in the water at a time with a guide, no touching
the sharks, no diving beneath them and no flash pictures.  This, of course,
sounds very restrictive.  However, scuba doesnt offer anything because the
sharks and mantas are on top of the water feeding and the visibility is
only 8-15 feet due to the plankton.  Since it is difficult to stay up with
these sharks swimming as fast as you can in snorkel gear, doing better in
scuba gear is unlikely.  I doubt that the diving restriction is rigorously
enforced by anyone as long as you do not touch the sharks.  Flashes are not
useful due to the particle matter in the water, but I got a lot of good
pictures without one.

The logistics of our trip were, for the most part, arranged by René
(, owner of the Hotel Faro Viejo in Holbox (see
their website) where we stayed for two nights.  René had a nice van
meet us at the Cancun Airport and transport us to Chiquila (2 ½ hour
ride), where we caught a ferry for the 6 mile trip to Holbox.  From there,
golf cart taxis moved people and luggage over the sand streets to the
beach front hotel.  Leaving was the reverse, except that we bypassed Cancun
and caught the ferry at Playa for a week of diving in Cozumel.  René
took care of all transportation for one fee, although tips to drivers are
in order. He also arranged the shark trips.  Lunch and drinks on the boat
were included in the price.

The hotel is probably the nicest in Holboxsort of like a second or third
tier hotel in Cozumel.  Clean, A/C in the bedrooms, TV, no bugs, sand
courtyard & porch on 1st floor rooms, etc.  We all were very happy with
the accommodations.  Good restaurant with breakfast included with the
rooms, although if you are going to see the sharks, you may miss it.

René also arranges one-day trips departing from locations as far
away as Cozumel.  The cost from Cozumel now is about $180p/p (August 2007).
 As you can imagine, this is a very full day.  You will spend at least 8
hours traveling to and from Holbox and 2-3 hours with the sharks.  We took
the more leisurely route and spent two nights at the Hotel Faro Viejo . 
Our total cost, excluding meals at night and drinks was roughly $400 p/p,
or about what it would have cost for two single-day trips.
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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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