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Dive Review of Pepe Scuba/Coral Princess in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan

July, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Steven & Beth Schwartz, NY, USA
Report Number 547
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Dominica, Saba, Grenadines, BVIs, Belize, St.
Lucia, FL Keys, Hawaii, Fiji, Micronesia, Indonesia
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, rainy  
Water Temp
80   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
safety stops  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
1 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
No boat or shore facilities for UWPs--overall not a camera- friendly
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
4 stars    
This was our second trip to Cozumel after 15 years and boy, has it changed!
 Lots more hotels, people, cruise ships, dive operations and divers.  Much
more activity than we usually like, but we made sacrifices for the diving
which was suposed to be spectacular.  (Prior Chapbook reports indicated
100'+ vis.)  Well, just our luck, after a 45-day dry spell, a 3-day
tropical depression blew through, ending the day before we arrived and
mucked things up.  We were lucky if we had 50-75' vis at best.  

We dove with Pepe Scuba who was situated at our hotel, the Coral Princess,
so the dive boat conveniently picked us up at the dock behind the hotel. 
What was not convenient though, was that Pepe's had no storage lockers.
This meant schlepping our gear down from our hotel room onto the boat, then
off the boat after diving, over to the rinse tank, onto the dry racks
(which were too small to accomodate gear for 8 divers) then back up to our
hotel room every day.  

Pepe's boats were fairly fast 6-packs and made it to the dive sites in
30-45 minutes.  Space was limited for 6-8 divers, so be sure to keep your
personal items to a minimum.  For those of you who are camera
carriers--beware there were no camera buckets on the boats.  

The boat picked us up at 8:30 AM and we were in the water by 9:15 AM.  The
first dive was usually max 80'  for 40 minutes.  Surface intervals were
spent at a nearby beach, marina or simply cruising around.  (Snacks
consisted of bottled water, so bring your own.)  Second dives were
shallower and could last anywhere from 45-60 minutes.  (All dives were
drift dives and ran from 1-3 knots while we were there.)  Safety stops were
strongly encouraged after every dive.  We were usually back at the hotel
and rinsing our gear by 12:30-1 PM--just in time for lunch.  

Dive sites included Palancar Gardens, Horseshoe and Bridges, Santa Rosa
Wall, Punta Tunich and Paradise.  What we noticed here and haven't seen for
a long time in our diving advertures was the abundance of BIG fish (BIG
angels, snappers, groupers) and a very healthy reef system. But again, the
vis was not what we were expecting based on previous Chapbook reports. On
the night dive at Paradise, we saw at least 2 octopus, one of which was
content to pose to have his picture taken over and over again. 
Unfortunately, we didn't have our camera which was being held hostage by
Mexico City Customs who wanted over $600 (half of what the camera
originally cost) in customs fees to release it to our hotel!

Pepe's was very accomodating--they set up and broke down our gear on the
boat and tried to take us to different dive sites every day.  We were very
lucky to have a boat full of experienced divers which made things run very
pleasantly and smoothly.  By the time the week was over, we were
"buddies" and promised to keep in touch.  

The Coral Princess Hotel was about a 5 minute cab ride north of town. 
(Cabs to town generally cost from $3-$5.)  We were concerned about the
hotel as we read some negative reviews in the Chapbook prior to our arrival
(ie, surly front desk staff and bad food.)  We're pleased to say that
nothing could be further from the truth--the front desk staff was
wonderful, especially Marta.  Pedro, the conciege, was fantastic as he
helped us tremendously with customs in Mexico City re:  our
"lost" camera.  

Be aware that the hotel will grab you for a time share tour, but they'll
give you a free lunch and a $40 credit toward dinner at the hotel or a 
jeep rental, so it's not a bad deal. Try to get a room facing the ocean and
a refridgerator when you check in.  They're usually accomodating if there's
availability.  We were told a new chef  was hired at the hotel recently, so
we had no complaints about the food.  Speaking of food, eating in town was
fairly inexpensive and good.  Places we would recommend include:  Casa
Mission, La Veranda, Casa Denis and Elcapi Naviganti.  

If you take a day off from diving, rent a car and drive around to the east
side of the island and stop at Playa Bonita for lunch and a swim.  If
you're a shopper, walk past the shops on the main drag --you'll find better
bargains behind the main square.  By the way, dress is casual--shorts and
T-shirts are de rigueur.  
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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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