Author Topic: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome  (Read 15791 times)

agilulfo

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First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« on: July 08, 2008, 20:15:25 UTC »
I just booked our first Cozumel trip (10/24-11/3)!

After doing some research on Undercurrent's website and other places, I booked a trip to Cozumel in Oct/Nov flying JFK direct into Cancun with Mexicana ($394 each ticket) for my wife and myself. We will have to take the bus/ferry trip over to Cozumel but this will save us $500 between the two of us.

I booked our stay with Caribe Blu Hotel through Blue Angel Dive Shop. Jeanie is very nice a responsive to all my questions. Now, the hard part, wait 107 days!

Since this is going to be our first trip to Cozumel/Mexico, any suggestions/tips are welcome. For example, I am wondering if we should take a trip to see the Mayan ruins and, if so, what would be the best way to go about it given our itinerary.

Are there any must do dives? Any dining suggestions? Should we rent a vehicle at some point to tour the island or is it better to take cabs? If we decide to go see the Mayan ruins on the mainland, should we do it from Cozumel, or should we book a hotel in either Playa del Carmen or Cancun on the first/last night of our trip and do it then?

Thanks!

ricochet

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2008, 23:30:50 UTC »
Sounds like you have a fun trip planned.  My wife and I have been to Cozumel twice and stay at the Cozumel Palace.  It's all inclusive so we generally eat there.

I've never stayed at Caribe Blu or dove with Blue Angel, but have heard good things about both.  Since these are drift dives, the boat captain and crew will decide where you dive - you won't have much say in the dive site unless you're leading a large group or have a majority of people in a small boat.  The morning is usually one wall dive to 70-80 feet, possibly with a swim through, and a second dive in 40-50 feet of water.  They'll vary the sites during the week so it doesn't get boring.  Afternoons are generally a single dive in 40-50 feet of water.  Night dives are also worth doing if the dive op offers them.

The trip from Cancun to Cozumel is tiring, especially after an early morning flight.  It's an hour shuttle to Playa del Carmen, a 5 minute walk to the ferry (guys with bicycles are usually around to help with your bags for $5 - well worth it with dive gear), and then it takes a bit of time to catch a cab to your hotel once you reach the island.  So if you want to do the ruins, I'd suggest staying in Playa del Carmen for a night to break up the trip in one direction.  I prefer tours at the end of a trip to get a little more time before I fly, but that's a personal decision.

A rental car seems to be the best choice on the island.  Never done it, though.  I've also never seen the ruins so I can't comment on them.

Good luck making it through the next 107 days!

grammyb

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2008, 23:57:41 UTC »
Cozumel was one of our first open water dives back in 2001. At that time the town was still small, there was only one cruise ship dock, and we were there for Carnival in February (a definite must do). We stayed at Villa las Anclas and dove with someone who is no longer around. The diving was phenomenal, the people great. We rented a car for a couple of days and drove around the island, stopped at the ruins there, and went to some beaches. The ruins are small but interesting. We haven't gone to Tulum but if they're anything like Tikal (Guatemala) it's well worth the trip. I agree that it's best to go at the end of your dive trip when you know you're going home and can't be in the water any more.

WeLivetoDive

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2008, 03:53:46 UTC »
Coz is a great destination! Good diving and reasonable $$ and travel time. My wife and I have been there 8 times, the last 2 leading groups. The ruins in Tulum are well worth doing. Hiring a local guide at the gate to is worthwhile. The "ruins" on Cozumel (San Gervasio) are actually a recreation, but it is interesting. I agree with the advice about doing the mainland tours at the end of the trip.

While you are on the mainland you may want to check out Excaret. This is an eco-park between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. It is much like Xel Ha, but newer and with more to see.

If you are experienced divers, Devil's Throat is a great dive. It is deep and the swim through gets narrow though. Tormente, Columbia, Punta Sur, and Palancar are all great dives. You can't go wrong diving Cozumel. The fish are so used to divers that it is not uncommon to have a serving platter sized Angel swim between you and your buddy.

My favorite restaurant is Prima Italian Restaurant. It is a block south and a block east of the main square in San Miguel.  They not only have great Italian food, but at times also have fresh crab and lobster that is to die for.

Have a great time!!

agilulfo

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2008, 11:53:54 UTC »
The trip from Cancun to Cozumel is tiring, especially after an early morning flight.  It's an hour shuttle to Playa del Carmen, a 5 minute walk to the ferry (guys with bicycles are usually around to help with your bags for $5 - well worth it with dive gear), and then it takes a bit of time to catch a cab to your hotel once you reach the island.  So if you want to do the ruins, I'd suggest staying in Playa del Carmen for a night to break up the trip in one direction.  I prefer tours at the end of a trip to get a little more time before I fly, but that's a personal decision.

I wasn't sure if booking the flight to Cancun was worth it but the price was almost half than flying to Cozumel. As far as the return is concerned, here is my predicament :): the return flight doesn't leave Cancun until 6pm. This means the we can dive the day before we leave. This is hard to turn down since most of the time we can't do that. Also, we would like to dive the Cenotes and I've heard that one can take a day trip and do the Cenotes and Tulum in one day. For this reason, we might take a day trip in the middle of our trip rather than at the end but we'll see. There is time to think!

Cozumel was one of our first open water dives back in 2001. At that time the town was still small, there was only one cruise ship dock, and we were there for Carnival in February (a definite must do). We stayed at Villa las Anclas and dove with someone who is no longer around. The diving was phenomenal, the people great. We rented a car for a couple of days and drove around the island, stopped at the ruins there, and went to some beaches. The ruins are small but interesting.

I wish I was diving then. That's one of the main reasons why I waited so long before going to Cozumel: too many cruise ships. But in the end, my diving curiosity had the best of me. We are thinking about renting a car for a day or two; maybe half a day after the morning 2 tank dive. Do you know if one can buy liability insurance and decline the full coverage in order to use the one from the credit card. If so, is it advisable in Mexico? I've done it in Bonaire and it seems that it is the way to go there, but I've heard that it may be more problematic in Mexico to do so.

If you are experienced divers, Devil's Throat is a great dive.

That's what I hear, but I've also heard that it's a decompression dive; is that true? I am not sure I can call myself experienced. My wife and I are both Rescue divers with 100 logged dives. The deepest dive we've ever done is around 110' in North Carolina. While I would be open to the idea my wife is a little reluctant to do anything close or beyond recreational limits.


WeLivetoDive

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2008, 12:07:05 UTC »
On Devil's throat, you go into a very nice swim through at about 80'. Then it twists and goes down sharply. You exit the swim through at about 110' on a really great wall. As long as you don't overstay your welcome it is not a deco dive and not beyond the limits of recreational diving.

Marcaibo Deep on the other hand...

agilulfo

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2008, 12:14:51 UTC »
On Devil's throat, you go into a very nice swim through at about 80'. Then it twists and goes down sharply. You exit the swim through at about 110' on a really great wall. As long as you don't overstay your welcome it is not a deco dive and not beyond the limits of recreational diving.

Would that be with Nitrox or air?

WeLivetoDive

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2008, 12:31:20 UTC »
I dived it on air. 110' is just beyond the MOD for EAN 32, if you use 1.4 as your upper limit. (PADI EAN certification uses 1.4) I think the numbers would work out using 1.6, but it is too close for my comfort level. (TDI uses 1.6). Talk to your dive operator when you get there and see what they recommend.

agilulfo

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2008, 12:37:38 UTC »
I dived it on air. 110' is just beyond the MOD for EAN 32, if you use 1.4 as your upper limit. Talk to your dive operator when you get there and see what they recommend.

I am aware of that. When diving the wrecks in NC at around 110', we were using EAN 30. I'll ask, thanks!

jdives

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2008, 19:36:15 UTC »
Hi!  Glad to hear you will be diving in Cozumel.  I'm going next week for my 8th trip diving with Aqua Safari  dive op -- the oldest on the island -- and staying at Barracuda.  Very reasonable prices at both places  As you know, Cozumel usually has a lot of current -- listen closely to your dm for the briefing, especially when at a Wall, as down-currents can be tricky.   My dive buddies and I always carry safety sausages in case we get separated from the dm.

I never like to stay in all-inclusives there as there are so many wonderful restaurants.  I suggest you get off the main street and try places like Conchita Del Caribe, Sabores, El Farito, Las Flamitas and Santa Carlos for the best food.

Have fun!
Life's Short -- Dive Hard!

scubababe

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2008, 02:32:29 UTC »
We love Cozumel!  We have traveled there several times a year for the past 6 years.
I have heard nothing but great things about your Op and the hotel.  We like to dive with Albatros Charters (www.albatroscharters.com), its a small company that has 2 boats that can go into the marine park.  We usually stay at a small condominium, Casa Martillo in town. 
On your first dive trip to Cozumel, I would concentrate on just Cozumel.  Dive everyday, have lunch, relax and have a great dinner.  In between visit the east side, go to the beach, get a massage, and enjoy a few cervasas.  Go to the square on Sunday night.  No need to get back on the ferry and go to Playa or Tulum. 
Great places to have dinner.  Our favorites are Kinta, Pie de Carbon, ElPique and Los Oatates.  Most do not open until 7pm.
We always rent a car, we like the freedom that gives us.  We rent from Rentadora Isis, just google the name to find the web site, Margarita, the owner is terrific.  Always get the Mexican insurance, it will save you big time if you have an accident. We know from an experience!  DO NOT rent a scooter, it can be very dangerous! 
As far as dive sites, its all great for us.  We love Columbia Shallows, its only 30 feet tops but is very beautiful.  Any of the Palancar dives are spectacular.  Try to dive north at Barracuda, its usually a quick current.  Do a night dive at Paradise, we saw 6 octopus and much more in May.
Have a great trip whatever you decide to do!
« Last Edit: July 21, 2008, 03:49:51 UTC by scubababe »

GiulianoLC

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2008, 03:32:02 UTC »
Lucky you.  We love Cozumel (have been about 5 times) even though the reefs have been damaged a bit by Ivan and then Wilma.  Most of the dives are drift dives which makes it very easy.  Our favorite dive is Palancar Caves.  Great variety with swim throughs.  Palancar gardens is also good along with Columbia Reef. If you like excitement, do Devils Throat.  You get into the water and down to about 80' then into a cave that comes out at about 130 and back through another cave.  It's worth renting a car for a day to drive around Cozumel one afternoon.  There are a few restaurants on the eastern side with dramatic views of the ocean (it's rather rough on that side) and a fun spot for drinks (they may also serve food) at the southern tip.  If you like ceviche, there's a place in town called Popeye and outside of town we usually go to El Moro.   I'll have to check my travel log for other restaurants (food is important to us when we travel!).   It's fun to take the ferry into PlayaCar one evening to hang out and have dinner (good food though a bit more expensive in general than Cozumel).  To go to the ruins, I would go from PlayaCar. Tulum is only about a half hour south and you could do that one afternoon.  Chichen Itza is more of a day trip.  One of our trips to that area, we went to Cozumel and dove, then rented a car in PlayaCar, visited Tulum in the morning,  snorkeled some cenotes on the way to Chichen Itza, spent the night there and then toured the ruins in the morning and drove to Cancun.  If you do that, you should make sure you get a car with a trunk to store your luggage.   Enjoy...

pthilleg

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2008, 14:49:46 UTC »
On the rental car - we have traveled to Mahahual the last three years.  The trip involves flying into Cancun and a drive of approximately 350 kilometers south down the coast.  We have not had any issues with the rental car companies.  Personally I purchase the full coverage auto insurance from the rental car company.  It about doubles the price of the car but if anything happens (accident, theft, etc.) you can hand them the keys and its their problem.  I also go this route because the liability if you injure someone can be a huge problem.  If you are going to use your credit card to insure damage/liability I would certainly check with the credit card company and not make any asumptions.  You US atuo policy most likely will not cover you either.

craigwood

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2008, 22:19:22 UTC »
See my review of Aldora Divers/Hotel Cozumel 3/06. I would strongly consider making a day trip to the mainland to dive the caverns. Our dives at Dos Ojos were a highlight of an outstanding dive trip. The day excursion is well worth the money and fills the entire day. I can't disagree with most of the previous postings with regard to sites. We had a fantastic and exhilerating drift dive at Barracuda. We will try the diving on the East coast on our next visit. Enjoy, Craig

mongoose

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2008, 23:49:23 UTC »
regarding insurance,i would very strongly suggest you get full coverage if you decide to rent.i've heard stories that if you are involved in a car accident and don't have liability coverage they'll put you in jail without a second thought.and i'm sure you've heard how confortable mexican jails are,right?
any of the dive sites in cozumel are very good.you can't go wrong with any of them.
never visited the ruin on the island(i was there to dive,so that's what we did!)but have heard it is insignificant in terms of size and importance/interest.
now tulum is a must-not miss.if you can go to the other 2-3 sites near there that have ruins also, i think you will not be dissapointed.
best of luck and enjoy.

aodiver

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2008, 18:35:27 UTC »
My fav dives are: Maricabo and Barracuda if you can get your operator to do these -  Maricabo was a deco dive at 120' but awesome to do.  We had a pod of dolphins appear from the deep right in front of us - very nice dive.  For the ruins - Tulum is a great place - if you want to do Chitza - then I would suggest the 120.00 flight you arrive before all the crowds and dont have to spend hours of travel time on boat/bus/car. its a true day trip and you will be back mid-day.  Resturants - La Choza, and Pepe's are my favs

agilulfo

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2008, 20:10:55 UTC »
Thank you so much for all the information. It is truly appreciated. Needless to say, now I need some time to process all the info and make a decision on what to do. At this point my plan is to not rent a car except for maybe a day or a half a day. Take a day off mid week to and do Tulum and the Cenotes.

RobertEE

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2008, 20:36:31 UTC »
You've picked my number 1 island to go to.  Have dove for years with Charro, plus a mix of other operators such as Alison, Martin, and Aqua Safari.  I have heard good things about Caribe Blu- I checked out the place last time on island- the rooms are pretty basic but clean and on the water with AC.  We go for extended times and stay at Alicias B&B.  Can't say enough good stuff about her and her small, quaint, out of the way location inland next to many local ma and pa shops and a pretty much locals-only neighborhood.  We rent a car from Ace rentals or Isis- her price is very reasonable and INCLUDES insurance which I feel is a must in Mexico.  You are on the hook, right or wrong if you have an accident and your USA insurance won't be a help.  For sure, do not rent a moped.  Take your rental car for a day to the beaches and restaurants on the east side-(Sundays is a big day on the east side for the locals, if that is a plus or minus to you).  I will make another post later on restaurants.  If you would be happy seeing some smaller ruins and can only justify/dedicate hours to it, there are some right on the way to the east side.  If you have the time (a full day with transportatnion), Tulum is easier to get to than Chichen Itza.  All the above mentioned posts list dive sites that are great.  If you are more advanced, San Juan and Barracuda are a hoot with the currents and the best opportunity to see some eagle rays and big stuff.  Have a great time!  About three months from now will have you past hurricane season with still some pretty calm waters.  Bring a skin in case the water is too warm for a wet suit.  I need to think through all the great restaurants there and will break down local hang outs to the better restaurants on island and post them soon.

jacky

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2008, 16:01:43 UTC »
Dive the Cenotes on the mainland. Your operator in Conzumel will help with arranging the dives. Do it!

craigwood

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Re: First Cozumel Trip - Suggestions/Tips Welcome
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2008, 16:33:41 UTC »
There is a good, informative article on Cozumel in August Scuba Diving describing the wide spectrum of dive opportunities available on the island for divers of all ability and experience levels.

 

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