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January 2020    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 35, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Iberostar, Dressel Divers, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen

the one-week trifecta: reefs, cenotes, whale sharks

from the January, 2020 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

Having been to Cozumel enough times over 30 years, I had little interest in returning, until friends suggested I join a unique group trip: three days of Cozumel drift diving, three days in Playa del Carmen to dive cenotes, then a snorkel with whale sharks north of Cancun. All in a single week, led by a single dive operator, Dressel Divers, while staying at two luxury Iberostar hotels. I signed up for the July trip.

Iberostar Playa del CarmenAt Dressel Divers in Cozumel's Iberostar Hotel, the dive shop briefing was mass confusion, and wet divers wandered in and out of the disorganized pre-dive briefing. The shop representative was unable to show us the drying room because someone had run off with the key. Registration was complicated and disorganized. Right off the bat, I knew why I preferred smaller operations.

On the boats, some of us received half-empty cylinders, and replacing them resulted in delayed boat departures. But the crew was competent and courteous, and our two divemasters, Omar and Anna, were nearly perfect. Keeping a dozen divers together during drift dives showed that they were capable of "herding cats," as they say. Our boat, the Palancar Diver, was a 35-foot inboard with limited sun shading, a camera rinse tank, fresh fruit, and ship to shore communication, but no head, not much of a problem as they usually returned to the dock (and rest rooms) between dives. Francisco, the boatman, helped divers and lifted heavy BCs in and out of the water. The sea was calm and water 82°-84°.

Undercurrent has plenty of dive descriptions in readers reports and past articles, so I'll just mention a couple: the first, La Francesca, a short ride from the Iberostar dock. My group and I dropped into 150-foot visibility at the south end and drifted along at almost two knots for a half a mile in 30 to 40 feet of water, passing dense stands of beautiful and healthy encrusting corals and sponges, home to myriads of reef fish, especially schools of French and blue-stripe grunts. Green morays hid under overhangs; Townsend and French angels, blue tangs and blue runners mixed in with myriads of juveniles and small-fry. Two large loggerheads drifted along. Nice dive, indeed.

Drift diving in Cozumel is fun and intuitively easy to master. Just stay near your buddy and try to stay with the divemaster. If you get ahead of the group, duck down behind a high spot on the reef, in an eddy, and they will catch up. A surface marker buoy is mandatory, which helps you get picked up if you get separated....

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