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Dive Review of Aldora Divers/Villa Aldora in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Cozumel

Aldora Divers/Villa Aldora, Nov, 2004,

by Karen Gordon, AK, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports). Report 2137.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Yap, Chuuk, Fiji, Samoa, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Belize, Turks & Caicos, Caymans, Honduras, Cozumel, Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 83 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 100 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions The group must go down and come up together.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Diving with Aldora was simply wonderful. I chose Aldora after pouring over and over previous Chapbooks, and was not disappointed. American Dave Dillehay has done a great job creating a company that essentially caters to experienced divers, but in my case, welcomed a newbie diver in my group. Managed by Memo Mendoza, this operation pretty much consistently conveys a pure sense of professionalism. The divemasters excelled in customer service, knowledge of reef critters, divesites, history of the area, and generally being fun guys to be around. Each one had very good command of English, and also seemed to be college educated. They took good care of us underwater and took good care of our equipment (except wetsuits) overnight. The boats don't take more than six people, which was perfect. No cattleboats here, and it made a supreme difference in the quality of the diving.

I was the trip leader for a small group, and to a person we thought we had a most excellent adventure with Aldora. The entire experience was wonderful, as we expected. With the larger steel tanks, the air hogs don't rule the dive. Available are 120 and 100 cu ft tanks. I used the 100 cu ft tank and consistently came up with about 1200 psi. Still, that means that we got dives pretty regularly around an hour long for the first dive and sometimes almost 90 minutes for the second dive. Those large tanks make a serious difference in down time.

There were tons of turtles and fish, though only a couple sharks for the week. We saw eagle rays a few times, and some very interesting nudibranchs, in addition to the normal contingent of arrowline crabs, anemones, and other cool critters. I found two Splendid Toadfish on my own, and the divemaster found one during the week. Lobsters were aplenty as those mighty coral-gnawing denizens, the prolific parrotfish. Colors abound along with terriffic swim-throughs, tunnels, walls, and just visually spectacular coral formations.

We spent our surface intervals at one of two beach clubs, each with a swimming pool, jacuzzi, restaurant, and shady palms on a lovely beach. At both places the food was really good, so we made that our lunch stop for the day before going on the second dive. If lying in the sun is your thing, then there were beach chairs available for that as well. The previous time I'd been to Cozumel, we had to spend the time sitting on a crowded boat with no shade, so I was all the more excited about having a special treat afforded us between dives this trip. The only shortcoming was we had different divemasters every day who had to keep learning our skill levels.

Another great advantage of diving with Aldora means their Villa is made available as your accommodation in Cozumel. Managed by the Bielmans, they treat you like family, make you feel welcome, and provide you all the suggestions how to get around in Cozumel as well as where to eat and what to see. You couldn't be treated better than these folks treated us. The villa is actually an intimate grouping of several rooms and suites conveniently sited on the ocean, most with lovely ocean views, and a straight shot watching the sun go down. The dive boat comes to pick up divers right at the villa at 7:30am, to beat out the hords who will come later to the most popular dive sites. A pool was being constructed when I was there, and might be done now. If not, hey, it's Mexico, why hurry?

Another great opportunity that I will enjoy again is the cenote dive offered by Aldora when there is enough folks to make it rational. This is an early morning departure, catching the ferry to Playa del Carmen at 8:00am and getting to the mainland, acquiring coffee and sandwiches and a van to take us down the coast past Akumal to Dos Ojos Cenote. Absolutely exotic and mysteriously intriguing, this opening in the jungle "floor" which opens up into caves, simply calls to be explored. And with Memo and Mateo, both certified cave diving instructors, our group went on a tour in fresh water of glass-like clarity through a maze of stalactites and stalagmites that were breathtaking. Eery at the same time as being wonderfully ancient, it made me feel like I was transported back into something like an underground Jurassic Park without the wildlife. After the first dive, with a maximum depth of 27', we took a break, had lunch, and then went back in, but this time went in another direction and came out at a bat cave open to the sky, again a very shallow dive. The water is cooler than the ocean at 75 degrees, but as short as the dives are, a lycra or 3mm suit is plenty. When we were done, we packed up and headed back to Playa del Carmen where we were dropped off to either take the ferry straight back to Cozumel or enjoy Playa at a beachside bar, find an interesting restaurant, or just cruise the town. We took the ferry back just before sunset, and felt the entire day well spent. This is a not-to-miss adventure, and with the Aldora staff, you will be glad you chose to go on the cenote trip, for which there is an extra charge, but worth every penny.

Cozumel has too many good and inexpensive food establishments to waste money on an all-inclusive hotel. Adventure out and experience some of the exciting and flavorful Yucatecan cuisine Cozumel has to offer.
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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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