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

Aldora Divers/Villa Aldora, Jan, 2012,

by Ronald Riesenbach, ON, CA ( 2 reports). Report 6436.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 26-50 dives
Where else diving Eilat/Israel, Roatan/Honduras, Key Largo/Florida
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas currents
Water Temp 79 to Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions All dives were Dive Master guided and we were asked to keep generally close. All divers in our group consumed air at about the same rate - we collectively started ascending when our air was about 600. Aldora's high pressure steel 120 tanks enabled long dive times - about an hour using only air.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Many of Aldora's dive boats are small-ish and don't have a lot of space for a camera soak-bucket. Nonetheless, cameras are handled by the crew with care and are placed in safe corners when they are handed-up from the water.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments A lot has already been written about Aldora's diving service and their great little villa. My review only adds another ringing endorsement to an already highly regarded operation.

As you will see by the many reviews in undercurrent.org and on TripAdvisor, Aldora's dive operation is truly top-notch. The staff are friendly, helpful and service-oriented. We had a dedicated Dive Master for our small group of 4 divers. Once or twice, another person joined us. But we never had more than 5 divers in our group in the 6-days of diving we did with them. Aldora is a full-service operation. You can leave most of your gear on the boat when you are finished diving. They pack it, rinse it in fresh water and dry it over night and then mount it on fresh tanks for you in the morning. Everything is ready to go when the boat pulls in to pick you up at the dock in the morning. Nice. There are also facilities to rinse your own wet-suit and other personal gear in the dip tanks at the Villa and hang it up in their dedicated racks (or on your balcony, if you prefer).

They have several different kinds of boats. We mostly dove on their smaller ones, which were relatively roomy and fast, but didn't have a head. That wasn't much of a problem since most dive sites were within 30-minutes of the Villa. The surface was usually calm during the days we dove and no one had problems with sea-sickness.

The captains we had were helpful and alert. Never did we have to wait more than two minutes on the surface after a drift dive for our boat to pick us up.

Our Dive Master ("Julio") was friendly, competent and accommodating. Aldora prides itself on having the DM work with the divers to choose a customized dive experience for them. On the ride back to the Villa's dock after a days diving, Julio would make recommendations for the next day's activities and we would discuss the options. It was up to us to choose what we wanted to do the next day. Interested in seeing some shark hang-outs as the first dive and then doing a wreck-dive as the second? No problem. Want to experience some of Cozumel's famous currents at a out-of-the way Northern dive site? No problem. Feel like going across to the mainland and diving the Cenotes? No problem - Aldora will make all the arrangements. It's easy to get spoiled with this kind of customer-focused service.

The reefs on the Western side of the Island are still in pretty good shape with lots of life. The area is a marine park and so fishing and other destructive activities are not allowed. There are probably more than 50 different dive sites along the Southern part of the West coast. Despite having lots of divers in the area (there are dozens of dive boats on the water by 8:30am), we didn't feel crowded. Often we were the only divers at the site.

There are a vast variety of geographies to be seen; post-card perfect swim-throughs, walls, breath-taking canyons, rolling hills, sand-flats, etc. We saw lobster, crab, nurse shark, mantas, eels, grouper, barracuda and many many more smaller critters. At the site called Columbia there was so much life to look at, we felt like we were diving in an aquarium. We even saw an elusive a "Splendid Frog Fish" hiding in a hole that didn't escape Julio's sharp eyes. During our night dive, we saw hermit crab, blood worm and octopus among many other nocturnal feeders.

If you are looking for a Taj Mahal 5-star type of lodging, Villa Aldora isn't for you. There is no restaurant and no bar on site and none within a half a mile of the property. However, dozens of bars and eating places are in town, a 20 minute walk away (or borrow a free bicycle and get there in 7 minutes, or flag a taxi and get there in 3 minutes). But, if you want a quaint place that is small, safe, clean, well kept, quiet, comfortable and welcoming, this is place for you.

Steve is a great property manager and really (really!) cares about his guests. From the moment we arrived, he made us feel welcome. He drove us to town to pick up groceries when we arrived and offered us lifts several other times. He communicates frequently with the dive shop and ensures that you are ready for your dives when the boat arrives in the morning.

Most rooms have little kitchenettes and you can fill your fridge with goodies from the "Mega" store in town (it's sort of a Mexican Walmart). Hard-boiled eggs, bread-and-jam, yogurt, cheese, fruit and coffee are easy to buy and easily prepared in your room. This arrangement works surprisingly well since a typical diving day has you eating a light breakfast in the room before you set off. Lunch is purchased during your surface interval at a beach club called Mr. Sanchos (they have reasonably priced and tasty food and lots of places to sit under their massive pallapa). Dinners are usually taken in town after an afternoon spent tanning at the sea-shore, shopping or exploring. The only other food/drink you need at the villa are for a late afternoon or mid-night snacks. So, the lack of a restaurant on site really isn't that big a deal. The Villa has free VoIP telephone and internet service in each room. Although at times we couldn't get a wireless signal in our rooms and (horrors!) had to go out on the patio to check our email.

In summary, we felt very comfortable, safe and cared-for and had a memorable trip. I whole heatedly recommend Aldora divers and Villa Aldora for folks planning to dive in Cozumel.
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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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