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Dive Review of Aldora/N/A in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Cozumel

Aldora/N/A, Jan, 2005,

by Ian Kennedy, California, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 1586.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Fiji, Australia, California, US virgin Islands, Florida, Hawaii
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 78 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Enter with guide, stay with group and exit together after safety stop. Dictated by strong currents and drift diving. max depths were about 100 ft and dive times up to 80 minutes.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments No rinse bucket on boat

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 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 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We booked our travel via the internet at the Aldora Divers site. We found that Aldora operates its own accommodations at the Aldora Villa which is about 1 mile north of the center of San Miguel, the main town. We walked into town several times. The taxi is $5 each way. We emailed the owner, Dave, in search of a room with 2 bedrooms for myself, wife and 2 adult children. He did not have a 2 bedroom villa for the first 3 nights of our stay so we occupied the lower level apartment. It was very clean, comfortable and had a kitchen so that we could prepare simple meals. As people left, we were moved to the top floor apartment with a great view of the sea from the balcony. This room had two separate sleeping areas. Once again, the room was spotless and comfortable. The small sand area adjacent to the wharf was great for relaxing and for catching some sun. Ladders permit entry into the water where good snorkeling along the wall can be found. In Daves absence, the property is managed by Kay and Greg, his friends. They made us feel very welcome. Greg met us at the airport and organized our travel to the villa. Once there, they went out of their way to make us at home. They helped us negotiate our first taxi trip to town. The villa provides free snorkeling gear for you to use while you are there.

The Aldora dive boats come by at about 8am each morning to pick up divers who are staying at the villa. Their wharf is just a few short steps downstairs from the apartments. The boats then pick up a few other customers at hotels along the way as they head south to the reefs. Aldora boats are small and fast and accommodate no more than 6 divers each, making for a very personalized service. The boats (the smallest in particular) can be a little uncomfortable in swells with a lot of banging up and down getting soaked was part of the experience.

The dive masters were all very competent and speak excellent English. Mateo, for example, is a graduate in biochemistry who managed to find a variety of almost invisible creatures for us to examine. My son and I were the two divers of the family and we felt very safe and comfortable with the crew on each of our dives. When we arrived in Cozumel, I was somewhat congested and my son had not dived for over a year. The dive shop manager, Memo (short for Guillermo), suggested that we go out with a private dive master so that our special needs could be taken care of. As it turned out, they paired us with a young couple on the boat who did not have a lot of experience so that we did an easy dive. That took care of our initial problems. Following that, Aldora did a good job of putting us with experienced divers who matched our skills and interests well. Memo was also very obliging in taking my wife and daughter by car to meet us at the beach resort where we did our 1½ hour surface intervals. You buy your own lunch and drinks at the resort.

The dives were very well led by the dive masters. They were typically multi level dives, starting deep at up to 100 feet and working up from there. Aldora uses steel 120 tanks filled to almost 4000 psi so air is not usually the limiting factor. Our dives were generally 70 to over 80 minutes long, even the deep ones. The reefs were beautiful and there was a lot see as we drifted along, especially at the shallower depths. The dives were slow at least as much as the current would permit which allowed us time for photography and poking around looking for animals. We found the Splendid Toad fish ( a Cozumel native) several times for example. We went to most of the famous reefs, including Palancar, Tormentos, San Francisco, El Cedral, Yucab, and Tunich all of them beautiful and a great experience.

During our time on land, we rented a cheap VW off Alamo and traveled around the island. I recommend a day at Chankanaab resort for relaxing, snorkeling, and unwinding after a few days diving. We found the best eating at Casa Denis in town, near the main square (ask Kay and Greg if you are at Aldora Villas). If you go there, be sure to look for the waiter Balthazar. He is a character and if he gets to know you after a day or two, you might find that the quality of the margaritas noticeably improves. Ask him for a Conejo tequila and you will get quite a laugh if he remembers us. My daughter was on a quest for a particular brand of tequila and asked Balthazar for a Conejo. This is Spanish for rabbit. It gave Balthazar quite a kick.

All of the people involved with Aldora were wonderful to us. Kay and Greg made us feel part of the family. Memo is a great character and Mateo is a first class dive master. I would go back to Aldora tomorrow if I could.
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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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