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Dive Review of Aqua Adventures/Casa de Los Suenos in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Isla Mujeres

Aqua Adventures/Casa de Los Suenos, Jun, 2014,

by Howard Kaiser, MO, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports with 10 Helpful votes). Report 7653 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 1 stars
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 3 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments The Good: we stayed at Casa de Los Suenos ( House of Dreams) for our 20th anniversary. Suenos is a small and very beautiful boutique hotel on the southern end of the island away from Playa Norte and the restaurants etc. We were extremely pleased with the folks there, especially the manager, Jade, Patti Pinkerton, Jennifer , Gaston and Julien as well as Teo. Teo was our waiter for our special meal set up on the pier for sunset. Excellent food and staff and we will must certainly return next year for the whale shark season ( June-August); Jade also saved a potentially disastrous last day of vacation; I had added an extra day onto the trip nine months earlier when I was doing the planning , only to forget to tell Suenos until just a few weeks before our trip. Suenos was fully booked for a wedding and we had no hotel room. Jade was able to arrange our transfer over to Villa Rolandi, a very high end hotel with a great restaurant although a bit Cayman-like and extremely pricey. We liked Suenos better because the staff was so engaging and the hotel was smaller and more intimate. To each his own. We stayed in Sol which had beautiful ocean views. We make it a policy to eat at local places and we enjoyed chicken mole at Los Lomitas, decent fish at Velacruz on Playa Norte, and coffee at any of the dozen or so small shops downtown, where we toured each afternoon in our golf cart- 40 dollars per day and picked up and dropped off right at Suenos. Restaurants were a mixed bag; Social Justice had terrible service and substandard meals even though they were touted by several cab drivers.Villa Rolandi had excellent food with a very memorable homemade hazelnut ice cream but way over-priced. Casa de Los Suenos was consistently excellent for breakfast which comes with the room, great guacamole and a gorgeous lobby. Did I mention the tequila?
The Really Good: the snorkeling involves an hour and a half run out to the marine sanctuary; make sure you can navigate narrow ladders and wear a wetsuit to avoid having to don the ubiquitous orange life vests which makes photography a bit problematic. The procedure is for the boat to drop off two snorkelers plus a guide into the water in front of the whale sharks once they've been spotted. The first day, we saw a total of four or five; the second day, there were at least six or maybe seven and the last day another five or so showed up. I did notice one boat in particular that dumped seven or eight snorkelers in all at once; since none of the boats raised any objections to this breach of protocol, I'm guessing he's a local hotshot of some sort. The whale sharks were incredibly patient and would swim at the surface with their huge mouths agape taking in plankton. Visibility ranged from 30 to 50 ft all three days and seas were dead calm. My only complaint was that Aqua Adventures' boat the first day was extremely cramped and was having engine problems that caused the Nena to take twice as long to get to the site as the other boats in the daily flotilla going out. The ten snorkelers and three crewmen were just way too many people and it required us to rotate around the boat as best we could while dropping in and picking up our snorkelers. Some boats were overloaded to the point where they would have taken on water had a storm ensued.Advice to families- if there had been any chop or high seas, this would have been a difficult environment, especially with live boats churning around trying to position themselves while several dozen snorkelers were in the water! I'd strongly suggest that families not bring kids under 12, take motion sickness medicine, and be in decent condition. The ladders are steep and narrow and re-boarding the boat is difficult under ideal water conditions. I'd also look for an operator that went out earlier than the 9 AM departures that seemed to be the norm at Aqua Adventures.
The Bad: Next time, we'll go with an other operator. As mentioned, I'd been in contact for months explaining to Jim , the owner of Aqua Adventures, that we were booking three days of whale shark tours and then three days of diving. I explained on numerous occasions including our check -in day, that we did NOT want to get dropped off at the "tourist " dives like MUSA, which is a few statues and two SUVs dumped in 20 ft of water just outside the harbor. We paid 107.00 per person for a two tank dive, so we were committing to spending almost 1500 dollars with Aqua Adventures! The very first dive, due to the AA boat being down, we were farmed out to another boat. The dive master was Isaac Martin , a very personable dive master. The boat was extremely small, had loose tanks rolling around under foot, no rinse buckets, no safety briefing and gear dumped into a big pile in the bow. There was another family of four on the boat ;the father allegedly was a dive master and we were shocked when Isaac put it to a vote as to where we go, with a big plug for the MUSA dive! To add insult to injury, the entire family were clearly novice divers , including the father. The wife spent the first ten minutes on the surface with Isaac while we waited to start the dive..Thus started what is perhaps the worst dive I've ever done in 22 years. The total fish count at MUSA was one angelfish and one or two yellowtails. Isaac then took off , swimming to a nearby reef that was totally dead, choked with algae and devoid of any life at all! The second dive was another shallow mooring except they dropped us off immediately in front of our own hotel! This spot was slightly better than the first site, which is not setting the bar too high! A few small schools of snapper and grunts, a small school of durgeon, a small turtle and a decent size pufferfish. This reef had less algae but was still subpar by just about any standards. After returning to the dock, we went to Aqua Adventures and cancelled our next two days' diving. Jim's wife, Daisy mentioned that they had planned on taking us to better sites the next day, a contention that irritated me because she apparently was aware of our requests to do more advanced dives and put us in with that family , who stated that they had come down specifically to do that dive! Clearly, Aqua Adventures is not set up to encourage repeat divers. I think there might be some decent diving on Isla Mujeres; we didn't get anywhere close to it , though. Next time, we'll book with Keen or Sol Buceo based on the conversations I had with other divers at Suenos. On top of that, we'd arrived at their shop at 8AM as requested, waited around until someone came to open the shop, then waited outside sitting in the street until around 9 , at which time we walked three blocks with our gear to the boat docks, where we waited for the boat in sweltering heat. Only to find out from another couple that their dive operator, So Buceo , had come over from Cancun and picked them up at the hotel dock- for 77.00 per person! We'll suggest to Suenos that they look to partner up with another dive operator that is willing to cater to experienced divers coming down for the whale shark season. With an emphasis on advanced divers, Casa de Los Suenos would be well positioned for repeat business within the diving community.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving FL, NC, Baja, Bahamas, BVI, Belize, Honduras, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 79-80°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 40-50 Ft/ 12-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions for diving, come up with group; snorkeling - two from boat in water at one time.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments No camera buckets, camera table.
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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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