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Dive Review of Blue XT Sea/Hotel Barracuda in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan

Blue XT Sea/Hotel Barracuda, Mar, 2007,

by Tom Carlson, WA, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports). Report 3291.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 26-50 dives
Where else diving Oahu and Puget Sound
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, currents, noCurrents
Water Temp 76 to 78 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Some DMs would let you dive your own profile, others would require everyone follow as a group.
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 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Boats we were on had no facilities and especially none for camera equipment. They were small six or eight pacs, fast and bouncy!

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was our first trip to Cozumel and we booked our diving with Blue XT Sea Diving. They offer a personal service that many of the larger operators cannot match. They have two boats, a six-pac and an eight-pac. They have wonderful dive masters and boat captains that are all very attentitive to the divers.

Our first day with them was a shore dive at Sunset Beach with Arturo, who was a scuba instructor. We asked for this because we wanted to check out weights and figure buoyancy. Arturo proved to be an excellent instructor/dive master. We received excellent site briefing and dive plan. Excellent viz (80+ft). Max depth we hit was 35 feet. We saw Yellow Sting Rays, Rainbow Parrot Fish, Blue Parrot Fish, Glasseye Snapper, Blue Chromis, Clown Wrasse, Yellowhead Wrasse, Reef Butterfly Fish and Sergeant Majors to name a few. Sunset Beach is about a mile from where we stayed at the Hotel Barracuda and has facilities for showering, changing, rinsing and a restaurant/bar for hanging out and enjoying some sun.

The next day we did two-tank morning boat dives on the Shamu, a small and fast six-pac but it was only us and one other diver besides the dive master, Juan. Juan was also a great dive master, pointing out many interesting creatures and letting us dive our own profiles. Our first dive was a drift dive at Palancar Gardens, Viz 80-100+ feet, 70 max depth for a bottom time of 55minutes. We saw Hawksbill turtles, Palometta, king crab, black grouper, lobster, many of the same tropicals as the day before and many more. Wonderful corals and sponges. Following this was a surface interval at a beach by the lagoon and fresh pastries and fruit for snacks and fruit juice and water to drink. They provided dry towels and had a thermal shower like you would bring camping. We spent a nice interval on the beach hanging out while the other diver and boat captain waded into the lagoon to look for crocodiles, which live there. Our second dive of the day was at Columbia Shallows and was incredible. Excellent viz, 100+, almost no current and many tropicals and wonderful corals and sponges. We also found several sleeping Nurse Sharks, Squirrel Fish, Yellow Stingrays, more King Crabs, and Barracudas. Note to photographers: No rinse tanks on these boats!

Our Second day diving we were on Shamu again with Fernando as the dive master. Not as good a site briefing or dive plan as the previous day with Juan. With Fernando we really couldnt dive our own profiles to the extent that we wanted. We did a dive at Palancar Caves; max depth was 90ft and viz was 100+feet. There was definitely a current that move us along. Bottom time was 45minutes. If I dive below 80feet I also do a one-minute safety stop halfway up in addition to the three minute one at 15 ft and this was not a problem for the dive master or two other divers in the group. This dive was through towering coral formations and full of caves and swim throughs. The colors, even at that depth are simply astounding and before coming to Cozumel something I didnt think possible. There was definitely current at this site and literally pushed us through these canyon like formations of coral that were loaded with sponges, Hawksbill Turtles, lobsters, Spotted Morays, Blue and Rainbow Parrot Fish, many Blue Chromis, many different types of Wrasses, Reef Butterfly fish and many other colorful tropicals. We then did a surface interval at another local beach, no facilities and had excellent fresh pastries and fruit for snacks. Then for our second dive of the day, we went to Palancar Bricks. Max depth we hit here was 60 feet for a 50-minute bottom time. The dive master had us surface earlier than I had wanted as I had 1100 psi when I got back on the boat. I think there was an issue with the DM getting cold. We saw many more incredible corals and sponges, lobsters, Palometta, Barracuda and many, many tropicals.

Our third day of diving was on the Bandida II, which is an 8-pac and had six total divers on it. We had Arturo again as our DM and Andy as the boat captain. Both were of course, excellent. Arturo lets you dive your own profile. We hit Paradise Reef first, 88ft max depth,55-minute bottom time. We saw a couple king-size Black Grouper. Water temp was 76 and little current. We did a surface interval at a beach, no facilities, more fresh pastries and fruit for snacks. Our second dive was at Santa Rosa Reef. This was a shallow site with a max depth of 44ft for a bottom time of 60 minutes. Nice and easy drift along a finger reef. Sand on either side of the reef. Saw squid, Black Grouper, Morays and many beautiful tropicals.

We stayed at the Hotel Barracuda, and it is a divers hotel and inexpensive compared to some of the larger places. Its is on the waterfront, all rooms have views and there is a pier onsite for boat pickups. There is also a nice series of steps right down into the water if you want to snorkel or shore dive. The Barracuda has a pool, swim up bar and rinse tanks by the beach to rinse your gear. The rooms are clean, have AC, ceiling fans and the beds are very firm. We had a small fridge, and a large shower. We originally requested a room upstairs. They attempted to put us into the infamous Room 104, right next to the bar, but we refused and firmly told them we had requested and needed a quiet room. They then offered us a room on the second floor. There are plenty of restaurants near the hotel with lots of dining options.
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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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