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Dive Review of Coral Scuba Dive Center/Villas Punta Sur in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Isla Mujeres

Coral Scuba Dive Center/Villas Punta Sur, Dec, 2006,

by Tom Schaefer, WA, USA . Report 3655.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Washington, British Columbia, California, Florida, Dominica
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas surge, currents
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments Boats do not routinely carry fresh water for cameras. At my request, the crew brought an ice chest filled with fresh water each day. The shop had no facilities for photographers.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Despite its proximity to frenetic Cancun, Isla Mujeres feels a world away with its relaxed ambience and low prices. Coral Scuba Dive Center, one of the oldest dive charter operations on the island, offers two-dive trips each morning for the bargain prices of $41 US for close-in, shallow reef dives or $61 for more distant, deeper adventure dives. Their boats are simple open lanchas with twin outboards that move them along swiftly. Although each lancha can accommodate up to twelve divers, the maximum number we encountered on one trip was seven. One morning when twelve divers showed up, they took two boats out, dividing the group according to experience and interest. Apparently the largest part of their business is from divers who make only one or two day trips, and most of those divers do not bring their own gear. The shops rental regulators and BCDs appeared to be in good condition, and their 80 cf aluminum cylinders all displayed up-to-date hydro and VIP markings. We were allowed to store our own gear in the same room where they keep their rentals, sparing us the inconvenience of lugging it to and from our apartment. The boats have no facilities for underwater photographers. In accordance with my special request, they brought an ice chest filled with fresh water each day. The diving here is generally easy, although currents can make some dives much more challenging. None of the dive sites are truly deep; the deepest of my ten dives was to a sand bottom at 82 feet. Dive sites are blissfully uncrowded, and we rarely shared a site with any other boat. The reefs are not especially impressive but do support apparently healthy fish populations. We regularly encountered schools numbering in the hundreds, dominated by several species of grunts and snappers. About half of our dives included encounters with bigger critters such as reef and nurse sharks, southern stingrays, and hawksbill turtles. We were generally very pleased with the dive operation and the personnel: divemasters Enrique and Alvaro, boat captain Gabriel, and assistant dive guide Luis. Only one unpleasant experience marred our impression. On the most difficult dive we made, to the sunken naval ship C-58, we experienced unexpectedly strong current. Because the three-man crew spoke only Spanish, and none of the international (American, French, German, and Japanese) group of divers had good Spanish comprehension, we had not received an adequate pre-dive briefing. We were not aware that we would be ascending a buoy line nor that we might have to endure roaring current while doing so. The two least experienced divers got panicky, and one of them surfaced with an empty cylinder. Both were too shaken to make the second dive of the day. Note that this dive occurred within a few days of a missing-diver incident at the same dive site (but not with Coral Scuba Dive Center, as far as I know), as documented in the February 2007 Undercurrent.

All of the dive operators on Isla Mujeres are located in the town at the north end of the island. For anyone seeking night life, Playa Norte is where you will find it. Tino Caudana, owner of Coral Scuba Dive Center, also owns Villas Punta Sur in a much less populous area near the south end. My companion and I shared a clean, comfortable one-bedroom apartment there for a total cost of only about $30 per night. The feel of the place is rustic, remote, and quiet, with no telephone or television. Extensively refurbished since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, it features charming Spanish-style architecture, beautifully landscaped grounds, and views of the Caribbean from the balconies of slightly more expensive second-floor apartments. The apartments have no air conditioning, but large screened windows and good box fans kept us adequately cool during our December visit. Hot water for showers was in short supply. A small swimming pool appeared well maintained, but we never saw anyone using it. On an island that is only about five miles long, the distance between the lodging and the diving was not much of an issue. Because we were the only two divers staying there, Tino graciously allowed us to ride into town with him on his morning commute. One important disclaimer: Tino told us that he hoped to sell both the dive shop and the villas in the near future.
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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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