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Dive Review of Dive House/Fiesta Americana in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Cozumel

Dive House/Fiesta Americana, May, 2008,

by John Bowden, ga, usa ( 1 report). Report 4058.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments This was our seventh trip to Cozumel in the past 25 years but our first time staying at the Fiesta Americana or diving with Dive House, located on the premises. The hotel is about a ten minute cab ride from town (15 minutes from the airport) on the main road going south from San Miguel heading toward most of the island’s dive sites. They have a web site so you can check them out online. We stayed in what are called Tropical Casitas, deluxe, thatched-roof units clustered behind the main hotel. We found them clean, comfortable and nicely decorated and appointed with king-sized beds, a large bathroom and shower and generous living area. There was a small fridge but it was totally taken up with mini-bar items leaving no real room for anything you might want to keep cold. AC worked flawlessly and the only real criticism we had of the room was the lack of really hot water, a minor but annoying flaw.

All inclusive meal plans are available here but we opted for twice-daily cab rides to San Miguel ($8 each way plus the tip for 4 people) for the variety of good restaurants available there. After ten days of sampling our dinner favorites became Prima’s, Pepe’s Grill and Luigi’s, an Italian restaurant we happily returned to 5 times. Out room fee included a buffet breakfast with a nice variety of fruits, juices, breads, pastries and even breakfast meats and, for an additional $5 a day, we had eggs and omelets to order all served at the beach restaurant beginning at 7:00 am.

Check in at the dive shop was a simple affair of showing credentials, signing liability releases and paying the marine park fee of $10 a person. A limited amount of rental gear is available and there are gear lockers in a small, damp room behind the shop – bring a lock or buy it there for $5. We each got a locker but several divers complained they didn’t and of having to lug their gear back and forth to their hotel rooms each day. These lockers were large enough for a single, full gear bag but no space was provided to hang wetsuits so unless you wanted to crawl into a wet wetsuit each day you had to carry it back and forth to your room for drying, the only disadvantage we found to the more remote Casitas. A large gear cleaning tub with running water is right at the end of the dock.

We were asked to be at the dive shop at 8:30 each day for a 9:00 start and found that the boats would leave as soon after 8:30 as everyone was aboard; we were back from the two-tank morning dive about 12:30 each day. Dive House operates four or five boats from small six-packs with dual outboards to much larger, 24-passenger diesel inboards. During the week we were assigned to three different ones and found them all to be reasonably comfortable for diving with sturdy dive ladders, areas of shade and even heads on all but the smallest. Weights were handed out each day onboard, they even had 2-pounders available. Cold bottles of water and some sodas and juices were provided but no between-dive fruit or snacks. After the first day we brought our own snacks, wonderful muffins from a great place just outside of town called the Rock ‘n’ Java.

Cozumel is known for moderate, alongshore currents; after all, we go there for the drift diving. It’s also been known, on occasional, for very strong and unpredictable down currents. This was out seventh trip to the island but the first time we’ve experienced these. On some sites the currents were so strong and unpredictable as to be undiveable. One group was pulled from a safety stop at 15 feet down to 80 feet in a matter of seconds. Some of these currents are irresistible and take you where they want, often down, rather than where you might want to go. They also stir up so much sand that the vis sometimes drops to mere feet and all the critters hide in the reefs. We experienced these currents on all but two of our ten dives, frustrating photographers and discouraging some less experienced divers. We were only able to make it to one of our favorite sites, Palancar Caves, after two attempts.

Each dive briefing consisted mainly of safety procedures as they related to currents. The divemaster entered first and we joined him or her at the surface, descended together and stayed together as much as possible. As soon as anyone reached 700 psi the divemaster raised a safety sausage on a line and we ascended to our safety stop pretty much as a group, remaining near the sausage so the boat could find us all. With the heavy breathing we were sometimes doing our dives lasted no more than 30 to 40 minutes, even the shallow ones.

This was our first trip to Cozumel in about 7 years and we were greatly disappointed with the continuing over commercialization of San Miguel as it caters to cruise ship tourists who are now in port six days a week, sometimes four or five ships at a time. The main town square, in the past a refuge from all the trinket vendors, is now overrun with small wooden stalls selling even more tourist junk. Music blares from each shop and you are accosted at every turn and with every step to buy something. “Half price today only, 99% off, just for you, come in, sit down, look at the menu, hey senior, how about it.” It’s never-ending and extremely annoying after just a few days – they even come after you in restaurants. I was stationed in San Diego in the early ’60 and remember a few trips to Tijuana – absent the children begging on the streets and the “sidewalk hostesses” San Miguel sadly now reminds me of the worst I saw there.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Caymen Is., Saba, St. Kitts, Statia, Sea of Cortez, Akamel, Florida Keys & springs, Turks & Caicos Is., BVI, Belize, Bay Is., Calif., USVI
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20-60 Ft/ 6-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Because of strong currents we were limited to about 80 feet on the first dive and 60 on the second, depending on the site selected.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 1 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Small to medium sized carpeted sheves on all boats but not dediceated to cameras, dedicated on-board rinse bucket.
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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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