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Dive Review of Dive Palancar/Secrets Aura Hotel in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Cozumel

Dive Palancar/Secrets Aura Hotel: "Very good diving, great value, convenient.", Nov, 2015,

by Randall S Preissig, TX, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 37 reports with 15 Helpful votes). Report 8703.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I've been diving in Cozumel for almost 40 years. I've seen what cruise ships (not all bad) and hurricane Wilma have done, and I can honestly say that Cozumel is one of the few places where the OVERALL diving experience has improved over the years--not only more fish, etc., but better dive boats, safety, hotels and more. We rarely saw lion fish due to successful culling efforts. I saw juvenile drums, flamingo tongues, a (very) free swimming green eel, large eagle ray, black coral, scorpion fish, octopi and much more. The fabulous reef formations are deservedly world famous. Columbia deep and Columbia shallow are my favorite pair of deep/shallow dives.
Dive Palancar runs two boats that can handle up to 20 divers, but usually fewer. Both have toilets and plenty of room. Smaller boats are sometimes used and can be requested, especially for far away trips such as to the southern tip of the island.
Night dives at Cozumel are almost always great. Try to do at least one. However, they start at sunset, so the best part of the dive is the last 1/2.
One beef: we were limited more than usual on our "time actually spent on the reef"(vs. "total dive time"). When I found out that the divemasters were doing deep/shallow dives both in the morning and afternoon, WITHOUT COMPUTERS, it became clear that the "I'm the slowest divemaster" speech was for his benefit, not ours, as Jorge(George) would spend 10 minutes getting everyone down and to the top of the reef and another 10 minutes (5, not 3 minute safety stops)getting out of the water. I finished every dive with 1200 pounds of air. I'm not a deep diver for the sake of being deep, but it was clear they were conserving nitrogen loading to be able to make their 4 dives on air each day.
If you book your dive package with them in advance and pay a deposit, you can dive as cheaply as $28/dive. On site it's $36/dive, or a little less if you book 10 dives.
Websites Dive Palancar   Secrets Aura Hotel

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Red Sea, Raja Amphat, Komodo, Thailand, Sipadan, Tahiti, Palau, Australia, Hawaii,
Fiji, Cocos, Galapagos, Caymans, Bonaire, Cozumel, Belize, Etc.
Closest Airport Cozumel Getting There Direct flights from multiple cities including Atlanta, Houston and Dallas

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm
Water Temp 83-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-80 Ft/ 15-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Stay within sight of the dive master. 100 foot limit, but usually not deeper than 80 feet. 40 minute deep dives and 45-50 minute shallow(usually drift) dives.
Note: The ratings below are for Caribbean, not Pacific, diving.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Good subject matter, especially wide angle, but only a rinse tank on board.
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Subscriber's Comments

By Eric Ohde in CA, US at Nov 29, 2015 23:10 EST  
Interesting to read the price of the dives which is very cheap even for Cozumel but I would spend the extra money to actually get longer bottom times. Why subject your vacation to the nitrogen limits of the DMs? If you are looking for nice long bottom times with amazing DMs and a very safe operation dive with Scuba Life Cozumel. For me, I spend a lot of of $$ to get there and bottom time is priceless, so I say spend the extra money and dive with a 1st class operation like Scuba Life Cozumel, you will not regret it.
By report author: Randall S Preissig in TX, US at Nov 30, 2015 10:28 EST  
Thank you. Yes, there are several such operations. I would usually be looking for less "routine" diving, but I now "only" dive once a year(after 25 or so trips there) in Cozumel and it's more of a social event than hardcore diving(note my dive history above). Plus having an "on site" dive operation has many advantages, not the least of which is taking care of your equipment(ie, hauling, cleaning and drying daily) for a modest fee($5/day). The review was meant to be a service to less intense divers. There are plenty of reviews in UnderCurrent identifying dive operators catering to a more intense diver(as I usually am. Please see my prior reviews: You can cut and paste this link or search "Preissig" if interested.) Again, thanks for reminding readers of other possibilities.
By report author: Randall S Preissig in TX, US at Nov 30, 2015 10:35 EST  
Omitted from the above report was the hotel: Aura Cozumel: Very nice hotel, excellent food, "top shelf" booze available, very courteous staff.
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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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