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Dive Review of Living Underwater/Intercontinental El Presidente in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan

Living Underwater/Intercontinental El Presidente: "Living Underwater is living at its best.", Apr, 2016,

by David Vickery & Suzanne Leeson, NJ, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 9094 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations N/A Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments There are no longer any non-stop flights from the New York area to Cozumel. You can take United to Houston, or direct to Cancun and then take a cab (or bus) to the ferry dock in Playa del Carmen. Or…you can take American (from LaGuardia – ugh) to Charlotte and connect to Coz that way, making what used to be a four hour flight into nine hours. Or…you can have your Cozumel flight cancelled once you’re in Charlotte due to weather, the Mexican Air Force (who knew?) having war games over the flight path, and the crew being cancelled because they waited too long to get on the plane and exceeded their no-break hours, or…if you’re really unlucky like we were, all three.

So there we were in Miami (don’t ask) having a lively discussion with a Cuban bartender ( How long you been in the states? “Two months.” Yeah? How’d you get here? “By boat.” Uh-huh.) about the exact location of the Jardines del Reina and waiting for a morning flight to Coz. Note to fellow sufferers – don’t waste your time and patience at the airline service desk trying to get a voucher for a hotel room due to a cancelled flight. As we say in New Jersey, fuhgeddaboudit. Suck it up and pay for a hotel room or you’ll still be in line at the service desk at midnight. Save your hotel receipt then pursue it with the airline when you get back. And as the current vernacular would have it, “Good luck with that.”

So…a day later after landing in sunny Cozumel in the rain, we checked into the Intercontinental El Presidente for the fourth April in a row. We announced our arrival to Jeremy Anschel at Living Underwater, re-packed our gear for the next morning and wandered over to the seaside restaurant expecting to sip a milk shake or something on one of the couches by the bar only to find our beloved couches had vamoosed. Apparently the management felt the couches had outlived their worthiness and anyway, blocked the view of the sea for the guests at the tables. We have another saying in New Jersey about this kind of thing that has to do with one’s ability to take a joke, but I’ll leave it your imagination.

The following day we woke to continued gray skies and light rain. When Jeremy’s boat the “Jew Fish pulled up to the hotel dock, there was, to our surprise, no Jeremy. His son was in a baseball tournament on the mainland (theirs, not ours) and would join us a day later. So we clumb (that’s the past pluperfect of “climb”) into our 3mm full length wets suits with 3mm vests, strapped on our steel 120’s and 90’s with pre-analyzed 32% EANx and back rolled into a flat sea at Palancar Caves under the care of DM Mario. The swim throughs were great, although under the rainy skies we missed the color of the reef. Lots of blasé turtles, a couple of nurse sharks, 59 minutes of bottom time at a max of 92 feet, and we ascended into a gray day but the rain had stopped.

The second dive was at Palancar Gardens and was pleasant with more turtles, but Mario wasn’t about to do anything daring with Jeremy not on board, so it was what it was.

Jeremy returned the following day and things immediately got interesting. At Punta Sur he jumped in twice to check the current and didn’t like the way it was blowing north at one spot and south at another, so we put-putted about until he found no current at all. The sun gradually emerged from the clouds revealing the colors of a healthy reef, and we spotted a couple of eagle rays, and a Caribbean reef shark on the wall below our max EANx depth. At the end of the dive here were nice size Southern rays in the sand flats being harassed by mooching jacks. Nice dive.

Despite the El Nino cool (80 degrees) water, Jeremy said there were no rays at Eagle Ray wall, so we went to Colombia Deep looking for late-season hammerheads, of which there were none. At 102 feet we swept along the wall digging(in the Kerouac sense of digging)on the coral formations . On the sand flats again at the end of the dive, we found dozens and dozens of lobsters under the coral heads, doing, as it were, what lobsters do. At the last minute there were two nurse sharks snuggling under a coral head apparently appalled at the lobster licentiousness.

Next day, my partner was felled by a fatal fajita and I buddied with Jeremy who needed all the help he could get. There were two rebreather divers on board with brandy-dandy new Hollis Explorers absolutely guaranteed to provide triple the bottom time of open circuit scuba, both of whom ran out of gas after 25 minutes. Bidding them a non-fond farewell, Jeremy and the group carried on and plunged in and out of swim throughs, before spending the very end of the dive with a cooperative sea horse.

At Palancar Gardens, we drifted north in a variable south-north, up-and-down current. Jeremy found a very long swim through leading to a coral garden at about 50 feet where there was an immense tiger grouper, another nurse shark and small schools of ocean triggers. 68 minutes of bottom time.

Steel tanks and EANx provide the max bottom time. The next day at Colombia Deep we swam to three separate reefs then headed for a fourth with 1,000 psi in our bottles. Ascending after 59 minutes we saw the boat a quarter mile away. It didn’t respond to our Dive-Alert whistles so we tried our Nautilus radios and by gum, they worked just like the ads said they would.

Some of the local taquerias were closed around the Easter holiday and the Plaza was closed for construction, so we were kind of at odds for places to eat. We still like Guido's in town for pizza. A re-visit to La Choza yielded great soups and mole poblano, quick service and very cold beer. Jeremy sent us to Local 707 where the upscale Mexican fusion cuisine impressed, as did the reasonable prices.

The El Presidente is still the best hotel on the island and our repeated stays there got us a double upgrade for a single fee, so we love it, but the rooms and service need to be kicked up a notch. The Presidente will close in May 2017 for a badly needed make-over, after which the prices will no doubt soar.
Websites Living Underwater   Intercontinental El Presidente

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean hot spots, Caribbean Hide-aways, Central America, Mexico, Fiji, Hawaii, Palau, Australia, PNG, Bikini Atoll, Maldives, Indonesia.
Closest Airport Cozumel Getting There Try Expedia and be flexible.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No solo diving, Newbies stay with the group, Oldbies keep the group's bubbles in sight.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments It's a rinse bucket. That's it.
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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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