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

Living Underwater/El Presidente: "Great hotel, great diving", Apr, 2017,

by David Vickery, NJ, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 9622.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Early one morning at Bricks Jeremy Anschel assembled our group on the sandy inner reef. Resting on our knees we waited for the newbies to get sorted out and neutrally buoyant. From the north a nurse shark swam toward us, only inches above the sand, its sinuous tail sweeping s-bends in the 79 degree water. She joined our gang and curiously passed from diver to diver as if looking for handouts. Jeremy waggled his fingers beneath her barbels but she wasn’t looking for chin scratches and urgent business elsewhere carried her south and over the reef edge.
We had been lucky these last days of March and seen eagle rays on most morning dives, including a male-female pairing that appeared several times with their bar jack accomplices. Starting a new dive at Casa Blanca we met on the sand then lay prone as the rays munched their way through the sea bottom hunting for mollusks and crustaceans. Unconcerned with our presence they bobbed their heads over the sea bed swimming closer and closer, a treat for the photographers. We would have happily remained with them but a after a few minutes the dive master moved to the wall and we went on with the dive.
This was our sixth trip with Living Underwater. We like the laid back competence of Jeremy and his crew, the steel 120 tanks topped up with 2500 psi of 32% EANx, the fruit and pastries after the first dive and the warm jackets for the trip home. We like suggesting dive sites and as return guests, the freedom to go a little further, a little deeper and a trifle separate from the group. We like watching Jeremy use the Vulcan Nerve Pinch on lionfish before trimming their spines and feeding them to expectant snappers. We even like waiting in the shade of the restaurant at the El Presidente in the cool tropical morning while Scuba-Du loads the hotel guests on their boats and then the gawping reaction of the guests when the boat arrives with “Jew Fish” emblazoned on the bow. In short, we like everything about the operation, when Jeremy is on board.
When he isn’t there’s a certain je ne se quoi that’s missing. Communication with the substitute DM is a little difficult, and the sense of camaraderie is absent. We’re no longer diving with an old friend; we’re tourists diving with a manager trying to keep the group together and alive. The flexibility to drop down to 120 and explore the underside of a coral overhang is gone. Then halfway through the week Jeremy returns from his break and all is well again. When you’re running a one boat operation, raising a family and sucking up two or three tanks of gas a day you need time for baseball tournaments, doctor’s visits, and just time off. We get it. It’s just better when he’s there.
The boat itself is due for a re-fit and fresh paint job in June of 2017. We can’t wait to see the iconic goliath grouper in bright colors on the bow.
The El Presidente has undergone a major renovation. The beach bar with the surly wait staff has been replaced with a sparkling white Mediterranean restaurant boasting some healthy options like mezzeh, salads, and flat bread pizzas. Nearby are two rows of sheltered lounge areas arranged back to back that gaze at the swimming cove on one side or the sea on the other. Reservations recommended, 5,000 pesos buy-in at the restaurant required. The staff is friendly and attentive.
The main ocean front restaurant is more or less the same, but our beloved couches are gone, replaced by additional tables. The menu has changed a little also, missing the great sopa de tortillas. The real high-end tequilas and mescals were strangely absent as well, which may have been a good thing. It’d make more sense to buy a bottle of Gran Patron Burdeos Anejo at the Mega supermarket downtown, have a few sips in country and take the rest (if there is any) home, rather than pay $50 a shot at the bar.
The Napa Grill and Alfredo, el Rey de Pasta, have been condensed into a single space off the lobby, while each is undergoing renovation in turn. The menus are the same with excellent steak and a wide range of affordable (and many not so) wines. If you want to stretch your oenological palette a trifle you may consider the Chilean or Argentinean varietals. We stretched a bit further and tasted the Mexican red which was decent. If you are burdened, as we were, with a large group of overly loud gringos har-haring it up you may choose one of the outdoor tables, thus reducing the intrusiveness to once every twenty minutes when they stepped outside to smoke their cigarettes.
The pool is now an infinity model overlooking the swimming cove. There is a separate large spa pool near four open-air cabanas equipped with couches and flat screen TV’s. We’d rather gaze at the blue water.
The rooms have been completely re-done. Beds have new firm mattresses with pillow tops that (finally) face the TV, so no more crick in the neck from reading the subtitles. The old outdoor shower with a view of the rusting pipes overhead has been replaced by a spacious covered unit of mahogany colored Trex planks with chrome Hans Grohe hardware and a large rain shower head. Surrounded by tasteful plantings and with plenty of hot water, it’s a great place to rinse your wet suit.
The gnarly concrete patio floor that was painful to walk on in bare feet is also covered in new Trex planks and sports up to date furniture with firm cushions. The hammocks that were good for whiling away the afternoon are gone.
All of this comes at a price, of course. Low season rates for a pool view room start around $233 a night, the beach front rooms are $485- $574, and for the suites, well, if you must ask how much they are, you probably can’t afford it. And that doesn’t include the diving. On the other hand, for an extra $35 a night you both get breakfast.
Websites Living Underwater   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 Can't get there from the coasts without connections

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80-120 Ft/ 24-37 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions If Jeremy is leading and he has experience with you, you can dive your own profile within safety limits. If it's a substitute DM, he wants you to stay in the group. In our "Money's Worth" comment below, we're referring to the diving. If you stay at the El Presidente the money's worth is up to you.
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 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The boat is a panga with a sun roof. The facilities are a rinse bucket. They will hand the camera to you in the water, and take it from you. That's about 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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