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Dive Review of None/Hotel Faro Viejo in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Holbox (Yucatan)

None/Hotel Faro Viejo, Jul, 2007,

by Bob Speir, VA, USA ( 2 reports). Report 3481.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments After 50 yards swimming as hard as I could, tucked behind the mouth of a 30 foot whale shark, I conceded that he (she?) could indeed out-swim me. I stopped, remembering to dodge the tail as the shark lumbered past. Looking up, I saw another coming right at me, but what my friends on the boat were screaming at me about was that this shark was swimming in formation a giant manta with a 10 foot wing span.

This was not a freak occurrence on our three-day trip to Holbox—it was the standard format for every turn in the water for each of two three-hour sessions with the sharks and their friends. We scheduled two trips to see these magnificent creatures because, after much diving in many areas, we knew that a trip rarely produces what is advertised. In this case, all in our 11 person group agreed that we got much more than we even hoped for. Most of the time, we were in the midst of as many as 20 whale sharks and 5 to 10 giant mantas feeding on the plankton blooms, with a few pods of dolphins nearby, attracted, I guess, by schools of bar jacks mixed in with the sharks and mantas. It was not uncommon to get “off” one shark and see three more coming at you, or see a manta actually flopping a wing on an approaching whale shark.

The whale shark spot is about a 25 mile boat ride from Holbox—60-90 minutes in the fast boats that dock at the Holbox pier. The boat operators enforce the rules: two snorkelers in the water at a time with a guide, no touching the sharks, no diving beneath them and no flash pictures. This, of course, sounds very restrictive. However, scuba doesn’t offer anything because the sharks and mantas are on top of the water feeding and the visibility is only 8-15 feet due to the plankton. Since it is difficult to stay up with these sharks swimming as fast as you can in snorkel gear, doing better in scuba gear is unlikely. I doubt that the diving restriction is rigorously enforced by anyone as long as you do not touch the sharks. Flashes are not useful due to the particle matter in the water, but I got a lot of good pictures without one.

The logistics of our trip were, for the most part, arranged by René (, owner of the Hotel Faro Viejo in Holbox (see their website) where we stayed for two nights. René had a nice van meet us at the Cancun Airport and transport us to Chiquila (2 ½ hour ride), where we caught a ferry for the 6 mile trip to Holbox. From there, golf cart “taxis” moved people and luggage over the sand streets to the beach front hotel. Leaving was the reverse, except that we bypassed Cancun and caught the ferry at Playa for a week of diving in Cozumel. René took care of all transportation for one fee, although tips to drivers are in order. He also arranged the shark trips. Lunch and drinks on the boat were included in the price.

The hotel is probably the nicest in Holbox—sort of like a second or third tier hotel in Cozumel. Clean, A/C in the bedrooms, TV, no bugs, sand courtyard & porch on 1st floor rooms, etc. We all were very happy with the accommodations. Good restaurant with breakfast included with the rooms, although if you are going to see the sharks, you may miss it.

René also arranges one-day trips departing from locations as far away as Cozumel. The cost from Cozumel now is about $180p/p (August 2007). As you can imagine, this is a very full day. You will spend at least 8 hours traveling to and from Holbox and 2-3 hours with the sharks. We took the more leisurely route and spent two nights at the Hotel Faro Viejo . Our total cost, excluding meals at night and drinks was roughly $400 p/p, or about what it would have cost for two single-day trips.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Curacao, Grand Turk, Belize, Cozumel
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80-82°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 8-15 Ft/ 2-5 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions See text for restrictions
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 1 stars
Small Critters 1 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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