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Dive Review of XTC Dive Center/Costa de Cocos in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Xcalak

XTC Dive Center/Costa de Cocos: "Great diving away from the crowds, great value for the money.", Nov, 2014,

by Emmette Murkett, AL, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports with 9 Helpful votes). Report 7984 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Excellent value! The dive shop is a PADI 5-star facility usually with an IDC in progress, which means that just about every dive has more dive master candidates than guests. Try to check in the day before your first dive and prepay online for the dive package. Dives are roughly starting at 9AM, 11AM and if there are enough guests, 2PM. Surface intervals are spent back at the dive center, which has free WiFi. Local boats have no dry storage. The local reefs are in a national park and dive guides are required for any SCUBA and the only spear-fishing allowed is for lion fish. We usually bagged 5-10 large ones on ever dive. A 10 dive package that can be spread over as many days as you want is $370US or $470US with 32% EAN (local reefs only, Banco Chinchorro is extra). The first couple of days were really windy and getting in and out of the small panga was a challenge for a fat old man, but worth it as the reefs are in great shape. The last couple of days were dead calm and absolutely gorgeous.
Costa de Cocos is also a real bargain. It has lots of grassy space, a great restaurant/bar, private dock and great snorkeling. Individual cabanas with palm roof, nice bathroom, ceiling fan and queen-size bed. The food is excellent at both the dive center and Costa de Cocos, although Costa de Cocos has a larger selection.
Most of the guests at Costa de Cocos are groups of fly fisherman from the US, as this is one of the best areas for bone-fish and permit in the world. Costa de Cocos has free WiFi in the restaurant/bar, but nowhere else. All Internet comes from a wireless Internet service provider that hauls it 50km or so across the bay from Chetumal. Expect slow speeds, lots of latency and poor conditions for VoIP apps.
XTC has more Europeans than American guests and is enlarging their small "Flying Cloud Hotel", which should be ready in the fall of 2015. Currently it has just a couple of rooms.
Banco Chinchorro is one of the nicest dives in the Caribbean, but it is a long boat ride. For a truly unique experience, book one of Eli Martinez's crocodile/dive packages that spend 3 days diving on Chinchorro- [ link]
Because of its remote location and the lack of crowds, don't be surprised to see a celebrity or two acting like a normal people. Ignore their celebrity and it is amazing how normal they can be.
Take plenty of DEET-enriched bug spray, because when it gets really calm, the mosquitoes can be voracious, but the trade-off is pristine dive conditions.
WalMart in Cancun or Playa del Carmen has most of everything except good mosquito repellant. Pick up a 3L bottle of water on your way down for the bathroom as the local well-water can have a high saline content when it hasn't rained in awhile. Costa de Cocos supplies guests with 2 bottles of water per day in each cabana and would probably give you more if you asked.
Unless you are a heavy drinker, the a la carte plan at Costa de Cocos is cheaper than the all-inclusive.
Fill up your gas tank in Felipe Carrillo Puerto on your way down or go into Mahahual. The last 60km or so is wilderness (no cell coverage from there on)) and there are no Pemex stations. My Garmin tries to take me down the unimproved sand beach road from Mahahual, which has had a bridge out for 10 years or so and is good for 15kph at best. Pay attention to the signs as you get close to Mahahual, as the paved road to the right towards Xcalak is the one you want. As soon as the Garmin gets idea that you are staying on the paved road, the ETA drops by about 2 hours!
The village proper including XTC Dive Center is on the national power grid, which doesn't always work, but XTC has several generators. Costa de Cocos is off of the grid but has a good generator, a 1.5 and a 2.5kw windmill and a large bank of solar cells. Most of this is fairly transparent to guests, but do not expect to see a/c in anything but your rental car. I also spent a week there in June and was never too hot when out of the sun.
Dec. 15 to April 14 is high season, so prices are higher and average temperatures are lower. A 3 mil suit is adequate underwater year round, but can get chilly on the boat after a dive during the winter.
Websites XTC Dive Center   Costa de Cocos

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caymans, Cozumel, Bimini, Southern Bahamas, Red Sea, Gulf of Mexico, US rivers and springs, Florida Keys, Belize
Closest Airport Chetumal Getting There Fly to Cancun, rent a car, drive 6 hours south.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, choppy, surge, no currents
Water Temp 80-84°F / 27-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 100-150 Ft/ 30-46 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions All dives are guided, guides pretty much make you follow them and profile is usually 20-30m depth and 55 minutes plus a 3 minute safety stop. Guides, especially the dive master trainees, are a little over zealous in trying to help you with your gear, even if you have made over 2000 dives.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 1 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments There are not a lot of little reefs critters and opportunities for macro shots are pretty slim. When the wind is up, the visibility is still good but there are a lot of particles in the water.
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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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