As I started to research my trip to Cozumel I soon found that Living Underwater seemed to be the top candidate for my dive dollars. They offered both small groups and advanced diving. I contacted Living Underwater and started to make my plans. When they sent me 5 waiver sheets to sign and fax back, I started to question my decision. They stated their dive price at $85 per trip plus tax and any park fees. This would total $93.50 per two tank dive. I dive Nitrox and that would be an additional $10 per tank. So my total cost per dive with Living Underwater would be around $113.50 per trip. When I asked if they would give me a discount if I dove the entire 14 days with them, they would not budge. I really did not want to pay Micronesia prices for Caribbean diving, so I decided to look else where.
To be fair, Living Underwater caters to the divers who relish pampering. They offer 100 and 120 cubic foot tanks which translates into longer bottom times, special fruits and cookies and nice robes between dives. I however am a diver and not a tourist. I enjoy putting my own gear together, and I my air consumption is good enough to out dive my computer. So with that I looked around and found the Blue Angel Dive Operation.
I contacted them and starting emails with Jeanie Buscher. I told her that I wanted to dive the more advanced sites and also dive with divers within my own experience level. She said that would be no problem. I made one final request; to not be placed on a cattle boat. Jeanie stood by her word and I found a great dive shop that offered me all of the advanced dives that Cozumel has to offer. The bonus discovery was, 95% of all the divers that I dove with were my age (56) or older. They all were great, safe divers and our bottom times ranged from 50 minutes to well over 70 on the shallower sites. At Columbia Shallows we did a dive and my buddy and I had 90 minutes of bottom time. I got everything that I wished for and at a price of $55 per trip. Jeanie gave me a price because I dove the entire 13 days with them and paid with cash or travelers checks. If you use a credit card , the price will be more. Nitrox was still $10 per tank, but with the lower dive price, I was able to tip both the DM and the boat captain and still have money left for a cervasia.
Most of my dives were led by Dive Master Jorge. He has been with Blue Angel for 10 years and knows the sites very well. Our group was experienced enough to dive the heavy drift currents off the northern part of Cozumel so off we went to Barracuda. It was only on these dives that we were told to descend together, stay together (within site) and surface together. With the strong drift, the boat pick up could turn dicey if there were a chop on the surface. However our boat captain was great and could follow us along as we drifted. Last year I dove the Peleliu Express and Cozumel has drift diving to match that local.
I would recommend Blue Angel to expert and beginner divers. They have a lot of boats and DM's and can group folks together with any experience level. They are a friendly small dive operation and you will feel that you have been diving with them for years after only a few days. Adios Steve.