Dive Travel / Cozumel, Mexico
Whether you're a novice or advanced, first-timer or old-timer, Cozumel has diving that fits your style. Cozumel's current-swept reef starts just off the island's southern leeward shore: mild current and shallow nearshore coral gardens for novice divers, swifter current and coral pinnacles near the drop-off for intermediate divers and vertical walls in deep water subject to unpredictable currents for advanced divers.
Delilah (sometimes spelled Delila or Dalila) is an example of the island's nearshore coral garden offerings. Washed by a gentle current and with a low profile, Delilah has coral patches, lots of angelfish, colorful sponges and a variety of crustaceans that your divemaster will try to find for you.
The strong south-to-north current at Tormentos Reef makes this site the fastest drift diving on the island. You'll be jetted over large coral heads (about 10 feet tall) topped with whip corals and sea fans. You can take shelter behind these formations to see all the grunts, whitespotted filefish and schools of creole wrasse.
The first trip through Devil's Throat, the central tunnel through Punta Sur Reef, is a rite of passage for all Cozumel divers. The sand channels lead to coral tunnels, which lead to the channel's deep water.
Maracaibo Deep is far from home if you're staying near San Miguel - a day's trip - so find an operator with a fast boat. The offshore wall lip is at least 90 feet, so mind your computer. Most divers come here to find sharks, but they might not come to the party at the same time as you.
Barracuda Reef is the stuff of legend. If you can handle mighty currents, the site delivers on the promise of its name: plenty of barracuda.
Cozumel's east side offers shallower diving on "micro atolls," elkhorn coral gardens and swim-throughs, all in 50 feet or less. But what really makes this side unique are the cannons, anchors and countless cannonballs that have been exposed since Hurricane Wilma tore through and uncovered them.
Weather: Average temp year-round is a balmy 80 degrees, though humidity can make it hotter.
Average Water Temp: Water temperatures range from 75 degrees in winter to 85 degrees in summer.
Average Visibility: 100 feet of visibility year-round.
Currency: Mexican peso (MXP).
Time: Central Standard.
Direct Dial Code: 011-52-987.
Language: Spanish, though English is widely spoken, especially at hotels, dive shops and major restaurants.
Electricity: 110 volts/60 cycles, just like in the U.S.
Entry Documents: A passport is required, as well as a return or continuing ticket. Keep the paper tourist card they give you when you clear immigration--you'll need to give it back when you leave Mexico.
Departure Tax: About $25, depending on the exchange rate; often included in the price of your airline ticket.