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A Guide to Scuba Diving Cozumel

10 things — above and below the waves — you can't miss in Cozumel.
By Terry Ward | Updated On January 28, 2022
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A Guide to Scuba Diving Cozumel

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This Mexican island is all about ripping drifts and healthy corals that lie just offshore in this incredible stretch of the Mesoamerican Reef.

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1) Palancar Reef

If there’s one slice of Cozumel you can’t miss, it’s the massive Palancar reef system on the southwest side of the ­island. Caves, canyons, sharks, turtles and rays are just the tip of the wonders that await at this stretch of sites that includes Palancar Horseshoe, Palancar Deep and more. You could dive here your entire vacation and never get bored.

2) Felipe Xicoténcatl

Purpose-sunk in 1999 as an ­artificial reef off Chankanaab National Park, this World War II U.S. Navy mine sweeper is home to plenty of fish and fun swim-throughs. Upright in roughly 80 feet of water, the wreck is covered with ­sponges and coral, and shimmers with glassy sweepers — and the 184-foot-long ship is positioned in an area to protect ­divers from the ripping currents for which Coz is ­famous.

3) Guido’s

Vacationing city slickers and savvy divers alike rave about the true Italian-style pizzas and Gulf of Mexico seafood at this atmospheric Italian restaurant in downtown San Miguel.

4) Yucab

Night dives at this shallow reef might treat you to the psychedelic site of the Caribbean reef squid, a permanent but elusive resident of Cozumel. Washed by currents, Yucab’s healthy corals are a great bet for spotting itsy-bitsy ­nudibranchs and the favorite find: Cozumel’s wondrous endemic splendid toad fish.

5) Nighttime Kayaking

For incredible stargazing accompanied by fascinating tales of Maya lore from knowledgeable guides, set out on a nighttime kayak excursion on Cozumel’s tranquil west coast that’s timed for a view of the sunset.

6) Santa Rosa Wall

Diving feels more like flying at this fabulous drift-dive site loaded with ­tunicates and enormous sponges that can very nearly block out the sun. Curious grouper, queen angelfish, nurse sharks and more vie for your attention, with caves and tunnels to explore as well.

7) Freedom in Paradise

Feel the reggae vibes at this Bob Marley-themed watering hole with ­hammocks on the beach on Cozumel’s rugged southernmost end.

8) Paso del Cedral

Photographers love this site for the omnipresent schools of grunts and porkfish that congregate near the ledges. Fin through swim-throughs and under coral overhangs to look for huge parrotfish, turtles and giant moray eels lurking in the reef’s nooks and crannies.

9) El Cielo Reef

Great sunsets and killer ­margaritas await at this laid-back little bar that fronts a top-notch snorkeling reef on the island’s west coast.

10) Punta Sur

Found on the southernmost end of the island, this epic dive starts with a plunging wall that drops to around 90 feet and is swept by current. It rains fish along the wall, but the highlight ­often comes over the surrounding sand, where patrolling eagle rays and turtles are ­regularly spotted.