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The Perfect 3-Day Getaway in Cozumel

Short on time? Dive with Martin can help plan a fun-packed dive trip (of course, you can always stay longer).
By Scuba Diving Partner | Created On July 7, 2022
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The Perfect 3-Day Getaway in Cozumel

A sea turtle

A chance encounter with a sea turtle.

Courtesy of Vacation Connection

At Palancar Bricks, my first dive during my first trip to Cozumel, our small group splashed in and immediately encountered a spotted eagle ray swooping along one of the site’s sandy slopes. Those sorts of chance encounters — with eagle rays, sea turtles, nurse sharks, goliath groupers, splendid toadfish — are the high point of many dives off Cozumel, but sharing the spotlight is the Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest reef system on earth. Palancar Bricks features coral pinnacles, some of them as massive as city skyscrapers. Bricks is just one of the sites that make up the popular Palancar reef system, one of the most beautiful areas of the entire Cozumel barrier reef. It lies within the protected waters of Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, and here, hundreds of species of fish and corals thrive. Some of them, such as the splendid toadfish, are found only in this part of the Caribbean Sea.

No matter where you make your first dive off Mexico’s largest Caribbean island — there are dozens of sites off Cozumel’s southwestern side, for all skill and experience levels — you’ll find exquisite coral formations. It is on this breathtaking chunk of marine real estate that you’ll discover why divers return time and time again to Cozumel. From thrilling wall dives to relaxing shallow coral gardens, there is something to please every type of diver.

The reef is not the only reason Cozumel is beloved by divers. Mexico is a place that is steeped in a rich and colorful culture and tradition, and Cozumel reflects that, plus adds a Caribbean vibe. At every turn, locals will welcome you like family — it is one of those rare destinations that becomes a home away from home for repeat visitors. The accommodations and restaurants become as familiar as your own home, as do the dive operators and crew members.

Diver in the water

Allow the Dive with Martin staff to design dives based on your skill level and interests.

Courtesy of Vacation Connection

This is especially true at the award-winning dive operation Dive with Martin. Martin Aguilar started his own dive operation in 1988 with one boat and a desire to share his love of the sea with others. Although Martin passed away in 2006, he left an amazing and enduring legacy — love for his family and friends, the island of Cozumel, the ocean, and his customers. That legacy paid off in the 2022 Scuba Diving Magazine Readers Choice Awards, when the operation won seven awards, including a No. 1 ranking in five categories: Best Overall Dive Operation, Quality of Dive Training and Courses, Quality of Staff, Attention to Safety and Quality of Rental Gear.

On your first dive day, you will check out your gear and become familiar with Cozumel’s world-famous drift diving. Once the award winning Dive with Martin staff has a chance to assess your experience level, they will plan dives that are appropriate for your skill level and desires. Your dives will be guided by professional PADI instructors and divemasters, with never more than six divers on board the boat when diving on their semi-private service with extended bottom time package.

Most dive trips take place within the national marine park, with special trips up north, upon request. The park has over 30 dive sites, including sunlit coral reefs in shallow water, spectacular walls and lovely swim-throughs.

The team at Dive with Martin is as special as Martin was — they can help plan getaways as short as three days and vacations that stretch much longer. With offices located locally and in the US, they can handle the hassles, while you explore the reefs, and discover the island, and find fun things to do during your surface interval.

Whether you have only a weekend or a week, their “dive vacation sampler” below is designed to inspire and guide you.

Eel in coral

Exciting underwater encounters await in Cozumel.

Courtesy of Vacation Connection


The Diving

Cozumel is known for its drift diving in currents that can rip on some advanced sites, but at Palancar Bricks, beginner and intermediate divers can learn to appreciate how carefree “going with the flow” is. In relatively shallow water, newer divers may prefer to explore the tops of the coral formations, while advanced divers can drop down to explore the base of the spires in deeper water. Keep an eye out for hawksbill turtles and stingrays hunting in the sand!

Make your second dive in a virtual aquarium, at Palancar Gardens. This is one of the best introductions to Cozumel diving. The site also has soaring coral towers as well as a number of pretty swim-throughs decorated with corals. Turtles and nurse sharks can also be found napping in these protected spots. If you want to venture deeper, you can descend on the wall to find dozens of passageways, arches, caverns and awe-inspiring cliffs.

The Topside Fun

Dive with Martin can arrange your stay in one of three luxury condos — either a 1-bedroom/2 bath, 2-bedroom/2.5 bath, or 4 bedroom/3.5 bath unit — at the Palmar property, a gated luxury condominium property located two miles south of Cozumel’s town center, San Miguel. This eight-story building features breathtaking ocean views and many amenities, including a huge three-tier swimming pool with a heated whirlpool, a lighted tennis court, outdoor showers and a fully equipped gym. It is within walking distance to a dock where Dive with Martin will arrange to pick you up for the day’s diving. It also is close to a sandy beach, shore diving, dining, shopping and rental car operators. There is also a fun dining option — a local cook will prepare a “muy delicioso” traditional Mexican dinner while you kick back and enjoy the views.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take a magical sunset cruise on Dive with Martin’s Ocean Fly boat. It is a wonderful way to not only take in the stunning colors of the sunset but to also to see the serene side of Cozumel’s Caribbean coast.

The sunset cruise is the perfect way for divers and non-divers to enjoy the water together while relaxing and enjoying good food, beverages and company.

Beach at sunset

A beautiful Cozumel beach.

Courtesy of Vacation Connection


The Diving

The Colombia reef system offers some of the world’s most stunning deep dives, with massive coral pinnacles and dramatic drop-offs at sites such as Colombia Deep. Depending on your skill level, you can drop down the wall or stay at the top of the reef, where you will be surrounded by healthy coral, sponges and tropical fish.

Colombia Shallow is located in a beautiful blue bay with mild currents. This is another fishbowl site, with clear water, shallow depths and lots of marine life.

The Topside Fun

Are there a couple of avid fishermen in your group? Dive with Martin can arrange a deep-sea fishing charter that offers the opportunity to catch a wide variety of fish. During the April-to-July high season, you might hook into a white or blue marlin, sailfish, dorado or tuna. Throughout the year, guests can catch wahoo, snapper, amberjack and barracuda. The experienced crew knows all the best “fishing holes” off the island and outside of the Marine Park. Dive with Martin’s new fishing charter, the Ocean Fly, is a comfortable boat with plenty of shade and a head on board. Dive with Martin provides all the necessary equipment and gear. You can choose either a a half- or full day of fishing fun!


The Diving

You’ll begin the dive at Palancar Horseshoe through a canyon, dropping down to about 60 feet, from where you’ll find lots of swim-throughs to explore.

Make your second dive at Paso De Cedral. Like many Cozumel dive sites, you can make it a deeper wall dive or stay closer to shore over the reef where the sloping sand hills are blanketed in sponges and coral.

Dive with Martin also offers a cenote experience on the Riviera Maya mainland. The natural jungle sinkholes called cenotes were of great spiritual significance to the ancient Maya. This is a chance for you to discover one of the world’s most mystical and magical freshwater dive sites.

The Topside Fun

You should visit the town center of San Miguel at least once. Stroll the downtown area to visit restaurants, cafes, shops, the beachfront and Benito Juarez Park, the town square known as “Centro” to locals. The square has many shops selling traditional Mexican handicrafts and souvenirs.

Cozumel has developed into a vibrant and varied foodie place. While there are a number of restaurants featuring international cuisine, you’ll also want to sample traditional Mexican dishes such as pollo pabil, fajitas and moles.

Isn’t it time that you discover why divers love Cozumel? Call or email today and let us help plan your trip to this beautiful island.


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Phone: 817-514-8747