Cozumel is a relatively small island off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, not far from Cancun and more or less directly across from Playa del Carmen. While the reefs are not the healthiest you'll see in the Caribbean, they are still home to a variety of sea life, from common sea horses to large green morays and even some sharks. The school of snappers at the top of this page is from Cozumel.
I've had a few great dive trips to Cozumel, but, for me, it's not my favorite. The Scuba Club resort I've stayed at is great and their dive guides are top notch, but the ever-present cruise ships rather spoil the experience. On any given day, there are as many as five or more ships docked, towering over you as you make your way to a dive site. While most of the people on the ships aren't divers, and the dive operators are quite good about limiting the number of boats on a site, the mere presence of all those hordes of people is rather off-puting, not to mention all the hot water the ships' cooling systems dump into the channel.
Getting to Cozumel
Cozumel's small airport is quite busy, with flight from several ports in North America as well as other parts of Mexico. From the US, there are direct flights via United, American and Delta airlines, as well as others.
Another common option for getting to Cozumel is to fly into Cancun on the nearby Yucatan peninsula, and then take a ferry from Playa del Carmen to the island. When planning a trip via this route, keep in mind that it takes about one hour to drive from the airport in Cancun to Playa. Ferries leave Playa for Cozumel hourly.
Cozumel Dive Resorts
Cozumel is a well developed tropical island with a large selection of hotels and resorts to choose from. As with any sun, sea and sand destination, some accommodations cater more for divers than others. Here's a short selection of my picks:
Top of the list is Scuba Club Cozumel, consistently ranking high in Sport Diver magazine's list of the top 100 dive resorts. The club has its own dive center with several of its own boats as well as a nicely stocked dive shop with reasonable prices. Scuba Club is generally offered as an all-inclusive, so you may find you need to book directly with the property to get a booking. Rooms at Scuba Club are comfortable, and well laid out for divers, with plenty of plugs for your charge-able devices.
Another option is the Iberostar Cozumel. The resort is located well to the south, close to where some of the most popular dive sites are found, and has an on-site branch of Dressel Divers. Note that, like Scuba Club, Iberostar is also generally offered on an all-inclusive basis.
You can find more options for hotels on Cozumel and compare rates from several web sites at Hotels Combined or check out the suggestions below from Agoda.
If you're staying at a dive resort on a full dive package, it will probably include two boat dives in the morning, with possibly another single dive in the afternoon. With a few exceptions, most dives around Cozumel are drift dives, so the boat will drop you off at a starting point and you'll follow the currents, which are usually northward. The boats will follow you and pick you up when you surface. This means you should bring you surface marker (SMB or “saftety sausage”) with you.
Some of the resorts do have decent house reefs that make good shore dives. There's often less current close to shore, so these are generally safe and also good bets for night dives.