Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel scuba diving
Diving Cozumel
Best time to dive Cozumel

Scuba diving in cozumel, mexico

Cozumel is a year-round scuba diving destination in Mexico's Caribbean coast, known for its easy drift dives with stellar visibility, vibrantly colored sponges, and marine life like turtles, nurse sharks, and rays. It also has good nightlife and a mix between luxury and inexpensive all-inclusive dive resorts.



Where is cozumel? 

Located on a Caribbean island 10 miles (16k) just off the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico, Cozumel sits opposite Playa Del Carmen and about an hour south of Cancun. View Location on Google Map 


Intro to Cozumel

The island itself is 28 miles long and 9 miles wide. The diving in Cozumel is comprised of 45+ sites on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which touches Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras and is the second largest barrier reef in the world (the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is larger).

Travel to Cozumel is easy and the resort/hotel options are bountiful for all budgets and travel styles. The popularity of Cozumel as a vacation and cruise ship destination means that there are rich nightlife and non-dive activities, creating a great atmosphere for those traveling with non-dive fun seekers, resort loungers and beach explorers.

The Marine Park of Cozumel has protected the southern area of the island for almost two decades, which boasts a variety of corals, sponges and fish species. The scuba diving in Cozumel will entertain beginner divers with shallow colorful sites and the more advanced with deeper drift dives along huge walls and swim-throughs. Water temperature is warm year-round. Underwater photographers are smart to bring both wide-angle and macro gear.  


Schooling fish 00:18, turtle 00:42, nurse shark 00:51, sting ray 01:08, free swimming eel 01:15, ray 01:51, moray eel 02:02, turtle 02:14, schooling fish 03:02, turtle 03:18, turtle 03:35  

Back to Menu 


Diving Information 

Book Now Button

Marine Life & Photography Subjects

Cozumel is home to over 500 fish species and a wide variety of corals. On a typical trip, divers will see turtles, groupers, green moray eels, nurse sharks, the endemic splendid toadfish and lots of colorful tropical fish.

Divers will often see eagle rays in the distance during winter months while the summer brings more blacktip and reef sharks. The southernmost deeper reefs feature massive coral heads covered with vase, tube, rope, elephant ear and many other vibrantly colored sponges.

The coral heads create a network of fun channels, swim-throughs and wall drifts above steep drop-offs. The depth and rich color make a dive light very useful in viewing the rich colors and for peering into nooks and crannies looking for a splendid toadfish or dog-sized lobsters.

The shallower reefs further north boast much small fish and inverts. It's here that divers will often see hawksbill turtles, eagle rays and small schools of jacks, barracuda and other open water fish.

Look behind the coral heads and you might encounter nurse sharks, moray eels, lobsters and more. Afternoon and night boat dives are done on these shallower reefs as well.

Shore diving from resorts offers a chance macro subjects on artificial reefs and the sandy bottom. The current is minimal at these sites, providing ample opportunity to shoot anemone shrimp, juvenile drumfish, spotted moray eels, stingrays, trumpetfish and more.

Diving at dusk into the night will bring out more critters, including some curious squid. And while rarer, divers should always be on the lookout for seahorses.

Nurse shark 00:11, eagle ray 00:16, turtle 00:37, nurse shark 01:14, lobster 01:37, nurse shark 01:57, turtle 02:33, ray 03:12, sting ray 04:23, eagle ray 04:52, nurse shark 05:02, eagle ray 05:26, turtle 06:52

Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperature: Averages 25°C/77°F in the winter and 29°C/85°F in summer.
  • Visibility: Consistently 80-100 feet (24-30 meters
  • Depth Range: 10 - 40m (33 - 131 ft)


Typical Cozumel Dive

There are many dive operators in Cozumel - some independent and some attached to resorts. Diving is done from a variety of boats, from spacious 20-diver boats to fast twin-outboard pangas for 4-6 divers.

Two-tank morning dives are standard, picking up divers at resort docks anywhere between 7:30-8:30am, returning by 12 or 1 pm in time for lunch and an afternoon siesta. Single-tank afternoon dives, night dives, and resort beach dives are also available.

Because of the currents (running south to north), dive boats make live drops and follow divers as they drift along the reef before ascending right next to the boat. Some operations will drop a big group with several guides and some will space out small groups with one guide each. Guides always deploy an SMB before ascending to a safety stop.

Those diving several days will experience a great variety in dive sites.

Advanced divers will start with deeper (70-80ft) dives along the famous Punta Sur, Colombia and Palancar Reefs followed by a surface interval and second dive further north at shallower reefs like Paso Del Cedral, Tormentos, Chankanaab or several others.

The deeper reefs feature massive coral heads with a maze of swim-throughs and walls decorated with colorful sponges of all shapes and sizes. The dives will generally start in shallower water for a quick buoyancy check and then drop over the ledge into deeper water for the majority of the dive.

Towards the end, divers will work their way up the slope into the 30-40ft range before rising for a mid-water safety stop. The shallower reefs are colorful with more natural light as divers drift over exotic coral, sponges and marine life - perfect as a second dive.


COZUMEL's Best Dive Sites

The best scuba diving in Cozumel can be found both to the north and the south of the main strip of resorts on it's west coast. Here are some of are favorite Cozumel dive sites:

  • Columbia Deep – For huge coral formations.
  • Palancar reef – Big structure with many tunnels and swim-throughs
  • Chankanaab Reef – Aan amazing night dive that has an abundance of marine life.
  • Barracuda Reef – Northwest of the island, a deep hog back reef with strong currents, a great place to see pelagics; an advanced dive.
  • C-53 – Wreck of an old minesweeper, put down as an artificial reef.

Back to Menu 


Travel Information 

Book Now Button

How to Get There

Flying to Cozumel is easy thanks to many visiting tourists. Several airlines offer direct flights into Cozumel International Airport (CZM), and from there it's a quick shuttle or shared taxi ride to the dive resorts.

If taking the taxi, it's necessary to pay for the ride inside the airport before walking outside. There are two rates depending on whether the resort is close to town or further south (about $9 USD).

The other alternative is to fly into Cancun and then take a ferry down to Cozumel. This also presents the opportunity to visit Playa Del Carmen - a great option for those who would like to cover a bit more ground or dive the Cenotes.  


How to Dive Cozumel

Land-based diving is the norm in Cozumel, offering the balance between non-dive activities and excellent scuba diving. Most resorts work with an in-house dive operation but also allow other dive operations to pick guests up at their docks.  


Best time to dive Cozumel

Cozumel's diving season is year-round. However, the months of December to April is considered the high season. Due to the increasing number of tourists, the prices will be highest this time of year.

On the other hand, non-dive activities are in full swing. Water temps hover around 75-85F and winter winds occasionally create choppy surface conditions.

May to September is considered the rainy season but the water begins to warm up. Late summer and fall is the low season due to occasional hurricanes, but water temperatures are warmest - up to around 85F. We would consider May - July the best time to dive Cozumel, because it less crowded with good weather, warm water, and you are outside of hurricane season.

The typical currents can also be stronger during the transition between seasons, however, this also can bring more sharks and eagle rays.


Topside & Non-Diving Activities

Cozumel offers many activities for non-divers and divers who want to relax after diving in the morning. The nightlife is rich with a variety of entertainment to choose from. There are restaurants offering nice romantic dining, casual family dinners, late night clubs and everything in-between. There is shopping, parasailing, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and many more activities. The wide range of resorts allows divers to choose from exceptional spa facilities, hammocks to tuck away and read a book, tennis courts, and pools with swim-up bars. Those who are more adventurous can ride horses, take a tequila tasting tour, join eco jungle and lagoon tours or venture inland to explore ancient Mayan ruins.

Back to Menu 


Other Useful Information 

Book Now Button

Practical Information

  • Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN)
  • Language: Spanish is the official language in Mexico but most people today learn English as a second language, especially in popular tourist spots like Cozumel.
  • Main Airport Code: CZM
  • Time Zone: UTC-5
  • Electricity: 127 V 60 Hz

Back to Menu 


Got Questions? Ready to Book?

Call us today at 310-915-6677 or email us

And let us book your dream vacation!

 Back to Menu 

Reviews (12)

  • Reviewer
Northridge, CA
United States

My dive buddy is my wife and this trip was a great vacation, romantic destination, and dive trip. We went in 6/2012.

We stayed at Fiesta Americana which is further south on the beach than most dive resorts on the island. We were two miles south of downtown which was nice because we had no idea which days were cruise ship days. The resort is closed, however is a nice property and location so when it reopens under a different name it may viable. It was an all inclusive at the time we stayed.

Diving: We have been diving in St. Croix and Roatan in the Caribbean and this is reputed, and in our opinion the best diving in the Caribbean. The majority of the diving is drift diving, and the entire West and South West sides of the island are rocky which makes for varying topography offering reefs, walls, caves, and significant swim throughs, the most notorious being Devil's Throat. As far as marine life we saw everything you would expect to see in the Caribbean, from all the tropical fish, turtles, eels, barracuda, and even a lobster that was 20 pounds.

Dive operation: We dove with Dive House which had a location on property but had other locations on the island and at the time of this writing was still in business. They were nice boats, and the crews were amazingly helpful and hospitable, yet professional. Our favorite dive master was Orlando, with a close second of Victor. As the week went on we were paired with divers of similar abilities and desires, and felt like we could see or go wherever was desired or best suited for us,

Top side: Downtown area at night (after cruise ships are gone) was perfect. Safe, and romantic, with a plethora of shopping and dining choices. Cozumel being an island seems to have a safer feel than any other destination we have been to in Mexico. There are kids playing in the street after dark, and even in the non tourist areas we may have looked out of place but didn't feel that way. Our favorite restaurant was La Mission. The whole downtown area is lit up with little lights and restaurants that aren't packed after cruise ships depart which makes for great competition, thereby value, with a romantic and fun vibe. Lastly we met new diving friends that we still maintain a friendship and diving relationship with,

Want to dive in the Caribbean, Cozumel is hard to beat.

Visited on 06/2012 - Submitted on 02/02/2014
  • Reviewer
Culver City, CA
United States

Cozumel is a must. Diving is much better than 20 miles away in Cancun, or Play del Carmen; except if you want to do cenote cavern diving; but you can take the ferry to the mainland and do that there, making it a great day trip. Playa del Carmen diving does not compare with the diversity of the Cozumel marine park. The size of the many Queen Angel fish makes them a great photo opportunity. And I even took some of the best shorts of turtles feeding on sponges. The marina park gives sanctuary for crabs and lobsters to grow to their full size. I mean some of the crabs I saw there were huge!!! Wate rwas clean and warm (77) and visibility outstanding 80-100 ft. Plenty of fish from big to small. Saw a few spotted eagle rays, many turtles, lobster and crabs everywhere even in daylight. Cozumel has a wide variety of small hotels and larger all inclusive. Even though most of the all inclusive resorts are a star or so below the ones on Cozumel, they offer nice rooms, plenty of drinks and great staff and pleasant grounds. You will encounter more experienced divers in the hotels there than on the mainland. The people serving you in hotels and restaurants are hard working, friendly and hospitable. the island is laid back and a divers paradise. Some of the hotels are right in the town of San Miguel, where the airport and ferry terminal is located. There are of course many restaurants and bars close by to explore during the day and night. Some of the all inclusive resorts are about a 20 or 30 minute drive further south. There you are self contained at the resort and you will either take a cab or rent a car if you want to go back to San Miguel and do sightseeing and shopping. Other than that the island is mostly undeveloped. Circling the island by rental car is fun and offers you to see the Atlantic coast side, which has some nice wave action. The roads are as usual better than in Los Angeles.

Visited on 02/2013 - Submitted on 02/07/2014
  • Top Reviewer
Minneapolis, MN
United States

Cozumel is where many Americans go to dive. It is easy to get to, relatively inexpensive, and the diving is very good. Although I like Little Cayman and The Belizean atolls a bit better, it ranks right up there with the best diving in the Caribbean.

I have been here a half dozen times, so this review is a bit of an amalgam of several trips. The weather varies a lot from season to season. June and July are my favorite times to dive here when the water is very warm and seas are flat as glass. Hurricanes are an issue here in August (it seems to attract early ones) and we were there once in August a week or so after a medium sized one, so the threat is real. It is perfect in early summer. Was there in late fall and it was very rough and we were quite restricted in where we went. Spring break was good as well, kind of in between.

Our family has stayed in a condo or two in the north part of the island which was great and good value. If you have a couple of kids and want a mixed activity vacation, this worked great. Diving requires a bit of a drive, so you kind of need a car to commute. If you want an all in dive holiday, this is probably not so good. I have stayed at the Presidente which is right by the best dive sites. The boat picked us up right by the hotel peer and you are diving in 10 minutes. You also are south of the cruise ship parking lot.

There are a lot of options in dive operators as well. We have avoided the hotel operators ard selected those that cater to more serious divers. We stay away from those that focus on the cruise trade and fill in with divers when they can't fill up there scuba buses.

Visited on 07/2005 - Submitted on 02/25/2014

Destination review for Cozumel:

• Overall there was great visibility on all sites. The reef was healthy on most sites. Incredible visibility on all sites. like 100+ feet. The current wasn’t too bad either. There was drift diving at many sites. Here is a list of some of my favorite dive sites:

o Columbia reef: Saw a ton of turtles, parrot fish, puffer fish, eagle rays, torpedo rays, and wide variety of fish in the beginning. Saw a nurse shark here towards the end of this dive. The coral and reef is amazing and colorful! The reef was huge- almost looked like a mountain underwater.

o Palancar reefs, gardens: saw some Morey eels here, ton of turtles, seahorse. Went through some beautiful swim throughs.

o Punta Sur: Saw multiple eagle rays as soon as we descended. These are the most beautiful and graceful creatures in the ocean. The coral was good too. But could not compete with the initial sitings of eagle rays :)

o Santa Rosa Wall: This was Mostly a drift dive. Again amazingly beautiful coral. We actually saw a group of 7 small sharks towards the end ( dont know what kind). But they were about 3 feet long. Saw a couple of turtles. Also saw a couple of sea horses later on !

Night diving: I was not a big fan of night diving here. There was very little life; at least compared to night diving in Catalina (Ca), there was pretty much nothing. But that may have to do with time of the year.

What to do when you are not diving or at night:

Shows: Downtown Cozumel has a number of street shows that are put up in the evening ( I believe they are sponsored by the government). We saw the one with the fire eater, and were very impressed.

Shopping: There are a ton of little shops around here. Feel free to bargain. The shopkeeper are pretty open to haggling, and I got stuff for half the price they had mentioned

Visited on 12/2013 - Submitted on 02/27/2014

Cozumel is one of my favorite dive locations. When I visited, I did 12 dives- each different from the next. From lush coral to diving caves to high speed drift dives there is a type of site for everyone to enjoy. Night dives bring out a variety of octopus, lobster, giant crab, small jelly fish, eels and the ever-so-beautiful bioluminescence. My experiences with dive masters proved that they are highly skilled at finding and identifying even the smallest marine life-baby lobster and seahorses in particular. My favorite dive site was a more advanced drift dive called Barracuda. The lush marine life and coral is awe-inspiring...Careful if you need to slow down for a moment during your drift dives to only stop and gently stabilize on sponges with the permission of your dive masters, as to ensure that there is no damage done to the reef or other marine life.
Top-side activities are fun, though my travel-mates and I spent most of our time in the water, so I do not have too much guidance in this area. Many of the resorts have pools (and pool-side bars), and indoor bars with activities such as pool, billiards and music. In town there are a variety of restaurants, shops and while there we caught a drum circle with dancing and festivities.
Overall, if you are an avid diver and would like a destination where you can explore a variety of incredible dive locations and you aren't very particular about your top-side activities, Cozumel is a great destination.

Visited on 07/2012 - Submitted on 03/02/2014


sign up for the mailing list today