Cozumel Diving - Bluewater Dive Travel

Cozumel Diving

Corals stand out amongst the blue of Cozumel's waters
A giant hawksbill turtles rests among the sand
A sea turtle swims toward the surface
A spotted eagle ray glides away
A octopus on the ocean floor

SCUBA DIVING IN Cozumel, Mexico

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Cozumel Diving HIghlights

Explore Cozumel diving to experience renowned coral reefs and some of the most accessible and best scuba diving in Mexico. Cozumel is a year-round scuba diving destination on 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. With a wide variety of dive sites suitable for all experience levels, Cozumel is an ideal vacation spot for families, friends, and solo travelers.

The Cozumel scuba diving scene is also known for its assortment of well-run dive-focused resorts, from budget to luxury. Boasting great nightlife and an endless list of things to do, Cozumel is a popular travel destination for scuba divers and non-divers alike. That said, Cozumel might not be the best spot for divers who prefer quiet off-the-beaten-path locations. Cozumel can get crowded during the high season, which typically runs from November to April.

Looking for another family-friendly dive destination? Learn more about scuba diving Zanzibar, Tanzania, and Kenya.

Looking for more options? Check out our Best Diving in the Caribbean article to find the perfect Caribbean dive vacation spot for you!  



Where is Cozumel? 

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

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Intro to Cozumel diving

Dive into clear, Caribbean waters and discover vibrant sponges and striking coral reefs in the sea surrounding Cozumel. A relatively small island, just 28 miles long and 9 miles wide, Cozumel sits on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef - the second-largest barrier reef in the world (second to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia). The Marine Park of Cozumel has protected the southern area of the island for almost two decades, enabling a robust variety of corals, sponges, and fish species. Cozumel's shallow and colorful dive sites will entertain beginner divers, while more advanced divers can seek the thrill of deeper drift dives along huge walls with swim-throughs. Visit the C-53 wreck, which has become a thriving artificial reef and popular dive site. Water temperature is warm year-round. Underwater photographers are smart to bring both wide-angle and macro underwater photo gear to capture the broader underwater landscapes and smaller subjects.

Enjoy the "dive, eat, sleep, repeat" lifestyle without embarking on a liveaboard! Diving in Cozumel is convenient and easy, with the most dive-centric resorts designed with easy access to the boat from your room or the hotel restaurant. With a wide range of accommodations to suit all budgets, Cozumel is an affordable and excellent dive holiday location within easy reach from the USA; it's obvious why it is one of the most popular dive destinations!

See what it's like to dive in Cozumel in our video:

Cozumel underwater video showing beautiful coral reefs, swim-throughs, wreck diving, night diving, with various marine life species like turtles, nurse sharks, moray eels, lobsters, rays, splendid toadfish, and many more.

If you enjoy drift and wall diving but fancy somewhere further afield, check out our guide to Bunaken diving

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Marine Life & Photography Subjects

Discover what makes the vibrant and lively Cozumel diving scene world-class. Home to over 500 fish species and a wide variety of corals, scuba divers can see turtles, groupers, green moray eels, nurse sharks, the endemic splendid toadfish, and lots of colorful tropical fish, on a typical Cozumel scuba diving trip. Divers will often see eagle rays in the distance during the winter months while the summer brings more blacktip and reef sharks. Don't miss the C-53 wreck, an old minesweeper that makes a great photography subject and has become a popular dive site.

The southernmost deeper reefs feature massive coral heads covered with vase, tube, rope, elephant ear, and many other vibrantly colored species of sponge. The coral heads create a network of fun channels, swim-throughs, and wall drifts above plummeting 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 splendid toadfish or huge lobsters. The shallower reefs further north boast many small fish and invertebrates and 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.

Enjoy shore diving from certain resorts for a chance macro subjects on artificial reefs and the sandy bottom. The current is minimal at these sites, providing ample opportunity for photographers to shoot anemone shrimp, juvenile drumfish, spotted moray eels, stingrays, trumpetfish, and more. Diving at dusk and into the night will bring out more critters, including some curious squid. And although rare, divers should always be on the lookout for seahorses.

With so many rays, turtles, colorful sponges and schooling fish, Cozumel is a great place for underwater video. Read our GoPro underwater guide, pick up a Paralenz or Olympus TG-6, or get a new underwater video camera and pick up a video light.

Want to know more about diving in Cozumel? Check out our Trip Recap from February 2021 here. 

Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap

Diving Conditions in cozumel

  • 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

Choose one of the many dive operators in Cozumel, some independent and some attached to resorts. Expect to dive from a boat, which can vary from spacious 20-diver vessels to fast twin-outboard pangas for 4-6 divers. Two-tank morning dives are standard and boats pick up divers at resort docks anywhere between 7:30-8:30 am, then returning by 12 or 1 pm - just in time for lunch and an afternoon siesta. Single-tank afternoon dives, night dives, and resort shore dives are also available. Because of the currents (running south-to-north), dive boats typically 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, while others may space out small groups with one guide each. Guides always deploy an SMB before ascending with the group to the safety stop.

Expect to experience a great variety in Cozumel dive sites if you're diving for several days. Advanced divers will start with deeper (70-80ft) dives along the famous Punta Sur, Colombia, and Palancar Reefs followed by a surface interval and a second dive further north at shallower reefs such as Paso Del Cedral, Tormentos, Chankanaab. 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.

Water clarity is great - you would think solubility rules don't apply here! Visibility almost rivals what you would see scuba diving in Hawaii.

An eagle ray gracefully glides through the water in Cozumel


Cozumel's Best Dive Spots

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

  1. 1. Columbia Deep 
  2. 2. Palancar Reef
  3. 3. Chankanaab Reef
  4. 4. Barracuda Reef
  5. 5. C-53 Wreck


Columbia Deep – Dive into the site famous for its huge coral formations and pinnacles. Keep your eyes open for sea turtles, rays, barracudas, jacks, and nurse sharks. You can also find caverns and tunnels that are covered with soft coral.

Palancar reef – Expect easy diving at a large structure with many enticing tunnels and swim-throughs. Feast your eyes on numerous different coral species that are great subjects for underwater photography. Look for a variety of Caribbean marine life among the spectacular coral formations.

Chankanaab Reef – Explore this dive spot for an amazing night dive featuring an abundance of marine life. Observe crabs, lobsters, moray eels, snappers, stingrays, urchins, groupers and lionfish. Shallow depths and mild currents make it an easy dive suitable for all experience levels.

Barracuda Reef – Jump into this thrilling reef Northwest of the island and seek pelagic fish amidst the strong currents. Unforgettable animal encounters make Barracuda Reef a favorite dive site for many scuba divers, where aside from the namesake predators, even hammerhead sharks have been sighted among other reef sharks and eagle rays. This dive site is more suitable for advanced divers.

C-53 – Discover Cozumels' most popular wreck dive, the old minesweeper, C-53, which now acts as an artificial reef. If you're appropriately trained, you can enter the wreck to see the engine room and old crew equipment. The healthy coral growth has brought with it different marine life and you can see octopus, moray eels, blennies, and many more. 

Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap


frequently asked questions

Cozumel is such a popular dive destination that we've answered some of the most common questions posed by travelers considering a dive holiday to the region. If your question isn't answered below, just get in touch and we'll be happy to help!

How much does it cost to dive in Cozumel?

With an abundance of dive resorts and liveaboard options, dive prices in Cozumel can vary dramatically. It all comes down to the level of comfort you're looking for, the dive package you choose, and whether or not you're traveling with friends or family who don't dive. Our travel experts can put together a no-obligation custom quote for you, so please get in touch for more details. 

Is it better to dive from Playa del Carmen or Cozumel?

Choose to dive from either Playa del Carmen or Cozumel based on what you want to experience during your stay. Scuba diving in Cozumel is best for those wanting to maximize their time in the water by staying in dive-focused resorts to "dive-eat-sleep-repeat". If your plan is to dive the incredible cenotes as much as possible, you'll be better off staying in Playa del Carmen. After a mix of both? No problem! You can visit the cenotes on day trips from Cozumel. Even better, divide your time between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen to experience the best of both destinations.

Does Cozumel have shore diving?

Yes, there is shore diving in certain araes of Cozumel. Many dive resorts in Cozumel offer shore diving in addition to boat diving, however, there is no shore diving permitted in the Marine Park. Shore diving gives divers a chance to explore Cozumel's shallow artificial reefs, which are great for seeing some of the smaller marine life in the area. Diving these shallow reefs is generally more manageable thanks to the minimal current and often sandy bottom.

Is Cozumel good for beginner divers?

Cozumel offers a wide range of diving conditions to suit all levels; it is also a great place to start or progress with your training. The high concentration of dive resorts and dive centers on the island to support the thriving scuba diving industry means that odive operators in Cozumel are used to accommodating divers of all levels. 


Travel Information 

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How to Get To cozumel

Fly directly to Cozumel with one of several airlines offering direct flights into Cozumel International Airport (CZM). From the airport, it is very efficient and convenient to take a shared shuttle to your resort. Approach the shared shuttle booth and tell the representative the name of your resort, pay for the shuttle, and you will be directed to the appropriate shuttle to board. The shuttle may stop at several other resorts along the way.

Alternatively, fly into Cancun and then take ground transportation and a ferry to reach Cozumel. This option presents the opportunity to visit Playa Del Carmen - a great idea 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 a fantastic balance between non-diving 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.  

For another great land-based Caribbean destination, check out our guide to diving Aruba.

Looking for a liveaboard experience? Check out our article on the World of Liveaboard Diving.

Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap

Best time to dive Cozumel

Enjoy diving Cozumel's exceptional sponge-covered reefs year-round but we consider May - July the best time to dive Cozumel, with fewer crowds, good weather, warm water, and it is outside of hurricane season. The period from December to April is considered the high season, when due to the increasing number of tourists, the prices will be highest and dive sites more crowded. On the other hand, non-diving activities are in full swing! Water temperatures hover around 75-85F (24-29C) 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 (29C). 

Currents are typically stronger during the transition between seasons, however, this also can bring more sharks and eagle rays. If you want to plan your Mexican dive holiday between July and December, we recommend going to the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Check out what diving at Sea of Cortez has to offer (hint: there are sea lions!). 

Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap Cozumel February 2021 Trip Recap

Topside & Non-Diving Activities

Enjoy Cozumel's many activities for non-divers and divers who want to relax after their morning dives. The nightlife is rich with a variety of entertainment to choose from, with restaurants offering nice romantic dining or casual family dinners, late-night clubs, and everything in between. Other activities include shopping, parasailing, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and many more. The wide range of resorts allows divers to choose from exceptional spa facilities, hammocks to tuck away in 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 jungle and lagoon tours, and venture inland to explore ancient Mayan ruins.

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Where to Stay in Cozumel for Diving

You're spoilt for choice when choosing where to stay in Cozumel; there are so many great resorts to suit all budgets. From budget backpacker to luxury traveler, Cozumel is scuba diving heaven. The best way to find the resort that is right for you is to get in touch with our team here at Bluewater Travel - we've partnered with the best dive resorts in Cozumel to offer our guests unforgettable trips! 

You get a low-price guarantee and a dedicated expert travel agent who will help you choose where to stay in Cozumel for diving when you book through us. All our agents have local knowledge and are experienced divers themselves; they know what people are looking for in a diving vacation. And the best part is you'll never pay more for booking through us, but you do get all of the additional benefits of having a personal travel concierge! Email us, call 310-915-6677 or use the message box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. 

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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN). If you stay in an all-inclusive resort, bring a stack of USD $1 bills for tips.
  • 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

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Reviews (15)

  • Reviewer
Marina Del Rey, CA
United States

Cozumel is a highly-regarded dive destination for a reason. The diving is great, the value is fantastic, the travel time from the U.S. is short and there are hotels/resorts to fit every budget and style of travel. I've stayed at several resorts in Cozumel and the accommodations/food will (obviously) vary depending on trip budget. You can choose a resort with the bare essentials in the room and basic buffet dining, an exquisite room with multiple elegant dining restaurants or every combination in between. You can plan your trip depending on whether you'd like to party at a pool after morning dives, relax with a book on a quiet hammock or dive from morning into the night.

The diving is primarily drift diving, with the first dive at a deeper reef and the second at a shallower reef. With proper research you'll have attentive and safe guides who will point out marine life like eagle rays, turtles, nurse sharks, lobsters and even the endemic splendid toadfish. I can't wait to go back.

Visited on - Submitted on 01/08/2014

Being part of the Mesoamerican reef, the 2nd largest reef system in the world, with its vertical drop-offs; immense coral growth; abundant marine life, including sharks & rays, and diveable almost year-round, it’s no wonder that Cozumel is on the top 10 of every diver’s list.
The marine life ranges throughout the year, however, resident green turtles, loggerheads, nurse sharks, eagle rays, giant groupers, schools of jacks, and any amount of beautifully colored reef fish; parrot, angel, trigger, squirrel, etc are regularly seen. In the winter months, December to March, a day trip to Playa del Carmen to see the Bull Sharks is a must, or in the summer months to Isla Mujeres to snorkel with any amount of Whale Sharks.
Cozumel’s coral growth and its immense colorful walls are awe-inspiring - Santa Rosa Wall and Palancar being among the most popular dive sites with their sheer drop-offs, superb swing throughs & mini-caverns. Also, Paradise, known for TONS of fish & Columbia deep (Advanced divers), a beautiful shelf starting around 60ft/18m with an abundance of marine life and coral growth.
Cozumel can be dived almost all year. In the winter months with slightly colder water, a 5mm suit is recommended for continuous daily diving, or in the summer 3mm or a shorty. On the whole, the visibility is great all year round (70ft+), although from August to October it is peak hurricane season which will limit the diving activities and the visibility.

Visited on 04/2020 - Submitted on 12/09/2023

I've spent a week at a time diving with Aqua Safari in Cozumel for five years. Their dive guides and crew are very professional and make the trip fun everytime. Their boats are well maintained and have a the typical amount of room for divers. The dive guides know the reefs and where to best find the wildlife. They also know how to have fun. Once on a drift dive over a sand bed they introduced me to moon walking. That's taking your fins off, dumping your BC, and jumping along. The reefs in Cozumel are some of the best in the world. Huge coral formations and fish such as the splendid toadfish, which is found no where else in the world. The food in Cozumel is fantastic. Primo 's is one of my favorite restaurants on the island, which has a wonderful combination of Mexican seafood with an Italian flare. Cozumel is a great destination for a dive vacation. Being a tourist centric economy, all the locals are very friendly and the people you meet are really what can make a vacation memorable.

Visited on 09/2013 - Submitted on 01/25/2014
  • 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


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