Join Date: Aug 2011
Belated Trip Report
This is a belated Cozumel trip report for May 7th thru May 16th of this year. This marks our 30th year of traveling to Cozumel, our first trip being in September of 1981. Our first trip, we were young and newly certified open water divers from West Texas. We were such experienced divers, that we had a total of 3 open water dives at Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas before our first ocean trip.
Dive number 4 in my old NASDS log book shows an 80’ max. dive at Palancar Reef for a total dive time of 35 minutes. The old log book says it all….”Beautiful, could see bottom from boat!” I was Coz addicted. I never wanted to dive a Texas lake again…beer cans, batteries, fishing lures, no visibility, etc.
We stayed at the old Cozumel Caribe Hotel (aka the “Bates Hotel” now). Back then it was a showplace. Our 2 tank dives took all day. No computers, just tables. We did a deep dive and went to San Francisco Beach and ate what was caught while we were diving. After lunch and our surface interval we did our shallow dive. It took all day for 2 dives. We did 6 dives total on that trip and had the time of our life. Back then we were young and fit, there were no cruise ships, only divers and fishermen. We ate at Morgan’s, Pepe’s, Casa Dennis, and partied at the old upstairs Carlos and Charlie’s and the old Scaromuch’s disco ( I may have misspelled that). Back then there were very few air conditioned businesses and they actually shut down in the afternoon for siesta.
I have seen the island transform from a sleepy diving and fishing destination with no cruise ships to a major cruise destination. I have also observed the standard of living for the local people to improve greatly over the years. I hear a lot of complaints about the changes to the island and I don’t like all of them either, but we can’t stop progress. I also remember when flying was fun!
We actually dove with Tom Hartdegen as our dive guide, founder of Dive Paradise, dive number 13 and 14 in my log book. It was September 16, 1984 our second trip to Cozumel. Tom told us how he had come down from Louisiana on a dive trip and fell in love with the island. He moved down and started his dive operation, which is in operation today. There is a photo of him on Dive Paradise’s facebook page we posted of him from that day. Great memories!!
Fast forward 30 years later. Our last trip in May 2011 we stayed at our “home away from home”, Hotel Cozumel and Resort. We had a 2 purpose mission on this trip. We were going to dive and also compete in the 40th annual “Rodeo de Lanchas Mexicanos” or the annual 2 day deep sea fishing tournament. We had scouted it out for the last 2 years figuring out how it works and what was required to enter.
We don’t dive as hard as we used to as we are now older and have “been there and done that”. We have dived with Dive Paradise, Aqua Safari, Dive Palancar, etc. We now book private dives, just the spouse and I, or our small group that is with us. We normally use Freddie Contreras with Mestizos Divers or Hector Aguilar of Aguilar Divers.
We have never had a bad dive operation in 30 years of diving Cozumel. We have never been “shaken down” by the police, cheated at the gas station, ripped of by the taxi drivers, overly harassed by the time share salesmen, etc. We have always found the Cozumel people to be friendly, happy, and I am proud to have made many local friends over the years that we try to see on each trip when we return.
This time we booked with Manuel Rejon Patron, Cozumel Scuba Diving | United Divers | Diving in Cozumel, Mexico | Mexico Scuba Diving. Manuel has 2 boats, a diving boat and a fishing boat. We hired him for diving and also for the fishing tournament.
We dived with Manuel at Columbia Shallows and did 75 minutes taking photos. My spouse and I like to think we are “underwater photographers”, and Columbia Shallows always allows us a lot of time and opportunities to practice the art. Manuel proved to be the ultimate dive guide, he kept a watch full eye on us and let us “do our own thing” after he determined we knew what we were doing.
His boat, the “Alma Rosa” is an older, slower, boat and we loved it. It was very roomy and we are old enough that we are not in a race to get to the reefs anyhow. We now just like slow, relaxing, dives with plenty of sealife to photograph. United Divers delivered on all counts.
We also fished the tournament on Manuel’s fishing boat the “Don Juan”. We actually hooked, and lost a 250 – 300 pound Blue Marlin on Saturday morning of the tournament according to the boat Captain. It tossed the hook on it’s 5th jump!! A 225 pound Blue Marlin won the tournament so if we could have landed that sucker, I would have a new Ford Lobo pickup!!
We spent a total of 10 days on this trip. We dived, fished, drank a lot of beer, ate some really great food, visited many good friends, and had the time of our life. We plan to be back down for my husband’s birthday, the 15th of September. He enjoys it because he says they always have a fireworks display and a parade for his birthday!! See you then!!
In the meantime, here is a slide show of our 2 day fishing tournament.
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Playa del Carmen
Thank you for sharing!!!!
I am a huge fan of Cozumel ever since my first dive there in March of 2010. My first Cozumel dive was to Columbia Deep. We were staying in Playa and went with two of our friends over to Coz for diving & Casa Denis. At Columbia, I was blown away by the huge coral formations, the swim throughs the amount of animal life! I saw my first shark that dive (nurse shark) and I thought it can't get much better than this! I even wrote in my dive log "favorite dive yet!" Then, my second dive that day was on Punta Tunich. I remember it was the first time I had seen a rainbow parrotfish. It was HUGE and it had that goofy grin on it's face! The reef life just kept blowing my mind everywhere I looked! Then, the spotted eagle ray come into our line of site. I had seen a small one in Akumal while I was snorkeling a few years earlier but this ray @ Punta Tunich was monstrous! The experience was indescribable. Written in my log book "2nd favorite dive" .
While we were still on that trip in March 2010, we booked our next trip to Coz for July. We rented a tiny house in Corpus Christi and did 14 dives that trip. Every dive was just mind blowing. We became very friendly with our divemaster, Gabriel, and we now consider him a lifelong friend. He took us all over the island to the best tiny little restaurants way away from the main tourist drag. We just couldn't get enough. So, we booked a 2nd Cozumel trip, again, while still on that trip, and spent a week in December just diving. We got 10 dives in that trip and each one as incredible as the first dive I did. Back for another trip in May of this year and....well, you get the picture! We're hooked on diving in Cozumel!
We love, love, love the people. Like you, we have never had one negative experience in Cozumel. No one ever asks us to buy drugs, no one has even bugged us for a timeshare. Never a problem with the policia, nada! Just easy, laid back, and incredible diving. It's an easy island to get around and I just love it.
I am so glad that you shared your trip report! I love to hear how much others love Cozumel. You're right, I'm sure it's changed exponentially since you first went in 1981. I can't even imagine! Sometimes I'm selfish and I wish there were no cruiseships that went into Cozumel. However, I suppose that with the cruiseships comes money spent on the island that eventually helps the Cozumelenos. Of course, there's an upside & a downside to increased tourism but that's for another time...perhaps while having a drink at a small cocina economica in the backstreets of San Miguel.