This isn’t Muck Diving!  True, but that doesn’t mean those in the Midwest cannot treat themselves to some of the more exotic diving experiences.  Because the traditional Muck Diver doesn’t dive in paradise everyday information on dive ops, hotels, what should I do and not do become essential when planning a trip to paradise.  Because of all these questions, we thought we would give everybody a one-stop place to go to learn about these places and hopefully help with planning your next trip.  Once again, the success of this relies upon those that have taken the journey.  So, please help out and tell us about your trips and what worked and what did not work.

28 Responses to “Cozumel”

  1. snagel says:

    Cozumel trip report March 29- April 6, 2009

    Posted by Gee on ScubaToys


    I have often visited this forum to research destinations however, I have not posted my own trip report so I thought it was time I repaid.

    I wanted an easy, relaxing and, more importantly these days, budget friendly dive vacation. Cozumel, seemed to be a good choice. I Departed from Huntsville, Alabama airport at 6:15 am and changed planes in Dallas. Touch down was in Cozumel, Mexico on an AA flight that was on time at 12:30 pm, and even better, all of my luggage made it too. I cleared Customs & Immigration at the airport with no problems and by 1:45 pm I was on the way to Villablanca. Thanks again for the ride Johnathan. I Checked in at the front desk, rented a safe in the lobby ($5 for the week) to store passport and currency, but didn’t get the beach towel (refundable $15 deposit). The hotel provided a complementary bottle of water at checkin. Free wifi was available but my room was apparantly not close enough to the wireless router to get a connection. I could connect around the pool. I unpacked then walked next door to complete the paperwork at Scubamau. Then I started diving. I wanted to check my equipment and weight before getting on the boat the next day so I tried the shore dive from the boat dock across the street from the shop. Mau watched me set up and gave a briefing & Opal brought the tank over for me. started with the 5 mm wetsuit and beanie and it was comfortable for me all week. I packed a shorty and a dive skin but didn’t wear them. I recorded a consistant 79 deg F all week. It was great to be back in the relatively warm Caribbean, and to see fthe continuing recovery that the reef is experiencing after it was severely damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. During the next eight days I made 1 shore dive, 10 boat dives with Scubamau and 4 boat dives with Aldora. Please note: I have no intention to compare the two dive ops in this post. I wanted to take advantage of the free unlimited shore diving at Villablanca but I seemed to lose steam after just two morning dives, a shower, gear rinse and lunch.

    This was the First time I’ve used Scubamau, a relatively new dive OP on the island. A couple of emails to Opal arranged room for eight days and diving for five. The price quoted was very reasonable and there were no hidden taxes, fees or other surprizes at checkout. Some ops require payment up front but, except for $70 cc charge (done on Villablanca’s website) to hold the room reservation, I didn’t pay for anything until I checked out. They use two small fast covered boats with 150 hp outboards for the morning dives. I’m not sure about the afternoon as I only did the two morning dives. DM provides a briefing. Entry is by backroll. Group of 4 to 6 are led by DM. Usually the first dive of the day is made at one of the deep sites 75 – 110 feet. A surface interval at a beach sometimes with bathroom facilities sometimes not. Once, we came back to VB. The second dive is usually made on one of the shallower reefs (30 to 70 feet). The length of the first dive is 35 – 45 minutes, and the second dive is 50 – 60 minutes. It is not necessary that all divers end their dive at the same time. Fruit and bottled water are served on the boat, but towels are not provided. .

    Weather throughout my stay was very pleasant. It varied from sunny to partly cloudy. Air temperature during the day was in the mid 80s. Water temperatures 79 deg F. Seas were 1- 2 feet maximum. The wind picked up on a few days and made the boat rides a little wet and choppy. Viz varied from 75 to over 100′.

    Critter roll call: Spotted Eagle Rays, Nurse sharks, Tile fish, Toadfish, Turtles, moray & spotted eels, trunkfish, hogfish, trumpet fish, juvenile spotted drums, baracuda, stingrays, lobsters, jawfish, angelfish, triggerfish. The big thrill for me was seeing a sailfish zip by while waiting for the boat pickup. I carried a camera on the boat but didn’t dive with it every time. I would leave it on board if the current was ripping or if the boat didn’t have a fresh water rinse. Of course, that was when I would see most of those critters! I managed to take a few snapshots of fish butts.

    Picasa Web Albums – glenn

    The dive sites included Yucab Wall, Yucab Reef, Villa Blanca Wall, Palancar, Eagle Ray, Columbia Deep, Tormentos, Santa Rosa Wall, San Francisco Reef, Punta Delila, san juan, barracuda

    My standard room was large, spacious, cleaned daily and provided basic and affordable accommodations. The bedroom had a King sized bed, a single large wrought iron chair with a cushioned seat, a large closet, a built in dressing table, two night stands, a telephone, refrigerator, a wall mounted tv with good picture quality. Most of the 3 dozen or so channels were spanish speaking but a couple of the channels showed US made movies with spanish subtitles. Another channel had several hours of Fox programing in english.There were 3 single 2 prong electrical outlets in the bedroom and 1 single 2 prong outlet in the bathroom (bring an adaptor if your electronics have 3 prongs). The AC worked well but was not needed at night. The large sunken tub provided plenty of hot water at an adequate pressure. It was very good for rinsing gear, There was no hairdryer.

    I’m not a food critic or gourmet so, sorry, I did not track precisely what and where I ate. I walked into town most afternoons and simply looked for eateries several blocks east of the waterfront that was full of locals. Some of the things I ordered included Seviche, tacos, chili rellenos, fajitas. potato soup, salad. Everything I ate was quite tasty and inexpensive. I also went to the Mega market and Chedraui for snacks and beverages several times.

    I had a very relaxing and affordable dive vacation, made some new friends in the diving community and came away with diving memories that will last a lifetime.

  2. admin says:

    Original Post by RainMaker on ScubaToys

    “Coz on a budget” Trip Report – Feb. 2009


    I arrived in Cancun, Mexico via a direct US Airways flight on February 10. My plane was on-time, and none of my baggage was lost, damaged or destroyed. I cleared Customs & Immigration at the airport with no problems (as usual for Cancun), and then purchased my bus ticket on Ado Bus Lines to Playa del Carmen for $9. After the 1 hour bus ride to Playa, I purchased a $14 ticket for the ferry ride to Cozumel.

    After the ferry arrived in Cozumel, I walked several blocks with my 2 wheeled suitcases and small backpack from the pier to the Safari Inn (next to McDonald’s), as usual underestimating the distance and the effort involved. I checked in at the small, friendly hotel about 6:00 p.m. and began unpacking. It had been a long day of travel that had started at 5:00 a.m. when I began driving from my home in northeast Georgia to the airport in Charlotte. However, everything had gone well, and it was great being back in Cozumel with 2 weeks of diving and warm weather to look forward to.

    The next morning, I transported all by dive gear 1.5 miles to the Blue Angel Dive Shop located next door to the Caribe Blu Hotel. However, the new Canadian owners are renaming the entire operation Blue Angel Resort. I completed my paperwork, paid my balance and was assigned a locker that I’d use for the next 2 weeks. Then I went diving, making 4 dives on the little reef that lies just south of the hotel. The water felt a little cooler than I expected. But it was great to be back in the relatively warm Caribbean, and to witness the continuing recovery that the reef is experiencing after it was severely damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. During the next 2 weeks, I made over 40 dives. Ten were boat dives, and the others were a result of the free, unlimited shore diving I received from Blue Angel with the purchase of the boat diving package.

    After rinsing and stowing my gear, I did some food shopping on the walk back to my hotel. I brought a small percolator in my checked baggage and bought coffee, fruit, chips and breakfast bars that I’d use for snacks, breakfasts and lunches in my room. I planned to eat out only once per day (for supper).

    Additional information concerning lodging, meals, diving and overall expenses for this trip are shown below.

    My 9 minute “Shore Diving In Cozumel” video at YouTube is located here: YouTube – Shore Diving In Cozumel, Mexico

    The slideshow of my dive photos at Photobucket is located here: Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket

    My 5 minute “Carnival Parades In Cozumel” video at YouTube is located here: YouTube – 2009 Cozumel Carnival Parades


    This was my second stay at the Safari Inn. I’d been there for 2 weeks in January 2008 and had been impressed with the friendliness of the staff and the cleanliness of the room. The rooms are large and spacious, and provide basic accommodations. There is no TV or phone (and most likely the only view you’ll have is a wall across a side-street), but there is cold air-conditioning, a private bathroom and plenty of hot water. The hotel also provides bottled water for guests and free, in-room broadband service, though if your PC has Windows Vista getting connected can be a challenge. They’ll also provide guests with a plastic armchair, but you’ll need to ask for it.

    As noted above, the hotel is a few blocks south of the ferry pier, next door to McDonald’s (or look for the Aqua Safari pier out front). It is on the premises of the Aqua Safari Dive Shop and is run by an American man and his Mexican wife. With all fees and taxes, the room rate (for 1 or 2 people) is just under $45 per night. The website for the hotel is located here:
    Accommodations in Cozumel – Safari Inn


    I bought a 10-boat dive package from Blue Angel Dive Shop at the special Internet rate of $300, and the package included free, unlimited shore diving on the reef directly in front of the shop. I was assigned a locker and given the use of a lock (or bring your own), and was also provided weights, all free of charge.

    This was the third time I’ve used Blue Angel, and as usual their service was excellent. They have boats leaving at 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and occasionally at 10:00 a.m. Usually the first dive of the day is made at one of the walls on the southern end of the island and the depth is 75 – 110 feet. The second dive is usually made on one of the shallower reefs (30 to 70 feet). The length of the first dive is 35 – 45 minutes, and the second dive is 50 – 60 minutes. It is not necessary that all divers end their dive at the same time. Fruit, bread snacks and bottled water are served on the boat, but towels are not provided. Their website is located here:


    This trip was done on a budget, and one of the best ways I’ve found to save money on dive trips is to get out of the “tourist mindset” concerning food, and eat like a local.

    I brought a small percolator in my checked bag and made fresh-brewed coffee each morning (and night) in my room. I thought about this each time I saw folks paying $1.25 at McDonald’s or $3.50 or more at Starbucks for a cup of coffee.

    I also went to the supermarket each day and bought fruit (usually apples and bananas), breakfast bars and chips. I used these items for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. In addition, both the Chedruai and Mega Stores have excellent bakeries, and I’d usually purchase a pastry to have with my coffee each evening.

    I dined out only once per day, having supper each night at the little cafe at the back of the Chedruai store. On most days I’d have some combination of pasta, potatoes, gravy, vegetables, rice and beans. Before ordering at the cafe, I’d go over to the bakery and select a dinner roll and have my selection bagged and priced. Then, I’d select my evening meal and beverage, and pay for everything at the cafe. The price for supper each night varied from about $2 to $3.50 (one night I really got carried away with the pasta). The trick is to exchange dollars for pesos where the exchange rate is good (like Chedruai), then pay for the meal with pesos. At the cafe, no tipping is expected, but you are expected to bus your own table (like an American fast-food place).

    I estimate I spent $5 – $6 per day for food on this trip. Since I have to eat at home (and my food costs are probably higher there), I’m not even listing food as an expense on this trip.

    Overall Expenses:

    My round-trip ticket from Charlotte, NC was $479. My diving cost $300, and this included 10 boat dives and about 30 shore dives. The hotel cost a total of $627 for 14 nights of lodging. In addition, the bus and ferry rides amounted to about $40, and it cost $60 to leave my car at the Charlotte airport for 15 days. Except when transporting dive gear, I didn’t use any taxis at all, prefering to walk everywhere I went.

    The total cost of the trip, which provided me with diving everyday for 14 days, was about $1,530. It was a lot of bang for the diving-buck, and includes $10 for a spiffy “Blue Angel Dive Resort” t-shirt that I just couldn’t pass up.

  3. admin says:

    Great time with Scuba Mau Cozumel

    Original Post by SyoTabBucs on ScubaToys (May 09)

    The gang did it again. They continue to shine on each visit. 4 days of diving.
    May 22-23-24-25. The only thing wrong with this trip was it was to short. We usually stay 7-10 days but had only 5 days (4 days diving) this trip. Got in 4 wonderful days of diving. Conditions were magnifiacte. We got to Punta Sur(devils throat) on the 23rd, Maricabo on the 24th and Palancar Bricks on the 25th. Seas were calm. Once again , Mau, Opal, Divemasters, captians and staff did a great job.

    Angie and I met up with fellow divers each afternoon at LaPalapita beach club for lunch and some cold adult beverages. Lots of great folks diving with Scuba Mau this week. (as always) Then off for dinner each night. This trip included La Choza, Zapata Grill, The new place across from Villa Blanca. What used to be Mezcalitos West The Hatch??. (same menu) and one of our favorites, Los Otates

    And then we went sailing on the afternoon of the 25th. Dario of Cozumel boat trips was great. About a 3 or 4 hour sunset tour up and down the island. A great way to cap off a wonderful trip. Dario is a great guy. Former divemaster on the island and a 3rd generation sailor. And quite the traveler.


  4. admin says:

    Trip report Cozumel June 2 – 6 (2009) with Papa Hogs

    Original Post on ScubaToys by Mr Tabasco

    Well my wife and I just got back from Cozumel last night. We dove with Papa Hogs and got in our First night dive. The weather was wonderful and somehow we managed to miss the rain the entire time. We dove Palancar caves the first morning and the huge coral formations just make me realize how vast the ocean really is. The currents were up and down throughout the week but overall they didn’t seem to be too bad. The worse currents we saw were on Saturday at San Francisco and Punta Tunich. We saw all kinds of neat things during this trip. Several Nurse sharks, turtles, Moray, Sting Ray, lobster, toad fish, scorpion fish, pipe fish, a seahorse and many more that I cannot remember. The water was pretty clear most days but it was a bit cloudy on San Francisco since the current was kicking up a lot of silt. This was only our second dive trip (both have been to Cozumel) so we felt very fortunate to have seen all of this. This trip also marked our deepest dive at about 115 feet which was pretty cool. Also, being a bigger guy I have really struggled with air consumption so I was excited that I managed at least 1 dive (Punta Tunich) that was over one hour (Even though I was using a 100 cu ft tank). On Thursday we did see an unfortunate event when the Mexican Navy anchored on the reef in Las Palmas. Although it was a real interesting experience to be diving under a boat that size it was a shame to see an anchor dropped in the coral.

    The night dive was absolutely wonderful. We went to Paradise and they dropped us in just before it got completely dark so we could get acclimated and we got to see a ton of marine life.

    I can’t say enough about Papa Hog’s. The largest group we were in was 7 and 3 of them were very experienced divers which meant we had the DM right there with us through all of the dives. The all of the DM’s we dove with were great as were Mike and Margaret and all of the staff at PH.
    We ate at Prima almost every night and the food was wonderful. They have moved to the top floor a large building where Wynston’s used to be (just south of Margaretville restaurant) so the view was as good as the food (well almost).
    The only real negative was coming home!

  5. admin says:

    Coz Trip Report 4/09 (long)

    Original Post by Chace Nicole on ScubaToys Forum

    Thurs-Email from Rentadora Isis says they are no longer able to pick up, so I roll my things out past the airport to catch a cab to Sally (Barefoot in Cozumel) for a massage. The driver tried to charge $12 US from airport to Sallys, which is in town. I told him I didn’t think so & we came to a reasonable figure. The massage was wonderful and was a great way to start a vacation. Sally was kind enough to let me keep my suitcase there while I walked to Isis for my rental. I got a green VW convertible this time, looked nicer than ones in the past…maybe Margarita has upgraded her fleet . I picked up by bag from Sally and went onto the hotel. Much to my suprise, I was offered an upgrade to the tropical suites at no charge! woohoo! No ocean view, but thats okay. The room was wonderful with a safe and fridge, the sewer smell in the bathroom for the 1st couple days was pretty strong, but I just kept the bathroom door shut & that helped a lot. By the end of the week I either didn’t notice anymore or the bleach smell won out over the sewer smell. Hammock on the balcony, great for naps. A couple of days I was charged for drinks out of the fridge that I did not consume, but the front desk staff was very nice & removed the charges. Trip Advisor dinner at Especias, the food was amazing! Don Julio was amazing! hee hee. Adrian is so fun & listening to Abraham play the guitar was a real treat. He has such talent!

    Fri-8:30 Scuba with Alison-pier pickup for diving. Palancar Caves for 69min. Second dive was French reef for 71min saw a free swimming moray, noticed a lot of reddish stuff growing along the bottom in the shallow areas, I guess an algae of some kind? On the way back our captain, Carlos, spotted a pod of dolphins & we gently slipped in the water with fins & mask. I looked down & they were already on the bottom, I would guess they were about 50ft down…but what a treat to see them in the wild. I went to the money bar for lunch & service was soooo sloooow. Maybe I was just really hungry. I know things are more laid back, but this was the slowest I’ve seen in Cozumel. Dinner was La Cocay with some friends from the boat. The manicoti was good, homemade noodles (portion was small) I also tried the chicken that was stuffed with a goat cheese I believe (wonderful!)

    Sat-9:15 pier pickup for diving-Palancar Gardens for 70 min. Second dive was San Fransico Wall, never done this dive before and it was great! Bottom time 80min. Saw a free swimming nurse shark. Large silver tarpon like fish were baitballing smaller fish on the edge of the wall. Took a picture of what a thought was some cool worm or cucumber in the sand. It wasn’t a very good pic so I went around to get it from another angle & just started cracking up & flooded my mask. It was a snorkel! not a worm..a snorkel! (pic attached below) It had been down quite a while & was buried in the sand just so. I took my famous snorkel worm home as a souvenir. Met friends in town for dinner at Parilla Mission very good service and Margarita. Combinacion Mexicana was very good. Excellent Caldo de pollo. On the salad bar, they have a dish…I don’t remember the name, but it is cactus & it was very tasty!

    Sun-Dive-Colombia Deep 60 min. Saw too many turtles to count. Second dive was Colombia Shallows for 87 min. Got some good pics, but when I turned my flash on as some clouds moved in..I forgot to set my white balance back to auto so many came out red. I haven’t messed with trying to remove the red. Chi for dinner, great dumplings and Sweet & sour chicken. Gelato on the waterfront, the cheesecake flavor with berries was delish. Walked the square for a while..hit Chedraui for fruit & pastries.

    Mon-Drove around the island. Freedom in Paradise-very good Iguana drink. Coconuts-strong margaritas look out! Mezcalitos-weak margs compared to coconuts . Went to Los Otates..hooked on the gringas and tried the posole soup, very good and huge portion.

    Tues-3 tanks diving with Aqua Safari. Alison went to Europe for a couple of weeks so I dove with Aqua Safari on Tuesday. (DM)Chino & Capitan, Jorge. Palancar Caves for 50 min, Dahlia for 44 min and Paradise for 54 min with (DM)Miguel Jr. Very smooth running operation with great staff! I decided to find Wet Wendys, met Klara and had a very tasty Margarita & nachos. I ran into Deb (DS2) & some other TAers. I had a great time here, despite some harrasment from some roudy Texas boys

    Wed-Its my day to leave Checked Continental’s website just to make sure flights were in order with the whole flu thing & all. A notice is up that there is no charge to change your ticket. Thought long & hard about calling work & saying that I had been quarantined to the island & see ya in about a month or however long it takes me to get over the flu. Decide not to do that, I’m bummed so I head to Wet Wendy’s again (with luggage in tow) thinking one or two of Klara’s margaritas might help. It does & I stay until an hour before my flight & hitch a cab to the airport. Slept on the flight home

    Scuba with Alison-I cannot say enough great things about Alison & Carlos (captain). The boat is tweener (not a big boat & not a small boat). Alison is a riot & gives very good site briefings. Everyone gets a pre-dive safety check. They change your stuff over between dives & store your gear overnight & have it ready to go the next morning(besides wetsuits). Surface interval is at a beach…they provide snacks, softs drinks & water. You dive your air & deco limits. I was lucky to dive with a great group this week & everyone got along really well & had a dinner a couple of nights.

  6. snagel says:

    Trip Report 6/13 to 6/20
    Original Post by SEMO Scuba on ScubaToys Forum

    Cozumel Trip Report

    I stayed at Hotel Cozumel. It is a nice facility. The rooms were clean and spacious, the swimming pool is large, and the staff were friendly & helpful. We paid for all inclusive so food & beverages were included. The bar drinks were good and if you wanted upscale liquor it was available at a reasonable price. The food quality was very good with a large variety of choices.

    I dived with Dive Paradise doing two tank morning and one tank afternoon dives. The boats had oxygen kits and first aid supplies. Most days I was on the larger boats with two dive guides, one deck hand, and the captain. With two dive guides even if there were 12 to 16 divers on the boat there were never more than 6 or 8 divers in a group. The dive/safety briefings were consistent from all dive guides. Since I was diving alone I got instabuddies, but my luck was good as all that I buddied with were fine.

    The diving was great. Most of the divers were pretty competent and had decent SAC rates. I only saw a couple of reef beaters. Most of the dives were 45 to 60 minutes with the first dive of the day a max of 80 or 90 feet. The second dive of the day usually maxed at 60 to 70 ft and the afternoon dive a max of 50 to 60 ft. The current was swift during most of the wall dives and the viz was great on all of the dives. I got my first up close encounter with a shark at Dalila and although it was only a Nurse shark it was still pretty cool to be that close. It was sleeping on the bottom and we got close enough we could have touched it. We saw many turtle, sea horse, crab, lobster, and I found a Lion fish on my last dive at Villablancha wall at 35 feet. The dive master said it was a pretty large Lion fish and he tried to catch it in a plastic bag but the current kept pushing him into a fire coral that it was sitting in. It was near the end of the dive and by the time everybody got to see it and he finished trying to catch it our air supply was telling us to do our safety stop & surface.

    The price with air fare from St Louis and the stay at Hotel Cozumel were very attractive and combined with a week of diving the trip barely cost $1100.00. I was very satisfied with Hotel Cozumel, Dive Paradise, and the diving at Cozumel. I’ll be going back again sometime. Soon I hope!

    The air fare, hotel, food & drinks was $700 per person. My diving for the week was $400 extra.

  7. admin says:

    Trip Report 08/11/09-08/18/09 ~ Hotel Cozumel & Papa Hogs
    Original Post by AndyRent on ScubaToys


    My wife and I just returned from a long awaited and very enjoyable trip to Cozumel. We are both divers but we didn’t want to spend every moment in the water. We have not purchased underwater camera gear. Unfortunately, we have no pictures to share.

    We booked the trip through Orbitz. I used the Promo code Entertain200 that another member had posted on the forum. We flew from Houston Intercontinental on a direct flight with Continental Airlines. The 2 airline tickets and the 7 nights at Hotel Cozumel was $857.53. The price of the hotel included Breakfast only.

    We booked 6 two-tank dives at $60.00 each with Papa Hogs (3 each) for a total of $360.00. We only had room for 1 BCD in our dive bag, so I rented a BCD for another $5.00 a day. Papa Hogs and their employees were friendly and very accommodating. Papa Hogs picked us up in one of their 6 pack boats at the Hotel Cozumel pier at 8:00 AM. After our dives they dropped us back off at the HC pier. We dove on Chankanaab, Paradise, Delilia, Tormentos, Santa Rosa, and Punta Tunich reefs. The reefs were beautiful. We saw lobster, jackfish, parrotfish, garden eels, conch, starfish, nurse sharks, lots of turtles, barracuda, pipefish, seahorse, a moral eel, and a lot more.

    Since, we didn’t purchase the All-Inclusive option at Hotel Cozumel, we ate in San Miguel a lot. Our meals were all very good and we always had good service. Some of the restaurants that we visited were El Capi Navegante, Mosaicoz, Casablanca, La Mission, and Prima Trattoria. We found a bar off of the main square named Kelly’s that was good for after dinner drinks.

    All-in-all we spent just over $1800.00 (flight, hotel, diving, food, souvenirs, transfers, tips, and parking). We had a wonderful time and would go back again in a heartbeat.

  8. snagel says:

    Trip Review: Baldwin’s / Papa Hogs
    Original Posty by LegallyBeth on ScubaToys (10/8/09)


    We’re back from a great trip to Cozumel. This was my first dive trip since certification. We had a great time diving, relaxing, and just getting away. I found all of the other reviews so helpful, that I wanted to include my own summary of our trip, costs, and personal experiences.

    Flight – American, direct from Dallas. About $325 round trip per person

    Accommodations: Baldwin’s Guest House (located in town) $70/night including breakfast (off-season rate). Nice place – and we were the only guests so we had the place to ourselves. It was super clean and the hosts were nice. The grounds are unbelievable –the pool is beautiful and they have a lot of neat wildlife.

    Diving: Papa Hogs, $60 per 2-tank dive
    Pros: They only took out 6 people at a time.
    Cons: Pushy/rude staff. The captain and dive master were always in a rush –practically pushing us off the boat. On one particular dive, I received a lot of push back from the dive master when I said that I didn’t feel comfortable doing a swim through (at the wreck) since I was a new diver and I didn’t have a light.
    Overall we had a great time diving. The attitude of the employees didn’t stop us from having a great dive. We will probably use another operation next time just for variety, but I wouldn’t completely rule out Papa Hogs for future trips.

    The dives were great. We saw nurse sharks, sea turtles, barracuda, and eels. On our night dive we also saw octopus and squid. The water was 81* and the unlimited viz in Coz was quite the change from all of the lake dives I have done. What a treat!

    We took a cab each day from Baldwin’s to Papa Hogs. It was about $5 each way.

    Since we stayed in town, we hit a lot of local places with names that I do not remember.

    Casa Mission – great food! Beautiful outdoor setting. Lots of mosquitoes.
    Prima’s –Italian food near the resorts. Nice atmosphere.
    The restaurant at Papa Hog’s –it was super convenient for lunch after diving, but we only ate their once because the food just wasn’t very good.

    Diving of course! J We dove 9 times on this trip, so we really didn’t do much besides lounge around the pool. But on our last day we rented a scooter from Isis ($25 for a 2 passenger scooter for 24 hours) and rode around the island. It was so much fun. We will definitely do this on future trips.

  9. snagel says:

    Cozumel TR 10/28-11/1/09
    Original Post by GeoRoc01 on ScubaToys


    I just returned from Cozy. It was a 4 night, 3 days of diving. It was a trip staying at Casa Del Mar diving with Del Mar Aquatics.

    My trip started with a big snowstorm hitting Denver the day I am leaving. Fortunately, my flight wasn’t cancelled, just delayed a couple of hours. We were still able to catch the last puddle jumper over from Cancun to Cozy and grab the last taxi leaving the then closed Cozumel airport over to the hotel.

    Three days of great diving. While I did only the base package and not the afternoon dives, I dove the following sites off of Big Splash..

    Palancar Gardens
    Cedral Pass
    Palancar Caves
    San Francisco Wall
    Chakanaab (Night Dive)
    Punta Sur
    Columbia Shallows

    This was my first time diving Chakanaab and Punta Sur and all of our dives were great. Our Dive Masters Fernando, Mario & the boat crew treated us very well as usual. Yeah, we had a little rain on Saturday, but overall it was still a good time!

    Casa Del Mar treated us well again. My roomie & I were very happy with our corner room. Large room with nice king size bed and large balcony with plenty of space to dry out gear. They had a nice halloween party on Saturday night with a DJ, dancers and a costume contest that gave away two trips for next year, dive packages, massages and everyone who participated at least got a discount coupon towards a 2010 trip.

    This was my 4th trip to Cozy with Single Divers, staying at Casa Del Mar & Diving with Del Mar Aquatics. Each one seems to be memorable in its own way. This as definitely the largest and it was a great group to dive with..Thanks to everyone! Can’t wait to do it again next year..

  10. snagel says:

    Original Post by CHT on ScubaToys Jan 10

    Iberostar Resort, Cozomel

    Grounds are very nice and maintained well. Staff is friendly and helpful. Rooms are a little small and beds are like all resorts in Mexico firm/hard. Mini frig in room stocked every other day but we tipped our maid $2-3 everyday and she kept us stocked. Breakfast is up in the main building buffet style with the usual omlet bar/juices/ etc…(on a aside note there is no airconditioning here and in the morning the black birds know how to get around the netting set up and are eating at the buffet. They chase them off but they tend to fly right back….this might freak some people out but I’m not one of those people)… Lunch is down by the pool again buffet style with a pretty good selection. Again not airconditioned but netting goes all the way around so no birds can get in. At night this area becomes the steak house, need reservations. The ribeye was very good but one of my kids got the ribs and all I can say is just say NO!! The ribs are horrible stick with the steaks. Back up in the main building is a buffet style dinner. Next to the buffet is the Italian restaurant. This is the only airconditioned restaurant in the resort. Food is ok nothing great to say about it. Some people loved it and some hated it but again everyone has their own preference. Reservations need here as well. Both restaurants require closed toe shoes and pants (no shorts). Most places will turn the other cheek if you walk in with sandals on, but not here they will make you change. Pool is divided in two with a swim up bar in the middle. A bar is also on the beach and one in the main lobby, entertainment complex, and disco. They have star friends that keep activities going throughout the day and evening. In the evening they have shows put on by the star friends. Some are good and some are cheesy. They have kid shows that start at 8pm and adult shows that start at 830 and run till about 1030. Then the disco opens. Don’t quote me on those times though, but I think thats right. Beach is in good shape, except if you want to get in the water. The beach down by the water is very rocky…so bring and wear water shoes. If you want to get in the water you need to go near the pier to get in, or better yet get in from the ladder off the end of the pier. This is one of the only drawbacks to the resort.
    Taxi to town is $23-24USD each way. You can exchange dollars for pesos at the front desk and it costs 17-18pesos…saves a few bucks. The resort also rents cars for about $100 for 24hrs includes insurance.

    Now the diving. I did dive with the onsite dive operator Dressel Divers. They are a very good safety minded operation. The boats are large and they have fruit and water on the boats. They will set up your gear or you can do it yourself. They do have lockers down at their shop. Dive masters give good briefings. When I dove they sent up the flag when the first person got to 1500 psi. Then as people got low you came up. My dives ranged from 50-110 min. You are on their profile though and I requested the guys I liked and once they see you know how to handle yourself and are a safe diver they tend to relax and give you free reign. They also have a set dive schedule and sites so if you want to go somewhere different you need to schedule it in advance. We altered our sites twice. I think the sites with days is on their sites but if not I can get it too you. They do not dive devils throat…I asked. Prices are higher than most operators but if you request a price list they will send you prices and packages. I don’t know if they alter their prices much but again I have one from 5 months ago. They are out of Spain but if you prepay the knock off 15% and with any dive NITROX IS FREE. I did the math and after prepay and free nitrox and less hassle along with they come back to the resort between everydive I decided to go with them.
    If you want to dive any site and dive your own profile then I would go with someone else like Papa Hogs, Dive with Martin, etc… They all pick up at the pier just search the forums there are dozens of recommendations and topics on this already covered.

    One more thing the snorkeling. Dressel has a diver/snorkel package. You go out on the same boat as the divers and while they dive you snorkel above them. All I can say is JUST SAY NO!! My daughter wanted to snorkel so we booked this. Biggest waste of money ever. One lady took her son and was so mad afterwards she complained and they gave her money back. You do snorkel above the divers but you are in 60-100 ft. of water. It’s like looking out of the window from an airplane. No coral, no nothing. Oh you can see it but its way down below. The lady that got her money back booked a snorkel trip, in the resort lobby, with the guys next door, and said it was great, but I have no hands on experience with them. She told me it was worth it though. I don’t know the name of the place but if your at the pier look right. During the day they do snorkel trips and at night they have a little restaurant there.

  11. snagel says:

    Hotel Barracuda & Dive Paradise

    Original Post by DevilDiver on ScubaToys Feb 2010

    First, I have to say that I was actually surprised and very pleased with the Hotel Barracuda and I would definitely stay there again. I have been to Cozumel six times now and stayed at AI’s three of those trips and hotel’s the other three time. I was split between booking at The Villa Blanca (I have stayed there before) and the Barracuda. The Villa Blanca was OK but I am glad that we gave the Barracuda a chance. Next time the Barracuda has it, hands down as far as I am concerned.

    We booked 4 nights/5 days (for $192/pp or $384/total), 8 dives each + shore dives ($207/ea or $414/total) with Dive Paradise (on-site dive op) through Bay Adventures.

    The rooms were clean and well kept, two twin beds, A/C, balcony with sea view and never ran out of hot water. Each room has a small fridge that can be stocked with beer or whatever, like beer.

    We got a room on the third floor, nice view but if you do not like stairs request 1st. There are lockers provided ($25 deposit) at the on-site dive op to store gear if wanted or you can lug it and throw it all over your balcony.

    The hotel is located just south of the old pier and mall and just north of Margaritaville (2 bldg down). There is a brand new Mega Mart (1 year) right across the street that has almost anything you could need, the fruit, pastries, clothes, med’s or beer (can’t buy beer after 3pm on Sunday). They have great Pizza there also, we got two lg whole pies and a 12pk of beer and ate them with staff at the dive shop one night.

    The bar/restaurant (The No Name Bar) was fantastic, some of the best food that I have had on the island. The No Name Bar is owned by retired cruise ship entertainers and they do cater to the crews when they are in port. This makes for some large crowds and (semi) loud music during the afternoons depending on how many ships are in for that day. I thought it was great but if you like low key this could be an issue. The food was very good and reasonable priced, mix of American and Mexican with good portions and flavors. (I did not see any kind Turkish food offered-BRsnow)

    The really is no beaches at this part of the island but they have the traditional man made beach that you find at the resorts and hotels at this part of the island. There is a stair entry for divers/swimmers or a dock for access to the water.

    I enjoyed the shore dives but I like looking for small critters and shallow (20-30ft) rubble, debris and sand are good places to find them. On day dives we found schools of Tang, Sergent Major, Yellow Rays, Damsel some Parrot and Wrasse, Lobsters and Crab. Night dives were large Hermit Crab, Shrimp, small Octo’s, Yellow Ray’s and a juvenile Red Lionfish that I was able to pin and smash with a piece of rebar, did not kill it but it sure swam away kinda lopsided.

    The Barracuda is two doors down from Margaritaville, about 5-10 mins walk to Carlos n Charlie’s/Senior Frog’s and about 15 mins from the square. It is about a 10 min cab ride to the airport.

    Dive Paradise

    First time diving with Dive Paradise, I have found most of the op’s on Cozumel are pretty much the same give or take. It appears that Dive Paradise is the 110 lb gorilla on the island. I was told they have over 10 boats, main shop is just south of town at the old pier, they were the on site dive op at the Barracuda Hotel.

    They had a small shop on the northern side of the hotel, not much inside but they did have weights and some tanks, they offer lockers ($25 deposit) to store gear that you do not take back to the room.

    Boats were in good shape with no mechanical issues, oxy and first aid kit on board. They provided water and snack between dives if wanted and some boats have restrooms (ladies).

    Captains, DM’s and deckhands were good for the most part. This is also where I start to have some issues with Dive Paradise. We had a different boat every day with different crew, sometimes nicer sometimes not – this goes for crew as well. A couple of the DM’s were great, a couple not so much.

    I do not need to be tethered to a DM myself but with different people being shuffled between boats daily I found a few others that needed a little extra attention from the crew and that was not always available. A couple of small issues could have gotten out of control easily and were over looked due to time and schedule but the real problems always start with a small issue.

    Not saying that they were negligent but IMO they had too much going on switching boats/crew/divers and a tight schedule picking up and returning divers to their hotels/docks and when they change up the crews all of the time and it leads to confusion. I believe this a management issue, the crews legitimately tried (for the most part).

    Next trip personally I will not use them, I plan to go with Opal at Scuba Mau. That was our plan on this trip but we got a package offer.

    These are just my opinions from my expierience from this trip, take it for what ever that means.

  12. snagel says:

    Original Post by Rayaa3 on ScubaToys

    I arrived in cozumel 2/14/10, about Noon.

    The weather on Sunday and Monday was pretty good, highs in the 80, no real wind to speak of.

    Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday were pretty windy out of the north – bringing current and waves. None of it shutdown diving, though on tuesday most shops had a late start as the harbor master waited to open the port.

    Highs were 75-80 all week, Saturday 2/20 was the nicest day of the week, I’de guess 82 with a wind out of the east, the ocean was a calm pool at the surface.

    The Allegro Hotel:

    As stated the allegro is a very pretty resort, the grounds are well taken care of. The rooms are in casita style buildings with thatch roofs. There are 4 rooms per building. The rooms are a bit small, 11×13 for the bed/tv area, plus the bathroom and closet. The bathrooms in my room are a bit out of date and dingy, if that type of thing bothers you, it doesn’t bother me.

    The resort is All inclusive, there are 2 bars open during the day, one at the pool/lunch buffet, another at the beach. There is a 3rd bar near the dinner buffet, but it doesn’t open until the other 2 close (dinner time).

    There really is 1 main restraunt at the hotel, buffet for all 3 meals. For lunch there are 2 other options, Mexican a la carte, and Japanese a la carte. Men are required to wear long pants (I really didn’t care for that) at the a la carte restraunts. When you check in, they will tell you to make reservations for the a la carte’s – make them right away, no matter what. They say they don’t take reservation for more than 1 day in advance, when I called about japanese first available was 3 days away.

    So the rooms are nice enough, bathrooms are a little dingy and outdated, but the beds were very comfortable. They are always firm in Mexico, and these were, but they were a bit softer than Hotel Cozumel or Fiesta Americana.

    Food: the food was surprisingly pretty OK. I would say not bad for AI buffet service. However, 2 days of our stay (up until lent) the hotel was full, and food was difficult to find. You would go to the buffet and they would be out of the main courses. A bit dissapointing. However, when the hotel was practically emtpy food and service was in good supply. We tip at AI for drink service, but the first couple of days we couldn’t find a waiter to tip. Towards the end of the week we could get some attention, and tipped well for it (which leads to even better attention).

    The resort has a great beach, and great pools. There is a nightly show from about 8:30pm – 10:00pm. If your room is on the side of the resort that the theater is on you should go to the show – you’ll hear it from your room quite clearly anyway. The show was actually pretty good, but I’m an early to bed early to rise kind of guy (I wake at 5:30am on vacation), so I was annoyed a few times by thumping speakers from my room.

    They have a very good gym for these kinds of places, 2 newer treadmills, 2 newer ellipitcals, some free weights, some universal.

    The crowd:

    The crowd when we were there was mostly 30-50ish adults without children. I’m sure it is different during summer, or spring break. However, the crowd was surprisingly rowdy. I’m use to dive hotels in Cozumel where 75% are divers waking for 8am boats, and the other 25% are spouses or others content to sip drinks at the pool. The mix here was about 50% serious diver, 50% other folks. So there was a lot more late night hijinks than I cared for. I came out of my room in my underwear at 2am one night ready to have words with someone who felt the need to serenade the hotel grounds. They made it to their room before I found them.

    I would rate the hotel 3 stars, but only because of the beach, pools, gym and grounds. Based on food availability, and service, I would say 2.5 stars. Again, that was really because of the experience when the hotel was full. If it’s dead when you are here you’ll have a much better time.

    As a reference I find hotel cozumel to be solidly 3 stars all around, and fiesta americana to be the same.

    The reason to come to Allegro – good price, and the beach.

    OK, that’s all I have time for now. I’ll tell you more about diving later. I only got 4 dives in the whole week, but not related to weather. This was a family vacation anyways

  13. snagel says:

    May 30, 2010

    Original Post by Okc Diver on ScubaToys

    Arrived on Sat. May 22 around 11:15am got to the resort (Park Royal) around 12:30pm. Walked over to Del Mar Aquatics paid for a 5 day 2 tank trip. Got a tank for a beach dive to find out my weighting. asked for 2 five pound weights got geared up (all new gear) the weighting was perfect for no wetsuit,1 just swimsuit and rash guard. Met up with a family from Enid, Ok. went out with them they were doing a weight check also. spent around 30 minutes under surfaced with close to 2000psi. Went back to the resort to see if my room was ready.

    Sunday, arrived at the pier was on the Big Splash.

    All dives are divers choice.
    Dive site was Santa Rosa wall using a 3mm wetsuit with hood. I had four 3 pound weights in each pocket. Went down to 86 feet dive lasted 30 minutes. Several corals, sponges, and marine life. (Missed my safety stop)
    Glue on the velcro side of the fiber optic holder came off and camera fogged up

    dive site 2 (can’t remember name)

    Saw several jellyfish, turtles, lobster and a few sharks and DM caught a lionfish. Max depth was 63 feet dive time was 40 minutes 12 pounds of weight 3mm wetsuit no hood but wore gloves. Made my safety stop for all other dives left camera on boat

    Monday was put on splash I.

    Palancar caves was the site. Depth was 75 feet dive time was 35 minutes (tank was 2800psi). More camera problems as above. 3mm wetsuit no hood or gloves with 12 pounds (as with all other dives)

    dive site 2 can’t remember name
    Max depth was 35 feet dive time 45 minutes (2785psi, I kept getting short fills on my tanks) did see my first seahorse.

    Tuesday back on splash I
    asked for 100cu tanks at 5 dollars each (still not a full fill 2700psi) Max depth was at 63 feet (boooo) dive ended at 50 minutes regardless of how much we had left in the tanks

    Dive 2 splash I
    max depth was 54 feet dive time 50 minutes. I found my first lionfish got the DM’s attention and he bagged it. Saw more turtles, juvinile spotted drums, scorpion fish, jellyfish lobster that was close to 4 feet long out alongside the reef, grouper, rope jellyfish, arrow crab, christmas tree worms

    Wednesday back on the big splash

    dive site was Cedral pass.
    100cu tanks again. The max depth was ‘supposed’ to be 80 feet the current was pushing us down the wall fast. I hit 93 feet computer was showing low air had my camera tucked under my left arm (no time to take pics) added air to the bcd fought the current ar 90 feet for 5 minutes, finally got to a spot where I could get out of the current swam to a safer depth ended the dive at 32 minutes with 600psi in my tank started with 2800psi

    dive site 2

    max depth was ‘supposed to be 60 feet’ ended up at 78 feet entered dive over a large stingray. Caught 2 more lionfish dive time was 40 minutes 2910psi ended with 590psi. Saw a large crab several parrorfish

    Thursday back on splash I
    100cu tanks (2880psi) max depth 71 feet dive time was 40 minutes. Lots of sealife. More problems with the strobe.

    dive 2 final boat dive.
    dive site 2 was Yucab reef 100cu (2800psi)
    Max depth was 55 feet bottom time was 45 minutes full of sealife. Saw more juvinile spotted drum, parrotfish, turtles, saw another loinfish reported it to DM and he wrote on his slate that he had no bag to catch it but location was noted. Near the end of the dive found a spended toadfish. This dive I took the camera but left the strobe on the boat


    beach dive in from of Park Royal-El Cid resorts. Max depth was 37 feet and dive time was just over 1 hour. Me and an SSI asst instructor. Rash guard swimsuit and gloves two 5 pound weights. Surface swim out to the bouy over the plane, freefall asccent to the wreckfound it full of life; sponges, corals, several types of anemones, sea fans, social feather dusters, split crown feather dusters, banded coral shrimp, giant hermit crab, arrow crab, thimble jelly, flamingo tungue, cushion sea star, long-spined urchin, butterflyfish, queen,french,gray angelfish, rock beauty, several damselfish, wrass, few types of basslet, female stoplight parrotfish, squirrlefish, peacock flounder, spotted scorpionfish, cowfish, queen triggerfish, several more but can’t remember


    Del Mar Aquatics charged 290.00 (does not include marine park fees) if you want nitrox it’s 12.00 extra per tank 100cu tanks are 5 extra per tank(even for the unlimited beach dives). I forgot to mention that the first day at ParkRoyal there was NO hot water and the second day there was NO water for about an hour. It seemed like the nightly shows were the same. A cab ride to town runs about 80 pesos or 7.00us. Royal Holiday will try to get you to do one of their “time shares.” If you use the in room safe at PR for 8 days it cost my 14.00us

  14. Rolf Delira says:

    Some good info here. I am continuing to for additional ideas on travel tips and would very much appreciate any advice. Thanks!

  15. Snagel says:

    Cozumel Trip Report 13 – 20 Nov
    Original Post by Chilly on ScubaToys

    We just returned from an amazing dive trip Cozumel from 13-20 Nov. Overall, a wonderful week of diving, eating, drinking, and relaxation.

    The flights into CZM from Panama City, FL via ATL went like clockwork. This was a surprise birthday present for my wife and she did her best to ignore all indications of our destination until we touched down in sunny Cozumel.

    After a harrowingly quick taxi ride, we arrived at the Iberostar, an all-inclusive resort on the SW end of the island. We were absolutely satisfied with everything – the room, the staff, the gym (free weights and a squat rack!) and the food. We were pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the proteins they served every day – succulent grouper and tasty beef and pork. We are definitely staying here again when we return.

    We dove with the on-site dive op, Dressel Divers Int’l and were very happy overall. The op was well-organized, and the guides were professional, hardworking, and high quality. It was easy to find one that suited your style of diving for max enjoyment. Additionally, they were kind enough to let me get some much-needed practice deploying my SMB from depth.

    The boat crews were exceptionally skillful as well, having the uncanny ability to find “their” divers in a very target-rich environment. My wife and I turned a dive early, and rather than the guide shooting his bag and walking the dog for another 30 minutes, we deployed our own SMB. Despite the fact that my sausage was quite different from what the guides were using, they still picked us up promptly after we surfaced. Dressel was another winner for this trip.

    The diving was amazing! Over 6 days of 2-tank diving, we toured beautiful sites with wonderful people from all over the world. While all the dives were great due to the abundance of marine life, they came to a climax on our last day. As we let down into Punta Sur, we rejoined on a 3-ship of incredibly huge Spotted Eagle Rays flying majestically above the wall. As we neared the edge and peered over the side, we spied another 2-ship and an additional single headed in the same direction. 6 Spotted Eagle Rays in 6 minutes on a wall in Cozumel – it doesn’t get much better than that!

  16. groupon scam says:

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  17. Snagel says:

    Cozumel Trip Report December 2010
    Original Post by SEMO Scuba on ScubaToys

    Cozumel Trip Report and Scuba Club Cozumel

    Day 1 December 4th
    The first day went pretty well. I did not get much sleep last night, but I never sleep well in a hotel. The Ramada near the St Louis airport that we stayed at last night is a dump. The first room I got did not have hot water and smelled like an ash tray. They moved me to a second room and it was much better. Some of the other divers complained that their hot water did not work either. The elevator button for the second floor was broken so I took the stairs with all of my dive gear and suitcase. Better than getting stuck in a crappy elevator.

    Our Continental flight St Louis to Houston was a fairly small jet, but we arrived early. The early arrival was good because we had a very short layover. Our connecting flight was about 20 minutes late arriving from Chicago due to weather. The fight in to Coz was smooth and when we landed we were the only plane at the airport so getting through customs was quick.

    Scuba Club is a nice place, but it is pretty small compared to Hotel Coz. It is a very quiet place in comparison, mostly occupied by divers. I don’t know why, but we did not get into our rooms until about 3:30 in the afternoon. The menu for lunch and dinner is quite limited.

    We did one dive just about the time the sun was going down so it finished as a night dive. We changed tanks and did a second dive as a night dive. The shore diving is much better than at Hotel Coz. There is the current pier, the old pier is broken up on the bottom, and several other things for fish attraction. We saw 2 or 3 octopus, 2 lobsters, balloon fish, scorpion fish, and many other things. Two pretty good dives for a start.

    I had some kind of steak for dinner and it was excellent.

    Day 2 December 5th
    One older guy in our group of 22 did a shore dive yesterday and could not get comfortable in the water. He did not go on the boat today and decided this afternoon that he is going to fly back home tomorrow. Weird!

    Diving today started at Cedral Pass. The dive master wanted to assess the abilities of the dive group since there are 21 divers, before we go to the deeper dive spots. We saw a really large turtle, the biggest Nurse shark that I have ever seen, a big lobster and lots of other things. We did our second dive at Villablanch Wall and saw a Splendid Toad and a large lion fish.

    Back at Scuba Club we had lunch, and I took a short nap. We did a 52 minute shore dive at 4 pm. and I took the camera. I got a few pretty good pictures of Arrow Crabs, lobsters, Balloon fish, and a large Hermit Crab.
    I had lasagna for dinner and it was very good.

    Day 3 December 6th
    Today we dove Columbia Brick & Yucab Wall. The Flamingo Tongue picture was taken at Yucab. The dive group is mostly pretty good divers. We did a night dive at 6 tonight here at Scuba Club and I saw a Cuttlefish for the first time. I thought it was a squid.
    Dinner was good tonight. It was spaghetti parmesan.

    Day 4 December 7th
    The Pool was closed this morning! It was windy and the harbor master shut down all the boats. The pool opened at 10:30 so we just ended up getting a late start. We did 2 dives on Paradise reef. We saw a huge Eagle ray on the first dive. I had an interesting event on the second dive. Did a giant stride off the boat and started to descend. My reg seemed to be breathing a bit wet. I removed it and looked at it and all looked well. Started to descend more and it really started breathing wet. Switched to safe second, inspected primary reg better and found mouthpiece was split. I went back up to the boat and one the dive leaders had a spare, changed it out and I got to finish the dive. Thanks Shawn, it saved the dive. Both dives were good.

    Day 5 December 8th
    Finally a day without wind. It seems much warmer without it. Eleven in our group went to dive the cenotes today so we only had 9 boat divers today. We took a small boat to Palancar Caves for the morning dive. It was a nice dive and those that had not been there before were awestruck at the large coral formations. Our second dive was at Paradise reef. It was a great dive and I got some nice pictures. We did a 69 minute evening dive that started at dusk and ended as a night dive. We saw the octopus again and 2 Scorpion fish.

    Day 6 December 9th
    The pool is closed!! It is very windy so the harbor master has closed diving. We rented a jeep and we took an island tour. We stopped at Coconuts and had a few, maybe a few too many, marguerites.

    Day 7 December 10th
    Layed around the hotel most of the day. Packed to get ready to leave. Had a great steak for dinner.

    Day 8 December 11th
    We got to the airport early so we were the first to check in. Our flight was a few minutes late arriving which will cause us problems when we get to Houston. Our Houston layover was only an hour which is barley enough time for most of us to get our luggage, go through customs, check our bags, get through security, and get to the next flight. Three of our group of 21 did not make it had to take a later flight. We landed back at St Louis on time. IT WAS COOOLLLD. Back to reality.

    Scuba Club boat crew
    Rolando – captain
    Ismael – deckhand
    Manuel – deckhand
    Geisor – dive master
    Nestor – dive master
    Boats: Reef Cat, Dive Cat, & Coral Diver
    The boat crew gave us great service. They set up our gear for each dive and broke the gear down after. The dive masters were great. I dove mostly with Geisor. He is great at spotting the critters.

    Scuba Club is a pretty nice and quiet place. The facility is clean and seems to be in good repair. My room on the third floor was clean and had a window sized A/C unit. The beds are firm. There was a small refrigerator, an alarm clock, two chairs, a closet with shelves, a large bathroom, and balcony overlooking the ocean. Fresh towels were supplied daily. The hot water was hard to adjust in the shower, and would go from warm to cold, to very hot as you showered. There was no TV. The wireless internet works well and was fast. There are an adequate number of power plugs. The rooms do not have a safe but security boxes are at the office.
    The hotel and restaurant staff were friendly and helpful. The food menu is a bit limited, but everything that I had to eat was good.

    The air temps at Coz were in the low 70’s most days with the warmest about 75. It was windy several days so it was sometimes chilly/cold in wet gear after a dive. Water temps ranged from 71 to 81. I wore a 3mm full suit all week and only felt cold on the surface after a dive.

    It was good week! Could it have been better? Yes. But it was great to be there.

  18. Hi there, just browsing for information for my Stockton 4g website. Truly more information that you can imagine on the web. Wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but good site. Take care.

  19. Snagel says:

    Reports- Coz Trip 3-2011, Oly E-PL1, Mexican Circus and Surfing
    Original Post by DevilDiver on ScubaToys

    A quick report that covers a trip to Cozumel, the first time I had the chance to get the Olympus PEN E-PL1 camera system in the water, a night at a Mexican Circus and an afternoon on the “other side” catching a surfing competition.

    First… the trip, hotel and dive op and a few pics . As always a great getaway and chance to get in some much needed diving and downtime. We stayed at the Hotel Barracuda once again (love this place). It is a basic hotel and does not look like much from the outside, located right across the street from the Mega (like WalMart) and only a couple of doors down from Margaretville if you feel the need to hang with cruise shippers and tourist looking for a $15/US burger. The Hotel Barracuda may not look like much from the street but the rooms are clean and well kept, they have a private walled in beach with sun or shade, a dock and rail and stair shore entry for swimming, snorkel or diving. The small but nice well kept pool and swim up bar belongs to The No Name Bar. The No Name Bar draws from the entertainers and crews of the many cruise ships that dock in Cozumel throughout the week making for some lively afternoons but the crowds ship out late afternoons leaving hotel guest and some local regulars to relax, eat (great food – reasonable prices) play bar games and/or enjoy beverages of choice.

    Being right across the street from the Mega you can purchase snacks, beer, meds, clothes or whatever you might need, this can be very convenient and the pizza made fresh at the deli rocks ($10/Lrg 20”).

    For diving, our package included dives through Dive Paradise that has a small satalite shop on grounds at the Hotel Barracuda. This would be the second time diving with this operation for me and truthfully it hopefully will be the last. If anyone remembers the report I did on Cozumel/Hotel Barracuda/Dive Paradise early 2010 I believe I said that would be that last time I would book with them and I should have stuck to it. I am not going to trash the dive op but with all of the times I have been to Coz and all of the great shops I have dove with big and small I just cannot and will not recommend this operation.

    OK…… So, I will move on to the diving and then follow up with the Circus and Surfing later. Weather was fantastic (air temps did drop to high 60’s in the evenings) some wind but I don’t believe we had more than 3ft seas throughout the week. Water temps were consistent mid 70’s through out the week and the sea lice were just starting to gather close to the surface but were still very small, I heard no complaints or even talk about them from other divers. We only saw 7-8 Loinfish on this trip but did hear others saying they had saw more. Some other sighting included very large Groupers, Terminal Midnight and Rainbow Parrotfish, Turtle’s, Angel’s, Octos, Shortfin and Whitenose Pipefish, Seahorse’s, Moray and Spotted eel’s and plenty of the usual reef fish. One that I was surprised by was a Sharptail Eel swimming in the open during the day.

  20. snagel says:

    Coz trip – October 5, 2011
    Original Post by Mcr0112 on ScubaToys

    Just got back on Sunday from 7 days of divng in Coz. Stayed at the Barracuda Hotel. It was quiet and nothing to get excited about. The rooms were clean and no bugs any where. Hint, if you are at the north end of the hotel leave the hot water running for 30 minutes and you will finally get hot water. The heater is at the other end and with no other guests it just took awhile.
    Dove with Dive Paradise all days. Service was good, the boats were not crowded. Got to dive the southern sites almost everyday. Saw lots of rays(skates), grey eels, & fish. Saw 4 turles and serveral stone fish. Water temps were in the mid 80’s and weather was really nice, not to hot or cool. Had rain upon surfacing on one dive. Only had two problems all week. Retainer ring on mask lens came loose and caused the mask to flood making me clear it each breath. and sinus kept me out of the water one afternoon. Overall it was arelaxing trip. Found two killer places to eat.
    One just north of the gas sation(intown) on west side of road. It was clean, good and cheapp, 2 beers, 2 cokes, 1 fajita, 2 tacos, and all the veggies you could eat was $14. The other was Playa Bonita on the east side of the island, had really hottttt!!!!!! sauce and excellent seafood soup & super shrimp cocktail. either would make a meal by them selves.

  21. Snagel says:

    Cozumel Trip Report March 17-22, 2012
    Original Post by Farraway on ScubaToys

    Catching up after vacation always seems to take a while!

    We flew out of Knoxville Saturday morning, then through Charlotte, landing in Cozumel about 12:30 or 1. Pretty long lines in the airport, but we got to Scuba Club Cozumel by a little after 2.

    They had us leave our luggage in the entryway (a security guard sits just outside), and sent us in to lunch. That was the one and only time we ordered off the menu (chicken sandwich and guacamole), and it was not really all that great. Choose from one of the specials for lunch and dinner – those are excellent! Except for the first day, you’ll order lunch and dinner at breakfast. Breakfast is a buffet and it’s easy to find plenty to eat – several kinds of eggs, pancakes, french toast, bacon, cereal, yogurt, fruit, juice. The banana pancakes were very good, and I don’t even like bananas in things all that much. Tomas took very good care of us, but almost all of the staff were very nice. Check out the upstairs for dinner – the chairs are much more comfortable, and the atmosphere is cozy.

    The rooms were designed with divers in mind – tile floors, a built-in bench to put a couple of suitcases on, a ‘couch’ which is basically another built-in bench covered in carpet, a big wardrobe with both shelves and a place to hang clothes, and a place out on the balcony to hang wet suits. The bed was a little hard – it kind of felt like a futon mattress, but it was all right. A caution: housekeeping apparently uses something when they mop that makes the floors extremely slick for wet feet.

    Scuba Club Cozumel also has lockers in two places down by the water, so bring a lock. If you forget, Chedraui (kind of like a WalMart) is a short way down the street. We found one locker to be plenty big enough for two of us.

    There’s a dive shop across the street from Scuba Club (and lots more around town of course). If you don’t have an identification guide, I highly recommend getting something. I bought a 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 laminated sheet with a map of Cozumel on one side and critters on the other. Best $10 I spent.

    Speaking of money – try to take enough cash with you, especially ones and fives. If you run out, stay away from the ATMs downtown that give you US dollars. They work, but they take the money out of your account in US dollars, convert it to pesos, then convert it back to US dollars. Needless to say, you pay a LOT in the process. We took out $160 and paid $28 for the privilege. Scuba Club has free safety deposit boxes at the front desk.

    If you dive with Scuba Club, they’ll assign you to one of their boats for the week. We had a large group (20 or so), so they put us all together on the Reef Star. Our dive master was Nestor. I highly recommend him. He is knowledgeable, good at finding things to see, seems to genuinely enjoy what he’s doing, and put this squeaky-new diver at ease.

    Our first dive was off the Scuba Club dock. Our instructor (Jimmie Wheeler from Ski/Scuba Club in Knoxville) went over the usual newbie things and made sure we hadn’t forgotten anything from our class 2 weeks before. Scuba Club has stairs going down to an area where you can get your fins on, etc before swimming out. Surge is sometimes an issue here. You can also just step off the dock. Check out the buoys before you decide to dive; they’ll tell you if the current is going to be manageable or not. There’s not a lot to see in this area (compared to the boat dives), but it is fun to look around anyway. Over the 4 dives we did in this area, we saw skates, little crabs, trumpet fish, blue tang, yellow stingray, stoplight parrotfish, bermuda chub, long spined sea urchin, spotted moray eel, balloon fish, and a ton of spiny lobsters (10 or more in one spot). Other people reported seeing an octopus on a night dive here, but we didn’t spot him.

    Except for the wreck dive, all the boat dives were drift dives. The current started changing about 10 days before we got there, and it was kind of unpredictable which way it would be going. We made three tries before we managed to dive Tormentos Reef, for example. The first time we dove Yucab Reef (south of Tormentos), and the second time we dove Chankanaab Reef (north of Tormentos). The current was extremely strong Wednesday. The dives were a lot like riding a roller coaster. It was still fun, but you certainly weren’t going to be swimming against the current to check anything out. If you missed it, you missed it. At the end of those 2 dives, Nestor told us we could consider ourselves experienced divers – that that was as bad as it got.

    Visibility was very good, and the water temperature was 79 F. Our deepest dive was 82 ft.

    We wore dive skins and full 3 mil wet suits. Except for the first day when I got cold during the second boat dive, this worked for both of us. From then on, I drank some juice during the surface interval and was warm enough.

    I wore a weight belt and found that it came loose on the first dive of the day every time. I guess the teeth were kind of worn. If I got it wet first though, it was okay.

    Scuba Club also offers a wreck dive (the Felipe Xicotenantl), and twilight and night dives. The twilight dive did not work out for our group (too many people with different ideas of what they wanted to do I suspect), but I highly recommend the other dives. I am slightly claustrophobic, but had no issues going inside the wreck. You will need a light if you do this. You can also wear gloves on the wreck dive, but not on any of the others. I didn’t have any and had no issues.

    I did have an issue on the night dive to Paradise Reef. I used 12 lbs of weight all week. That may have been a little too much, but it helped me get down, and I just bumped a little air into my BC if I found myself sinking. On the night dive, my BC deflator malfunctioned; I couldn’t find the upper dump valve pull, and didn’t think about the lower one. I took a very fast ride to the surface. After I got myself sorted out (and my husband figured out where I went), I went back down to 15 ft to wait out his safety stop with him. Bouncing to the surface was very scary, but I lucked out. I didn’t run into a boat, and I didn’t experience any nitrogen problem. The maximum depth I got to was 45 feet, but I don’t think I was quite that deep just before I started up. I was also breathing very fast on the way up, so I know I didn’t hold my breath at any point! My bottom time was 44 minutes (and I was down to 1100 psi), so I wouldn’t have been down all that much longer anyway.

    Immediately after we got back to Scuba Club, we did another night dive on the reef there (22 ft and 22 minutes). I don’t know if that helped me avoid any nitrogen issues, but I didn’t want the Paradise Reef experience to be my last dive of the trip.

    Total dives this trip – 16.

    Friday we rented a scooter and checked out the island. Note: unless you’re renting from somebody like Avis, the insurance doesn’t completely cover damage to the rental vehicle. We didn’t have any issues, but Rennan (the guy we rented from) told us about this. A tree fell one of his jeeps(?), and the people that rented it ended up paying about 10% of the cost.

    On the way back to Knoxville, we found out that the Charlotte airport has a _very_ nice USO.

  22. Snagel says:

    Trip Report – Papa Hogs – May 26 to June 2, 2012

    Original Post by John Yaskowich on ScubaToys

    I am about to leave for home after a week diving with Papa Hogs in Cozumel.

    The Executive Summary: Wonderful. I will be back.

    The Details: I flew out of Montreal direct to Cozumel airport. After the usual fun and games with immigration, baggage, finding your way around a new airport, etc, it was off to Villa Blanca hotel to check-in. I had arranged everything through the Papa Hogs website and things went smoothly. I was in a “superior” room and, although it will never touch the Ritz, it was adequate for a diving vacation. It is big, no bugs in the rooms, the A/C works, there is hot water in the shower, and the dive shop is across the road.

    I booked for 5×2 tank days with unlimited shore diving. In all I got in 17 dives and I don’t think I scratched the surface of the diving Cozumel offers. The reefs are in good shape, the marine life is abundant and varied, visibility usually approached 100+ feet and the waters were warm (about 82F). We dove walls, reefs, swim-throughs, all the usual stuff you find in the Caribbean. Most of the dives were drifts (this IS Cozumel). The house reef is nothing to write home about (2 dives – one a gear check and work the kinks out of the body, the other an unsuccessful seahorse hunt).

    Most of the boats for Papa Hogs are fast 6-packs. Departure at 8:30 (or earlier if everyone is ready to go) and splashing by 9:00 or so. The Dive Masters are excellent – a safety and site briefing before the dive, they keep a careful watch over the divers but still let you do pretty much your own thing. The DMs were very good at spotting critters big and small and letting everyone who was interested get a look / pictures. Most dives were 45-55 minutes then up for the safety stop. Over the course of the week I saw lots of lobsters, crabs (both big eating types and tiny, tiny arrow crabs), shrimp, barracuda, a couple of sharks, turtles, green moray eels (including a small one with a head the size of your little finger hiding under a rock) and spotted eels. A couple of the BIG greens were free-swimming around their reefs – impressive! We also saw a couple of Splendid Toadfish, lots of parrot fish, spotted drums, angel fish, groupers, black durgons, etc, etc, etc. Like I said the marine life was plentiful and varied. A special thanks to DM Eddie who had a knack for spotting stuff smaller than believable, even while drifting along at a good clip.

    I must mention one incident – one of the divers suffered a major DCS hit to his spine when we were back at the dive shack. He was hanging up his gear when his legs gave out and he indicated he needed help. A quick yell to the staff and a well oiled machine swung into motion. They had him on oxygen within 2 minutes, in a car on the way the hospital within 10 and he was in the chamber within 15 minutes of getting to the hospital. One 4 hour ride and a 2 hour ride next day and he was back on his feet. No diving for 6 months, then conservative profiles for a long while. The diver is 68 years old, almost 1000 dives, but he had let himself get dehydrated and tired, plus a couple too many drinks the night before. All added up to a “hit”. Remember: hydration, hydration, hydration, plus lots of good sleep.

    I am very glad I came to Cozumel. I can see why it is famous around the world for its drift dives. When I hit the water the first time, my whole body yelled “Yes, I am HOME.” And now the gear is dry and packed and I am headed to my home in real life. But I look forward to coming back.

  23. Snagel says:

    Trip report July 24 – August 7, 2012
    Original Post by bbarada on ScubaBoard

    We have stayed at Scuba Club Cozumel over a dozen times. We have dived all over the world, but we keep coming to back to SCC. Most of the same people have been working there since we first started coming in 1998. The service is incredible; the food is good to excellent, and the dive operations terrific. The place is laid out for divers, all tile in the rooms and conducive to wet divers.

    My wife and I went early to have some alone time. There were two large groups at Scuba Club and we got the small boats with a total of 7 – 8 divers. We met some great people; some of which were at Scuba Club for their first time.

    Then the rest of our group came the following Saturday and we had 8 divers and 2 non-divers. So we had the small boats again, with just our own group. So, we could pick the dive sites we wanted.

    The diving was terrific. We dove all the great sites, including Palancar Caves, our favorite first dive. We did a lot of shore diving too, always a treat at Scuba Club.

    There was lots of fish life, some eels, some lobsters, and lots of crabs, some nurse sharks, seahorses, octopi, nudibranchs, and spotted drums. The dive master speared a couple lionfish and fed them to various predators. We saw many less lionfish than we did last September. Good work!

    The drill at Scuba Club is: Up at 6:00 am for coffee and check email and the hurricane websites. Breakfast at 7:00 am, with a buffet of American and Mexican dishes. Then analyze our nitrox mixes for the boat dives. Go back to the room and change into a bathing suit and get your gear out of the locker to carry to the boat at about 8:15 am. The first dive is a deeper dive – 70 to 80 feet. After a surface interval of about an hour, the second dive is shallower – 50 to 60 feet. Then lunch when the boat returns – the special or order off the menu – one side of the menu is traditional Mexican lunches and the other side American dishes like cheeseburgers or BLT’s.

    We did a lot of shore diving in the afternoon. Tanks for shore diving are included; you just have to sign for them. We did a twilight/night dive one day, and many of our group did the wreck dive. The only strong current we encountered was on the night dive at Paradise. Go figure . . .

    Then dinner: They usually have one meat dish, one fish dish, and one vegetarian dish. The held a traditional Mexican BBQ once a week with a piñata. We went out two nights – once to Prima’s and once to Kinta. Both were superb.

    On Wednesday of the second week we went to snorkel with the whale sharks. We were scheduled to fly to Holbox in 2 Cessna’s and take a small boat to the whale sharks. But we received a call from the operator that the whale sharks had moved closer to Isla Mujeres. So we took the 6:00 am ferry to Playa Del Carmen and were picked up by a bus for an hour’s ride to Cancun. Then we boarded a boat and it was a 45 minute ride to the whale sharks. There were over 150 whale sharks when we arrived, swimming in very clear water. The rule is two snorkelers in the water at a time with the guide, no getting within 3 feet of the sharks. It was terrific! We had 8 people in our boat — all our own group. We got pictures and videos. We swam with the sharks until we were all sharked out, then we went to a beach on Isla Mujeres, anchored in about 3 feet of water, and the guide and boat captain made fresh ceviche for us. What’s better than drinking cold Coronas and eating fresh ceviche standing in 86-degree water on a nice sand bottom? Then a boat ride back to Cancun, a bus ride to Playa Del Carmen and another ferry ride to Cozumel, and a taxi back to Scuba Club. Made for a very long day – but definitely worth it.

  24. Snagel says:

    October 2013 Cozumel Occidental Grand trip report
    Original Post by Rayaa3 on ScubaToys

    Well, we’ve been back from our fall trip for about a month – and I’m finally making time to type this up. We were from 10/19 – 10/26. We stayed at the Occidental Grand, which is unusual for us. It was my daughter, wife, and I for 7 days, 4 days of diving – a great week.

    So, we go to Cozumel at least once a year and late October happens to be one of the easier months for us to travel with Kid/School/Work/etc schedules. it’s always a crap shoot in terms of weather. Statistically I don’t worry too much about running into a Hurricane. I do worry about getting the first Norte of the year, or having a really rainy week. 2012 we hit both – and when the Norte comes, the diving pretty much shuts down for 3 days. Having 3 days of diving shut down isn’t so bad, unless it’s your only there a week – then it’s disappointing. This year had no such troubles. We came in on a Saturday and it didn’t even rain until Thursday afternoon. We had a great week diving with Opal’s Dream who I can still recommend even though they have had changes in management over the last year or so.

    A bit about Opal’s Dream. It’s a small shop. They have an office in town between the Lagosta Pier and town square. They’ll pick you up on any hotel pier from downtown down south. They use a small boat, maybe 24 feet (I’m terrible with sizes) and will take up to 7 divers on it – though typical group size is 6. The boat’s name is the flaying fish (pronounced flying – but if you look on the side of the boat, it’s spelled flaying). It’s got dual outboard 100’s. It’s not the fastest (though it’s not slow) or the largest but Orlando gets it right on target. If you are looking for large roomy boats – these guys are not for you. Generally speaking most places I see taking large boats have groups >6 divers, and with drift diving as swift as Cozumel it just turns into a mess. So I stick to the small shops. The boat has a sun cover. The dive masters are good guys who care about your safety and want you to have a good time. Generally speaking you dive your air – though I have seen a dive ended at 80 minutes because we were all the way down at the Columbia shallows and they needed to get back up to town for the afternoon divers. I’ve never seen a dive ended in less than an hour unless everyone was out of air. Also, they’ll let you head up in buddy pairs (though I think if you were brand new to diving with them they might not be so inclined until they knew you could handle yourself on the surface) when you are OOA – so the ride isn’t over for everyone when the first guy nursing a hangover hits 700 psi. I love the shop – the dive masters, the captain. I don’t know how else to say it – they are simply good people. We did a night dive with them – which staying at Occidental grand and being 4 divers going out means we had to catch a taxi up to the marina. When we were done we asked if they could call us a taxi so we could go. Though that was what we had discussed the DM and shop manager (who had come to fetch our gear off the boat and take it to the shop for the night) refused – they gave us a ride to the hotel. We tried to give them some money for the ride gas is expensive, and the scuba industry isn’t making these guys rich. Nope – wouldn’t take it. At any rate, I’ll stop gushing.

    So the hotel – The Occidental Grand. This isn’t our normal digs. We typically stay at Hotel Cozumel in town. The All inclusive is a good deal for lunch, breakfast, and drinks all day. We don’t always like the dinner service (though we never go hungry) but being so close to town, and so cheap for All inclusive, we usually eat 3 dinners a week in town at our favorite places. However, we wanted to try some place new and Occidental Grand had a sale. Add in the Orbitz $150 coupon code and we ended up with $800pp for 3 people, in 2 rooms including flight/hotel – basically everything but diving.

    The 2 rooms: check the orbitz code, it prices per room. I have a teenager, and sometimes I find that I can put the teenager in their own room for within $20 for the week of putting them in our room. It’s a nice luxury if it works out. The rooms were very nice. I thought the bathrooms were quite nice – especially compared to the Alegro which I stayed at 4 years ago – which is the same chain and usually comparable in price. In the room there was a minibar with sodas, and beers. This was kind of nice, and unexpected.

    The hotel grounds were beautiful, which is very typical on Cozumel. The beach was sandy and pleasant. The far south end of the island has great beaches. There are two pools one right next to a bar/beach – this pool is usually a little louder with music, folks relaxing, and activities. If you want to be near the crowd, that’s the pool for you. If you want a napping area – there’s another pool closer to the rooms, further from the beach. Good for sunning, and falling asleep with a book. I found the beach itself to be quiet as well – some how the pool music 50feet away couldn’t penetrate the sandy areas quite so well.

    So on another thread I was working on a trip report for my October trip to Cozumel – which was great. I found myself getting into a rant about the complaints I seem to hear about all inclusive hotels and food. Because the internet gives every jack ass like me a voice, I figured I would post it in it’s own thread rather than my trip report…so having removed it from the other post here it is, my advice to folks considering all inclusive hotels the first time:

    Hotel Food –
    breakfast buffet – good, especially the omelette/eggs made to order grill.
    Lunch buffet – good, particularly the made to order burger grill.
    Dinner buffet – I never really enjoyed it very much – though the deserts were great. I didn’t go hungry, I just didn’t enjoy dinner at the buffet as much as the other two meals.
    There were 2 dinner ala carte places: Mediterranean and ‘steak house’ – I found both of those to be very good. However it is noteworthy: 1 – these are by reservation. 2 – You have to wear pants – no shorts, no flip flops. 3 – on a week long stay you can only make 3 reservations.

  25. snagel says:

    August 2014
    Villa Blanca in Cozumel

    Original Post by Zeagle Eagle on ScubaToys

    Okay back from COZ. We actually went twice. We went down three weeks ago and got my 10 year old certified. We stayed at Casa Del Mar and dove with Del Mar Aquatics. Both were stellar. Del Mar Aquatics has really raised their game these past few years. We dove with an instructor by the name of Alex’s and they don’t get any better he was patient with my daughter and pretty much left me to myself. He is very accomplished at finding stuff on the reef yet not bothering us with “oh look another fish”. I never had to touch my gear. The entry is a giant stride and we all gather and go down together. He is not too slow and not too fast. Upon returning to the boat, we shucked our gear and they roped it. then lifted it to the boat being very careful not to bang the computers or regs. Get rid of everything else and pass it up mask, fins, weight belt; etc. They put your camera in the camera tank and the rest of the gear gets setup again. The exit ladder is a t shaped or cross bar type ladder securely attached to the boat. It has some sort of rope covering the metal rungs for good grip and a second rope attached to the bottom of the ladder and the boat to help sort of as a handle to get back in the boat. Very easy, even for an old out of shape guy. While sitting out the surface interval, drinks are served by the crew, plenty of water or juice as well as water melon, pineapple, honey dew melon and something that tasted like cinibuns. There was some rice krispy treats passed around; but, I think they came from another diver. There was seconds if you wanted it and the water was ice cold. We were on the Iguana which is one of their smaller boats; but, there was ample room for my gear and none of it got wet. It is a fairly large boat as dive boats go and not too slow. After getting out of the water on my daughters last training dive. They made a big deal out of my daughter getting her “C” card and they even had a huge banner to let everyone know. She got to up go topside and even drive the boat. At the end of the dive our gear was off loaded for us and they took the weights and tanks. Our gear was deposited next to the rinse tank. My only concern was the lockers, which consisted of plastic milk tray racks with a very cheap lock on it. I didn’t leave any thing of value; but, in 20+ years of diving with them I have never heard of anything missing. It’s is locked at night.

    We came home for one week and then decided to go back as we had so much fun the first time. We didn’t have any reservations so on our way in the taxi to Casa Del Mar we spotted Villa Blanca and thought we would give it a try. Ihad heard a lot of goo things about it on the ST forum. I paid cash for 5 nights without much investigation. $80 a night plus $19 tax. Way more than I pay at Casa Del Mar. We managed to get our own luggage to our room (no bell hop). I got the upgraded room superior I think they call it. It was fairly large. I had one king size bed and a couch that double as another bed. The king bed was comfy; but, the couch was very hard. The A/C remote would not work so we called the front desk. 2 hours later we got some one to fix it. We had two choices on air 16 c or off, nothing in between we also could not control the fan speed or the louvers. There was one bottle of water which we had to take to the front desk each day to refill. What’s with that? The shower, who, now that was the one nice thing about the hotel room. It had a really nice big shower. Lots of cold water coming out. The faucets worked in reverse to what I was expecting. Turn right for off left for on…..nope the other way around. Burned my self a couple of times remembering that one. The shower was enclosed with a small wall that you had to step over to get in but you could stop up the drain and get 2 feet of water in it for rinsing your dive gear. Nice! Too bad there was no place to hang it to dry. The floors were made out of marble or something similar and were extremely slippery when wet. We had towels strewn all around in an effort not to fall. It didn’t work and I fell three times, the last one costing me a trip to the ER. We did have some spotty wireless in the room not fast enough to watch a movie or do skype video; but, we could check our email and surf the net. We had to go to the lobby to do skype with no video. We could have lived with the room if that was the only thing wrong with the hotel. The pool OM freakin’ goodness. It was the nastiest, filthiest pool I have seen in years. All the tiles had some sort of black mold between the tiles and the water was lacking in chlorine. We both got major red eye after spending any time in the pool. There was one ladder to get in and out. It was so high my daughter couldn’t reach it and neither could I. They did have a ledge but it too was unusable for exiting. I would sit on the ledge and then roll on the edge of the pool like a drunk on times square to get up. Pretty embarrassing. The pool visibility was a disgrace. 5 feet max and it was filled with insects, trash, tissues and some sort of white jelly on the bottom. I want to barf thinking about it. On our final day I spotted a sign in the front desk area. The water is not fit to drink. No @#$% Sherlock! It would have been nice to know that before we stayed there. Maybe a sign in the room next to the faucet. We didn’t drink it anyway as it was kinda’ brown. It reminded me of rinsing my dive gear in water from the Blue Lagoon in Huntsville. I couldn’t wait to get it home to clean it. We won’t be going back and I don’t recommend it.

    Review of Papa Hogs

    As we were right across the street from Papa Hogs. We decided to give them a try. Many of our ST forum folks have recommended them. Our experience was a bit different.

    My initial impression was so, so. It is sort of a run down establishment in need of repair. I put it down to damage from the various hurricanes to pass through. We met Francesca and told him of our needs and he was very nice and very helpful. I got a price of $80 a day each for a two tank dive. That was cash, more if I used a card. Okay, that was a lot more than I was used to paying; but, I thought to give it a try. I booked 4 days and paid for 1 (thankfully). We showed up at the dock the next day. He couldn’t get us into a morning dive. There was no one to greet us, show us where to put our gear, where to get out of the sun. We hung out until almost departure time and the boat showed up. It was called the Isabella. It was very small. They did have the small tanks on board for my daughter. I looked around and didn’t see any safety gear. We got in the boat ourselves without much help and that was pretty much it. No safety briefing, no this is the Captain, this is the first mate. As we headed out I asked one of the crew members if they had oxygen and he said gruffly yes. I asked where it was and he pointed forward. Could I look at it? Whoa, that pretty much pissed him off. He said it was in a hold and hard to get too. Almost asked to return to the dock at that point; but, I didn’t. The boat was not as fast as I expected. We passed some and some passed us. I would say it was just a little bit faster than the bigger boats. The water was calm, but we still got a lot of spray in the boat. My towel was wet as was my dive bag. I couldn’t find a place to keep it dry. The floor of the boat was soaked so under the seats was not an option.The boat seemed to rock over every swell and was not a pleasant ride. We got to the dive site. We geared up and we checked our gear. The first mate had gone to everyone’s tank and made sure it was on. I like to be the last person to touch my tank so I checked mine and then my daughters, low and behold her’s was off. I saw her check it earlier, blow some air through the regs, inflate the BC so I don’t know who turned it off. There was a very a minimal briefing…here’s the reef dive, time is 45 minutes, watch your air and then we hit the water. Entry was a back roll. I love that entry and it was my daughters first. She handled it like a champ. The dive was normal. I did notice most of the divers had those little champagne bubbles coming from the tank valve. I think a few O ring replacements would have been nice. We were one of the last back to the boat. The boat ladder was T shaped with small metal rungs. They were slippery and the ladder swung back and forth. One of the boat crew should have been holding it. When I tried to pass up my gear they acted as if I had ebola. No one wanted to touch it. I just hung on the ladder until the first mate grabbed my BC and pulled it into the boat slamming my Atomic Cobalt and my Scuba Pro reg into the side. Man I was pissed. I put the rest of my own gear in and then helped my daughter. When they lifted her BC in they put a nice scratch on her computer. Getting back in the boat was a bit of a chore, I would swing to one side of the ladder and then the next with each swell. The rungs were very slippy. After a few lunges I managed to get in. Not one single hand to help me. The usual surface interval with some bottled water and then the next dive. Minimal briefing and off we went. The return to the boat was the same circus. Try to get some one to help with my equipment was tough. The usual slam the regs and computers into the side of the boat and then dump them in a big pile. Rough ride back to the dock and dump the gear on by the side of the boat. Bye, Bye. First time in my life I did not tip. I had planned a week of diving with them; but, never went back. We went to Del Mar Aquatics the next day….yay.

    To sum it all up this boat is meant for the young divers around 20-35 who don’t mind taking care of their own gear and the small boats. No service and average dive gear. We won’t be going back.

  26. snagel says:

    Cozumel March 2015 – trip report
    Original Post: Rayaa3 on ScubaToys Forum

    Headed down to Cozumel for a 6 night family vacation March 7-13, 2015.
    Stayed: Hotel Cozumel and Resort
    Dive Op: Opals Dream dive shop
    Weather – highs in the mid 80’s, lows about 70, rained hard one evening for an hour or so, otherwise anywhere from partly cloudy to mostly sunny. Winds were 10-20mph out of the East/NE, East, or East/SE – depending on the day. However since it was all version of easterly wind as far as diving is converned it is the friendly direction.

    Water temp 77f-79f, water was mostly flat with the Cozumel version of choppy in the afternoon when the wind would get above 15mph. I’m sure folks on the larger boats didn’t even notice much.

    Current very mild this week.

    Made 10 tanks through the week, 5 days of AM 2 tank diving. Opals has their regular boat (Flaying Fish) being painted (looks really good too) so we were on a rental boat all week…no biggy but I miss their regular captain Orlando/Kung Fu Panda. Dove with Ishi, or Sergio all week. I think the most we had on the boat was 4 or 5 divers, as usual very personalized experience.

    Everyone was diving their air/computer limits. They even brought in 100’s for one of the big guys (I mean it he was 6’5” if he was a foot, so that he could enjoy better bottom times. Most of our first dives were between 50-60 minutes, and our second dives were about an hour, as always if folks hit their air/computer limits they were sent to safety stop and boat in buddy pairs so that divers who were still ok to dive could enjoy all the bottom time they could safely soak up.

    We had not been to Cozumel since October of 2013. For a while we were going twice a year, I forgot how good the diving is there. What we saw on the dives:

    Eagle rays, I don’t think we went a day without seeing an eagle ray. The most exciting thing we saw was an eagle ray breech/jump out of the water from underneath. I have no video of it, it simply happened too fast, and was far enough away it wouldn’t have really come out well anyway. However, it’s a sight. I never imagined they could flap their ‘wings’ that fast. They get vertical from the bottom and go on a flapping rampage shooting straight up. It was something. We went back (by request of the divers) to Cedral wall 3 times over the week, and every time it would yield sharks, and eagle rays. On one dive: 7 sharks, 2 eagle rays (including the breech/jump), puffer/porcupine, eels, lobster – just amazing. There was one other standout, but the wife and daughter got to see it, a Moray Eel hunting then eating a crab. I hear the final scene was it swimming away with half a claw sticking out of it’s mouth. As usual if I’m filming I hang back kind of far, so I only got to see him swim off in the distance, too bad. Tormentos was just covered in trigger fish, we went twice (again, our request) just gorgeous. The lobster seem to know the season just ended, they were out in plain site a handful of times, crawling around.

    It beat the pants off any week we have had in Roatan, Curacao, or Belize. We are headed back to Roatan in June for 5 nights, to stay and dive on the North – west end area. I’m curious to see how that stacks up – since we’ve only done the South before. It will be hard to beat what we just did.

    The daughter wants to do her AOW, so we’ll likely come back to Cozumel for that during fall break. Dollar for dollar, Cozumel has to be one of the best dive experiences in the Caribbean, particularly if you are coming out of the southern US, where’s it’s cheap and fast to fly from. I can typically book flight/hotel packages for about half of other locations.

    The hotel: I’ve stayed there many times before. I’ve done trip reports on it. I won’t rehash everything. Check out tripadvisor. Hotel Cozumel and resort can be summed up into this. The rooms/grounds are nice, 3 star resort. The food can be kind of blah (though I continue to love deserts there). However, all inclusive typically costs me about $30 per person per day, and at that price I don’t mind paying it, having breakfast/lunch, snacks, drinks covered – and going out and buying a nice dinner every other night. Their setup for diving is 2nd to none – gear lockers, showers, rinse tanks, hangers, all by the pier. You can use those no matter which operator you dive with and there is no charge to use the pier for other dive ops. Having the lunch setup right next to the dive locker/rinse area is brilliant…rinse gear, hang gear, get food/drink – put gear in locker.

    Dive op: We continue to use Opal’s Dream. They are a great small shop. The boats typically take no more than 6-7 divers. There’s a single DM, and the captain. They are small/fast boats. Surface intervals are typically at the beach near your dive site. Bottled water and fruit/melon/sweets are typically offered during SI. Almost all dive ops in Cozumel are good. Though not all will allow you to dive your air/computer limits and Opals does. What draws me back to Opals every time, I never feel like a customer. I feel like a friend diving with his friends. The cost of diving has risen slightly over the last couple years. Shops that use to charge 60, now charge 75. Shops that use to charge 75 are now charging 90. Opals quotes you 75 for a single day diving. I paid 70, for 2 tanks, for 3 divers, for 5 days. That included tax and the park fee (so really it was 68, $2 park fee). They are a bargain. I’m sure I could go for a bit cheaper with an op like dive paradise, but I don’t care for those big slow boats full of divers, and the fast boats which are similar to Opals are more expensive. The service is great. On the first day my daughter’s octo was leaking a little air. Ishi took it in at the end of the day, took it apart, cleaned it up, tuned it up – worked great all week – no charge, I tipped him for it, since he wouldn’t charge me. If you like at the end of every dive day they will keep your gear on the boat – rinse/hang it, and have it back on a tank the next day for you. We didn’t touch our bc/reg from day1, till day 5.

    Ok, I’m gushing. They are good people, and run a great outfit.

  27. Snagel says:

    Coz 2015

    Original Post by Clernix on ScubaToys
    June 2015

    I went down to Coz for a 12 day trip and got in some pretty good diving. I dove with Dive with Martin in the mornings and used Dressel Divers for the afternoon and night dives.
    I stayed at the Iberostar. I was very pleased with the hotel. Dressel Divers was not the best dive shop but not the worst, large cattle boats with a lot of divers.

    Dive with Martin was amazing as always. I got a total of 26 dives in with three night dives.

    I went to the mainland and dove six cenotes
    Kukle Khan
    Chac Mool
    Car Wash (aktun ha)
    Gran Cenote
    Dream Gate (downstream)
    Dreamgate (upstream)
    Dreamgate was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately I had camera issues that day. I know I will be going back for a full week of cenotes.

  28. Snagel says:

    Cozumel (ScubaClub) Aug 2015

    Original Post by Mcr0112 on ScubaToys:

    We stayed at ScubClub Cozumel for 5 days of diving. I will cover the hotel part separate from the dive op. We enjoyed our stay as we found some new resturants
    1] La Perlita great seafood had lionfish grilled with butter & garlic
    2] El Chonchita sea food
    3] El Pez Cozon Really good mixed cocktail & lobster. Located calle 10 norte &40 Av norte. Try the fried octopus it’s great.

    ScubaClub hotel; the room was a room, it was clean & the ac worked. The shower was pretty good size. and the maids did a good job. The dive lockers were a ways from the pier and the only place to hang your gear to dry was at your room. That was fine as long as you were on the ground floor. For people on the 3rd it would be a problem. Really didn’t notice any noise problems and we were right next to the bar/ resturant.
    The food was repetive and they seemed to skimp on everything ,one deli slice of ham on a sandwhich. They charged extra for drinks, an iced tea was almost the same as a beer and there were no refills. The internet was not working very good when we got there and after a storm blew thru there was none. They claimed it was due to the storm. Funny, everywhere in town at the resturants had super fast connections.
    Overall on the hotel it was a 2 due to food.
    The dive op Scuba Cozumel was great. We had Miguel as our private guide as we don’t care for going over the wall. Perfer the reef tops. He found us a 3 inch sea horse, splendid toadfish,tons of lobsters, fed a lionfish to a snapper & one to a lobster. He took very good care of us.
    The boat crews were very attentive to divers on the boat & in the water. When a diver surfaced they wanted to know if they were ok, didn’t matter what boat they were from either. Were quick to assist you anyway they could.
    Day 1- Paseo de Cederal nurse shark, Turtle, large parrot fish.
    Chacanab SEAHORSE , pipe fish, & a couple of yellow rays
    Day 2 -Planacar Gardens, Giant lobster & large crab , Had a turtle almost run into me as it made a sweeping turn. 2 grey stingrays
    Yucab Shallows Heavy current, pretty good ride over the reef. large Angel & large grouper
    Day3 -Twilight Paseo De Cederal, Female file fish. rays, lobster, light current first time to use nitrox
    Night, Paradise group of sharp nosed eels mating. Splendid toadfish, octopi, speckled moray, nitrox
    Day 4 Planacar caves small eel ( 3 inches long) file fish, grey rays, flounder, large hermit crabs. nitrox
    SanFransico Large barracuda, scarred up in places, then serveral smaller ones. Crown of thorns starfish, large moaray came out towards my brother, guess it didn’t want to be videoed. nitrox
    Day 5 Santa Rosa lots of lobster, snapper, guide shot a small lionfish. a good sized snapper followed along with us waiting to be fed, The guide had put the lionfish in a plastic bag then when we were ready to video he fed it to the snapper. plenty neat sight.
    Paradise, crazy current switched directions. Divers were scattered in all directions. not too good of dive as it wa hazy & moving along.
    Day 6 shore dive at Sclub Club, small speckled moray, yellow ray and small fish
    Overall the dive op & diving recieve a 5 (0-5). They took care of you and your gear. were quick & effiecent on time.
    All our dives were on the Dive Cat except the twilight/night which was on the reef cat.
    Would we go back? I don’t think so because the cost & the food. Could have almost paid for a trip to Dahab for the same price. Live & learn.

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