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Diving services in Cozumel - your favorite? Also questions on cenotes...

Diving services in Cozumel - your favorite? Also questions on cenotes...

Old Oct 7th, 2002, 10:29 AM
Owen O'Neill
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Diving services in Cozumel - your favorite? Also questions on cenotes...

I'll be in Cozumel for my first visit during the week immediately following Thanksgiving. I plan to get my PADI Adanced Open Water certification (already did the Open Water course in Belize last spring), do some pleasure diving and also a fair amount of snorkeling. I've looked through a variety of websites and the going rate seems to be $245 for the class. It also appears that most everyone charges at least $65 for a two tank day trip of two dives (I have mask, fins and snorkel but don't own regulator or BCD). Staying at the Coral Princess and have no control over that (my ex GF made prepaid reservations and I'm paying her for the oom since we're "just friends" now and I"m going alone). A few questions:

1) Are there any services that are reputable but cheaper and include BCD and regulator? I'm a strong swimmer and comfortable diving - don't need any handholding - just reliable equipment and a group of ten or less. I ahve considered Freddy Contraras and also "Scuba with Alison". Any experience with these or with Pepe's (the dive service at the hotel)?
2) If the price is cheaper per dive is it worth getting one of the multi-day package deals? Any known shortcomings to that approach?
3) The hotel says excellent snorkeling is available directly off shore in front of their property. Any other shore accessible snorkeling areas I should check out?
4) Thinking of taking a day to do the cenotes trip. The website I saw showed snorkel and scuba but it looked as though you see almost as much of interest in the snorkel trip. Comments based on personal experience?

Last but hardly least... any place on Cozumel where I can get an outstanding cup of coffee or quality esspresso drinks?
Old Oct 7th, 2002, 11:23 AM
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Just a suggestion, but you might want to rethink getting your AOW cert. on vacation in Cozumel.
Almost all of the diving is drift diving, and can be pretty challenging depending on the currents.
We do our certs at home where we can take our time, and then just go have fun on vacation without having to worry about skills or classroom time.
We dive with Scuba Du, but only because we always stay at Presidente. There are a lot of great PADI-affiliated shops on Cozumel.
The charges you have related are pretty standard. Be sure you take a look at equipment before you dive as Cozumel is such a huge dive destination, stuff takes a beating.
Great snorkeling and fun diving at Chankanaab - a park you can spend the day at on the beach and with two good seafood restaurants. There's a cool cave there (just a depression really, not a serious overhead environment) where a group of HUGE tarpons hang out among a school of teeny silver fish so thick you can't see 5 feet in front of you. They rent equipment and have divemasters, and you can shore dive right off the beach. It's easy to see the whole park in about 35'of water with an hour of bottom time. Leaves you plenty of time to sit on the beach in one of their chairs under a shade palapa with a bucket of cold Dos Equiis Lager Especial with fresh limes!
The Fury Catamarans run a fun beach party/snorkel tour that goes to the two best reefs and then has a party/buffet on the beach. Open bar with music and wonderful snorkeling too!
The best snorkel and dive reef is Palancar, but Paradise is great too.
We found the cenotes to be fun for about 10 minutes. (Kind of like swimming in a quarry with better viz.) Best for newbies.
Hmmm, I don't drink coffee, but you could try Rock N Java or Jeanie's Waffle House.
Have a great time!!!
Old Oct 7th, 2002, 12:24 PM
Owen O'Neill
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Thanks for all the great info. I think I'll try Chankanaab and skip the cenotes based on what you're telling me. The appeal of the cenotes was based on website photos that showed something akin to cave diving but without requiring cave diving certification. Seems likely that they just show the few highlights on the website and not much else.

I understand your point about the certs but I live in the NYC area and doing AOW cert around here is not practical. Prior to the change in plans (was going with GF and now going alone) I had planned to leave the cert process for a late spring or summer solo trip to Belize or Honduras but I'll have plenty of time on thsi trip and not much else to do but relax after class/diving. Does the drift factor complicate things that much regarding the skills tests on the dives?
Old Oct 7th, 2002, 01:22 PM
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Hi Owen, my husband did his OW certification in Cozumel (at the time it was with the dive shop at Club Cozumel Caribe) and he had no problems with it. He had to do a bit of studying but it didn't bother me as it just kept him out of my hair.
This last Feb, we stayed at Iberostar and since the dive shop there was so brutally expensive, he used one of the dive shops in town. Do a search for Dive with Martin and you can check their package prices and confirm if they will pick you up at your hotel. My husband was given this place as a recommendation to use instead of the dive shop on site at the resort and he was glad he did. There was only 5 or 6 people on the boat and the boat picked him up at the end of the pier in front of our resort at 8:30 am and well in advance of when the cattle boats headed out to the dive sits. Do feel free to email him directly at [email protected] if you have more questions, he would be glad to advise.
Old Oct 7th, 2002, 02:24 PM
Owen O'Neill
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Thanks Debbie. Interestignthat you made the recommendation for Martin - it was one of the three places I had already bookmartked because it looked interesting! I will plan on doing the OAW cert this trip. I get restless enough on a vacation if I have company and not enough activity - going solo I really need to keep myself busy with something! I especially appreciate the fact that they go with small groups - it seems to make the experience so much better.
Old Oct 7th, 2002, 03:48 PM
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Hello again!
Yup, not many places to do an AOW cert. in NYC
A lot will depend on the currents, but I'm sure you'll be able to do it during your stay. You might want to e-mail the dive shops you're looking at going to and see what they say about doing the AOW cert there. Be sure to also do a night dive on Paradise Reef. Wow! (Try to schedule that during a full moon if there'll be one when your're there.)Shallow water will be no problem for the skills, so you should be fine.
The drift diving is somewhat akin to going on a rollercoaster ride through a zoo. Sometimes, the water just pulls you along a bit quicker than you might want to go and you have to really work to get back to see something interesting you went whooshing by.
Other times it's not so strong.
I agree that you should skip the cenotes. (Not nearly as interesting as it looked like it might be.)
Old Oct 7th, 2002, 03:56 PM
Owen O'Neill
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Thanks to all for the great advice. I'm okay with the roller coaster in a zoo concept - I'm a strong swimmer and also have a liking for visceral thrills and fast motion - should be okay.

Thus far all of the dive operations I'm looking at as options list that specific PADI class as being available.

I'm not a drinker but will check out the Fury snorkel trip/beach party - perhaps a good opportunity to meet folks as I'll be alone on this trip. I assume a young looking and thinking guy in his mid 40's will find kindred spirits? (or at least not be the only on over age 25 on the boat!)

Old Oct 7th, 2002, 04:24 PM
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Owen, me again...Dive with Martin has packages like 4 dives and get one free night dive and so forth. If you use them, ask if they are going to dive the Devil's Throat - apparently it's not to be missed.
And, if you're needing a quiet place to do any studying, rent a car (cheaper to rent a car for the day than to take a taxi to and from town) and drive around the island to the Atlantic side, and stop at a place called Playa Bonita. Go sit at one of the palapa covered tables by the water, order a beer and enjoy the view...if you're going to spend time with your nose in a book, this couldn't be a better place...quiet, not so many people and a great little spot!
While you've got the car, stop at a place called Playa Corona (it's on the old road) where the snorkeling trips usually end up at...the snorkelling is supposed to be great here and at Playa Azul.
Old Oct 7th, 2002, 05:23 PM
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People who choose to stay on Cozumel seem to be a more cerebral, older crowd, so you will definitely not be the only one over 25 on the snorkel cruises. (We are 40 and 50 Yes, the Fury snorkel trips are fun and there is drinking, but a lot of people take their kids, and it is a party atmosphere but not a Frat party. (Snorkeling is still the main focus of the trip
Be sure to spend the days when there are a lot of cruise ships in town (the taxi drivers can tell you what days those are) driving to the other side of the island as Debbie suggested. The cruise ships come in and turn the island upside down. You'd have to be a drinker to find that mayhem fun!
You can find quiet virtually deserted beaches, places to go horseback riding, and neat beach bars that serve the best fresh seafood to be found anywhere.
Our favorite restaurants: El Moro, Diamond Cafe, The Museum Cafe, La Choza, Sonora Grill, La Cocay.
You will have a great time!
The only danger is getting hooked like we have. We've been every Spring for 10 years and can't wait until April!
Old Oct 16th, 2002, 11:34 AM
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Owen - just wanted to confirm for you that the snorkeling in front of your hotel is fantastic. Stayed at Villa next door and found it much better than Chankanaab and other publicized spots. Have a great time!
Old Nov 16th, 2002, 01:38 PM
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Owen, Sending you a long personal email with our 12 years of experience in Cozumel and at Coral Princess. I hope you get it. If this is not your accurate email address. Please send me an email at [email protected]
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