Discover the Wonders Of Occidental Cozumel!
By Dennis Anderson
At Villa Deja Blue, we help travelers enjoy Cozumel snorkeling in a relaxing atmosphere leveraging information from our experience living on Cozumel Island.
Occidental Cozumel is the sister property to Allegro Cozumel and boasts immediate access to famous southern reefs such as Santa Rosa and Palancar. Pro-Dive Mexico runs diving trips directly from their hotel piers for guests staying here.
This resort features hacienda-style circular buildings arranged around fountain-filled courtyards. Rooms offer no-frills TVs and fully stocked minibars; additionally there are seven restaurants/bars plus a kids club on site.
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Cozumel’s most visited reef is one of its most iconic destinations – known as Cozumel Reef and an ideal diving site. The deep waters offer divers of all skill levels an immersive underwater landscape adorned with corals and filled with marine species like turtles, rays and barracudas – part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that extends from Yucatan Peninsula to Bay Islands of Honduras.
Reef is located two kilometers off of the southwest coast of the island and rises up to 30 feet/ 10 meters below surface level, offering calm and clear water conditions for swimming and other water activities.
This location provides the ideal setting to observe incredible coral formations. Additionally, its sandy areas serve as a haven for sea turtles while attracting an array of vibrant fish species.
Divers can explore an enchanting underwater realm full of caves, tunnels and overhangs teeming with cave corals and sponges – the tall heads of brain, staghorn and sheet coral creating an impressive city skyline effect that makes this reef so remarkable.
Palancar Reef offers various diving spots, each boasting their own distinctive qualities. Beginner divers may prefer Palancar Caves’ shallow gardens and caves while advanced divers will likely prefer Colombia Wall. A popular site at this location is also Palancar Horseshoe: a large horseshoe-shaped notch in the wall that’s home to several giant coral heads forming an array of giant coral heads lining its edges.
Diving at this stunning reef is best from December to April when conditions are warm and dry. Palancar Beach provides easy access to this site; taxis or car rentals are readily available to take divers there.
Jacques Cousteau once famously described Palancar Reef as a paradise for beginners, yet today this extraordinary coral massif remains popular with divers of all levels. Beginning divers can learn to dive here while more experienced divers can discover its many overhangs, swim-throughs and tunnels; its canyons and gullies with stunning coral growth provide inspiration to underwater artists.
Santa Rosa Wall is one of Cozumel’s iconic dive sites and should not be missed by any diver. Boasting spectacular coral formations and abundant marine life, this reef will astonish and amaze divers of all experience levels – from spotted eagle rays to Queen Angelfish admiration; Santa Rosa Wall offers something for every diver! Additionally, its shallow sandy areas make this dive site an excellent place for spotting Nurse Sharks which are commonly seen there.
Diving at this site offers underwater photographers stunning coral walls and cathedral swim throughs that make this dive site a popular spot. The reef itself boasts a vibrant ecosystem full of healthy barrel sponges and low profile corals; furthermore there are numerous crevices, ledges, and tunnels spanning throughout this unique dive site that are sure to inspire all who visit it.
Santa Rosa Wall is generally considered an intermediate dive site, featuring towering coral columns separated by sand channels that create impressive underwater canyons that provide a magnificent glimpse into the vast abyss below. Crevices, overhangs and tunnels traverse its site offering divers a new experience each time they dive it.
On your dive, be aware of your depth as the current can be strong at this site, especially for novice divers who might become overpowered by it. For the safety of everyone involved, if this is your first experience diving it might be wiser to practice on calmer dive sites before trying this one.
Santa Rosa is at its busiest between December and April, attracting large numbers of tourists. If possible, try scheduling your dives during afternoon hours, once crowds have dissipated. Hurricane season (May to October) also offers opportunities for diving; however conditions are more unpredictable and sediment runoff may make the water murky limiting visibility.
Cozumel National Park contains this reef, so it is imperative that divers follow park guidelines while exploring this natural beauty. They should never touch or disturb coral and all marine life should remain unharmed.
The Columbia Shallows is one of Cozumel’s premier shallow dive sites, often considered an entry-level beginner dive and rarely visited by other diving boats. Offering an abundance of marine life that cannot be found elsewhere, making for an attractive dive site with abundant coral sealife and stunning beauty.
Devil’s Throat extends from Devil’s Throat and runs along the Colombia Lagoon shoreline, featuring two sunken boats as a focal point and drawing large numbers of sergeant majors protecting their eggs, trunkfish, spotted eagle rays and moral eels. Additionally, there are multiple queen triggers here that provide shelter to an abundance of coral gardens as well as various reef fish species.
Skill level: Novice This stunning array of dense ribbons of corals and sponges that teem with marine life make for an impressive second dive. Corals intersperse large sand valleys created by currents. Groupers, grunts and snappers frequent this area too.
Snorkel boat tours make it possible to discover El Cielo, Palancar and Columbia all within one day on Cozumel. Daily departures depart from Palancar Beach or one of its other piers throughout Cozumel; simply contact your Experience Host who can create an itinerary tailored specifically for you!
Santa Rosa Wall offers novice snorkelers an ideal spot for snorkeling beginners as its shallow section allows them to witness many different species of reef fish. Furthermore, this site is an excellent way to practice buoyancy control and suitable for most skill levels. Coral here is stunning, featuring giant heads rising up from 20 feet below surface level – providing spectacular photo opps as you photograph underwater world life! Additionally there are multiple small caverns which may house various forms of life such as fish or invertebrates that live therein.
A stunning location for photography, this section of the reef consists of one mile of rolling hills covered with sponges and coral. Large schools of grunts, porkfish and snappers often visit its ledges while free swimming eels and nurse sharks may also be encountered here. Finally, be on the lookout for southern stingrays, blennies and urchins over on its sandy portions!
Cozumel offers calm waters suitable for divers of all levels to explore its abundant marine life and coral formations, while its crystal clear waters enable clear viewing without obstruction – characteristics which earned Cozumel its place as one of Jacques Cousteau’s five world-class diving destinations.
Between May and September is an ideal time to visit this spectacular dive site, when weather conditions are warm with minimal rainfall. Water temperatures range between 68 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and coral can thrive to its fullest potential.
New to diving or looking to start? For novice scuba divers, Cozumel Reef Slopes provide an ideal introduction. Their shallow reef slopes and depths are less challenging than other sites on Cozumel. Experienced divers can also enjoy night diving here due to its calm water.
Divers can experience the gorgeous underwater environment at this incredible spot, while also exploring the USS Liberty wreck on its southeasterly side of the reef. This fascinating place hosts an abundance of marine life such as turtles, barracuda, snapper and angelfish – an absolute must-see for divers!
Scuba diving at this beautiful site will be truly memorable, with vibrant corals and an abundance of marine life awaiting your discovery. Additionally, this is a fantastic spot to spot sharks as it is known to serve as their feeding ground.
Cozumel remains an extremely popular destination for scuba divers worldwide, thanks to its crystal clear waters, abundant marine life, and diverse coral reefs – unparalleled anywhere else in the Caribbean. Furthermore, with an extensive list of activities and amenities on offer here – Cozumel makes for the ideal paradise retreat!
Be sure to book your trip with Villa Deja Blue and enjoy your stay on the beautiful island of Cozumel.