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Cozumel Diving

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Cozumel dive guide

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Cozumel diving is a top spot among diver's favorite destinations. This is due to Cozumel's spectacular reef formations and exceptionally clear waters which have contributed to make this island one of the most popular diving destinations in the world.

Most diving operations in Cozumel are located on the beach, near any of the three massive reef systems that come close to shore Santa Rosa, Colombia and Palancar whose depth ranges from 50 to 120 feet (15 to 42 meters) . For more experienced divers there's the spectacular coral covered tunnels of Maracaibo, circling the southern tip of the island. These reefs descend to depths of 130 feet (40 meters) or more along its walls.
The water currents that constantly flow from south to north allowing divers to drift with the current while exploring a site are a big advantage. Most of Cozumel's diving sites are located within the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park, a protected underwater environment,

There are numerous dive sites from shallow for beginners to deep for the more advanced diver to explore like:

The Palancar reef is one of the best reef dives in Cozumel boasting an incredible show of coral forms, caves and canyons and where the visibility goes up to 230 feet (70 meters). It is at the outer edge of the continental shelf forming the deep-water channel between Cozumel and the Yucatan mainland and rests in about 80 feet (24 meters) of water. The northern end, Palancer Gardens, offers a shallower dive . The reef is about a mile offshore and is reachable by charter boat. Palancar offers so many different profiles that you will need atleast 30 dives to see it all!

Another good site for beginners is Balones of Chancanab which is a series of coral heads shaped like balloons. This site is slightly south of Chancanab and is at 60-70 feet (18-21 meters).
The Francesca Reef is a good deep site for first time ocean divers. This reef is surrounded by a sandy bottom at about 22-50 feet (7-15 meters). However on this site mild currents are to be expected and the marine life is very colourful.

For intermediate divers there's Santa Rosa Reef or "The Wall" is with no doubt one of the most popular drop-offs. It begins at 50 feet (15 meters) and plunges staright into the sea. There are great beds of tunicates, immense sponges, huge overhangs of stony corals and impressive caves and tunnels best dived 60-80 feet (18-24 meters) and usually has a fast current.

Paradise Reef more suitable for intermediate divers is actually a series of three separate reefs running parallel to shore and is the only reef here accessible to beach divers. The maximum depth is 45 feet (13 meters). All the three sections have an incredible abundance of sea life and is the island's most popular night diving location.

Columbia Reef is another impressive drop-off at 60-80 feet (18-24 meters). The quality of diving here is as spectacular as in any other part of Palancar. Columbia has of a series of gigantic coral pinnacles,tunnels and caverns. There isn't plenty of small marine life but large creatures are often encountered.

For advanced divers Maracaibo Reef is probably the most challenging dive spot in Cozumel at 140 -160 feet (42-48 meters), which is decompression (non sport) diving. The reef has a spectacular multitude of caves and crevices, requiring an entire day to explore.

There's also the virgin wall to explore. However because of the strong currents only small groups of advanced divers go at a time to the wrecks. This area as the name suggests remains untouched and intact.

Deep Palancar's wall begins at 90-100 feet (27-30 meters). It's a site that's rarely dived and definitely not for novice divers. Spectacular visibility and currents vary all along the reef but one thing you can count on at Palancar is having an exciting and varied dive.

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