Cozumel, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
What to see: coral pinnacles, walls, caverns, tunnels and crystal clear waters. Nurse sharks, turtles (hawksbill, loggerhead, green), spiny lobsters, crab, sting rays, variety of tropical fish like queen angelfish, schools of jacks, endemic splendid toadfish and some smaller creatures like pipehorses, arrow crab and sea horses. Occasional big pelagics like hammerhead sharks and eagle rays. Read more.
Level: All levels, the best dive sites for intermediate to experienced due to strong and sometimes unpredictable currents
How to get there: Direct flight to Cozumel from many US cities or flight to Cancun, from there take a taxi ($40) or bus ($5) to Playa del Carmen from where the ferry leaves at least every hour, 30 minutes ferry ride ($10).
Water temperature: from 24°C in winter to 31°C in summer
Visitbility: 30m and more usually, although with strong winds and bad weather the visibility can drop
Season: All year round, best season May/June not too hot, (low season), not much rain. Rainy/hurricane reason Aug-Nov, high season and therefore higher prices Dec-Apr, May-Jul when there is a possibility to see turtles nesting
Price: For two dives which are normally back to back: $70-120. Most shops offer a discount for multiple dives / dive packages.
My trip: I chose the wrong place, don’t even get me started! There are many many options, Blue Angel Resort has been recommended to me by friends. The resort diving is the more expensive option but has the advantage of having everything in one place.
The cheaper option is to stay in one of the many hotels in town (starting at about $ 25/night) and to book diving separately, which I ended up doing.
I did dive with Carlos and Simon a small family-run operation. The guides are experienced, a lot of fun and they have many customers coming back year after year to dive with them. I was the only newby on the boat. The dive operation will either pick you up at the hotel or you take a taxi ($ 6) to the marina.