(DiverWire) Thousands of articles have been written about Cozumel as a travel, cruise and (primarily) dive destination. History, culture, dinning, sightseeing and diving have been covered in depth by writers more prolific and talented than me. So why would I presume anyone would be interested in what I could add to the glut of factual, professionally researched material available out there already? Simple – I love Cozumel and it is my home reef.
Landlocked Sacramento California is quite a distance from the beautiful little island off the coast, slightly south of Cancun; Cozumel, Mexico. From the first trip years ago there has been a connection, a kinship and sense of belonging that compel my return several times each year. Numerous factors contributed to this instant love affair with the island; it is the closest (relatively speaking) warm water no-wetsuit-required diving around. Also my first solo, non-work-related trip. I’ve made more lifelong friends here per capita than any other dive spot visited so far. My future son-in-law received his OW cert, proposed to and will marry my daughter here in Cozumel this year. This little island holds many of our family’s hallmark-worthy memories.
From the moment stepping off the plane into that unique combination of heat and humidity (like a warm damp blanket in the face), it feels like coming home. Moving through the cattle shoots line for immigration, to the suspenseful moment of pushing the button at customs (praying to see green) is all part of it. Running the gauntlet of timeshare and excursions salesmen to the transport kiosk always moves you deeper into ‘Coz’ mode.
Being packed into the vans like sardines for transport to anywhere away from the airport and you’re almost there.
Over the years I’ve stayed in multiple hotels and five star resorts from one end of the island to the other. They are all wonderful with many amenities to offer, but I keep coming back to my homey little room at Papa Hogs with the people I love and who feel like family. Close friends also in the immediate area at Scuba Mau, La Palapita and La Hatch – just like Cheers, where everybody knows your name. It’s something that means a lot and keeps me coming back year after year. And then of course there’s the diving!
The 30 or more dive sites that I’ve explored are just the tip of the iceberg, always more being discovered. Some I’ve frequented so often I can locate specific landmarks and creatures from years past. Not to mention many Dive Masters have their own secret spots or exciting routes around a familiar site. It’s difficult to choose a favorite as each offers very unique delights. However that said, I do have a few that I’d dive again and again.
Punta Tunish is one of those at the top of my list. I’ve been lucky to encounter Hawksbill turtles here on many of my dives, even saw some pre-mating behavior (foreplay?) between a very large male and average sized female. Even when the turtles aren’t showing, there are multitudes of small fish and micro-critters if you go slow and look for them. Not an excessive amount of fire-coral here but I’ve managed to find it floating free against my bare legs on several occasions here – so beware.
Delila Reef is another favorite, tied with Palancar Garden for photographic good fortune on critter spotting. I’ve had great luck at both sites capturing great images of spotted drums, huge green morays, splendid toad fish and the sweet under-bite faces of the Barracuda I love so much!
For sheer majestic and spectacular beauty there is Colombia Pinnacles. The pinnacles are truly magnificent, and awe-inspiring, like beautiful mountains underwater. For those who like a swim-through, there are many prospects at this site.
I could go on endlessly, but I won’t. I have a problem with word-count that is always getting me in trouble and I just love these dive sites, so it’s hard to decide what to leave out. Each dive in Cozumel is familiar and comfortable, like a hug from a grandparent. At the same time still pleasantly exhilarating like a first date, with endless opportunity for discovery just under the surface.
Cozumel is the little island that holds so much of my heart – it’s my home reef!