Beaches and Dive Sites
Here's a tour of beach areas from North to South. Descriptions of dive sites are listed below the beach list.
San Juan or Playa Azul, located north of town has sandy beach, beach bar/restaurant (near Playa Azul Hotel)
Playa Casitas, Just north of town. Locals flock here on Sundays for family picnis, beer and sometimes live music
Playa Calitita, Just south of downtown. This is another area that is popular with locals
Money Bar Beach Resort at Dzul-Ha, I liked it better when it was plain and simple with no-frills. But the good news is that the snorkeling is still great.
Chankanaab, Cozumel's famous botanical garden and beach area with manmade beach area, great snorkeling, dolphin encounter (make a reservation to swim with the dolphins), restaurants, bars. Admittance fee.
Playa Corona, is not as "groomed" as some of the other beaches, but it's not as commercialized either. Make sure you have a designated driver and then order a bucket of Corona!
Carlos & Charlie's Beach, This beach, San Francisco and Paradise all blend together.
Playa San Francisco, one of Cozumel's first developed beach areas. Beach is perfect and it is a Cozumel classic.
Paradise Beach, Immaculately manicured grounds, restaurant, showers, restrooms and lots of sand to sink your toes. Lots of diversions including bars, restaurant, swimming pool, paddleboards, sea kayaks, giant inflatable water toys (slides, trampolines, etc.).
Playa Mia (formerly Playa Sol) is a beautiful beach, but the entrance fee makes it less attractive. All of Mexico's beaches are open to the public so no one can stop you from walking up the beach from Playa San Francisco or
Mr. Sancho's. This beach has all the bells and whistles if that's what you're seeking. Restaurants, bars, shops, jet skis, parasailing, diving, banana boat rides, windsurfing, swimming pool, and even a giant inflated "iceberg" for climbing and sliding into the ocean and a small zoo. Dive boats can pull up to the pier. You'll find a lot of the cruise ship crowd here.
Alberto's, Come before the development does. This is a relatively quiet area with a restaurant featuring fresh seafood. Visit before it changes!
Mr. Sancho's is similar to Playa Mia . . . but NO cover charge as of our last visit.Bars, restaurants, shops, jet skiis, parasailing, windsurfing, swimming pool, diving, restrooms, showers. They talked of having live bands at night, I guess the dance floor would be the beach . . . sounds fun!'
After stopping at Mr. Sancho's you might want to pop into the little village of Cedral. Located inland, this is a charming little village of colorful thatched-roof bungalows. You'll find a few tienda (shops) and small restaurants.
Nachi Cocom is a beautiful beach area . . . unfortunately it went the way of all-inclusive. These days, if you want to go there,you need to have a reservation! Though we hate to promote such an idea. we don't want t withhold information. So, if you want to spend a day at this beach (at $49 per person), you need to contact the folks at http://www.cozumelnachicocom.net
Playa Palancar is a super beach area with lots of sand and few people and no jet skis. There is a small bar/restaurant and miles of beach.
After Playa Palancar the road cuts across the island to the "wild" side. The east coast of the island is virtually undeveloped except for a few small beach bars/restaurants. Here are some highlights from the southern tip of the island, heading north along the east coast:
Parque Punta Sur. This is an ecological preserve with lighthouse, restaurant, snorkeling and tours. Now that it's been designated as a national park area there is an entrance fee. This area is also referred to as Punta Celeraine Park, or by veteran travelers to the island, as "The Lighthouse." There's a lookout tower, Mayan temple, small museum, boattrips torough the lagoon and educational programs.
Playa Bush (this area is more commonly called Paradise Cafe or Rasta's): is the first beach area on the eastern side of the island. You'll find two small bars/restaurants with lively reggae music and hammocks for lounging.
Playa Bonita A lovely beach area and restaurant.
El Mirador is a place to view the ocean; no restaurants or bars but sometimes vendors sell their wares.
Chen Rio is very picturesque along a beautiful sandy bay offering a restaurant and bar. There's a sheltered area to swim (still be cautious of the currents!)
Coconuts is a cliffside bar and restaurant with spectacular views. You can't see it from the road, but watch for signs. Cocos is adjacent to a large restored structure that is now a hotel. You can park there and take the path leading to the bar. Below the restaurant/bar is a beach area that is not heavily used.
Punta Morena still has a restaurant but the small beach cabanas were pretty much washed away in the last hurricane. Stop and have a drink or a meal and help put some pesos in the owner's pocket and maybe they can rebuild.
Senor Iguanas is a bar/restaurant just before Mezcalito's. Park at one and you can visit both.
Mezcalito's is last beach area before the road cuts back across the island to the other side. This popular restaurant/bar has been here for years.
Mayan ruins of San Gervasio is located in the jungle just off the cross island road. Not as dramatic as Tulum or
Chichen-Itza, but the history is interesting. It's worthwhile to get a guide who can provide information about the area and answer any questions you have.
Barracuda: North of town, lots of life and current!
Plane Wreck: Located near La Ceiba and Casa del Mar hotels
Paraiso Reef: Often done as a night dive
Chankanaab: National Park with admission fee. Dive boats dive the wall in front of Chankanaab
Tormentos Reef: Don't be intimidated by the name of this site, you'll find plenty of interesting marine life, and the current isn't going to rip you around. Heard there are seahorses in one area of this dive . . . I haven't seen 'em yet. But I'll keep looking! 60-70 feet here.
Yucab Wall: Packed with critters! Without touching anything be on the lookout for those great Cozumel toadfish. If you hang upside down you may find these creatures hiding under rocks or coral. The bold striping pattern, whiskers and bright yellow eel-like tail make them a peculiar looking critter. They're mighty shy, so be sly. Other goodies are this dive are octopus, crab, triggerfish and trunk fish (aren't they cute!). You're at 40-60 feet on Yucab.
Punta Tunich: You can fly with the current on this dive . . . and other times it will be calm as ever. You'll find groups of fish hanging out in the gullies. Watch for green morays (big ones!) and elegant scrawled filefish. Depth is 30-70 feet
San Francisco Wall: This is a really nice dive for your second tank of the day.
Santa Rosa Wall: I love this one! The beckoning wall, the come hither tunnels, the clarity and the marine life. Off you go into the wild blue yonder at 60-80 ft. depth. We saw a hammerhead shark here once, in a shallow area at the end of the dive.
Paseo de Cedral: You'll spot eels, large groupers, grunts, porkfish, barracudas. In the caves you'll find schools of glassy sweepers. Current can be brisk. Depth is 40-60 ft.
Cedral Wall: Impressive wall dive that starts at 45 feet; you'll sometimes spot turtles and eagle rays. When the current is slower, the French angels will often hover above you and nip at your bubbles. Aren't they grand! Cedral is 45-90 feet.
Palancar Caves: Wow! Now we're into canyons and tunnels, drop-offs and usually mild currents. When you slip into the 60-90 foot range, don't forget to watch overhead. You'll sometimes find large eagle rays or turtles sailing above you. You can dive here time after time and each experience is a new one, with abundant sealife, interesting landscape and great, great blue.
Palancar Horseshoe: Dramatic wall teeming with coral. This dive takes it's name from it's distinctive shape. It's another incredible Cozumel dive that you can do over and over again. Depth here is 60-90 ft.
Palancar Gardens: An exotic undersea banquet of marine life, coral, pillars and a plush carpet of color. Enjoy this one at 40-70 ft.
Colombia Deep and Colombia Shallow: There's Columbia Deep and Columbia Shallow. Columbia Deep starts just after Devil's Throat with a dramatic drop-off. Watch for large groupers and turtles. Current is usually mild here, but it's a vast area, so you could do several dives to cover the entire area. Depth is 80-100 feet. We saw a seahorse once at about 80 feet. Columbia Shallow is only 20-40 feet deep, but it's an incredible area with lots of coral sealife. Great area for snorkeling, too . . . but you have to get there by boat.
Punta Sur: At the southern end of the island, this dive features pinnacles and an area known as Devil's Throat which starts at 70 feet and continues to the exit at 120 feet. Swirling schools of fish add a touch of excitement.
Maracaibo Reef: Soft coral, sponges, many creatures
Da plane: This is a popular shore dive, located near the international pier by the Casa del Mar/La Ceiba Hotels, south of Villa Blanca Wall. The plane is scattered in this area, and provides housing for gobs of shrimp, eels, octopus, etc. We've done this dive in daylight hours and after dark. It's a great acclamation dive with little current in a shallow area (you're not going to get any deeper than 45 feet). There are some coral formations and varied fishlife. At night we've played with countless octopus (or is that octopi?) and eels, seen bunches of crabs, lobster, rays, stonefish, toad fish, horse eye jacks, puffer fish, squid, shrimp, sharp tail eel, etc. We've seen parrots in their cacoons (once there was even a baby inside the cacoon with mama!). We saw an interesting and unusual type shark one night and, oh yeah, half an eel (maybe the shark got the other half?).
Wreck Dive: An old U.S. Navy minesweeper was recently sunk in 25-80 feet of water off Cozumel's coast. The vessel waas acquired by the Mexican goverment in the 1960s and was renamed Felipe Xicotencatl C-53. After years of use, the ship was retired and is now home beneach the sea in Cozumel. Intended to provide yet another dive site to this area, the wreck will likely attract marine life and sprout living coral in coming years. Large holes in the 184-foot gunboat allows entrance into the hull. A guideline from the aft area was installed to lead divers through the wreck. For safety purposes, signs have been posted to indicate nearest exit. Fishlife will become more abundant as creatures discover this artificial reef of Cozumel.
Other questions? Don't hesitate to contact us!
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