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Living Underwater Cozumel, Mexico

Living Underwater Cozumel, Mexico underwater photo
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REEFS — FROM NORTH TO SOUTH

Barracuda Wall

Depth: 60-110 ft
Current: strong to very strong and unpredictable
Level: advanced

This is one of Cozumel's most vertical walls. It is plush with small sponges and plant life. There is an undercut on this wall that is spectacular to see when the current allows. Animals normally seen here are eagle rays, sharks, larger game fish and turtles.

San Juan Reef

Depth: 60-90 ft
Current: strong to very strong and unpredictable
Level: advanced

This is a flat reef with an unpredictable current. The reef has a slight wall in some areas and is flat in others. The animals that are seen here are usually green moray eels, drum fish, lobster, sharks and turtles.

Cantarell

Depth: 80 ft
Current: strong to very strong and unpredictable
Level: advanced

This is a wall and where we normally go to see the eagle rays come through Cozumel in formation during their migration. This happens during the months mid January to the beginning of March.

Villa Blanca Wall

Depth: 50-100 ft
Current: mild to moderate
Level: intermediate

Villa Blanca is a sloping wall, dominated by huge sponges, gorgonians, and big schools of jacks and angelfish. The wall begins about 400 yards from shore. For most divers it’s more enjoyable as a boat dive. Very experienced shore divers occasionally enjoy doing this one from shore.

Paradise Reef

Depth: 40f t
Current: light to moderate
Level: beginner

Paradise is a low profile strip reef with small, scattered coral heads. This reef is full of cracks, crevices and overhangs teaming with residents. This is one of the best sites to see Cozumel’s famous Splendid Toadfish. This is a great second dive and a real treat for a night dive. When the sun goes down the toadfish start croaking, the lobster, crab, eels and octopus come out.

Las Palmas

Depth: 50-130 ft
Current: moderate to strong
Level: beginner

The Las Palmas site is often dived in the 50-70ft range among the scattered coral heads where you’ll find lobster, snapper, splendid toadfish and squirrelfish. Las Palmas also has a sloping drop-off from 70 to about 100ft. Pairs of large queen angelfish and eagle rays frequent the ridge.

Chankanaab

Depth: 40-50 ft
Current: light to moderate
Level: beginner

This is a shallow reef that normally has less current then the other dive sites in Cozumel. This is a great reef to poke your nose around to see what you can find. The Animals that you normally see here are lobsters, crabs, splendid toadfish, spotted moray eels, and the occasional spotted drum. This reef is also great for night dives.

Chankanaab Bolones

Depth: 55-70 ft
Current: light to moderate
Level: beginner

This is a deeper area of Chankanaab. The coral heads on Bolones are larger then at Chankanaab, but are separated from one another. Here you will see the occasional lobster out of its hole walking around, as well as crabs outside of the coral heads. Also if you get lucky, you will have the opportunity to wave to the Atlantis Submarine that takes tourists on a tour through this area.

Felipe Xicotencatil (C-53 wreck)

Depth: 80 ft
Current: moderate to strong
Level: intermediate

This retired minesweeper was built for the US Navy in Tampa, FL in 1942. It was sold to Mexico in 1962 and sunk as an artificial reef within the Cozumel Marine Park in June 2000. The C-53 is 184ft long and 33ft wide. The interior was stripped of its machinery, wiring, hatches and sharp objects prior to sinking to make it safe for divers. All three levels are safe to penetrate, but there are a few tricky spots. Although this is a safe, and easy wreck dive with many exit points on each level, it is an overhead environment and some sections are very dark. Due to the current, the ascent from this dive is done on a line permanently affixed to the wreck.

Tormentos Reef

Depth: 40-70 ft
Current: light to moderate
Level: intermediate

Broken patch reef with wide channels of sand make this a great site macro lovers. Banded shrimp, coral shrimp, brittle stars, arrow crabs, flamingo tongue, crinoids, and occasionally even seahorse are found on Tormentos. Look under the overhangs for snapper, grunts and eels.

Yucab (south of Tormentos)

Depth: 45-65 ft
Current: moderate to strong
Level: intermediate

Yucab is a shallower reef. This is a great site to see grey angelfish and macro sea life.

Tunich Wall

Depth: 50-130 ft
Current: strong
Level: intermediate

Tunich is the place to go if you have a need for speed! Watch your dive master and depth gauge, not the contour of the reef or you will find yourself much deeper then intended in some sections. Tunich is home to many pairs of grey and french angels that don’t shy away from divers. Nurse sharks are also known to roam the wall.

Cardona

Depth: 20-35 ft
Current: mild
Level: beginner

Cardona is a low profile, broad, flat reefs full of holes and crevasses where a variety of creatures hide. It is possible to spot sleeping nurse sharks by looking through holes from the top of the reef or underneath an overhanging ledge.

San Francisco Wall

Depth: 40-100+ ft
Current: moderate to strong
Level: intermediate

San Francisco is a popular second dive that never disappoints. This is a good site for seeing a variety of marine life. French, grey and queen angels, filefish, jacks, many parrotfish and more. Spend time exploring the cuts between 50 and 70ft. Look for stingrays, eagle rays, hermit crabs and fields of tubeworms in the sand fills at the top of the wall.

Santa Rosa Wall

Depth: 60-130+ ft
Current: moderate to strong
Level: intermediate

Santa Rosa Wall is one of Cozumel’s most famous dives. Picturesque coral buttresses mark the top of the wall. Then around 50-60 ft, you’ll swim through tunnels that bring you out onto the wall with endless abyss beneath you. Santa Rosa wall is lined with colorful coral, anemones, sponges, whips and sea rods. There are usually large schools or wrasse, lots of parrotfish (including midnight parrots) and several cleaning stations.

Santa Rosa Shallows

Depth: 35-65 ft
Current: moderate
Level: beginner

You will likely spend time here at the end of your dive on Santa Rosa wall, but it can also be a very pleasant and easy second dive. The reef is made up of a ridge, scattered coral heads and sand flats. Look for flounder, rays, and lots of assorted small tropical fish. Barracuda are commonly seen hovering high above the reef.

Paso del Cedral (or Cedar Pass)

Depth: 35-60 ft
Current: moderate to strong
Level: intermediate

Paso del Cedral is another classic Cozumel dive. This patch and strip reef is a maze of tunnels, cuts and caverns and is teaming with many varieties of schooling fish. Grunts, snapper, trunkfish, varieties of parrotfish, filefish, spider crabs, stingrays and barracuda, they are all here.

Cedar Wall

Depth: 55-130 ft
Current: moderate to strong
Level: intermediate

Cedar wall is a "rolling wall" that juts out in some spots, while in other areas you’ll find cuts where the current slows down. Nurse sharks, eagle rays, green moray eels, drumfish, turtles and schools of jacks are all found here.

La Francesa

Depth: 40-65 ft
Current: moderate
Level: beginner/intermediate

La Francesa, The French Lady, is full of cuts, overhangs and small caves. Cowfish, filefish and queen angels are common. Schools of french and blue striped grunts will tuck under the overhangs. The reef is also home to colorful sponges.

Dalila

Depth: 50-70 ft
Current: moderate
Level: beginner/intermediate

This is a small wall that has large jew fish hanging under crevices with lots of fish all over the place. Current can pick up from time to time.

Palancar Reef (Palancar Gardens, Horseshoe, Caves and Bricks)

Depth: 25–130 ft
Current: light to moderate
Level: beginner/intermediate

The Palancar Reef sites are unquestionably Cozumel’s most famous dives! (The shallower sections will please snorkelers too.) There are actually four sites here – Palancar Gardens, Horseshoe, Caves and Bricks. Caves and Bricks are the deepest sections. The “caves” are a maze of tunnels, channels and pinnacles. The Gardens are a field of small coral heads with passages adorned with colorful corals, sponges and lots of the usual tropical fish. Turtles are almost a sure bet on every Palancar dive. You’ll lose count of the angels, butterfly fish, blue tang, porkfish, grunts, trigger fish, file fish, parrot fish…. This is an extensive reef system that will take many tanks to fully explore. Cozumel divers can never get enough of Palancar!

Columbia

Depth: 80-120 ft
Current: moderate to strong
Level: beginner

Columbia offers dramatic coral formations and exciting swim throughs exiting onto a picturesque wall. Along with beautiful coral and sponges you’ll see large grouper, barracuda, friendly grey and french angelfish, hogfish, filefish and turtles! In the winter months you might spot eagle rays and in the summer the occasional black tip reef shark.

Columbia Deep

Depth: 30-100 ft
Current: moderate to strong
Level: intermediate/advanced

Make your way around and over an extensive maze of buttresses and pinnacles where you’ll find turtles, eels, rays, horse eye jacks, snapper, wrasse, and lots of blennies. Small black tip reef sharks are sometimes spotted.

Columbia Shallows

Depth: 10-30 ft
Current: light
Level: beginner

A favorite of photographers, Columbia Shallows is a field of dense coral heads filled with color and marine life. The variety is endless.

Punta Sur (Devil’s Throat)

Depth: 80-150+ ft
Current: Strong
Level: advanced

Punta Sur, located at the southern end (“South Point”) of Cozumel, is home to the world famous Devil’s Throat and The Cathedral. Punta Sur is a deep wall full of incredible tunnels and caverns. The most famous tunnel, Devil’s Throat, starts at about 80ft and deposits divers into the abyss at 130ft. Swimming back up, another tunnel brings you into a cavern known as The Cathedral, where for many years the wall was adorned by a cross shaped sponge who’s outline is still visible. If you choose not to take the Throat, Punta Sur Wall is a beautiful and picturesque dive on its own.

Maracaibo

Depth: 80-130 ft+
Current: strong
Level: advanced

Maracaibo is the most southern dive site in Cozumel. This is a deep dive with a current that can be strong and varying. A sand and rubble terrace leads to a steep wall. The attraction here is the opportunity to see large pelagics – sharks, eagle rays, massive grouper and loggerhead turtles.

Maracaibo Shallows

Depth: 50 - 70 ft
Current: moderate
Level: advanced

Maracaibo Shallows consists of healthy large coral heads whose crevices are home to eels and nurse sharks.

El Islote

Depth: 60-130 ft+
Current: strong
Level: advanced

This site is located on the eastern side of the island, just past the southern lighthouse. El Islote boasts broad ridges of pristine hard and soft coral separated by sandy channels. On the east side you are diving outside of the Marine Park. The marine life tends to be large but, because fishermen visit this area, there is not a huge abundance of fish.