Posted July 5, 2008 by Kay Walten in Loco Adventures
Embarrassing as it is to admit, it’s been several years since my last visit to Cozumel Island, even though I live less than 30 miles away in Akumal Mexico, on the mainland Riviera Maya. So last month when I was invited to dive Cozumel with fellow Loco Gringo Scott Brown and his girlfriend Marieke White, and her three friends from Scotland, I jumped at the chance. I had dived Cozumel years ago and I couldn’t wait to get back to its air clear water, rainbow colored reefs and prolific marine life. Cozumel is probably the most famous of all Mexican Scuba diving destinations, and it’s just 20 miles off the Riviera Maya coast in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
It was a gorgeous morning as we departed Playa del Carmen on the 9am Ultramar ferry headed for San Miguel, Cozumel’s biggest tourist town. The ferry has changed quite a bit over the years. In the old days we referred to it as the “chicken boat” because the trip took over 45 minutes, sitting outside on the upper deck, rolling along, inhaling diesel exhaust fumes while seated among locals toting everything from fruit and veggies, to toilet paper and live chickens. Today the trip takes 20 minutes on an affordable, high-speed water-jet miniature cruise ship; where beer and snacks are sold to passengers seated in an air-conditioned cabin while being serenaded by LIVE music! I had to shake my head in disbelief. In this case, I don’t miss the “old days”!
Once we arrived on Cozumel, the dive boat from Blue Angel Dive Shop met us at the ferry dock where we boarded for the short cruise to their dive shop. Along the way we passed two massive cruise ships in port. Cozumel is a major destination for these gargantuan floating hotels and as we passed their towering super-structures I understood how a sardine must feel swimming past a whale.
Cozumel’s reefs are part of the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park which was established in 1996. It encompasses approximately 85% of Cozumel’s dive sites providing a safe refuge for countless fish species and assorted marine life. Our first dive was on the Santa Rosa Wall, one of the island’s most popular dive sites. Santa Rosa’s reef has tall coral columns with vertical cuts and a couple of short coral caves to swim through. There was a mild current, which is the case on most of Cozumel’s reefs, and we sailed along with it accompanied by the divemaster who kept us all together. The boat followed behind keeping an eye on our bubbles. This is typical Cozumel diving. No need to fight the current. Just go with the flow and enjoy. Marieke snapped off a series of excellent underwater photos as we all glided over the underwater scenery. While we were under some weather blew in and I could see the rain dancing on the surface above. When I surfaced I inflated my vest and floated, watching the nearby boats disappear and reappear out of the downpour. It was rather magical and despite the rain, quite beautiful.
The second dive of the day was on Paradise Reef. With a maximum depth of 45 feet this is an easy dive, perfect for beginners, and a good follow-up to our deeper first dive on the wall. Paradise Reef has long coral fingers that reach out from shore to create a series of troughs and rises. We flew over these like birds, pushed by the current. There were plenty of interesting sea-critters and the water was crystal clear.
The Blue Angel dive crew was first-rate. I found them to be professional, considerate and helpful. Because of the popularity of Scuba diving and aqua tours in Cozumel there was quite a bit of boat traffic. The staff made sure we were safe from any boats passing nearby. After the dives, we enjoyed lunch at the Blue Angel Dive Shop where we chowed down on a tasty lunch while gazing out on the blue sea. For about $8 we had a delicious meal of fresh fish, chicken, salad and a baked potato. Including lunch, my two dives and the dive gear rental, the total came to about $75 US, plus a well deserved tip for their staff.
While waiting for the ferry back to the mainland I had the opportunity to wander the streets of San Miguel, Cozumel’s tourist town. San Miguel is clean, quaint and tropical. All the government buildings are painted in pastel Caribbean colors. Several jewelry shops line San Miguel’s main street hoping to sell their “treasures” to turists who venture in. More often than not their clients come from the cruise ships. On Cozumel there is a wide variety of stores offering everything from diamonds to Tee shirts. Cruising Cozumel’s waterfront is a great way to kill a couple hours and work up an appetite.
Chankanaab Park is one of the most popular spots on the island, especially if you have the family in tow and like to enjoy a postcard perfect view. Chankanaab is on the leeward side of Cozumel and so has calmer water. The park offers snorkeling, diving, a restaurant, bar, lockers, showers and people from all over the world.
Cozumel has plenty of taxis for getting around and touring the island, and you can rent dune buggies or VW bugs too. A popular excursion is to go to the east side of the island which is less developed and more a naturalist’s realm. This is the windward side of Cozumel with more sandy beaches and bigger waves. Be careful if you go in the water as undertow can be an issue for swimmers, especially on windy days.
To get to Cozumel, you can catch a ferry at the dock in Playa del Carmen. Buy a one-way ticket and when you’re ready to return to the mainland it easy to buy a ticket in Cozumel for the ferry that best matches your schedule. There are two ferry companies and their trip times are posted at the dock. Cozumel is an all day affair so go early and plan to spend the entire day exploring and experiencing all this little island has to offer.
Riviera Maya Activities (218)
Mexican Art (61)
Community Organizations (27)
Mexican Culture (178)
Mexico Destinations (129)
Family vacations (98)
Guest Bloggers (20)
Riviera Maya Photos (304)
Riviera Maya events (80)
Riviera Maya Services (62)
Sustainable Tourism (113)
Vacation tips (58)
Destination Weddings (30)
Costa Maya (14)
Loco Adventures (43)
Mayan Ruins (40)
Riviera Maya Destinations (251)
Community Announcements (20)
Mexican Recipes (36)
Riviera Maya Restaurants (74)
Mindful Traveler (49)
Yucatan Activities (47)
Riviera Maya Vacation Tips (152)
Mexico Vacation Tips (163)
Restaurant Reviews (8)
Interview with a Local (15)
Travel Tips (2)
Hyper Local Info (1)
"We usually need reservations for 2 to 4 people but for 2 years we needed reservations for 7 to 9 people, adults and kids and they have always done a flawless job in getting the resort we wanted and at the best price too!!"
"Not sure if we will be returning next summer, but will definitely let you know if we are, as Loco Gringo is the ONLY way to go for us!"
--Lesley P., Texas
"Loco Gringos is the VERY BEST booking site I have ever worked with. They respond to emails promptly, work hard to honor special requests, answer questions etc. They ALWAYS take great care of their customers and are conscientious and professional at all times. We have booked 8 trips with this company and NEVER hesitate to use them or recommend them when traveling to the Riviera Maya."
"It's a great comfort to visit the Riviera Maya and know that Loco Gringo is there to help, if needed. "
--Bryan in IN,
"And their amazing website is one of the main reasons we started going regularly to the Riviera Maya and especially Akumal. No other place around the Caribbean has nearly as good a web presence as LG has given this area."
--Dan, St. Louis MO,
"We spent a lot of our time sitting on the second floor porch with our feet propped on the railing just staring at the water. Coming home was hard this year..Staying for two weeks still wasn't long enough."
"It is like having a friend make your reservations for you .... we always feel comfortable knowing LG will be in charge of our arrangements because they know the area first hand, they live there ..... you ask a question and they answer it with good humor and great knowledge of what they speak. I will always recommend Loco Gringo in a heart beat!"
"...for your patience with me and making this process go soooo much smoother! I truly appreciate you and the staff at LocoGringo. Thanks again! I can't wait to be sitting on the beach!
Maggie in Colorado"
"I have booked most of my Mayan Riviera trips through Loco Gringo and can only say I wouldn't even consider using anyone else to handle my bookings for stays in that area.
Their booking process is simple, fast and friendly, and they will answer your questions and queries until you are completely satisfied that every single detail has been taken care of.
Who else would know the area better than folks who live and work right there? Try to get that level of expertise and knowledge with a booking agent who lives and works several hundred, or even thousands of miles away.
Not only that, but they are genuinely nice people as well, who really care for their customers and the community and area that they call home
Keep up the great work Loco Gringo!!"
"Now is a great time to tell you how wonderful you and your staff are at making it so easy to find and book the best vacations, THANK YOU !"
--Joyce & Hugh,
"Thanks for everything you have done with Locogringo… the site is great and your staff has been nothing short of incredible when it comes to helping us plan our trips. Maybe we’ll run into you on one of your walks some day."
"Both in 2011 and this year we have booked our room through Locogringo.com. We searched and found a great rate at the resort we wanted, and then Locogringo met that price, and with their booking came their amazing customer service and the peace of mind that if we need anything while we are there we simply need to call. I always get a fast turnaround on any email I send them, and they work so hard to find us the best rates and the rooms we want. We hope to have a long relationship with them, and recommend their site to everyone we know."
--Tim A and Teri A, Salem, UT
"So here is a GREAT BIG TEXAS THANK YOU TO LOCO GRINGO for all the awesome, fantastic vacations in Paradise."
"We have been Booking our Riviera Maya vacations from Loco Gringo since 2005. Always Great communication, helpful tips and quick responses to our questions. They were especially helpful when Hurricane Wilma hit and put a stop to our Vacation plans. They made sure we knew about the weather situation and did all the work with re-booking our vacation in Paradise!"
"What an amazing company Locogringo is. Every silly question I have.... they answer , If something comes up like a travel day change, adding more people, or whatever it might be... you get a response from a real person ... who seems to love what they do . That is hard to find these days and I really appreciate that."
"Go to the home page or check the forum."
"I will be bragging about your site to any and all who will listen. Our experience was phenomenal!!!"
"Loco Gringo has an AWESOME website with great info, it is lots of fun to visit, be sure to join their forums. The forums hold more information and trip reports than you can 'shake a stick at'!"
"She & her new Husband had a fantastic hassle free trip. This was their very first time to Mexico and her comment upon return was " Dad, 7 days is NOT enough time ! " Super job, LG."
--Bernie in Denver,
"All our Riviera Maya trips have been booked using LocoGringo. We love their service."
"You always recommend amazing accommodations and we are always comfortable and feel safe. Your staff does a fantastic job at making our vacation each year a ” hassle free ” experience ! All we have to do is ” show up ” and the rest is already taken care of. We will continue in future to use LocoGringo and also continue as we have done already, to highly recommend your company to anyone we know that is planning a vacation."
--Nancy & Bill, Toronto, Canada
"I would recommend Locogringo to everyone I know. It is such a great service that they provide from researching and booking the perfect place to stay to finding all the needs you could possibly want during your stay. Thanks Locogringo."
"LocoGringo.com books total trip packages and I recommend LG to all my friends and even to strangers I hear talking about going to Mexico!!"
"I had contacted you before I left for my first trip to Mexico and all of your recommendations were spot on. I started in Playa Del Carmen and worked my way to Tulum. I had only expected to stay 2 nights there and instead wound up staying for a week-and that still was not nearly enough time. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks! I will be checking in with you guys as I am tring to plan a trip to Holbox next. That place looks amazing!"
--Louis Skip Gonzalez, Unidos Magazine
"quick and informative replies from Bart ( thanks Bart) , easy booking procedure plus online management of your booking . I am highly impressed."
--Theressa - Middlesex U.K.,
"When we use LG to book a trip we get immediate help with all of our questions in a very timely way by people who know what they are talking about and are extremely helpful, patient, knowledgeable, and congenial. They really get how to do customer service.
Once we book through LG we never have to worry about any of it again. We are always amazed at how smooth and trouble free our bookings through LG have been."
--K.B., Fort Worth, TX
"A company made up mostly of American Expats living in the Riviera Maya with a booking list of many hundreds of properties. Big enough to know each property intimately and small enough to know each customer personally. A level of service simply impossible for the giant companies to provide.
--Jim T., Colorado
""I was soooo delighted with the Loco Gringo services. Everything was trouble free and all my questions were always answered promptly. Thanks for a GREAT trouble free vacation!""
"and for the past five years we have used Loco Gringo for every reservation, I'm sorry that we did not find them sooner.
I have been searching Loco Gringo for all these years and one thing I have not yet found ........... someone who is not fabulous to work with. Great people, great owners and a great way to run a business."
--K & DB, Outer Banks, NC,
"I just wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU! The trip we booked through Loco Gringo was perfect! The price was exceptionally good and the service was second to none! If you’ve never booked with Loco Gringo before, we *highly* recommend them!"
"People who “live the area” will want to make sure you enjoy your vacation and come back again!"
* Denotes A Required Field
How much are you thinking about spending?