Well finally taking a moment to jot down a few notes for anyone heading out to Cozumel.
The island was beautiful as always. Stayed at Hotel Cozumel and dove with "Dive With Julio" or "Opals Dream" who are the same shop. Ishi and Julio both former Opal's dream employee/dive shop manager and running their own boat now and if you email either site you get the same folks/price/boat/etc.
I really can't say enough about these guys. We've been diving with these guys for the last 8 or 9 years. My daughter who turned 18 on the trip has logged most of her 60ish dives with them. She has grown up as the little princess on the dive boat and has likely been spoiled for diving the rest of her life from it. On the day she turned 18 they took us to El Cielo and we had birthday cake for our surface interval. Also, much to her own chagrin they taught her how to spear lionfish on that day (this from the girl who would be vegetarian if she had to participate in the death of her meals). It was a great day and a great week with them. On the boat we met this really great couple from Canada that we dove with all week, and we also dove with a nice gentlemen and his 20-ish year old son from one of the Dakotas. The son was on his first ocean dives. I think at times he was a little overwhelmed and turned off by the experience. I hope he gives it another chance - I've always thought the current in Cozumel was a hard place to have your first 10-20 dives (though I know many who have, and some who had it much harsher conditions than that). Also met a nice man from the North Texas area who was staying in Cozumel for several weeks, a former trucker turned hay farmer - very nice guy.
When we dive with this shop it's never more than 7 people on the boat, usually 6. It's an intimate experience, Julio and Ishi are family, and the other people you dive with can become quick friends. The 6 pack boats are a little more cramped than then big ones that take out 12-24 people. However those dive shops put 10-11 divers with a DM, and keeping a group that size close together in the current usually means that swim thru diving is a sandy fin in the face mess and you are constantly avoiding knocking each other into the reef. I'll trade 30 min boat rides where I don't get to stand up and walk around for 1 hour dives that I get all the space in the world.
In the interest of supporting my favorite little dive shop - go look at the http://www.divewithjulio.com/ webpage, or look at the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/divewithjulio/
We were did 4 dive days, and saw a host of the usual critters. Spotted 4-5 eagle rays during the week, including a few really close encounters. We dove Columbia wall, shallows, Palancar Bricks, caves, gardens, Delilah, Cedral. Most of the eagle rays were up at Delilah and Cedral, but we saw some further south as well. Turtles, Parrot fish - all the usual suspects in their large sizes. I think the only thing I didn't see which are rare anyway were squid. Really large pipefish out in the sand, but no seahorses this trip. Roatan, Belize, Curacao, Bonaire...and I still think Cozumel has the best reef life in terms of size of schools, size of fish, and frequency at which I see them.
Water temps were 76-77 degrees, maybe 78. Wind got a little whipped up on our first day and the port was closed till 9:30-10am and boats had a late start but other than that weather cooperated. Surface temps were in the low 80s in the afternoon. As usual I had a chill all the time. I use to dive a half mil scubapro wetsuit that I've had for 10 years and worn pretty well out. I just don't stay warm like I did 10 years ago. I moved up to a 1.5mm suit, it will be find for 79-80 degree water, but I still caught a good chill and had to lay on the beach in the sun to warm up between dives. Those of you who dive 60 whatever degree water and lower can point and giggle, I don't mind.
For anyone considering Hotel Cozumel and resort.
I recommend getting the All inclusive - usually orbitz has the best deal and it runs about $30 per person per day to include the AI. For that price I don't mind it especially if you are travelling with kids - we use it for breakfast, lunch, drinks, snacks...and usually go out to eat about 75% of our dinners. Breakfast on Cozumel cost $10 or so near the hotel, and lunch is usually $12-13...add in the cost of some drinks and snacks and the AI is at least a break even. The food can be repetitive and bland, so it's nice to go out for dinner. However, for lunch and breakfast around a diving schedule it's nice to have the hotel AI. If you are travelling just adults you can stay less expensive places and spend less to eat. However, the scuba setup is great - rinse tanks by the pier, hangers, lockers (all available if you use the onsite shop or not). The pier is a little high for the smaller 6 pack boats but we manage it all the time. If you had a mobility problem you would find it challenging to board or deboard the small boats at the pier. It's close to town, little less than a mile walk to the square. 1/4 mile from the grocery store. Rooms are simple, mattresses FIRM. Bathrooms are functional but certainly have older fixtures and tubs. If you want fancy, this isn't it. The clients are 75% divers. There are a few families with small children. When we stay some place else there is always something about Hotel Cozumel we miss (closeness of town, friendly staff, rinse tank setup).
I'm one of those - spend less, so I can go more often kinds of travelers and Hotel Cozumel meets my requirements for both price and middle of the road 3 star hotel requirements.
If you are in town for some food try the following:
La Perlita - further away that some other options - everything is made fresh (so it takes longer to come out) great options and good prices.
Kondesa - trendy mexican food
Guidos - Pizza and italian food - trendy near town square
Casa Mission - Mexican food and seafood - nice atmosphere, not near the square
Oh, the nice folks from Canada on the dive boat turned me on to something new...1 block north of town square, 1 block back from the sea...tiny place...hand made chocolates.
HOLY CRAP they are good.
Easily my favorite chocolates...not in Cozumel...but anywhere.
Here is the place...cash only, no cards. I don't think you could manage to get them home without them melting...so you will just have to eat them:
well...I'm suppose to be "working" so I better get back to it.
have fun, dive more often...