Trip Report - Cozumel, Mexico 1 December - 9 December 2001
What a difference 2 years of diving makes:
All of our previous trips had been just the two of us, which is generally our preference, but we decided to tag along with a trip organized by our dive shop. There were 24 cold-water divers that descended on Cozumel, the Villablanca Resort, and Dive Paradise for a week of great diving and great fun! I had reservations about diving with Dive Paradise, as I'd heard numerous comments about their "slow cattle boats", and wasn't looking forward to being stuffed onto a slow boat with 24 divers. However, after spending a week with the same crew, on the same boat, I was actually very impressed with Apple's operation.
Yes, the boat was very, slow, but the crew is well prepared for this, always right on time, and plans the dives well to make the best use of the boat's limited speed. We made at least 3 dives/day, with surface intervals that always exceeded one hour, and Dive Paradise provided lunch every day between dives 2 and 3. The DiveMasters were very accommodating, often finding Sea Horses and Toadfish when requested. Dive Paradise also went out of their way to schedule a couple of fast boats, with our DiveMasters so we could head down to Punta Sur to dive Devil's Throat one day.
Diving with the same group of divers every day turned out to be a lot of fun. We had 3 DiveMasters that split us into 3 groups that were dropped in the water far enough apart that we rarely saw the other groups. I especially liked the longer surface intervals, which actually allowed us longer and safer bottom times. During my last trip, I was disappointed at mandatory short dives of 30 and 35 minutes, then short surface intervals ( 30 - 45 minutes ). We still had to cut our dives short and come up with the group ( and generally still half a tank of air ), but felt like we weren't being short changed this time.
The staff at the Villablanca was also really good to us. It is clean, convenient and inexpensive. The bar became our "group meeting" area, and by the end of the week we were tending the bar ourselves. It was great fun!
Here are some of the highlights from our dives:
Dive 2 - Chancanab - several Toadfish and Morays (44', 54 minutes).
Dive 3 - Paradise Reef - several yellow sting rays (36', 58 minutes).
Dive 4 - Columbia Dee - beautiful sponges and coral, high current ( 93', 41 minutes).
Dive 5 - Cedral - (56', 49 minutes).
Dive 6 - Palancar Caves - Turtles, turtles, turtles 10 Greens and 2 Hawksbill ( 88', 45 minutes ).
Dive 7 - Tormentos - Huge Toadfish ( 54', 52 minutes ).
Dive 8 - Villablanca Wall - Fast Current, Huge Green Moray in cave ( 68', 51 minutes ).
Dive 9 - Devil's Throat - beautiful twisting cave dive, awesome ( 125', 30 minutes ).
Dive 10 - Palancar Gardens - Big Grouper and Clouds of Silversides ( 70', 40 minutes ).
Dive 11 - Santa Rosa Wall - Beautiful colored sponges, big grouper ( 77', 41 minutes ).
Night Dive 12 - Villablanca Wall - Octopus, Rays, huge Black Grouper in cave ( 59', 53 minutes).
Dive 13 - C53 Shipwreck - Great group photo ( 77', 41 minutes ).
Dive 14 - Las Palmas - Seahorses, Toadfish ( 61', 50 minutes ).
Totals: 14 dives, 10 hours 50 minutes of blissful bottom time.
My Favorite Dive was Devil's Throat, at Punta Sur, which is a long way South, so be sure to arrange for a fast boat to get you down there. It's also a deep, overhead dive that is not suitable for novices.