Just off the Riviera Maya coast line is the charming island of Cozumel. Ever since Jacques Cousteau filmed from the coral reefs near Cozumel in 1961, this island has been best known for world class diving opportunities on the Playacar Reef which is part of the Meso-American reef system. Most resorts have dive shops onsite, and many are PADI 5-star certified. Diving is typically not included in your resort package, but prices are reasonable. For those not certified, abbreviated resort dive courses are available as well as full certification and advanced diver courses.
Secrets Aura Cozumel (adults only)
If you aren’t looking to scuba dive, the snorkeling is great. In other words, you don’t have to don an air tank and weight belt to be able to enjoy the beauty of the coral reefs. Most resorts have snorkeling right off the beaches. Or, sign up for a catamaran snorkel sail. This is great for couples as well as families (with the kids being good swimmers).
The beaches here don’t have the wide sandy ribbon like you find in Cancun. Resort beaches range between narrow sandy to downright rocky (with a few exceptions, like Secrets Aura Cozumel). However, since the island’s resort side faces back to the mainland, the tide at your resort beach will be gentle.
Cozumel Palace Resort
My favorite resorts in Cozumel by “travel style” are:
- Grand Occidental Cozumel – for families and small groups looking for a quiet beach getaway. This is an easy going 4 star all-inclusive, and prices well (good “bang for the buck.”)
- Iberostar Cozumel – the best pick for divers who are looking for 3 1/2 to 4 star accommodations. The resort is very close to the reef, on the southern end of the island. Diving is at additional cost. The diveshop (Dressel Divers) is very well run
- Cozumel Palace – for those divers who are looking a bit nicer accommodations, this resort has a great dive shop and is a 4 1/2 star all-inclusive. There is no sandy beach here, but just steps that go into the water. Snorkeling is excellen
- Explorean Cozumel – this is a new adults-only resort that includes sports and activities. This is a great choice for the couple or small friends group looking for a little soft adventure. The resort itself has a quiet, boutique feel to it. Access to beach at sister property next door (Fiesta Americana Cozumel).
- Secrets Aura Cozumel – for the adult couple looking for a romantic escape. This is a small 4+ star all-inclusive resort with lots of charm. Plus, the beach here is gorgeous.
Flights from the US to Cozumel operate year-round out of the following cities, with connections possible from your departure airport:
- DFW Dallas
Additionally, there are seasonal (December – April) nonstop flights to Cozumel from Chicago and Minneapolis-St Paul.
Whether you are a seasoned, advanced scuba diver or a newbie looking to try it out for the first time, a dive vacation can be a great option for your next getaway.
- Cozumel – located just off Mexico’s Yucatan coast, the island of Cozumel lets you experience world famous Palancar Reef with drift dives of all experience levels. Graet snorkeling opportunities as well. Accommodations range from economy to upscale, but with no true luxury resorts on the island. All-inclusive options available.
- Grand Caymans – located in the Caribbean, and easy striking distance from the US. Known for great wall diving as well as wreck dives. A total of 365 dive sites covering all experience levels. Incredible visibility and beach quality, too. Accommodations from economy to luxury. A few all-inclusive options, but most hotels & resorts with no or limited meal plans.
- Bonaire – if you are an advanced diver and are going with a dive buddy, this is a great choice. Located in the Caribbean and part of the ABC Islands (south, close to Venezuela). Simple two and three star accommodations along with a pickup truck rental and you are good to go. Many DIY beach dives for the independent-minded.
- Belize – Famous for Ambergris Cay and the Great Blue Hole. Dive options more suited for the intermediate and advanced diver. Try “Shark Ray Alley” for a highlight of your trip. Fly into Belize City, with regional flight service to San Pedro. Accommodations range from simple, 2 stars to upscale. Nothing here is all-inclusive.
- Galapagos – for the true dive enthusiast, a Galapagos live onboard dive ship experience to see whales, sharks, and other marine wildlife. Strong currents in the area means you should be a good swimmer and advanced diver.
- Fiji – dive a little, dive a lot. Fiji is gorgeous above the water as well as below. This destination is perfect for honeymooners and families. Those in the travel party who are not divers can find plenty to keep them content back at the resort. Dive opportunities for all levels. Accommodations range from 3 star moderate to 5 star luxury. Meal plans available.
- Australia – Great Barrier Reef is the ultimate in diving experience. Allow a minimum of 2 weeks to enjoy your diving, plus add some land sightseeing to round out your stay. Live onboard ships or dive-centric resorts. Accommodations range from 2 star economy to 5 star luxury.
- Rangiroa, French Polynesia – this atoll island is known for their huge lagoon teeming with tropical fish and clear waters. The most awesome experience here, though is “shooting the pass.” Ride the tide at Tiputa or Avatoru Pass, and see rays, reef sharks, tuna, barracuda, and maybe even hammerhead sharks. You can experience this either by diving or by snorkeling. Stay at Kia Ora Resort, which is upscale to luxury. Breakfast & dinner meal plan included.
Happy travels! Cindy Grant, travel consultant with Expert Family Travel (located in Frisco/The Colony in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, Texas). Contact at 972-625-6200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.