Diving in Cozumel: A Guide to This Underwater Mecca

written by local expert Anna Faustino

Anna is a co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years. She has spent time living in Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain and is our local expert in these areas. Her expertise on travel, gear, and building businesses have been featured on Foundr, Business Insider, Yahoo Travel, and more.

If you’re looking for tips on diving in Cozumel, you’ve come to the right place. After spending a few days in this beautiful island paradise, I’m ready to share my top tips on the best places to dive, where to stay, as well as which dive school to book with.

Located off the coast of popular beach destination, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is a place that scuba divers travel to from all over the world.

Home to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the world’s 2nd largest barrier reef system, it is no wonder that people flock here all-year round.

If you want to dive with 100-feet visibility and swim through large pinnacles as you see gentle nurse sharks, turtles, large fish, eels, and more, keep on reading this diving in Cozumel guide.

Best Time to Go Diving in Cozumel

As Cozumel is located in the Caribbean, diving is pretty much available all year round.

However, with that being said, December to April is considered the best time to visit Mexico and therefore is the most popular time to visit Cozumel as snowbirds escape Winter back home. If you are looking for warmer waters, May to November is also a good time to plan your visit.

We went in early December which meant the waters were slightly colder which also has its perks as there were a lot of eagle rays who came for the colder waters. On average, water temperatures are around 78 and 82ºF (25 and 28ºC) so still pretty manageable.

anna scuba diving

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How to Get to Cozumel

One of the huge perks of diving in Cozumel is how accessible it is. If you are coming from Cancun, make your way to Playa del Carmen (1 hour drive) where you can catch a regular 45-minute ferry to the island.

Alternatively, Cozumel also has an International Airport with direct flights from the US. While the flights are a little bit more expensive than if you were flying to Cancun, it does save you time and money in the end.

The ferry from Playa del Carmen costs about $250 MX one way and operates pretty regularly. Make sure you purchase your ticket from authorized sellers (they have a ticket booth right by the port) to make sure you get the cheapest price possible.

Looking for information on the best diving in Mexico? Check out our full guide!

Best Dive Sites in Cozumel

Protected by the Cozumel National Marine Park, divers flock here all here round to experience some of its incredible beauty. Known for its vibrant sea walls and drift dives, here are a few of the famous dive sites that Cozumel is known for.

With over 27 different dive sites, there is no shortage of places to choose from when planning your trip. For beginner divers, there are plenty of shallow reefs where you can learn the basics while gaining your confidence while more advance divers can enjoy stunning swim throughs across gigantic pinnacles covered in corals.

scubatony cozumel
During one of our dives we saw as many as 7 turtles.


More Information
Depth: 30-120 feet
For Who: Beginner-Advanced Divers
Current: Mild-Strong

They say you can go diving in the Palancar  a dozen times and you still wouldn’t tire of it.

Divided into four sections, Palancar caves, bricks, horseshoe, and gardens, Palancar is one of Cozumel’s famous dive sites. We dove this area twice and absolutely loved each time. The reef has a ton of caverns allowing more experienced divers the chance to enjoy some really beautiful swim throughs. Palancar Gardens in particular is a popular spot to go to.

Depending on when you go, there can be a light current (akin to a lazy river) allowing you to cover more ground without using up a lot of air.

Santa Rosa Wall

More Information
Depth: 50-130 feet
For Who: Advanced Divers
Current: Strong

Known for both its drift diving and marine life, this popular dive site is considered one of Cozumel’s top sites. The wall begins at 50 feet and drops into the deep. It is a stunning dive site that is recommended to more advanced divers.

A photo of an Octopus taken during our night dive

C-53 Shipwreck

More Information
Depth: 50-70 feet
For Who: Intermediate-Advanced Divers
Current: Medium-Strong

This previous military ship was used by the Mexican Navy until 1999, before it was sunk in Cozumel in 2000. The C-53 was sunk to serve as an artificial reef and dive attraction. Large holes have been cut allowing divers easy access to the ship but there are a lot of swim throughs in the area so it is only recommended for those who have mastered their buoyancy.

Although there hasn’t been a lot of large coral formation, there are a lot of fish nearby, swimming in and out of the wreck. When we dove this site, there was a large barracuda and even a long moray eel around the vicinity of the ship.

Cedral Pass

More Information
Depth: 40-60 feet
For Who: Intermediate Divers
Current: Strong

Also known as Paso del Cedral Reef, this place is known for its many marine animal sightings. We dove this site twice and enjoyed each time. Here, we were able to see tons of turtles, nurse sharks, large fish, and moray eels.

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Dive Schools in Cozumel

While there are a ton of dive schools to choose from, we recommend finding a dive school that you are 100% comfortable with. We personally recommend ScubaTony, a reputable school who has been operating in Cozumel for years now.

scubatony cozumel

The entire process of booking a 3-day diving trip with them was easy and well organized. The entire team, including the owner himself, Adam who we met were professional, friendly, and always made us feel safe.

Even during COVID, they comply with strict regulations and made a huge effort to make sure the boat and our equipment was sanitized and well-maintained. They have a stellar reviews on TripAdvisor, allowing their reputation to speak for themselves.

Check Out ScubaTony Here

Cost of Diving in Cozumel

While prices tend to differ depending on the dive school, on average, a two-tank dive from the boat is around $90 USD. If you are staying for a few days, you can probably get a package deal to get this price down.

While cost is pretty important, I don’t recommend choosing a dive school based on this. You want to go with a reputable company that has a good track record of safety. During our time there, we saw a few dive boats crammed with people and were thankful for our small group of 6.

If you’re looking to get scuba certified, this roughly costs around $450-500 depending if you’re getting a PADI or SSI.

Logistics: Where to Stay, Where to Eat, and Transport in Cozumel

When planning a trip, you also have to consider all of the logistics which is why I am including my top recommendations on the best places to stay, where to eat, and how to get around the island.

Getting Around Cozumel

Even if you’re only in Cozumel for a few days, you MUST make time to explore the island itself as it is BEAUTIFUL. We recommend renting a jeep to explore the island. While there are plenty of car rentals available, it is best to check reviews ahead of time.

We rented a car from ScubaTony and can’t recommend it enough. Zero hassles and scams unlike other car rental agencies. Click here to see what type of cars they have.

scuba tony car rental

Where to Eat in Cozumel

Surprisingly, for a small island, Cozumel has a ton of food options. Whether you’re in the mood for brunch, a fancy meal, or some good old dirty tacos, there’s something for everyone on the island.

I recommend starting your day at a good brunch spot. Head to La Monina, a beautiful open air restaurant with a stunning ocean view. Order their Huevos Xcatic which is their take on an eggs benedict served with a creamy poblano sauce. SO. FREAKING. GOOD.

For cheap tacos, head on over to Taqueria El Pique for delicious tacos al pastor or to Diegos for some fish tacos. For a fancier meal, head on over to Buccanos at Night. They serve an incredible Lobster Mac and Cheese that I am honestly still thinking about.

If you want to combine both food and some culture, check out 10 Experiences in Cozumel. This 10-course  (YES, 10!) food and cocktail pairing takes you through local ingredients sourced from all over Mexico.

If you’re hungry and want a quick and delicious meal, you also can’t go wrong with K’ooben Laab, a local restaurant who hand makes their own pastas. We had this delivered to our apartment after a long day of diving and it hit the spot perfectly!

Apart from these places, there are also a ton of remote beach bars and restaurants in the eastern side of the island which serves delicious seafood, cold beers, and the must stunning views. Highly recommending a meal here (or two!)

Where to Stay in Cozumel

During our diving trip to Cozumel, we stayed in the beautiful Casa Phoenix which is PERFECT for people traveling in larger groups or as a family. The apartment itself is located only 15 minutes from the main town which meant if you didn’t want to rent a car, you didn’t need to.

It had 4 stunning bedrooms, 2 of which overlook the ocean. All rooms are en suites and are outfitted with huge televisions where you can relax after a long day of diving. The kitchen was fully-set up and had everything that you needed for a comfortable stay. Located right across two large groceries, with access to its own beach, pool, and dock, I can’t recommend Casa Phoenix enough for those planning a trip to Cozumel.

Check out the views from this place!

If you want other options, check out all these Airbnbs in Cozumel.

Final Words about Diving in Cozumel

If you’re still on the fence about planning a diving trip to Cozumel, don’t think about it and just do it. Even though we haven’t been diving for a while, I’m happy we took the leap to book this diving weekend.

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous because of the currents however, every dive that we did was manageable. If the currents were strong, our dive master altered our route to go with the current, making for some fun drift dives.

The marine life that we saw, topped with the incredible beaches, delicious Mexican food and warm weather made it a perfect combination for an epic diving trip.

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