Drifting Away in Cozumel

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We stepped off the sardine can ferry into Cozumel and immediately sighed with relief – until I looked around. We had never had the opportunity to spend any time here and I was a wee bit shocked. This tacky tourist town was exactly what we were trying to avoid. But we were here for one reason and one reason only – to partake in some of the best diving in the world.

Talon of 1Dad1Kid was the one who really convinced us to spend the extra cash and get over to the island from Playa del Carmen. The man is a fish and when he tells you to go to a dive site, you better be ready to head in.

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We shivered in anticipation and put on our wetsuits. Both dives we were going on that day were going to be drift dives – or dives that you don’t really have to do much but sit there, enjoy the scenery, and let the current take you. These were the dives I was most looking forward to during our trip to Mexico again, though, I was a bit concerned about the other divers coming along with us.

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We shared a boat with 3 guys who had just finished their certification and 2 guys who rolled their eyes and scoffed at the boat as they pretentiously stated their 200+ dives. It was only when we mentioned our dive in Iceland that we got a little bit of cred with them. The 3 newbies were the concern as they aren’t known for air conservation.

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We effortlessly glided into the water via James Bond rolls off the side of the boat, a new move for me. As I bobbed in the rough water, I noticed a change. I wasn’t scared anymore. As we descended onto the Santa Rosa Wall, I went down without any sort of panic attack. I was growing as a diver!

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This dive was my favorite dive of the day. With massive coral walls, there is so much to look at. Shaun and I glided into swim throughs as though months had not passed between out last dives. We were comfortable. This was our element. I had a HUGE smile on my face… that turned into a giggle as I saw one of the newbies’ tanks stuck in the cave/swim through and one of the pros struggling as well.

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And just as I feared, we ascended 15 minutes early. One of the newbies had blown through an alarming amount of air (with no warning) and the divemaster was ready to hand him his extra regulator just in case. The ascent got even more absurd when newbie diver also managed to tangle himself in the line of the buoy telling the boat where we are during the safety stop.

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As we hit the surface I turned to the other divers with a grin. “DID YOU HEAR THE WHALE?!” A quick nod from a newbie and I had reached my defining moment of my now brief diving career. Low and long, I had managed to capture something while many of our group did not.

I dive mainly for wildlife and this one topped my life.

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For our second drift dive we headed out to Paradise Reef – a super shallow but quite intense drift dive with plenty of fish. The current here was the most intense I had ever experienced, and we couldn’t make any headway if we swam against it. This dive was mainly filled with parrotfish – which, to be honest, are little bitches. They make sure to go out of their way to poop right in front of you, making an unavoidable pooptastic collision.

I did get to see my first live conch. I didn’t believe they were more than bathroom decor until I got to see them in nature.

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We did our final ascension (albeit a bit early… AGAIN) and I was floating on cloud 9. Was it worth the extra $25 per person to head over to Cozumel? HELL YES! I think I can deal with the inauthenticity of this cruise port in order to spend time at the amazing dive sites.

….and the only thing we couldn’t stop talking about was returning as quickly as we could for Whale Shark season…

Have you been diving? What were some of YOUR favorite experiences?

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63 Responses to “Drifting Away in Cozumel”

  1. Jennifer June 11, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    We haven’t been diving yet. We’ve done SNUBA where the dive tanks float in a little raft above you and you’re tethered with the air cord to them. I freaked out a bit but with the help of my dive master, made it down and really enjoyed it once we were looking at all the fish below. I really want to take a dive certification course, I’m just so afraid of freaking out. I need to overcome the fear!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

      I think snuba would freak me out more than scuba because I would be afraid that my air tube would be too vulnerable!

  2. Heather June 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    We had been snorkeling once, when we decided to move on to Open Water because we were ‘pretty sure we’d like it’ as we explained to our instructor. Lukily we were right, even though our first time in the ocean was pretty rough. We freaked out during the buoyancy check and we were either shooting to the surface or plumetting to the bottom the whole time. Now we’re at almost 50 dives (I know, still babies compared to many).

    Our first drift dive at Cozumel was memorable indeed! It was really relaxing to just hit your buoyancy and then watch things as you drift by, so effortless! The only annoyace we had was the photographers who wanted to stop along the way, forcing us to hold onto rocks when all we wanted to do was drift. We saw our first turtle in Cozumel!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      I’m a baby compared to you with my dives! I’ve only done 15… just 15 REALLY GOOD ONES. It was so hard to get that fuzzy picture of the conch because I floated by at crazy speeds!

  3. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures June 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    How AMAZING that you heard a whale and that you’re growing as a diver! Congrats!!!

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

      Movin’ up and up!! 😀

  4. Cate Brubaker June 12, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    Okay, I’m sold on the Go Pro! Amazing shots!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

      We were kinda “meh” about the upgrade but when we saw the clarity we quickly realized it was a FAB investment.

  5. Jennifer June 12, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    I learnt to dive in mexico 5 years ago, then have been diving in belize and thailand since. However sadly I think I may give it up as every time I get extremely nervous and sea sick!!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      I used to get nervous. Now I get these CRAZY migraines if I do super deep dives (I’m advanced) due to sinus issues. Do whatever makes you happy lady!

  6. Sofie @ Wonderful Wanderings June 12, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    I haven’t been diving yet. The Belgian waters aren’t that tempting, I’m telling you:-)
    But it is something I want to learn. I just haven’t figured out yet where I want to learn it.
    Belgium really isn’t the nicest place to dive, but I think it might be good to learn it here, in cold and dark waters. It’s not that expensive either.
    On the other hand, learning it in some exotic destnation might lift my motivation:-)

    • Lucie June 12, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Isn’t the biggest indoor diving pool in Belgium? Might be worth checking it out…

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      Yeah… I can’t imagine diving Belgium lol! But you’re so close to really great dive spots throughout Europe!

      • Sofie @ Wonderful Wanderings June 19, 2013 at 2:16 am #

        Can you give a suggestion?:)

        • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

          If you have the chance, diving Silfra in Iceland is amaaaaaazing!

  7. Talon June 12, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    I’m so glad you had a good time! Santa Rosa wall is one of my fav dives in Cozumel. It’s where I did my advance open water. Love those swim-throughs. So proud of you guys!

    And we both laughed about the parrotfish. They’re awful that way!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      Crazy advanced dives! I feel so lucky I got to do the wreck for one of mine. <3

  8. Maria June 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    You two always look so good at the beach! Awesomesauce post

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      I’ll take it! I’m always so self conscious.

  9. Brittany @ Paws for Beer June 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    I went to Cozumel for a day trip in 2008. We did little planning and I was pretty disappointed with the tourist trap. But these diving photos are amazing and I wished I would have put in a little more effort. And if we did not go diving I probably could have found some snorkeling – something I would probably be more comfortable with 🙂

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      I am very glad I didn’t spend too much time in Coz – I was much happier in Playa del Carmen!

  10. TammyOnTheMove June 13, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    I wish I wasn’t such a chicken, so I could try out diving one day. It all looks so wonderful, but I’d be scared that there is a shark waiting around the corner ready to eat me.

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

      More people die from bee stings than shark attacks! I’m sure that doesn’t keep you from going outside?

  11. Becki Kremer June 13, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    Holy crap what an awesome trip you guys had! Andy and I have never gone diving before – the thought kinda gives me the heebie jeebies! But being able to see those things under water totally makes me want to give it a shot. We are here down in La Paz, Mexico, CBS and not too far from Isla Espiritu Santo, where snorkeling and diving a must. During the winterish months all types of whales come here (Whale sharks!!) and of course, the sea lions are here as well. Sadly, being June we missed the whales (apparently they are in Cozumel now!) so we never made it out to the island. Someday when we have better planning skills and timing – we will see some cool shit! 😉 Ps… Awesome photographs!! 😀

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

      I actually feel much more comfortable with scuba gear than snorkeling because I always end up with too much salt water in my mouth from it entering the breathing tube. The nature is what really sold me on it all. I used to be afraid of dark water and am a bit claustrophobic. Confront those fears!

  12. Alex June 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    I’ve done a LOT of diving, but I’ve never heard a whale! What a special experience, I can imagine there would be tears in my mask!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

      I almost started weeping. I really did and I’m glad you understand!

  13. Ayngelina June 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    I had no idea scuba diving was so amazing there. I definitely need to go.

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

      The swim throughs are really what did it for me. Talon was right – this place is ah-mazing!

  14. Federico June 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Great shots and a great trip! Haven’t done any diving in the area…have you considered checking out Belize?

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

      We have but every time we go we don’t have enough money to get in the dives that we want (which is why we haven’t done it). 😛

  15. Dan June 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    I think this has given me the final push I need to go for my PADI certificate. It looks amazing!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

      YES. *arm pump*

  16. Andrew June 19, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    Looks amazing. Not sure I could manage it though. Between needing glasses and getting panicy breathing, I think I might not do so well. Ali likes snorkeling, which i think I will try at some point though.

    What kind of whale did you hear?

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

      Yeah, totally give it a try. We have no idea what type of whale it was because it was pretty far away. Even though we didn’t see it, hearing was more than enough. ^^

  17. Raymond @ Man On The Lam June 20, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    I really need to get back into diving. Seriously. 🙂

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

      Since there are only a few places in the world where it’s “cheap”, making it happen can be hard- but totally worth it.

  18. Dan @ A Cruising Couple June 20, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    I loved the Santa Rosa Wall! I remember swimming through that same cave 🙂 The drift dives we did there were some of my favorite we’ve ever done. You hardly have to kick. Half the time I was just floating along with my legs crossed enjoying the view. Jealous you got to hear a whale! Immediately reminds me of the scene from Finding Nemo 😛 Thanks for sharing and bringing back the memories! Glad you guys enjoyed it.

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      Haha, yup, we had the same Nemo thought. 😛 And drift dives are our favorite for that reason. We used almost no air, but the other divers were still blowing through their tanks too fast.

  19. Matthew Karsten June 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    I’ve been to Cozumel twice now, but never went diving! I’m regretting it after hearing about your experience. Those swim-throughs look fun! 😀

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      Definitely! Diving is the best part of Cozumel! 🙂

  20. Kenin Bassart June 21, 2013 at 4:38 am #

    Love the underwater photos! Need to learn to dive STAT!

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

      Big time! These were all taken with our Black Edition GoPro Hero 3. Though, they would have come out even better if we had a red insert for the lens (which we couldn’t find in time). I really want to get a light like the other photographer had.

  21. Abby June 23, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    You know I am recently hooked on diving. I really want to get certified now. These photos are so dreamy and don’t look real!

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      And it’s even better IRL. 😀

  22. Laurel June 24, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    I did my Advanced ceritfication in Playa del Carmen and found out later that the diving in Cozumel is amazing. That’s what I get for not doing my research. Love drift dives as well, next to diving with sharks they’re my favorite. Glad that you had fun!

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      We probably would have done the same thing if it wasn’t for Talon. And we feel the same way about sharks!! 😀

  23. Christy June 25, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Gorgeous! I love underwater photography too… and above water photography. I just need a good housing!

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

      We haven’t made the investment in a housing for Erica’s camera yet, so we’ve just been using our GoPros (which the Black Edition Hero 3 gives the quality you see in this post).

  24. Stephanie - The Travel Chica June 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    Diving is so much work to actually get in the water. But once you are under the water, it is pretty amazing. I need someone to push me to do it again.

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

      Indeed. Having a buddy goes a long way. This dive was cool because we just rolled out of the boat, but we hated life just before our Silfra dive because we had to walk for what seemed like 15 minutes (really it was about 5) in our dry suits and carrying all our gear. Luckily, the dive more than made up for it. 😉

  25. Meredith@GreenGlobalTravel June 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    I need to get myself an underwater camera! Great shots!

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      We love the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition, but hopefully next dive we’ll have the housing for Erica’s camera. 😀

  26. Robert July 28, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Amazing dive photos, thanks for sharing! Cozumel has always been one of my most favorite holiday destinations!

  27. Megan August 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Hey Guys!

    Just read this post randomly. I love diving! I actually did my first underwater experience in Cozumel. Super touristy spot, but it got me hooked to underwater experiences. I did this thing called snuba, where you don’t have a tank on your back, you have an air tube to your oxygen on a raft on the surface and it follows you around. I was only there for the day and just wanted to get in the water and see some coral. I had a blast! I think it’s actually easier to dive with a tank on now that I’ve done it all.

    Glad you went!

    • Erica August 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      Awesome! My first dives in Utila, Honduras really spoiled me with what I expect out of dives but I totally get it. I don’t know how I feel about snuba. I think I would rather have my tank!

  28. sue October 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    I’m not a diver — too scared to go under that far, but this is making me reconsider.

    • Erica October 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

      I think a big part of the fear of diving is not knowing what is under you. I became so much more comfortable when I was able to see how empty it was.

  29. Mad Betty January 29, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Beautiful photos. Cozumel is where I first attempted diving and I’d definitely qualify as a panicky beginner. Hope to reach your comfort level one day!

    Go back and explore the island more when you can. Once you get away from the touristy port area, you’ll fall in love with Cozumel. The beauty of the island, the kind and humble people who live there, and the authentic and delicious food. It’s one of my favorite spots in the world!

    • Erica February 2, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

      Thank you! To be honest, I panic every time my head goes under the water. It takes me about 10-15 minutes before I can find my zen. Honestly, meditation and breathing exercises have really helped me with my diving anxiety.

      Talon from 1dad1kid raves about Coz off of the main strip. I just wish I had someone to show me all the spots.

  30. Ness February 12, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    I love to be on yacht and cruise but i am afraid of diving. I don’t know why?? But as my my head goes in water I feel I am unable to breath. I think i am a claustrophobic.

    • Erica March 20, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

      I had the same thing happen to me so no worries. It does take a little getting used to and I AM claustrophobic.

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