Are you tired of the cool winter temperatures? Have you been dreaming of a winter getaway to the Caribbean? Then maybe you should think about a winter escape to Cozumel, Mexico.
Whether you scuba dive or snorkel, Cozumel offers some of the most pristine reef diving in the world. The island lies ten miles off the Yucatan Penninsula, about one hour south of Cancun. The small town of San Miguel, Cozumel, is friendly and safe and is reached by ferry boat from Playa del Carmen.
The main diving is found in the Marine Park of Cozumel and the typical scuba outing is by boat in the mornings and afternoons. One of the coolest aspects of the diving is the current that sweeps up the south side of the island. The diver literally rides the gentle current watching the life on the reef. There are two main reef systems including the Palancar and the Columbia which are teeming with all kinds of coral, fish and larger animals such as sea turtles and nurse sharks. On a night dive it is common to see numerous octopi and large moray eels.
Getting there is easy. There are flights into Cancun from Phoenix everyday for as little as three hundred and fifty dollars if you plan ahead. Once you arrive in Cancun, a bus or taxi cab is available to reach Playa del Carmen for eleven or fifty dollars respectively. The ferry from Playa del Carmen to San Miguel is about forty minutes and costs thirteen dollars.
If you like a quiet place to stay in San Miguel, try the Tamarindo Bed and Breakfast ($69-59 per night). The rooms are clean and comfortable and breakfast is included. There is a place to rinse and hang scuba diving equipment and the internet is available. There are many other small hotel/bed and breakfast options in central San Miguel. Several hotels near the town square range from $40-$100 per night. All of these accommodations are within walking distance of the dive operations including car and scooter rental. A jeep or a Volkswagen beetle can be rented for twenty-five dollars a day.
For pastries and coffee find the bakery called Zermatt and for the evening meal try the Veranda on 4 Norte or Casa Dennis close to the town square.
Many of the businesses are cash only so bring extra cash or travel with a card that is ATM friendly. Unlike some locations in Mexico, Cozumel is safe and tourists freely roam the streets throughout the evening and there is little need for a car.
Recommended dive operations include Scuba Gamma, Aldora, and Deep Blue Cozumel.
Watch this column in the week ahead for more winter escapes.