8 Best Dive Sites in Cozumel

Heading to Cozumel and want to get some scuba diving done? You probably want to know the best dive spots in or around Cozumel before you land in Mexico.

The best diving sites in Cozumel have some of the best views of marine life and historical structures.

In this article, I’ll describe the top dive sites and what you shouldn’t miss at each one. You can also find out what the best months to dive in Cozumel are and how much you can expect to pay.

Best Diving in Cozumel – Top 8 Spots

1. Palancar Caves

diving in palancar caves

Palancar Caves are popular for a reason. You can see and swim with sea turtles and spotted eagle rays. If that’s not enough to convince you, Palancar Cave’s dive depths extend as far down as 90 feet. It is for more advanced divers though, so don’t try it if you’re a newbie.

But if you’re an advanced diver, you’ll see large and thick mazes of coral. Swim through decorated tunnels, caves, and passageways. While you’ll start your dive on a stretch of sand, you’ll soon find yourself among those beautiful slopes and canyons.

As you make your way through to the end of Palancar Caves, you’ll notice an influx of Blue tang and butterflyfish. Plus, there might be other schools and species of fish you haven’t seen before. Be sure to enjoy the view as you swim back up to land.

2. Palancar Reef

palancar reef cozumel

Now I’m going to go over what you can discover in the reef area. Palancar reef is among the best dive sites in the whole of Mexico and you can explore it as a scuba diver or a snorkeler. Several tours are available for the area.

That being said, you can conquer the Palancar Reef as a beginner or a diver with more expertise. Catch a view of the starfish that decorate the sand, check out the colorful marine life, and the delicate coral reefs.

If you’d rather stick to snorkeling, many tours include refreshments and information about the marine life that exists in the area. Learn enough to impress the folks back home or start a new hobby. Plus, capture views of the beach and a sandbar you won’t get anywhere else.

3. Chankanaab Reef

chankanaab reef

New to scuba diving? Chankanaab Reef is perfect for beginners. Its depths extend from 35 to 40 feet, depending on where you swim. These shallow depths make it easier for beginners to learn and explore. Plus, the currents in the reef tend to be mild.

Here is a list of what species you can expect to see during your dive:

  • Trunkfish
  • Spotted moray eels
  • Grunts and snappers
  • Damselfish
  • Barracuda
  • Grouper and Coney
  • Scrawled filefish
  • Jackknife fish
  • Queen angelfish
  • Butterflyfish
  • Parrotfish
  • Black groupers

Besides all these fish, you can see small heads of coral. You’ll find lots of sand and can dive into the reef directly from the shore.

Check out the video below for a preview of what you might see on your dive.

WATCH VIDEO: Chankanaab Reef

4. Santa Rosa Wall

santa rosa wall

The Santa Rosa Wall is another famous Cozumel dive site. When you go there, you’ll see coral reefs and formations that go up to 40 feet high. You can navigate through narrow tunnels with fish and other marine life. Also, observe and explore deep drop-offs and huge rock formations.

The great thing about Santa Rosa Wall is that it works for both beginners and advanced divers. There’s a little bit of something for everyone.

Dive depths are as shallow as 50 feet or as deep as 120 feet. However, the sun can be quite strong in this location and you might run into jellyfish.

For these reasons, bring plenty of reef safe sunblock, a wetsuit, and a rash guard. These will protect you from the sun’s rays, rough and rocky surfaces, and any stinging fish that get in your way.

5. Columbia Wall

columbia wall diving

Colombia Wall is a Cozumel dive site that’s for intermediate skill levels. This site features different depths so if you’re more advanced, you can go for it. You can swim through passageways or close to reef walls, whichever makes you most comfortable.

You’ll likely see a lot of fish, a few turtles, and plenty of coral. You might even come across an octopus or two. Don’t worry, though. The octopuses aren’t going to come after you with their tentacles. You’ll probably notice them hiding or resting within the cracks of the coral walls.

Some of the same species that hang out in the Chankanaab Reef are here as well. A few Barracudas and some Bar Jacks and Hawkfish too. Just keep swimming and they’ll leave you alone so you can take in the underwater sights.

6. C-53 Shipwreck

c-53 shipwreck

Got a thing for history and boats? Then you won’t want to miss the C-53 shipwreck site in Cozumel. The boat was built in the mid-1940s and it hails from Tampa and was built to fight in the Second World War.

But in the 1960s, the ship was purchased to guard the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It sits on the bottom of the ocean floor about 70 feet underwater. However, you only have to go about 30 feet down to catch a glimpse of the boat.

The C-53 sits upright on the ocean floor and beginners can feel comfortable diving down to see the shipwreck. You’ll also see plenty of marine life and sponges floating around. This includes schools of Barracuda and Groupers.

7. Barracuda Reef

barracudas at barracuda reef

This Cozumel dive site lives up to its name. Not only because there is plenty of Barracudas in the area, but because of strong currents. So, if you venture out to this must-see dive site, you need to be experienced and you better brush up on those drift diving skills. It’s a drop-off site with a maximum depth of 35 feet.

That doesn’t sound like a lot and compared to some of the other dive sites in Cozumel, it’s not. But with those strong currents, you’ve got to be careful. You don’t want to get pulled under or put yourself at risk.

Sometimes it’s not safe to go into the water, when the currents are especially violent. In this case you would see the site closed down for diving. But when you do take the dip, you’ll get a glimpse of lots of fish including stingrays and surgeonfish.

8. Punta Tunich

punta tunich

Here’s another dive spot that’s best suited for experienced divers only. You can only get out to Punta Tunich by boat. When you get there, you’ll see the Yucab Reef and a lots of marine life. Fish, eagle rays, and sea turtles galore!

The diving depths of Punta Tunich are anywhere from 50 feet to 130 feet. That’s certainly not a shallow jump. The currents can also be strong enough here to push fish up against the reef wall. So, hey…don’t say I didn’t warn you.

How Good is the Diving in Cozumel?

The diving in Cozumel is generally very good. As you can sense from the list of best places, there is something for all skill levels. Beginners and intermediates will find dive sites with calm and easy drifts. However, there are some that are better left to the experts.

These include those with deep depths and strong currents. You really need to know what you’re doing and be experienced enough to handle those conditions.

What are the Best Months to Dive in Cozumel?

Cozumel is good for diving throughout the year. You’ll find the temperatures consistently range between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. During the late fall and winter months, those temperatures might dip a little but not too much.

If you want to see bull sharks, go diving in Cozumel between November and March. You’ll stand the best chance of seeing them.

For those who don’t want to deal with crowds, go between May and September. The currents also tend to be calmer then.

How Much Does it Cost to Scuba Dive in Cozumel?

Daytime and nighttime dives with a single tank cost around $69. You may also have to add on an excursion fee of $39, depending on a dive shop you choose. There are some sites that have a marine park entry fee of $5. Overall, you’re looking at around $115.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know about the best sites in Cozumel for diving, you can start planning your trip. Don’t forget the protective gear, plenty of sunscreen, and your camera to capture all that marine life and historical shipwrecks.

Just be sure to visit the sites that match your diving skills. If the current is too strong, you better stay out of the water.