We had originally planned a dive trip to Cozumel with my sister Judi, her SO Terry and their friend and DM Terrye Lynn during Thanksgiving 2005. This would mean diving on MY birthday! Turns out hurricane Wilma had plans for Cozumel as well. Unfortunately the island suffered a lot of damage and the El Presidente Hotel and their on-site dive operation, Scuba Du were pretty well destroyed. We cancelled the trip at that time with the idea of going sometime in the future fuzzily planned.
So Bill and I went on with our other trips to Bonaire, Fiji and planned the trip to Roatan. We even threw in a last minute trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Then Judi gets the idea to resurrect the Cozumel trip for HER birthday on June 10th. Bill's birthday is June 12th so a new Cozumel trip was set in motion, June 9th through 12th for them and June 9th through 14th for Bill and I. We wanted to do some more diving and for sure wanted to dive on the 12th for Bill's birthday.
Judi, Terry and Terrye Lynn (yes, I know, three people named Terry on this trip) had all dove with Scuba Du and their Dive Master Eduardo a few times in the past, they got hold of Scuba Du and arranged to charter one of their boats and hire Eduardo for 6 dives. The planned dives were: a night dive Friday night, two tank boat dives each day on Saturday and Sunday and another night dive on Saturday night. In addition Bill and I, rather spontaneously decided to complete our Advanced Open Water Certification while we were there. Blanca with Scuba Du hooked us up with Instructor Erick and we did our Cert class while diving with everyone on the charter boat. Nice! Erick was personable and fun but took his instruction seriously. He didn't suggest the 'boat diving' specialty dive as a part of our instruction, which would have been easy as we were doing all our dives from a boat. Instead we completed the NAUI required Navigation dive (done from the beach next to the still shell of the El Presidente), Deep dive (had to do timed math problems on the boat and again at depth) and Night dive and added Fish ID (FUN!), Drift dive and Multi-level/computer dive as our other three dives. He also made us complete and turn in knowledge review pages from the book and he read them over and discussed the answers with us.
Course completed, we received our temporary cards. At this point we had 43 dives and started thinking we could actually do 100 dives this year. Pretty good for living in (lake-only-diving) Dallas. We did two more dives Monday afternoon and two Tuesday morning with Dive House (Fiesta Americana's on-site dive op). Although they have large boats they assured me there would not be more than 12 people at a time. The first two dives there were only 6 of us and the dives on Tuesday there were 12 on a boat that would easily hold 30 (so, lots of room). I have no complaints about Dive House, they let us dive a decent 40 to 45 minutes, took suggestions and were very willing to dive where ever the majority on the boat wanted to go. They allowed us to dive the C53 wreck even though the previous dive had been a deep dive through lots of cave like swim throughs. Everyone was diving computers and we got a stern dive briefing about staying as shallow as necessary to avoid any deco. Of course two people (both diving with conservative Suunto computers) didn't heed the dive masters message and should have ascended before they did but we (and most) were well within our nitrogen limits. I do believe as a diver you need to understand what you are doing and police yourself. Some people obviously need to continue their diving with a hired Dive Master.
We chose to stay at Fiesta Americana which was up and running though only about a third occupied. The staff was friendly and helpful. They only had one of the on-site restaurants open at lunch (buffet or menu) and the other for dinner (white tablecloth menu). Since there were so few people at the resort it was never crowded at meals, at the pool (though we never used the pool) or even at the bar. Bill and I found a last minute deal through FunJet that included all meals and locally available alcohol for only $100 each for the entire 6 days. Since we were diving (and doing the homework Erick kept assigning) it was more convenient to eat at the resort. Bottled water was included and easily available and grabbing a couple beers at the end of the day was nice.
Fiesta Americana had done a lot of work on the exterior of the building and the "beach" area. Looked nice. The rooms were good sized with a couch, chair, big table and wardrobe in addition to the usual hotel closet, an ocean view balcony and room to spread out our dive gear to dry. The only downside was apparently due to the storm damage Eduardo had no protected place to store our gear so we hauled it back and forth each day. That got old in a hurry. The dive dock is across the street and it meant walking through the hotel and up the elevator (or stairs) dripping with wet gear. Dive House, the on-site dive op had what they considered to be 'dive lockers' but were really just baskets and very few of them at that. That is the one thing that I think the hotel could benefit from-put in some lockers near the dive dock to keep all that wet stinky gear out of the rooms and lobby. But they never ask me for my opinion......
The view from our balcony of the pool and the restaurant, beach and dive shop across the street.
We went into town on Sunday night with the group and Eduardo for a nice dinner and then Bill and I spent Tuesday afternoon off gassing around town seeing the sights. The cruise ships had not yet begun their return onslot of pod people to Cozumel so it was some nice leisurely shopping and lunching.
click on the picture to see larger
I would definitely go back to Cozumel to dive as the water was so crystal clear and beautiful. There is of course sand on a lot of the reefs primarily in the more shallow areas, but we also saw lots of beautiful coral and sponge growth. We saw many turtles and the biggest Angels I have ever seen and we did some magnificent swim throughs that seemed to go on forever. The currents varied among the sites, some being quite strong and challenging. It was a fun trip.
Click on the photo page at the top to see some of our shots and brief descriptions of the dives. We didn't take the camera on the first few days diving as we were doing our AOW class and I doubt Erick would have approved since we didn't sign up for the underwater photography dive.
Ten days and we are off to Roatan!!