By Steve Rosenberg
Located about 12 miles off the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Cozumel is probably the most well-known dive destination in North America. It is a small island, approximately 32 miles long and 9 miles wide, with its highest point only 45 feet above sea level. Cancun, on the mainland is about 30 miles northwest of Cozumel. The reefs of Cozumel are part of one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, the Belizean reef, that extends south from the tip of Isla Mujeres 174 miles to the Bay of Honduras.There is an international airport that connects with several gateway cities from the U.S. and there are also high-speed ferries that connect Cozumel with playa Del Carmen on the mainland which makes it very easy to get there.
Cozumel is especially well known for its exceptional clear, hundred and 50 foot plus visibility and effortless drift diving. The island's lush reefs offer incredible drop-offs, pinnacles, and labyrinths of interconnecting caves and tunnels. In addition, there is a tremendous variety and abundance of marine life in the beautiful turquoise waters surrounding the island. There are approximately 30 well known dive sites scattered along the West coast of Cozumel between Maracaibo at the south tip of the island and the town of San Miguel. The Guiana current flows almost due north as it sweeps around Cozumel, producing currents of variable strength. These currents are almost always present and tend to run mostly from the South to the North.
In June of 2011,I returned to Cozumel with my friend and dive buddy , John Fifer, to complete a project for a new marine life identification website, ReefID. As a base of operations we selected Scuba Club Cozumel, an all-inclusive dive resort located right on the water about a mile south of San Miguel. Our goals on this trip were to obtain some new images for the marine life identifier, demo the SeaLife 1200 point and shoot underwater camera, and to present a few formal and informal photography seminars to a small group of divers which included both avid underwater photographers and divers new to photography. SCUBA Club Cozumel, which caters to divers, was a perfect resort to host our project because it offers literally everything we needed. It has an on-site dive shop, its own fleet of fast dive boats, seminar facilities, a wonderful restaurant and a friendly and professional staff. Originally built in 1976 and continually being updated, the resort has been my favorite place to stay in Cozumel for over 30 years.
I was concerned about the state of Cozumel's reefs since the devastation of hurricane Wilma in 2005. I had been diving in Cozumel since December of 2005 and when I hit the water I was hoping that I would see at least glimpses of the Cozumel of old. I was thrilled to see that the tapestries of color were present everywhere. The deep reefs, including the swim-throughs and tunnels, were clean and lavishly appointed with colorful sponges and corals. Schools of snapper and grunts, as well as pairs of large angelfish, filefish, cowfish, and spotted morays, were everywhere you looked on the medium deep and shallow reefs. Turtles and nurse sharks could also be found on most reefs, and were more than happy to pose for images. I was especially pleased to find many splendid toad fish, not only on Paradise reef, but also on several of the other shallow reefs. Even the shore dives at the resort offered a surprising abundance of marine life.
With some awesome photography opportunities, the entire group was able to get some fascinating and beautiful images throughout the course of our one-week visit. The combination of clear water and cooperative and beautiful subjects allowed members of our group to get exceptional photographs with DSLRs, as well as SeaLife's point and shoot cameras. We look forward to returning to SCUBA Club Cozumel with another group in 2012 for a week of fun and photography.To see more images of what you can see in Cozumel, please visit: