by Sandy Lai
Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, Cozumel, is the perfect place for snorkeling and diving as its clear waters are teeming with colourful aquatic life. Located just across the way from Playa del Carmen, its beautiful coral reefs and calm waters allow you to snorkel to your heart’s content. Ocean explorer, Jacques Cousteau, gave it his seal of approval when he saw the gorgeous reefs and abundant array of tropical life.
Coming by ferry from Playa del Carmen, you are accosted by a gaggle of snorkeling companies all clamouring for your business. While US$ 40 for a tour won’t break the bank, it is possible to get to the same snorkeling spots yourself without being on a tour. There are many spots close to shore that are accessible without a boat. The southern shores of the island are where they take you, where its gentle currents pull push you towards the beach rather than out to sea. Grab a taxi from downtown San Miguel where the ferry lands, and head to the southern beaches. There are also several companies that offer motorcycle rentals, which will allow you to explore the island. San Miguel takes up a fraction of Cozumel, and it may be worth a ride to more scenic areas by motorbike.
Cozumel is a popular stop for cruises and as such, there are more snorkelers at certain times of the day. Aim to go snorkeling either before nine or after four to avoid the crowds. If you go with a snorkel tour, choose a company that also offers diving and as they will take you to better spots than others. There is definitely more to see when the fish are not disturbed by as many people. Some great snorkeling spots include the ones in front of the Snorkel Center, Dzul Ha Beach Club and Corona Beach club. The entry points to the snorkeling spots are not surprisingly where beach clubs and hotels are found. Because of this, you may be asked to pay a cover charge, but it depends on how business is going.
You might be considering whether or not to bring a waterproof camera, either digital or disposable. Snap happy people should think twice about bringing a disposable camera. You don’t want to spend more time on worrying about what’s picture worthy than enjoying the experience itself. That being said, there is certainly a lot of picture perfect scenery to be had as you swim with schools of tropical fish. Even cooler would be to wear a mounted camera like GoPro to really capture the experience. Of course, nothing beats the real thing, but it’s nice to have some mementos for later.