Coral Reefs

Cozumel is part of the second largest barrier reef system in the world, the Meso-American reef system, which spans almost 175 miles (280 km) of ocean between the Gulf of Mexico and Honduras. Cozumel’s spectacular reef formations, effortless drift diving and exceptionally clear waters make this island one of the world’s most popular diving destinations.

In 1961, the famous oceanographer Jacques Yves Cousteau came to Cozumel with his crew on the Calypso to film a documentary. With the first airing of that film, Cozumel has consistently been on the top of many diving lists among diver’s destinations. Through the guided tour of Cozumel’s rich underwater topography, it is quite normal to see vast coral heads, brilliant sponges, hundreds of tropical fish, rich ecosystems and steep walls that sink into the abyss. Tunnels and caves twist through the reef, providing a rich environment for many species, including some not found anywhere else on earth.

Diving in Cozumel is effortless, with average currents from 1-2 knots, which is ideal for cruising the reefs with minimal effort. The currents in Cozumel constantly flow from south to north. Some of the deeper walls, however, may experience a stronger current, normally beginning at the shelf edge, sometimes as strong as 8 knots. Downwellings may also be encountered near the wall shelfs. Staying close to the wall can curtail some of the effects of downwelling. If you must move in open water, do so perpendicular to the current.

Average visibility is 100 feet and can often reach 200 feet. With water so clear it is easy to forget you are even submerged in it. Guages should be checked often and depth monitored frequently. Divers should be aware of their surroundings at all times, as it is easy to get caught up in such tranquil waters.

Most of diving sites in Cozumel are located within the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park (Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel), a protected underwater environment covering 29,000+ acres. A voluntary $2.00 US donation/fee from divers was implemented to fund the conservation program.

Here is a list of the coral reefs on the island of Cozumel. Not all reefs listed here are divable or frequented by dive operators, however, we have listed them here as reference. If you are not using a local dive shop or operator for your dive trip, care should be taken when selecting a dive site.

Coral reefs are very important to the ecosystem on this planet. Please take the time as a diver to learn what you can do to protect this resource for future generations.