Downey Duck Cozumel 2009  

It's hard to believe we've been to Scuba Club Cozumel eight times; this trip was just as much fun as our first trip 15 years ago. The hotel looks the same, much of the staff is the same, the welcome is just as friendly, the food is still yummy, the hammocks are still comfortable, and the diving is still good. We've been there during different seasons, but summer is my favorite. It's hot, yes, but the seas are usually calm and flat, which makes for excellent dive conditions.

Unlike the bigger hotels and resorts, Scuba Club Cozumel has a more intimate atmosphere, with 55 unique rooms. There are upstairs and downstairs dining rooms, a bar, pool, hammocks looking over the water, a small gift shop, dive store across the street, and lots of friendly staff.

There is a large scuba shop on the premises and a fleet of six various-sized boats able to handle up to 30 divers. Our group of 26 divers was on the Reef Cat, a roomy catamaran with a sundeck perfect for surface interval shenanigans.

The diving is good Caribbean drift diving, with visibility averaging 60 to 100+ feet. First dives are usually deeper wall dives with large coral formations, swim-throughs, groupers, and turtles. Second dives are shallower areas of coral heads, sand, or weeds. We saw sea horses, numerous splendid toadfish, only seen in Cozumel, eels, and several turtles. One dive the current took us off course into an area filled with small ledges where we spotted several resting nurse sharks.

During the night dives we spotted many octopus, all kinds of crabs, various-sized eels, and numerous other critters. We've seen more octopus in Cozumel than anywhere else in the world.

Our group also explored the Filipe Xicontencati; the visibility was exceptional, the entire wreck being visible from the surface.

It's hard to get deeper than 20 feet in front of the hotel, but there's plenty of man-made rubble, including the old dock, to explore. Cozumel is a great place for beginners; four in our group received their PADI Openwater certifications, and several others worked toward Advanced Openwater.

Due to the economy, we got a great rate with 4 days of boat diving and a boat night dive; the Continental flights were also a great value. Between the cruise ship docks being destroyed in the last hurricane, and the swine flu scare, we never saw more than 3 cruise ships docked at a time. The town has much new construction, including a "Costco" type super store.

Three meals a day are included. Breakfast buffets ranged from pancakes and eggs to cereal and fresh fruit. Lunch was a choice of the "diver's special" or something ordered from the menu, and dinner was a choice of fish, meat, or vegetarian. Mexican cuisine was definitely the order of the week, but more Americanized dishes were also popular. Desserts were delicious, and helado (ice cream) was eaten in mass quantities.

Our group was there over the July 4th weekend; the piņata party included red, white, and blue balloons along with an outdoor barbecue and a fantastic Mariachi band. It's always a blast watching blind-folded tourists swinging wildly at a piņata dancing above their heads.

Scuba Club Cozumel is less than a mile from town-window-shopping and people watching on cruise-ship days can be entertaining. Other out-of-water possibilities are renting a car and driving around the island, visiting Chichen Itza, a magnificent Mayan ruin, taking the ferry to the mainland and checking out Playa del Carmen and Tulum, para-gliding, or ATV rides. Relaxing by the pool or in one of the hammocks while gazing at the sea with drink in hand is also high on the to-do list.

We've been to Cozumel more than anywhere else, and yes, we'll be going back.