We had a fun April this year. Two weeks after getting back from Belize we headed south again to dive Cozumel. We left the kids home so it actually meant that Tee was going to get to dive. We had a great group of 19 people to stay at the Hotel Cozumel (formerly Brisas, Costa Club, and Fiesta ) and dove with Dive Paradise.
Hotel Cozumel is a really nice resort. They have a large courtyard area with a huge pool and then you go under the street to the beach side. They have completed a renovation to their beach area since we were there last time. First they added some additional restaurants/buffet areas and give you an all inclusive option. They have a bar/snack area next to the large pool, the original restaurant by the front desk and an open air buffet by the beach. Also on the beach side they have a dive shop with lockers and rinse area, a small pool, a sandy "beach" with lounge chairs and then a boardwalk and pier for the boats to load from. The whole beach/diver area is really quite nice. The restaurants, . . . well more on those later.
Diving with Dive Paradise is always a treat. They are a very organized operation. They have a large fleet of dive boats and always seem to have the best divemasters. This year they put us out on the Atlantis with Jamie as the lead divemaster with Alberto and Rafael assisting. Their policy of no more than 8 divers per divemaster meant we would be in three groups of six. All three were very friendly, however Alberto kept hitting on Tee!! She likes to practice her Spanish by talking with the locals as much as she can and Alberto has happy to se habla. I wasn't exactly thrilled to hear him call her "mi preciosa" but it did keep the group amused. In fact Alberto is still referred to as Tee's "novio." While he was talented in the "amor" department, he lacked a bit in divemaster skills. Unless he swam right over it, he didn't point out or look for anything interesting. The dive we made with Jamie, on the other hand, resulting in seeing a seahorse and a few other hard to find critters.
As always, the deeper dives in Cozumel are always the best. The huge coral formations, gi-normous sponges and numerous swim-throughs are some of the best dives I have ever made. Unfortunately they are farther south which means a longer boat ride. We also dove the wreck of the C-53, the naval vessel they sunk last time we were there. About 5-6 years ago, we rode out one morning and passed it and when we came back it was gone!! Some of our group got to dive it the very first day they allowed divers there but we left a day early and missed out. It's a fun wreck, lots of big passages and neat stuff to see. I was a little disappointed on some of the second dives we did. The first dives were always good but the captain seemed to miss the reef a few times on the second ones and we would end up drifting over sand and not too much else. Still, all in all, the diving was great.
During each trip we try to get the group together for a few events. In Belize it was the golf cart rally, in Roatan it was the zip lines, in Utila it was the moped tour. In Cozumel, it was the evening shows put on by the entertainment staff. The Caribbean dance night was ok except for the part when most of us had to get on stage to dance. We also had a pizza party at the dive shop on our last night and watched the videos they had taken of us. (Pizza Hut delivers even in Mexico.)
Now, about the food. I should have been concerned when the price was only $130 for all the meals. Over the course of the week, almost half of group came down with some form of either food poisoning or Montezuma's revenge or whatever. We also overheard some Canadians who even brought in a doctor so they could get moved to a different hotel without paying. It ranged from Steve being out of it for ½ a day to Tee throwing up all night but recovering by the next night to Troy and Scott being in their beds for 2 days. The funny thing is that everyone thought they could trace it back to something else. My recommendation is avoid the outside buffet unless you get there as soon as they open it. They open it around 12-ish and leave it out until 4 p.m. Hotel Cozumel has a deal with cruise ships and day trips from Cancun where they go snorkel or shop in the morning and then get dropped off at their pier with a ticket for lunch and get to use the facilities for the afternoon. I can only imagine how they felt the next day. Having said all that, I never got sick. I didn't drink the water but I did use the ice. Since it was all inclusive and I am a Coke-aholic, that's what I drank. Actually we got tired of the small Coke's they offered so we followed Steve's lead and went to the supermarket and got some big plastic glasses and had the bartender fill them con mucho hielo. (Lots of ice.) I did however get very picky and careful in what I ate as the week went by. One tip though, be sure to try the fresh guacamole. You have to ask for it, but it was sooo good. For good food, we also ate at Prima's. This is an open air Italian place downtown. I had one of the best chicken parm's ever. I definitely recommend it. There is also a little ice-cream/popsicle place that is great to try. Head east on the small street that borders the north end of the plaza and it's on your right.
In all (as usual) it was a great trip. As with most of our trips, it was the people that made it a fun time. Getting together at Troy's house afterwards for the usual "Post Trip Picture Party" to share pictures and burn CD's was a fun way to relive highlights. Come out and join us next year as we head to Fiji!!
Let's go diving!