Cozumel, Mexico - 1999
From February 27th to March 6th, 1999, a group of 31 people (21 divers and 10 non-divers) from the Bluegrass Dive Club spent 7 really decent days on the island of Cozumel. We traveled from Lexington, Kentucky to Lousiville, Kentucky via chartered bus and then directly to Cozumel via Houston, Texas on Continental Airlines. The bus trip to Louisville allows us to get a slightly better airfare as they have a larger airport and Delta, who is the major carrier in Lexington does not have service to Cozumel although they do code-share with Aero Mexico.
We stayed at the Allegro Resort, formerly known as the Diamond Resort. The weather was absolutely phenomenal all week, with only a small rain shower during the early-morning hours of just one morning.
The Allegro Resort is a very nice establishment. The biggest plus going for the resort is its courteous staff. That is except for dealing with the front-desk personnel and the resorts policy of allowing late-checkouts that can keep newcomers out of their room until mid-to-late afternoon. This happened to 3 or 4 couples in our group. They were assigned a specific room, but the former occupants just decided that they were not going to vacant until they were damn good and ready. Some visitors evidently do not leave the island until late afternoon or evening. And they sometimes just do NOT want to vacate their rooms. Its a matter of resort management NOT enforcing its checkout policy of a noon-checkout.
Housekeeping and grounds crews do a terrific job in maintaining a very pleasant environment. The condition of the rooms left a little to be desired, but the resort is currently in the process of renovating the rooms. But they were still fairly nice and comfortable, AND clean.
There are 2 pools, 3 restaurants, a snack bar, 2 bars to obtain alcoholic refreshments from, and even self-service beer dispensers that are close to the beach and pools. Included on the grounds are tennis courts, a basketball court, 2 shuffleboard courts, an elaborate playground for kids, and a large hot tub.
The beach has as clean and white sand as Ive seen anywhere in the Caribbean. Chaise lounges and chairs are plentiful around the pools and beach areas. And for those so inclined to needing a nap, there are several hammocks in shaded areas as well as in the sun for the sun-worshippers. WARNING .WARNING for those offended by a little bit of top-less-ness, Cozumel does get some European visitors, so there can be some women that get a few more stares than others. There were even two couples there (not members of our group) that tried a bit of total nudity in the hot tub. Shyness was not one of their virtues. Nice golden tans, too, I think, but it was early evening. The food was plentiful and a wide selection! The resort does an outstanding job in making sure their guest have no complaints about meals.
The Dive Operator
Palancar Divers is right on site, with their own boat dock. There were a lot of staff that were more than ready to assist us with answering questions and providing directions. There were about a half-dozen boats that the dive operation appears to have available. There was a boat or two for six-packs and other boats for larger groups. Before going to Cozumel, we had heard that their boats could be crowded, but we DID NOT experience crowded conditions for diving, at all. Our group of 21 divers occupied 2 boats, all to ourselves. 10 on one and 11 on the other. One of our boats was good for 12-14 divers and the other was capable of handling at least 20 divers, but we were given the entire boat all week for the 11 divers. This trip was my introduction to drift diving, Cozumel-style. And I was very, very pleased. Some sites had currents varying from very slight to maybe 2 knots. Others sites had no current at all. Not having to swim back to the boat was most enjoyable. Currents do not provide U/W photographers ideal conditions for getting up-close-&-personal shots, but we managed. Visibility all week ranged from 75 to 100-plus feet. Water temperature was pretty much 78 degrees all week. Some divers were comfortable with just a skins while others chose to layer with thicker stuff. Since a majority of the dive sites that we visited during the week were within a 10 minute boat ride of the resort, there was usually only one tank taken out each trip for a diver. Between dives, back to the resort to change out tanks. And this was nice in case one wanted to run back to there room for any equipment repairs, changes, or additions. And this also permitted those that wanted to do only one dive the opportunity to "vegetate" back at the resort.
U/W creatures varied from site to site. We saw sharks, turtles, eels, huge-huge-huge angels, octopus, splendid toads, a seahorse, and lots and lots of lobsters and crabs. Of course, the walls were splendid and the swim-throughs were terrific. Devils Throat is quite interesting. The dive operation was pretty adamant about the divers for the Punta Sur dive sites to be advanced, but with the guidance/direction of a Divemaster, certainly not a problem for just an average experienced diver. The major concern there appeared to be; could one adequately handle the 120-125 ft. depth. The Divemaster keep everyone together and didnt want to allow any of us to explore out on our own. Probably because its primarily drift diving, they didnt want anyone drifting away. Our boat crews were excellent. We did have a problem in that one of our Divemasters got a bad tank of air. Seems that somehow his tank of air had a fowl taste of what appeared to be like silicone mixed in. Even a couple of others indicated that they thought their air had a "funny" taste. The Divemaster had to abort his dive and go on oxygen until the boat returned, then off to the hospital. He was okay, but was ordered to stay out of the water for a couple of days.
As a whole, the week was super!!! Cozumel is a fun destination. Lots of things to do around our resort and also in town. Lots of visitors from cruise ships. Lots of shops to leave some of your money. A good place to rent a car or scooter and just cruise the island. Lots of restaurants with good food. As we were leaving the islands, Spring-Breakers were just arriving. Were sure the up-coming week was a wild one in Cozumel for sure!!!!