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For two new divers (open water/nitrox) who have dove in the ocean, but never done drift diving, what are some suggestions on what kind of dive operation to go with. Small, large, more/less expensive, etc.
We are going to Cozumel in a few weeks, and are trying to figure out which dive operation to go with. Don't mind spending more money for what most divers would consider a better experience. However since we are not experienced, we don't want to spend more money for services we aren't going to get because we aren't qualified to get them (eg. deeper or more difficult dives.) We have our own gear, so rental gear condition isn't an issue.
Have narrowed down the list so far to the following: Aldora Divers, Aqua Safari, Dive with Cristina, Liquid Blue Divers, Living Underwater, Sea Urchin.
Any advice on what made/makes the most difference to you and what your experience was with different operators, especially from your perspective of when you first dove in Cozumel, would be greatly appreciated.
I personally found that a new diver to Coz would benifit more going with someone that only goes out with 6 divers on the boat. You will get more personalized attention and crowding on the bottom will not be an issue. It won't take long to learn that you don't have to use your fins for forward motion. There is almost always a light current to move you along. Bounancy is a big concern--you want to stay off the reef and just use breathing to raise and fall a few feet as the bottom goes up and down. Not haveing to go back to the boat is a plus. All the dive boats follow your bubbles and are there to pick you up at the end. Most small fast boats have ladders to climb, some operaters will have you take equiptment off in water and they pull it onboard. Others may just have you remove fins and climb up with gear on. Larger boats tend to have a deck on the back and sometimes you can just swim right onto it. I have been diving with some of those that you mentioned and have heard good things about the others. Some of those may be booked already if your going in a couple of weeks. If you like to go slow and look for the tiny cridders as well as the big'ns you must put Raul Platas at www.bottomtimedivers.net on your list. Raul was a divemaster for 15 years for other operations then last year went on his own. He is very good and will take the time to get you to be expert at drift diving. He does not advertise but releys on repeat customers and referals. He usually has openings on his 6 diver boat, so you may find him available for your dates.
No matter who you choose, do it quick this time of year is busy season. Another post on the Board shows Coz hotel occupancy rate is way up this year.
I'm diving with Raul this weekend.
I'd add Scuba with Alison and Christi's Blue XTSea to your list of operators. My impression is that Alison is especially good with newer divers, and Christi's op gets rave reviews from everyone. I've used both and was pleased.
Most of the Cozumel diving is not terribly difficult or deep. There are lots of posts regarding drift diving, but I imagine the consensus is that it generally isn't too difficult unless the current is really moving.
So you are new? That's not important. Are you comfortable with you bouyancy and trim? That's the real question.
Diving in Cozumel is pretty much a no brainer. You go down, you drift in the current you come up. No navigation skills needed. The important skills are
boyuancy: Can you just float along and inhale to go over that coral head then exhale to get back on the reef?
trim: If you find yourself ahead of the groups can you make yourself less aparant to the water and let them catch up? If not ducking into a shallow alwasy works.
Who do you need to choose? That's a toughie. There are ops like Sand Dollar and Dive Paradise that cater to newer divers. With them you will find shallower dives and a set schedule. There are ops that cater to more experience divers. They will put you on your own.
IMHO the best bet is to use a big op. If you need easier sites you can be placed with a group of newer divers they can put you with them. If your skills, no matter how new, allow you to go to more advanced sites, they can put you with a more advanced group.
People get hung up on 2 things in Cozumel, depth and current. 100' in Cos is not that deep. The water is clear, and it's easier than 20 feet in a quarry. Current can change from dive to dive. One day on a shallow reef you can barely drift, the next day you can fly by.
My suggestion would be to pick the op with the best reputation and let them know up front that you are new. They will keep an eye on you and place you with the group you need to be with.
I did my OW in Coz and had no problems. Don't be freaked out about it, just be honest. Let the op know what you are comfortable with and what you aren't.
I vote for Blue XTSea..Just got back and they definatly cater to you..I would never go w/ Dive Paradise after seeing everyone piling into their boats.
this was our first time in Coz, or anywhere for that matter. Never dove in the ocean before we went. Needless to say , I was scared to do my first boat dive. We did our AOW and would recommend it. IMHO the dive masters ( or atleast my dive master) was more qualified to teach then my BOW instructor..But then again, these guys dive almost everyday..its their life. I was scared by everything I read, thought I was going to get carried away by the currents...HA HA HA...You'll notice when you come back from your dives you'll be in a zone...cant explain it...its the most amazing, relaxing thing Ive ever done...
Did a night dive, I was petrified...Told my DM after getting down about 5ft NO WAY...He calmed me down and I was fine. After I was done, told him I wouldnt do another night dive..he he...Just looking at someone elses pictures, and now I want to see a BIGGER octopus...MY DM (Javier) got me excited about diving again, so excited I dont want to go anywhere else...I could seriously go on and on about Blue XTSea, def. try it for youself...the snacks, towels, muffins, jackets, fresh water...Not sure what they put in the juice, but its excellent ! Backrolls are cool !! I know, Im corney !
As far as being new, I believe ( not positive) Christi has two boats, one for beginners/intermediate and another for advanced. No worries !!
If you do use Christi w/ Blue, make sure you book early ! Her DO isnt getting any smaller !!!
Hope that helps !
ps. check out our photos..if you have any questions feel free to email.