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Trip Report Diving and Dining Feb. 6th- 13th

Discussion in 'Cozumel' started by morecowbells, Feb 16, 2021.

  1. morecowbells

    morecowbells Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: St. Louis burbs
    With Covid restrictions and aging parents who have suffered setbacks, we have considering changing our Cozumel vacation plans over a dozen times over the past month. I was looking into St. Croix where we would not have to get Covid tested prior to re-entry, but I must have not been the only person looking into this option. Lodging choices were getting picked over, and what we could find on short notice were either out of our price range or in a slummy part of town. We decided to stick with our original plans of Cozumel and left freezing St. Louis on Feb 6th. Flight to Miami was about 75% full. Flight into Cozumel about 50% full. We completed the online questionnaire with the QR code, but nobody bothered asking for this. Going through immigration took perhaps 15 minutes. Our checked bags were already waiting for us (hey St. Louis airport, take notes!). Everything was going smooth, until I hit the red light. We set our luggage on a table and the inspector must have been annoyed at the thought of going through our scuba gear and T shirts. It was an anemic, five-minute inspection and we were on our way.

    We walked past the round about and hailed a cab. Typically, we stay at The Residencias Reef, but original plans changed. We were going to have some non-diving family members (they ended up cancelling) with us and figured it would be better to stay closer to town. We stayed in a one-bedroom unit at the Palmar Condominiums. Our unit was well stocked, clean and updated. The hosts were amazing people to work with. I wish there were some more shaded areas around pool since I like to read and pseudo nap after diving.


    We spent six out of our seven days diving. We dived with our usual dive op of several years, Bottom Time Divers. Raul is amazing at spotting the smallest critters. The entire time, it was just my husband and myself on the boat. There are numerous benefits diving with owner Raul. In addition to spotting many critters (nurse shark to pipefish), we were able to dive our own profile, and ascend when our dive buddy starts running low on air. Surface intervals are at least an hour. There is never a rush or time crunch. We are not fans of deep dives. Our dives basically stayed in the 60 foot range. Our first day of diving was dealing with crazy currents. While on Cedral Wall, the currents changed direction twice. Second dive was at Tormentos, where the currents were ripping strong. It didn’t make any difference whether were shallow or deep, we were flying! Instead of flying forward like Superman, the current pulled me sideways which felt somewhat disorienting. Visibility turned to crap due to what looked like sand storms sweeping around reefs.

    Fortunately, the currents slowed down for the rest of our dives. We had three eagle ray sightings, which unfortunately were at too much of a distance to decently photograph. We saw plenty of fat, robust green moray eels, and only two turtles (usually I see more). My favorite dive was at Yucab. In addition to spotting the usual Caribbean suspects, Raul must have found a good dozen of Splendid Toadfish on that dive alone. It is a nice, colorful and shallow dive.

    We took a midweek day off from diving. Originally, we were going to tour the east side. I heard from the grapevine that the winds and waves were especially strong. We decided to spend the afternoon at Mr. Sanchos Beach Club. Perhaps one out of five palapa shaded tables were being used. Most of the lounge chairs were empty. Neighboring beach clubs Playa Mia, San Francisco and Paradise were closed.


    For our meals, we ate breakfast and lunch at condo. For dinner, we dined out. I am always amazed over the selection of restaurants and quality of food. No other dive destinations that we have visited ever comes close to Cozumel when it comes to dining options. Here are our experiences:

    Blue Angel: We really wanted to try their restaurant, Blu, but it was closed during our visit. We went to resort restaurant instead. The view offered the perfect location for watching the sunset. My husband had one of their massive burgers. I ordered the Mexican Molcajete. It was delicious plus the huge serving worked out great for lunch leftovers.

    Kooben Laab: This was my first time eating here. The name kept popping up on the forums coupled with rave reviews. Everything was delicious and fresh. Outstanding service with affordable prices.

    Casa Cozumel: Lots of ex-pats here. Fun ambiance. Mole was tasty. Pico and guacamole lacking spice/flavor. Food was good but not especially memorable. Great mojitos.

    A & D Resto Bar and Grill: So glad we found this gem! Quaint covered outdoor dining in intimate, casual setting. The pulled pork and chorizo sandwich are the bomb. Friendly owners and I feel madly in love with their dog Lester aka ‘Lester, The Molester’. We visited this place a couple of times. My new favorite.

    Cielito Lindo Grill: I love Caprese salads and order one whenever I possibly can. The toasted cheese added a unique spin to this dish. No vacation would be complete without their three mole sauce enchiladas. The only downside, is sitting outside you are frequently approached by mariachi bands and people selling goods. I did purchase some cute masks from one lady.

    Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club: Beef tacos were bland. Strawberry Margaritas were a frozen fruitless, syrupy concoction. I didn’t set my expectations high. They cater to the mass cruise ships and probably figure that the return customer base is not their angle.

    Instead of grabbing a meal after flying, we did the opposite. We checked in our bags a couple of hours before departure, got boarding passes and left the airport for lunch and a beer. This will probably become our routine. I thought the food was priced higher than what I would get elsewhere in town, but the beef and vegetarian tacos were delicious, and the convenience was beyond worth the price point.

    Final thoughts:

    We used to rent a car through ISIS. We always had a good experience, but I like using a cab more. No hassle with parking, gas stations or getting pulled over for dubious reasons. Another added benefit is getting dropped off at front of restaurant or grocery store. I know there are lots of folks who like walking around the plaza in the evening. I am not one of them. I cannot stand the incessant store hawkers and people trying to sell me stuff that I don’t need. I know times are especially tough for the wonderful people of Cozumel, but I am a freak-a woman who doesn’t like shopping.

    The hosts of our VRBO rental arranged for us to get Covid tested at our condo. It cost more than going to the hospital, but the convenience of booking a late afternoon appointment and not being exposed to more disease was well worth it. It was the dreaded lobotomy length nasal swab, but at least it was quick! The lab sent an e mail within two hours of negative results which was kindly printed out by VRBO host.

    The Verifly App sucks! I downloaded it several days before our departure and it still would not allow me upload my Covid results. The airport provided us with a Covid Attestation form and we provided a paper copy of
    test results. Everybody at the airport was amazingly friendly and helpful in getting us checked in.

    If you are hesitating about visiting the island, go for it! Everybody was vigilant in wearing masks and using hand sanitizer. Cab drivers and businesses made it a point to thanks us for visiting the island. I can’t wait to get back!

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    ccannon707, drrich2, Kimela and 15 others like this.
  2. living4experiences

    living4experiences ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Tigard, Oregon
    Nice write-up and pics. Thanks for sharing!
    morecowbells likes this.
  3. CajunDiva

    CajunDiva Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Louisiana
    Thanks so much! I really enjoyed reading about your experiences and seeing your pictures :)
    morecowbells likes this.
  4. Guitarcrazy

    Guitarcrazy Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Montana
    Great write up and pics. What is your camera setup? I have a TG-5 with YS-01 strobe and backscatter wide angle. I just tried the strobe for the first time and had mixed results. I will try some macro nest trip without the wide angle to see if they are better. You photos are excellent.
  5. morecowbells

    morecowbells Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: St. Louis burbs
    Thanks, but I keep seeing tons of backscatter in my photos. I also have the TG-5. I have the Sea Dragon light, but no strobe. Hoping to get the wide angle lens for next dive vacation.
  6. gotdogs?

    gotdogs? Regular of the Pub

    How were the water temps? Where did you go for dive boat pick up?
  7. morecowbells

    morecowbells Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: St. Louis burbs
    Water temps were in the 78-79 range. It was a short cab ride to Fonatur Marina from our unit at Palmar.
  8. Kimela

    Kimela Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: St Louis
    Nice write-up - glad your whole experience was good. Time to start planning your return trip!!
    morecowbells likes this.
  9. Jake 10

    Jake 10 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Herndon, VA
    Great report. Thank you for sharing your experience. Great pictures ! :thumb:
    morecowbells likes this.
  10. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    Very nice photos, especially that big green moray. So, did the condo. setup charm you guys enough to rethink The Residencias Reef for your next visit? If not, what is it about RR you most enjoy?

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