Young hawksbill sea turtle hovering over deep coral formations in Cozumel's marine park. Original photo by author.

Top 10+ Reasons Why Newbies Should SCUBA Dive in Cozumel

Cozumel wasn’t my very first diving destination, but it was my second. And now that I live here most of the time, it will likely be my last (hopefully very far in the future, that is!)

I came here on dive trip #2 – many moons ago – not long after my open water certification.

I was still new and nervous, working on my buoyancy mastery and other key skills at the time. Cozumel welcomed me like a warm hug – enough so that I became thoroughly hooked on scuba diving, and eventually decided to go diving here – for good. 

Cozumel is a fun and safe dive destination for beginners, despite its reputation for having strong currents. Most days of the year, the currents are gentle to mild, and Cozumel has newbie benefits like excellent visibility, warm water, and several shallow dive sites.

As long as the Cozumel weather is its typically wonderful self, new divers can learn and gain skills without added stressors like getting cold, feeling uneasy in murky water, or descending way too deep.

Why You Should Go Diving in Cozumel

Cozumel, Mexico has long been a popular and highly rated world diving destination, and for many good reasons!

For beginner divers, in particular, it offers a host of advantages that make it an ideal place to learn and explore. 

With warm waters, clear visibility, a vibrant diving culture, and highly experienced divemasters and instructors, Cozumel has everything a beginner diver could want.

In this post, we’ll explore the top 10 reasons why Cozumel is the perfect place for new divers to hone their skills.

If you’re thinking of coming to Cozumel for a dive vacation, but have wondered about the strong currents, or whether it’s a bit dodgy like Cancun these days…please read on.  

1. Cozumel Has Incredibly Clear Visibility Underwater

One of the most significant advantages Cozumel offers beginner divers – or any divers – is crystal-clear waters.

With visibility often far exceeding 100 feet, new divers can easily see the stunning underwater landscape, diverse marine life, and – most importantly – their dive master.

This makes it much easier for new divers to relax, communicate any issues, follow the navigation of their guide, spot potential hazards, and enjoy the underwater experience without feeling overwhelmed.

As mentioned in our full guide to the fantastic diving in Cozumel, the “viz” is one of the key conditions divers ask about, and for me, it’s become my most important quality in a potential dive trip destination. 

I can honestly count on one hand the number of dive days I’ve had here where the visibility was “bad”, and in Cozumel, that’s still better than most places. It’s incredible, all year round. 

2. Year-Round Warm Water Diving is Ideal for New Divers

Cozumel’s warm waters are another huge plus for beginner divers.

With average temperatures hovering around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28C) in the summer, and 78F (26C) in the winter, divers can remain comfortable throughout their dives, even when wearing wetsuits or other gear.

This also makes it easier to stay in the water for longer periods, allowing novice divers to gain more experience and build confidence.

For some help and tips on what wetsuit to wear in Cozumel, read this next.

3. Everyone Seems to Dive in Cozumel 

That’s right. There is a major diving culture on the island. In fact, it’s probably THE main thing the island of Cozumel is known for

Cozumel is renowned for its diving culture, with many locals who have grown up with diving as an integral part of their lives.

As a result, the island has a wealth of resources for divers, including several dive gear shops, equipment rentals, instructors, and highly rated dive operators.

This makes it easier for beginner divers to find the support and guidance they need to succeed.

Scuba instructor and student in Cozumel, underwater waving for the camera.
Dive masters in Coz are real pros!

4. Cozumel Dive Culture Permeates Life 

This island is chock full of great dive shops, awesome divemasters, experienced SCUBA instructors, and a resident population that values Cozumel’s reputation as one of the best dive destinations in the world, and just gets it

Cozumel is home to many highly experienced divemasters and instructors dedicated to helping new divers succeed. 

They offer a wealth of knowledge and experience, along with a friendly and supportive approach that can put even the most nervous divers at ease. 

Whether you’re looking to learn the basics of diving or want to develop advanced skills, Cozumel has the experts you need.

Diver in Cozumel shown hovering in the blue water, over the local shipwreck dive, the C-53. Orig photo by author.
You’ll fall in love with diving in Cozumel

5. Variety of Dive Sites – Wreck Dive? Deep Dive? Wall Dives? Night Dive? = YES

One of the benefits of diving in Cozumel is the variety of dive sites available.

From shallow reefs to deep walls, there is something for every level of diver.

Beginner divers can start with more relaxed sites to get used to drift diving in Cozumel and gradually work their way up to more challenging dive locations as they gain comfort and experience.

Tanks and dive gear set up on the bow of a dive boat with a sunny blue sky in the background
The start of an excellent dive day in Cozumel

6. Easy and Safe Dive Sites in Cozumel for Beginners

The island’s protected national marine park is home to many dive sites that are particularly easy and safe for new divers.

This means they’re shallow, have great coral and marine life flourishing where there is still sunlight, and are some of the best dive sites in Cozumel, for super-experienced divers, too. 

These dive sites often have relatively calmer waters, minimal currents, a reassuring firm sandy ocean floor (see why that’s important in our post about drift diving the currents of Cozumel, here) and a wealth of beautiful marine life to explore.

Spending a lot of good time on these relaxing dive sites can help new divers build confidence and develop their skills without feeling overwhelmed.

Some Great Beginner Dive Sites in Cozumel: 

  1. Columbia Shallows
  2. Palancar Gardens
  3. La Francesa
  4. Punta Dalila
  5. Santa Rosa Shallows
  6. Bajo de Cedral
  7. San Clemente
  8. Yucab
  9. Various Cozumel shore diving sites – see more in our Cozumel shore diving article, here

7. Diverse Marine Life in Cozumel Makes for Fun Diving

Cozumel is teeming with diverse marine life, including colorful coral formations, majestic spotted eagle rays, a few species of sea turtles, and a variety of tropical fish. Part of the second largest barrier reef on earth, i.e. the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. 

For beginner divers, this can be a fantastic opportunity to see new and exciting species up close. It can also help them develop a deeper appreciation for the reef system, marine conservation, and the importance of protecting these fragile ecosystems, giving your dive experience even more meaning. 

If you’ve seen some other posts on the blog about our resident populations of sea turtles, or the types of sharks you can see in Cozumel, you might only be on the lookout for large sea life.

But keep digging in our Diving-related pages here on this site!

You’ll be fascinated with Cozumel’s incredible array of macro marine life, including amazingly intricate tropical cleaner shrimp, a cool array of colorful sea slugs and some bonafide nudibranchs, various tropical species that seem to pair up for life, and some critters you might not even notice IF you don’t understand their extraordinary camouflage behaviors (see more here)

The list is nearly endless. 

A pair of flamingo tongue sea snails mating, showing detailed anatomy.
Cozumel macro marine life rivals the big stuff

8. Great Cozumel Island Vibe, Overall

Cozumel is not just a diving destination – it’s also a vibrant island with a rich culture and plenty of attractions beyond the water.

With an array of adventure sports, bars, cafes, fun shopping, and entertainment venues, there is always something to do on the island. But unlike nearby hotspots like Cancun or Tulum, Cozumel is a lot more chill. It’s a bit quieter, a LOT safer, and just an overall cool time. 

The people are fun, friendly, and funny, and the tourists here even seem to keep their act together. lol. 

This can help new divers relax and unwind after a day of diving, and make the most of their time in Cozumel, and learning how to dive the right way. 

9. Awesome Restaurants, Cafes, Bars, and Street Food All Over Town

Finally, Cozumel is known for its amazing culinary scene, with restaurants and bars serving up some of the best food and drinks in the region.

From fresh seafood to authentic Mexican cuisine, there is something for every taste and budget.

This can be a great way for beginner divers to treat themselves after a day of hard work and exploration.

I mean, you gotta eat, right?  Why not do it in a charming downtown San Miguel de Cozumel, where you’ll find a ton of excellent restaurants, several high-quality coffee shops around town, and even places to catch up on emails and some work if you’re doing a bit of remote work in between dives. 

And don’t forget to sample all the amazing taco joints on the island!

10. Guide to Cozumel Safety (hint: It’s quite safe here…)

Check out our most popular post on the site, all about Cozumel’s safe environment, and the 7 common mistakes to avoid if you want to keep it that way. 

The water is safe to drink – read more on drinking water in Cozumel, here.

And yes, the taxis are safe to ride – read a few key tips, here

As long as you have your DAN diving insurance card – and it’s current and up to date – you will be protected against any fluke diving injuries.

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FAQs on Beginner Diving in Cozumel

Q: What makes Cozumel a great destination for scuba diving?

A: Cozumel is known for its glass-clear waters, abundant marine life, and beautiful dives sites on diverse reefs, making it one of the best destinations for scuba diving in the world.

Q: What are some of the best dive sites in Cozumel?

A: The most widely written-about and popular dive sites in Cozumel include the Palancar Reef sites (Caves, Bricks, Horseshoe, Gardens), Santa Rosa Wall, Punta Sur, and Columbia Wall, all of which are home to a spectacular range of underwater species.

These are also considered advanced dive sites to most, so would likely be OK for a skilled newbie, but as mentioned above, it might be best to wait until you’ve had a few days to get comfortable exploring the more beginner-friendly shallow Cozumel dive sites. 

Q: How do I get to Cozumel?

A: Cozumel can be accessed by air or sea. Most people fly into Cancun and take a 40-minute ferry over from Playa del Carmen. Alternatively, you can fly into Cozumel International Airport (CZM) directly.  For a full review of CZM airport, read this post

Q: What is drift diving in Cozumel?

A: Drift diving in Cozumel involves being carried by the current along the reef, allowing for a relaxing and effortless dive. It is one of the most popular forms of diving in the area.  Read all about drift diving, including tips and recommended safety gear, right here in this post

Q: Are there any dive resorts in Cozumel?

A: Yes, Cozumel has a number of dive hotels and resorts that cater specifically to scuba divers. These resorts are great places to stay in Cozumel, primarily if you’re focused on learning the sport. The dive-friendly resorts offer specialized packages, equipment rentals, shore diving, and dive guides to ensure a great diving experience.  We have a round-up of favorite dive-centric hotels you can consider, right here

Q: What are some of the dive packages available in Cozumel?

A: Dive packages in Cozumel typically include a set number of dives, equipment rentals, transportation, and sometimes accommodations. Some dive packages also include night dives and dives to more remote locations.

Q: Do I need a certification to go scuba diving in Cozumel?

A: Yes, scuba divers must be certified before diving in Cozumel. If you are new to diving, you can take a Discover Scuba course with a dive instructor to try diving before committing to a full open water certification course. If you decide to pursue the certification, Cozumel is also one of the best places to learn in a pool or some confined water areas along the shore, and then quickly move to gain experience right there on the coral reef, and the amazing dive sites in the marine park. 

Q: How do I choose a dive shop in Cozumel?

A: When choosing a dive shop in Cozumel, look for one with experienced instructors, well-maintained equipment, and a good safety record. You can also read reviews from other divers to get an idea of the dive companies reputations.  Read more on the features to look for and the right questions to ask when shopping for dive centers in this post on Cozumel dive shops, here

Cozumel scuba diving is ranked among the best scuba diving places in the world – including beginners. 

With clear waters, warm temperatures, experienced instructors, and a wealth of diving sites to explore, it offers everything a new diver could want.

So if you’re looking to get started with diving, consider making Cozumel your next destination, or even the place you come to do your open-water certification course and get your dive certification right here on the gorgeous Cozumel reefs. You won’t regret it!

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