I just got back from a week at the Iberostar Cozumel and wanted to post about my snorkeling. I rented a car for the week so that I could get around. Every morning I headed out to different shore snorkeling locations. It was great- all I did was drive up the old beach road and a find spots to park and jump in. I towed a dry bag with me as I snorkeled. It acted as a marker for boats (it is bright yellow) and carried my sandals, hat and sunglasses so that I could walk along the road back to my car when I got out of the water.
The water was very warm, and the viz was fantastic on the days that the wind was not blowing. Unfortunately, we experienced a good three day blow from the north. That really stirred things up. It seemed to trap a lot of freshwater close to the shore- it was cold and looking through it into the warm seawater below blurred the viz- it was like having Vaseline smeared all over your face mask. But dive down just a few feet and the water was warm and much clearer.
I also got stung by small invisible jellyfish in several locations. Not very painful, but I imaging it could be a problem if you are allergic.
One day I snorkeled from just south of the Intercontinental Presidente to the Money Bar. Just south of the Intercontinental Presidente there is a dirt parking area that bridges the gap between the road and the shore. There is a small “cove” the size of a swimming pool here that makes access a snap. There is a lot to see. Fish and isolated coral- even some artificial reef structures down near the Money Bar.
The next day I snorkeled Paradise reef. Access is from the road to the small boat marina “Caleta”. Drive past the marina and park at the end of the road. Walk through the huge hole in the fence and jump in the water. This area is Paradise shallows and is full of snorkel tours with lots of people in the water, but it is worth checking out. From there you can see the dive and snorkel tour boats out on the reef- it is maybe two hundred yards offshore. I swam out to the reef and followed it from the marina opening all the way to the cruise ship pier and back. There was a lot of boat traffic, but they had to go slow because there were so many people in the water- I felt safe with my dive marker (dry bag).
Another day I parked at the south gate of Chankanaab National Park and snorkeled south to the Playa Corona Bar. It was windy and rough, but the water was warm and I saw a pair of spotted eagle rays as well as tons of fish.
One afternoon I took the boat from the resort out to Columbia Shallows and Palancar Gardens. Next time I come I’ll be SCUBA diving for sure! We saw a few turtles, an eagle ray, a grouper, and many smaller fish.
I also snorkeled at Punta Sur- the reef is shallow there and I saw some great fish including a stingray and a black grouper. The north end of the reef here is very shallow and is covered with sea fans- look close and the sea fans are populated with small but very colorful nudibranchs (sea slugs).
I did not snorkel any of the sites in town or north of town. They were working on the pier next to the lighthouse in town so access there was blocked and I couldn’t figure out the parking situation. The curb was yellow, but there were people parking all along the water…
Overall the trip was fantastic and I plan to return to Cozumel.