Now that classes are done, allow me to astound you with an account of our aquatic adventure in Cozumel this February! The trip was organised by the University of Alberta’s SCUBA Appreciation Club through Ocean Sports in Edmonton and the Blue Angel Dive Resort in Cozumel. Let’s just cut to the chase, it was a FANTASTIC trip. Our smiles alone should tell all, but if you’d like to read more, hit the link below.
First of all, let me say that the dive resort we stayed at was beautiful! There wasn’t a beach, per se, to lounge on, but there was plenty of space to lie out in the sun. Our fantastic photographer, who graced me with his pictures, (I broke my camera two days into the trip) took all the pictures that I’ve posted here. On the right is a photo from the hotel overlooking the restaurant (above) and dive shop (below). The light blue water was the shore dive domain, and in the distance you can see the fence of the ray pen of the neighbouring property. The package we booked with Ocean Sports and Blue Angel included unlimited shore diving, even at night. There was a tonne of life at every dive site we visited, due mostly to the fact that the area was designated the Cozumel Reefs National Park by presidential decree in 1996. Also included in our package were two boat dives a day for five days with additional boat dives at $50 for two. Over the course of six days, my dive number more than doubled, with 18 logged dives by the end of the week. As a group, we had four divers earn their PADI Advanced Open Water certification, with Peak Performance Bouyancy, Underwater Naturalist, Underwater Navigation, Deep and Night dives. We also had one of our group complete his Night specialty. Our instructor for the week, Kari Atkins, who is in the photo above as well as the videos below, was pure, 100%, FDA approved AWESOME! I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit, so before I bore you to death with all the little details, get comfortable, maybe have a bathroom break, and when you’re ready, hit up the two videos below along with the commentary below. Both were produced by the Talented Randy Travis of RandyTravisUnderwater.com.
This first video is the Santa Rosa Wall, which was a little under an hour away from the resort by boat. As you can see, we descended to about twenty meters on the sandy shelf and then swam towards the wall, where the bottom slopes off into the deep. We were immediately graced by a nurse shark, which moved steadily against the current so that all of us had a nice view before we were swept away. The current was very strong, pushing us along the gallery of the reef. It was nice for me though, since I was suffering from blisters on my feet from all the activity earlier that week, and if you watch carefully you can see me with my fins crossed, still keeping up with the rest of the group. The dives on the wall were my favourites because of the large number of swim-throughs, small pseudo-caves made out of reef material, that were very interesting to explore and practice our buoyancy skills. Out of all the dives, this one was the most desolate of life, with a very low number of fish, eels and rays. You can compare this to the second video.
This second video was taken on Paradise Reef. This is where we did the Underwater Naturalist part of our Advance Open Water specialty. As opposed to the wall dive, this one was at a depth of about fifteen meters with a relatively sandy bottom. There was an abundance of life here, which was lucky since our requirements for the certification were to identify four types of vertebrate animals, four types of invertebrate animals, and two types of plants. You can see me and the other divers examining our waterproof identification booklets along the way, writing what we see on our dive slates. I bought my booklets so I could show everyone what we saw, since my camera was broken. It’s funny what diving does to you; I remember being surrounded by dozens of species of fish and not being able to find any of them in the booklet, and at about fifteen minutes into the dive I hadn’t written anything down. I was getting so frustrated and I finally recognised that I was stressed and came to a full-stop, took a few deep breaths and said, “I’m going to flip to a page in my book, and wait until one of the fish on that page swims in front of me.” Sure enough, about ten seconds later I ID’d the first fish, and I completed the exercise over the course of the next ten minutes.
All in all, the week passed very quickly. Scuba diving tires you about pretty fast, and two dives a day is more than enough for most people to be asleep before their head hits the pillow, especially when you’re wrestling with current on the majority of the dives. On top of the dives, we would walk into Cozumel city and get dinner and drinks. Luckily, while we were there, there was a three-day parade many kilometers that went back and forth along the main drag in the evening. We all went out one of the evenings and enjoyed the festivities (and $1.50 one liter beers)! The restaurant at the dive resort was phenomenal, and even more impressive than how delicious and filling the meals were, was the final price, which hardly put a dent in my overall trip budget!
There is much more to say, but I’ll stop here for now. If you’re interested in more details of my trip, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below. I can’t emphasize enough how much fun I had on this trip. I volunteered to organise the trip again next year with the help of the Scuba Club and Ocean Sports, so I count myself very lucky to be able to have another awesome experience next year!