Diving Cozumel – March and April 2012 — Part 1, Getting there and setting up…

            The trip really started months ago when I challenged my eldest granddaughter, Tiana Larsen, to get her Open Water certification as a SCUBA diver. I promised her a dive trip to Cozumel if she made the grade. She did.

            So, on March 26, 2012, we met in Los Angeles to spend the night at the Best Western LAX Plaza. The next morning we hopped aboard a United Airlines flight non-stop to Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. From there we took a bus ride down the coast to Playa Del Carmen and a ferry across to Sana Miguel on the island of Cozumel.

            After arriving at the El Cantil Norte Condominium well after dark we packed it in for the night.

            The next day was designated a kick-back day to do some exploring, buy some groceries, and check in with Blue XT Sea (the SCUBA diving operator) to get fitted out with whatever gear Tiana might need.

            We started with breakfast on the balcony of Prima, the rooftop restaurant at El Cantil. We would eventually eat several meals there, but breakfast was “on-the-house,” (pun intended) as part of the condo rental. I had Huevos Rancheros con salchicha y papas on that first morning. Take my word for it, in a real Mexican restaurant, they don’t slather Pace Piquante Sauce over two fried eggs and call them Huevos Rancheros. I must note that that was the most Mexican item on the breakfast menu.

            Café and jugo with a pan dulce is most common for breakfast. Alternatively, chilaquiles (corn tortillas with meat, cooked red or green salsa, onions, and cheese), burritos, frijoles, or tacos are typical Mexican breakfasts in Quintana Roo.

            Chedraui and Mega in Mexico are the equivalent to the US Super Wal-Mart. Both are located just a short distance from the condo. We started with Chedraui and picked up stuff for lunches and a few dinners and some stuff for salads. Probably the scarcest protein, and most expensive, on the island is beef – pork, chicken and seafood abound.

            We would eventually find that we overbought and ate dinners out more than we expected but fixing meals in the condo was convenient and coming in from a day of diving to fix a lunch was easy-peasy.

            The view from our seventh floor balcony faced west. At night we could see the lights from Playa Del Carmen on the horizon. The sunsets were a disappointment. While it only rained on one day while we were there, and that was while we were out for one of the dives, the sky was never totally clear and a thick bank of clouds always blocked out the sun setting to the west.

            Nonetheless, the view was great with a seemingly endless flow of sail- and motorboats cruising back and forth. Tiana did some snorkeling right in front of the condo, but I pretty much stayed with the pool… and the Jacuzzi installed on our balcony. The algea in the pool was cleaned out daily – less than 30 minutes for the staff. It wasn’t noticable from the pool deck only from our seventh story balcony.

            San Miguel (Cozumel defines the entire island) is a port of call for all the popular cruise lines, including Norwegian and Princess, although I don’t remember seeing Holland America. On one day, six of the floating monster hotels were docked in port and the mercados were choked with Bermuda short clad octogenarians with cameras dangling from their necks.

            Touted as the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas came in one day. What a monster that is!

Next up – Dives 1 & 2…… See you later.