Colorful walls

100′ visibility is not uncommon in Cozumel, but even clear water acts as a blue filter to block out the colors. The reefs are covered with bright orange, red, yellow, pink and purple sponges, but you don’t see the color right away. When you jump off the boat, the water column filters out all the color. The closer you get to the reef, the more color you’ll see.

When taking pictures underwater you need to have a bright strobe, especially for the deeper reefs, swim-throughs, and to light up areas under ledges. If you carry a torch when diving, or keep video or focus lights on during the dive you’ll light up areas that you might not see otherwise. It’s also a great way to spot critters that blend into the scenery without light. If you’re missing the color, you might need a brighter light.

Andrea capturing some color at Santa Rosa Wall

Punta Sur Lighthouse

Cozumel is not just pretty underwater, but topside too. You can easily drive around the island in a couple of hours, but there are too many places to stop, so it really takes about a day. One of the not-to-be-missed attractions is the lighthouse at the south point of the island. The very narrow spiral staircase to the top brings you to some amazing views of the island.

Colombia Deep

One Cozumel dive site that gets a lot of requests is Punta Sur. It is deeper than most of the sites in Cozumel and has some really cool swim-throughs that require excellent buoyancy, so dive shops don’t let just anybody go there. It is probably the idea of being somewhat forbidden that makes it so desirable. The truth is, it’s not what it’s all cracked up to be. The swim-throughs named “Devil’s Throat” and “Cathedral” adds to the intrigue, but it really is nothing more than a dark passage that enters at 90′ and exits at 130′, so your bottom time is limited. For Photographers, it’s not terribly photogenic.

Just north of Punta Sur is Colombia Deep. This is about a 90′ dive for the first part, but finishes at about 40′ on a shallower reef. Here you’ll find amazing mounds of coral that tower over the sandy slope like tall buildings in a city. The sponges and sea fans are all happy and healthy and there are wide angle photo opps like nowhere else. Absolutely my favorite dive in Cozumel.

Getting real close to the big fish

You’ll see barracuda on many of the reefs in Cozumel and they are accustomed to seeing lots of divers and photographers. The trick to getting close to them is to stay low directly in front of them and move slow. Don’t look them in the eye. Seriously! Just act like you’re following something else and not them. Then slowly move up to them and start shooting. They will usually let you get a couple of shots before they get annoyed and swim away.

There is a trick to getting this close to a great barracuda.

Featherdusters on a bright red sponge at Chankanaab Reef

Cozumel has the most colorful sponges I’ve seen anywhere in the world, giving photographers plenty of great photo opps. At Chankanaab Reef a small colony of feather duster worms populate a bright orange sponge.

Featherdusters on a bright red sponge at Chankanaab Reef