Cozumel is well known around the world for being home to some of the best underwater scenery in the Riviera Maya, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. The reef is part of the Cozumel Reefs National Reserve and is part of a greater reef that stretches from Cancun to Honduras – it is the second longest reef system in the world, behind only the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. We have been lucky to explore a few different underwater spots, and Columbia Reef was one of the best.
There are many great places along the shore to see underwater reefs on Cozumel. There are many shorter sections of reef that can be seen quite easily (at Palancar or at Sky Reef), even some spots just on the side of the road (if you can find a place to hop in the water). The best places require a bit more effort to reach, and one that we had been planning the moment we moved to Cozumel was a visit to the Columbia Reef, located between Palancar Beach and El Cielo on the south-west side of the island.
To visit Columbia Reef you will need to organize a boat, and fortunately, there are many companies that run tours to some of these great offshore spots, making it easy to experience this underwater paradise. The boat takes you to the edge of the reef, so you don’t have to swim very far to get an amazing view, making this place great for both experienced and amateur swimmers.
Columbia Reef is one of the best places we have visited on Cozumel, as you are able to float above the reefs, surrounded by fish and other undersea creatures. One of the highlights of our visit to Columbia Reef was seeing our first sea turtle swimming below. The tour we took also included a short stopover at El Cielo, which in English translates to “The Sky” because of the white sand and crystal clear water where its possible to see Star Fish. It was only a short visit, and we have plans to go back for a longer stay in the near future.
For Scuba Divers, there are an endless list of great places to visit underwater – we will be Scuba Diving very soon, once one of us finally gets certified – but for those with a shorter time frame to visit the island or someone who doesn’t (or can’t) handle going deep underwater, there are some great places that are worth visiting. Columbia Reef is definitely worth checking out.
Snorkeling on Cozumel – Columbia Reef:
Cozumel is home to some amazing underwater scenery and is a world class location for Scuba Diving and Snorkelling. On the west side of the island, there are several spectacular reefs located up and down the shore at different depths. Columbia Reef isn’t accessible from the shore, and can only be visited by boat. This was one of the places we were most excited to visit when we moved to Cozumel, and it was worth the wait.