We had planned on doing a Cozumel snorkeling trip in the summer of 2010, but we thought we would let you know why we did not go.
From what we had heard the snorkeling in Cozumel was spectacular. And most of the commercial websites about snorkeling in Cozumel still let you think that. But a fellow snorkeling friend of ours who snorkels all over the world, in many Caribbean locations, told us that the reefs were very badly damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2006. He had gone on a snorkel trip to Cozumel just months before the storm, and then had friends go afterwards, and the shallow reefs in particular took a pounding from the hurricane.
And we have seen what tropical storm damage has done to the shallow reefs in Bonaire, and those storms were nowhere near as intense as Hurricane Wilma, which sat on Cozumel for 36 hours and did massive damage above and below water.
Apparently the deeper reefs did not fare quite as bad in Cozumel, and the diving is still considered pretty good. We also noticed this in Bonaire. In areas where the shallow reefs were nothing but rubble, in only thirty feet of water you could see healthy corals.
Here are some links to the comments our friend has on Flickr about snorkeling Cozumel after the storm.
And it is not just his opinion. We have seen many other comments of a similar fashion on forums. For example this comment on a popular diving forum.
"We were shocked that recovery is taking so long, particularly for the shallower reefs. Some looked like a wasteland, very little to show for in the past few years. Some looked better." - 2010
"For me the diving is still very good, and well worth the repeat trips I make, but the snorkeling is what really lacks compared to pre Wilma." - 2010
Now this is not to say that you can't still have a great snorkeling experience in Cozumel. We really enjoyed seeing all of the new growth and life starting to come back to some of the shallow reefs in Bonaire. And you are sure to see tons of fish. But just be aware that you will most likely not see a healthy and mature shallow reef system, which is why we will unfortunately pass on a Cozumel snorkel trip.
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