Why not Colorado?
When you get live in Colorado, there are a few options to get your full open water certification, none of which are much fun. Sure, it’s possible to get certified in a local cold water reservoir, but what kind of crazy person would think that’s a good idea? Luckily, instead of having to deal with a potential hypothermia, PADI offers the option to take your final open water testing in the tropical location of your choice.
Beware of where you stay!
Darcie needed to get certified for her upcoming solo trip to Thailand, so we figured it was a great excuse to hop a quick flight to Cozumel. I hadn’t been to Cozumel since 1990, and was looking forward to seeing if the diving was as good as I recalled. Since this was a dive specific trip, we booked into the Iberostar Cozumel hotel that had an on-site dive shop, but once I realized that it was an all inclusive resort, I wished we’d done a little more research. Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with an all inclusive place, but it’s not the style of travel either of us prefer. The food was plentiful, and for the most part decent, but there were some odd rules about how you could eat at the buffets anytime, but to eat in their “specialty” theme restaurants, you only got one slot for every three days you stayed there. We quickly realized that the specialty restaurants weren’t that great. All it meant is that you got one style of food with table service instead of a self serve buffet. Our favorite part of the experience was having a pool with an open bar right outside the room. I can’t recommend it as a way to spend time during your surface interval, but it is a whole lot of fun after the diving is done for the day!
The diving was amazing!
The diving was as spectacular as I recalled; unfortunately the dive shop made Darcie spend an hour pool to prove her skills before they’d take her out in the ocean, so I got an extra couple of dives in before she was able to join. Once she got out there though, she was a natural. I tagged along on her final certification dive taking photos, and watching her really explore her surroundings underwater for the first time. I’d been diving for years, but watching someone take their first steps in the hobby really made me remember the initial joy I felt when I was brand new. It was great!
We’d gotten tired of the bland resort food by the last evening, so we found a real restaurant next door on the beach. The quality of the food at Alberto’s Beach bar was night and day difference from the resort. The fish was fresh, the ceviche was delicious, and the ability to eat right on the beach in front of the setting sun instead of in a pavilion with screaming kids was fantastic. Getting away from the buffet was so refreshing that we didn’t even mind that the prices were definitely higher than they would have been in Cozumel town itself.
Scooting around the island
On our last day before heading to the airport we rented a scooter and headed off to explore the south and eastern beaches. This by far was one of the highlights of the week! Wind in our hair, speeding down the highway watching both the jungle and beaches go by, I don’t think either of us stopped grinning the whole time we were out there. After exploring a couple of deserted stretches of sand, we found a little tourist trap restaurant on a hill that was perfect spot for our last bottles of Dos Equis and bowl of ceviche. We stretched out the day for as long as possible, but as all good things must come to an end, so did this vacation. With full bellies and happy hearts we headed back to the airport with a new hobby for Darcie and a renewed appreciation of the Yucatan for me.