Costa Rica Diving

With the loss of divers in Cozumel over the years, it seems that it is time to add some words of wisdom regarding this unique diving destination. Yes, we are talking about drift diving. Drift diving the best of all Caribbean dive sites. Walls to blow your mind. Cracks, crevasses, huge coral heads, marine life galore, and all of it pretty much unspoiled. Is Cozumel safe for divers? The answer is emphatically YES!! How can we say this with Cozumel’s record of diver accidents? The answers are quite simple. We have been taking and sending people to Cozumel for 22 years. We have been diving Cozumel for 35 years. We have watched the evolution of the diving industry there and we are confident in our answers to this question.

Cozumel Diving

Ok then, how can I best insure my safety when diving in Cozumel? The main problem is that Cozumel currently has about 150 dive operators. That’s right, 150!! Simple logic says that they are not all equally competent; that all of their Dive Masters and Boat Captains are not equally experienced or have the same high level of competence. What does this have to do with diver accidents? Everything!! An experienced boat crew consisting of Dive Master(s) and Boat Captain must be able to “read” the water at the selected dive site prior to the divers getting in the water. Secondly, the Dive Master(s) must enter the water before the divers and ascertain the current conditions, again determining if they are safe for the planned dive. Thirdly, the Dive Master must be able to determine if unsafe conditions have developed during the dive and if so, make the decision to go to the surface. Fourthly, the Boat Captain must be able to follow his group’s bubble trail on the surface closely enough to make a quick pickup when the divers surface and still be well clear of any bubbles when the propeller(s) are turning. Finally, and this should be automatic with all of us; we need to determine if the boat is equipped with oxygen and is/are the bottle(s) full, if they have a well stocked first aid kit and if the boat has an operating marine radio in case help is needed.

Ok, all that makes sense but with so many dive shops, how do I know which are the safest and most experienced operations on Cozumel? The internet chat rooms are certainly one way of getting information. This assumes of course that the person offering the information is not just a BS artist or representing a specific dive shop. We think that the best way is via your dive travel wholesaler. These agencies generally employ people with the knowledge of which shops are best and which may not be. We have been there many times and are continually checking on and diving with these operators. This is our business and our continuing success depends entirely on providing you with a safe and fun filled trip. We may not know all of the better operators but we generally have a pretty good selection for you to choose from.

Cozumel Restaurants
Our choices for the best eating in Cozumel as of Jan., 2002. Yes, these places come and go so we will attempt to update this list as often as possible:

El Moro – Av.75 Norte between Calles 2 and 4. Traditional Mexican and Mayan dishes, well prepared and very tasty. A perennial favorite. A long walk from the waterfront. Take a taxi.

Prima – 109 A.R. Salas. Freshly prepared Italian style dishes with different specials every night. The best beef on the island, by far. Also the best pizza. Roof top dining. Large portions. Moderate to expensive .

El Capi Navegante – 312 Av. 10 S. Mexican seafood. Very well done. Good ambiance. Moderately priced.

La Choza – Av. 10 S. And A.R. Salas. Still good but, in our opinion, not as good as it used to be. Traditional Mexican dishes. Moderate to expensive.

La Veranda – 4th St. North between 5th and 10th Aves. A variety of very good Caribbean dishes served in a very romantic garden setting, or inside, or on the veranda. Excellent service. Moderate to expensive.

Las Tortugas – #107 10th Ave. Traditional Mexican and seafood dishes. A Cozumel tradition. A must do place with friends or by yourself. A fiesta atmosphere every night. Moderate.

The Lobster House – North out of town along the coast road opposite the Playa Azul. The only place in Cozumel to get a good lobster. Pick out your fresh lobster tail and they will weigh and price it for you. There is no menu. Great ambiance. Expensive.

Dollars ($US) Conversions in General
Before you make an international trip, check this site for the latest currency conversion rates. It takes a few seconds extra to load, but is worth it.

Costa Rica Entry Requirements
IMPORTANT: PASSPORT REQUIRED. According to Bill Beard, “The Costa Rican Government previously issued a statement saying that a valid passport with at least six months remaining before expiration will be required to enter Costa Rica. They said the new regulation would take effect May 1, 2003. This change is a security measure for the protection of Costa Ricans and their visitors. However, some passengers recently reported delays because they did not have passports. Although theoretically, it should be possible to enter Costa Rica until May using a certified birth certificate and a government photo I.D., such as a driver’s license, it would be an unnecessary risk to travel without a passport. We highly recommend that all passengers traveling to Costa Rica acquire a passport to ensure that you will not be denied boarding by the airlines or entry by immigration.”

Getting into a Stubborn Wetsuit by Scuby_Diver
“Have you ever tried to get into a wetsuit that didn’t seem to want you in it? Here is a tip that will give you the advantage and allow you to slip into it as if it were made of satin. You know those plastic bags they use at the stores to put your groceries in or whatever? Simply put your foot in the bag and pull the bag up over your leg as far as it will go. Then just pull your wetsuit on over it – the neoprene slides over the plastic easily. When your foot pops out at the bottom of the leg, simply pull the bag out, and presto, you are one quarter of the way done.” Compliments of Rodale’s Depth Finder, http://www.scubadiving.com.

A Great Diving Publication
Tired of the same old “everything is wonderful” approach to resorts and dive operations around the world and new equipment that you find in the publications on the news stands? Ever wonder why every article that you read in these magazines is filled only with kudos? This is because these same resorts, dive operators and equipment manufacturers spend a lot of money advertising in these magazines. Want an honest evaluation in a publication that exists solely on your subscription rates with no advertising support, visits all of the destinations that they report on anonymously and gives you their unbiased appraisal.? The publication is called Undercurrent. It has been around for a number of years now and has steadily grown in popularity. It is not available on the news stands. For more information including a means of subscribing on line, please go to http://www.undercurrent.org. One new feature on this site is the free E-mail notification service that you may sign up for. This service will advise you of “equipment recalls and other time-sensitive issues that can’t wait for” the next publication.

More Diving Publications
Here’s a really good idea. Going to a new destination for your next dive trip? Want some information about this place? Well, now you don’t have to go from one store to another looking for a book. Simply click here to go to DivingeBooks’ site where you will find a number of publications in Adobe format about diving. The best part is that you can download and read and/or print any or all of them for very reasonable prices. Keep checking back to this site as they are continually adding more books to it.

Answers To Your Diving Medical Questions
Do you have a question about diving with high blood pressure? About flying after diving? These and many other questions are answered at the Diving Medicine Online site at http://www.gulftel.com/~scubadoc/. This site is not meant as a panacea for everyone’s medical problems and how scuba diving will affect them. There is no substitute for a personal visit to a diving medicine doctor. However, it can and will give you a lot of background information to take to your doctor if you choose to visit one.

Dengue Fever
What is Dengue Fever and why should divers be aware of it? Many traveling divers have little or no knowledge about it. Dengue fever is a virus that is spread by an infected mosquito of then species Aedes that is found primarily in the warmer climates (now we can see a relationship with divers). This same mosquito is responsible for also carrying and transmitting Yellow Fever and Encephalitis. Dengue Fever typically has 4 stages that range from fever, rash, headache and muscle ache and flue-like symptoms to profound shock and even death. Being a virus, there is no cure or preventative prophylactic for it. It can take the forms of classic (the most common), hemorrhagic (DHF) and septic shock (DSS). Treatment for the classic form is similar to that for flue with the exception that aspirin or ibuprofen must never be used due to the possibility of bleeding. Acetaminophen is the best treatment for aches and fever. Treatment for DHF and DSS is usually hospitalization. This virus seems to pop it’s ugly head up a couple of times a year, originating in different spots around the world. The best preventatives? A good mosquito repellent containing Deet, light colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants, and avoidance of perfumes and deodorants that contain perfumes. For more information on Dengue Fever, see the July 2002 issue of Alert Diver, put out by every diver’s best friend, DAN (the Divers Alert Network), found on the net at http://www.DiversAlertNetwork.com. Also, a good place to check before any international dive trip is the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in Atlanta, GA, found on the net at http://www.cdc.gov.