The Palancer Reef- A Diving Refuge In A Mexican Island

Posted On December 1, 2009 

The Palancer Reef is a popular diving spot in the Mexican Island of Cozumel. The Island, in fact is a diving destination with a number of excellent diving spots that it is home to, thanks to its reefs and the current that assures clear visibility.

The Island is a flat terrain. Dense green scrub, stretches of calm beaches with the crystal clear water, and the reef formations beneath the water is what you should look forward to on your trip to this Island.

The Island, a paradise for diving, has been open to tourism since the late 1950s.


Palancer Reef, about 80 meters deep to the south west end of the Cozumel Island, is one of the world- known diving spots of the Island.  A bronze figure of Christ that has been erected under water, about 17 meters down, makes diving and snorkeling here all the more enchanting.

Palancer Reef

Best Time to Visit

The Cozumel Island has a sub tropical and humid climate. May to November are the months of rains. While it may intensely rain daily, the duration of the rain is brief. Humidity is higher in this season.

During the winter months from December to February, the temperatures are around 24 degree Celsius. The winters can witness some cold fronts that can cause overcast conditions and drop the temperatures to about 20 degree Celsius. The months of March and April are the driest of all the months here. The months from November to May are pleasant with a relatively low humidity and occasional cool evenings.

Because of the constant temperatures of the water currents that sweep the island, the climate of this Island is more or less predictable, though not completely stable.

During falls, the Cozumel Island can expect hurricanes, though they usually bypass it to the east.

With the average annual temperature of about 27 degree Celsius, the Island can be visited at any time of the year, though summers are always preferable in the Island.

How to reach

Palancer Reef is in the largest island of Mexico, Cozumel that is situated 20 kilometer off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, opposite the Playa del Carmen Island. The Island is a flat island in the Caribbean Sea.

Cozumel Island has an international Airport with some international carriers like Continental and US Airways offering their direct services here. However, during the low seasons, you will have to fly to Cancun and take a connecting flight to the Cozumel Island. By flight, journey from Cancun to this Island takes about 15 minutes.

Cozumel Island

You can also take the connecting flight from Merida which brings you to the Cozumel Island in about 40 minutes.

There are ferries as well from Playa del Carmen or Puerto Aventuras to which you can reach by bus, that make the journey to the Island in about 1 or 2 hours. There are hovercraft services from Cancun as well.

What to do

The Palancer Reef in the Cozumel Island is the one of the best diving spots world wide and attracts tourists from all over. The reef is at the outer edge of the continent shelf, forming the deep water channel between the Island of Cozumel and the Yucatan Peninsula and is 24 meters deep. At the northern ends is the Palancer Gardens, for a shallower dive. A charter boat can take you to the reef.

This coral reef was discovered by Jacques Cousteau. The landscapes beneath the water include of course the giant coral mountain and other under water landscapes like cliffs, tunnels, cathedrals overgrown with black coral, sponges and sea fans along with a variety of fish like the giant groupers and the angel fish.

The Palancer Reef and the other diving spots of the Cozumel Island are popular among the dedicated divers as because of the Yucatan current that sweeps the Island from North to South produces a clear visibility that extends to about 100 feet and because of the majestic reef formations.

Another gift of such clear visibility beneath the water is that it offers a huge site to explore. Most of the Cozumel’s Island are located within the Reefs National Marine Park, a protected under water environment.

Diving at Palancer, however is not for those of you who have no experience in this area. In fact, for diving at most of the diving spots at the Island of Cozumel, you need to have an authorized diving license. They are certainly not for novices.
There are so many profiles at the Palancer Reef itself, that you might not see them all even in 30 dives.

Other very popular diving spot in the Mexican Island of Cozumel are the Balones of Chancanab, about 18- 21 meters down and is a good place for beginners. The novices can also go to The Francesca Reef that is about 7- 15 meters deep and has a charming marine life to encourage the first time divers.

For those with some experience in diving, there is the Santa Rosa Reef or “The Wall”, about 18 – 24 feet deep, where the divers can explore beds of tunicates, sponges, huge hangs of stony carols, caves and tunnels, all of which leaves you with an amazing experience. The Paradise Reef is another good 13 meters deep diving point here with three separate reefs running parallel to the shore. There is a majestic marine life waiting to be explored by you and is also a favourite night diving point of the Island of Cozumel.  The 18- 24 meters Columbia Reef too can not be missed out.

For seriously dedicated and experienced divers, nothing less than at least the Maracaibo Reef of the Island will do. This spot, 42 to 48 meters deep seems actually cut out to test your diving skills and with the reef having a huge number of caves and crevices, deserves at least a day of exploration.  Meant only for advanced divers.

The virgin wall, with its strong currents, is pretty much untouched, explored only by the expert divers who go at times to the wrecks.

No doubt that the marine life in the Cozumel Island has been affected considerably, mostly because of fishing with harpoons, the place is still far from disappointing for those interested in snorkeling and the authorized scuba divers.

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