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Columbia Reef, The Story of a Wonderful Dive

There are few natives of Cozumel. The rest of us declare ourselves Cozumeleños when we dive or snorkel in its waters. Columbia reef is one of those reefs that make you a devotee of the island, no matter if you prefer a snorkel or regulator.

In Cozumel, there is a coral massif of just under 5 km, which is the cause of its international fame as a diving destination.

From north to south, we find the following reefs: Gardens, Horseshoe, Caves, and Palancar Bricks. Next to them is the Deep Colombia reef. Between Ladrillos and Columbia, but closer to shore, are the shallow reefs of Colombia.

If you want to know what exactly awaits when diving this reef, you are in the right article.

Take a look at the contents table.

columbia reef - main - arrecife columbia

1. Columbia Reef Cozumel Facts

Colombia reef is one of the most emblematic reefs in Cozumel. Visiting it, you will find blocks or platforms of coral that start at a shallow depth and descend gradually to 90 meters. At that depth, the wall plummets down to 400 meters.

Colombia Reef diving depth: 50’-90’ (15-27m)

Colombia Shallow reef depth: 15’-35’ (4-10m)

Diving from a boat.

Distance 10-15 minutes sailing from the Dressel Divers Base.

Level: beginner to advanced

Visibility: 91’ / 28m

Type of diving: current diving, macro photography, and night diving.


2. Scuba Diving Colombia Reef

Diving on Colombia reef is like playing hide-and-seek in a rococo-style palace. It’s usually a fantastic second tank.

A fascinating world unfolds where giant barrel sponges, sea fans, and black corals adorn the seabed. You will find a lace of pinnacles, coral caves, tunnels, and caverns that the accumulation of coral has been building over time.

The game is to avoid them, investigate them and go through them in a profusely decorated amusement park of a thousand colors.

Snappers, grunts, barracudas, torpedoes, groupers, and lobsters abound on Colombia Reef. Colorful tropical fish stand out, including the endemic splendid frogfish, eagle rays, nurse sharks, and turtles that look at you curiously before returning to their chores.

3. Colombia Reef Map

columbia reef deep - map - arrecife columbia
columbia reef shallow map - 2 - arrecife columbia

4. Cozumel Columbia Reef Reviews

Sveta B 

Thank you, guys again!

Thank you, guys again!

Came to dive for a week for the 3rd time as a family of 3, and had a wonderful time once again! The dive shop is very well run and the people working here are just great, that’s the reason we keep coming back. From the first email contact with Nathalie who answers right away, you may count on professionalism and willingness to make your vacation memorable. Ladies at the reception, dive guides, captains, sailors, everybody here works as one great team. Special thanks to Guell, Luz, Scott, Eddie and Nasa for the wonderful dives we had with you!

We also went twice to cenotes excursion and would highly recommend it, it’s totally worth the money paid.

On a side note, I would like to mention that if you are for any reason not too comfortable with your diving skills, you may want to start your week of diving from two beautiful places – Colombia Shallow and Palancar Gardens that are offered every day after lunch and are very easy ones. Not only you will brush up on your diving skills, you will most probably have a private or semi-private dive as not too many people usually sign up there. And these 2 sites are simply wonderful, we keep going there every time we come. For sure at the other dive site, your dive guide will be able to perfectly manage a group with any level of experience (Eddie, Koodos to your cool and professionalism again!), but you would probably enjoy your dive more being less stressed at the easier, but still beautiful and fun place.

And overall, it was a real pleasure dealing with you guys again and we hope to see you soon!



We stayed at the Iberostar Cozumel and used Dressel Divers for a snorkeling trip. Every staff member at Dressel were professional, friendly, and always available to assist you. The snorkel trip itself was amazing and we saw so many wonderful things. We went to 2 different spots: Palancar Gardens and Colombia Shallows and saw puffer fish, midnight parrot fish, sea turtles,
rays, lion fish, jellyfish and spectacular coral. Our guide Lines did a fantastic job of showing us different things and made sure we were safe.
She is also excellent with children. One tip: go a half hour before the excursion to the dive shop so you have enough time to gather your equipment and have time to put on the wet suit.

We also took advantage of the free scuba trial in the hotel pool. Jay, Lines and Hugo made us feel very comfortable with the equipment. We will definitely use Dressel again!

5. Dives on Colombia Reef, Find Yours

MONDAY Cozumel Dive Planning *

8:15 a.m. Palancar Gardens (8-18 mts / 26-60 ft)
10:15 a.m. Santa Rosa Wall (22-25 mts / 72-82 ft)
1:30 p.m. Yucab Reef (15-18 mts / 50-60 ft)
3:15 p.m. Albertos (15 mts / 50 ft)
Night Dive Punta Dalila (minimum 4 pax)

* See notes

TUESDAY Cozumel Dive Planning *

8:15 a.m. Cedra Wall (22-24 mts / 72-79 ft)
10:15 a.m. Punta Dalila (17 mts / 56 ft)
1:30 p.m. San Francisco Wall (15 mts / 50 ft)
3:15 p.m. Punta Francesa (15 mts / 50 ft)

* See notes

WEDNESDAY Cozumel Dive Planning *

8:15 a.m. Tormento Reef (15-18 mts / 50-60 ft)
10:15 a.m. Paso del Cedral (22-24 mts / 72-79 ft)
1:30 p.m. Punta Tunich (15-36 mts / 50-120 ft)
3:15 p.m. San Rosa Reef (15 mts / 50 ft)
Night Dive Punta Francesa (15 mts / 50 ft)

* See notes

THURSDAY Cozumel Dive Planning *

8:15 a.m. Santa Rosa Wall (22-25 mts / 72-82 ft)
10:15 a.m. Jurassic Park (12 mts / 40 ft)
1:30 p.m. Palancar Gardens (8-18 mts / 26-60 ft)
3:15 p.m. Punta Dalila (17 mts / 56 ft)

* See notes

FRIDAY Cozumel Dive Planning *

8:15 a.m. Punta Tunich / Punta Sur
10:15 a.m. Albertos (15 mts / 50 ft)
1:30 p.m. Cedral Wall (22-24 mts / 72-79 ft)
3:15 p.m. Palancar Horsehoe (22-24 mts / 72-79 ft)
Night Dive Colombia Shallow (12 mts / 40 ft)

* See notes

SATURDAY Cozumel Dive Planning *

8:15 a.m. San Francisco Wall  (15 mts / 50 ft)
10:15 a.m. Punta Francesa (15 mts / 50 ft)
1:15 p.m. Palancar Gardens (8-18 mts / 26-60 ft)
3:15 p.m. Santa Rosa Reef (15 mts / 50 ft)

* See notes

SUNDAY Cozumel Dive Planning *

8:15 a.m. Yucab Reef (15-18 mts / 50-60 ft)
10:15 a.m. Punta Dalila (17 mts / 56 ft)
1:15 p.m. Santa Rosa Wall (22-25 mts / 72-82 ft)
3:15 p.m. Jurassic Park (12 mts / 40 ft)

* See notes

  • The 08:15 a.m.  and 1:15 p.m. departures offer  divers the option of doing a TWO-TANK DIVE  or a SINGLE-TANK DIVE.
  • Divers on the 10:15 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. departures can only do a  SINGLE-TANK DIVE.
  • Departure times and dive sites are very unlikely to change, but may be modified in specifics situation (strong currents, weather, etc.).
  • No need to plan your dive dates and times before arrival. Dives can be planned when you get there with our dive center staff.
  • We will always try to make sure you do not visit the same dive site more than once unless your specifically ask to do so.
  • Most dive sites are approximately 10 minutes away by boat.
  • All dives with Dressel are boat dives. Because our dive shop is located within Cozumel´s Marine Park  shore dives are not permitted.
  • Night dives are usually at Punta Dalila, Colombia or Punta Francesa.
  • Flashlight and glow sticks are mandatory for Night Dives
  • Pool sessions for students are held in the morning, and followed by a double-tank dive in the afternoon (1:00 p.m. dive at Columbia Shallows and following dive at Palancar Gardens).