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Drift Diving in Cozumel: 5 Tips To Make The Most Of It

People say drift diving is the closest thing to flying in the ocean. Besides, it’s fast and efficient.

On the other hand, Cozumel is known for some of the best drift diving in the world.

However, there are a few points to keep in mind to dive drift and enjoy it safely to the fullest. Let’s consider them then!

drift diving eagle ray

1. What Is Drift Diving?

Drift diving consists of going forward by letting yourself be carried away by the current.

As a bit of general advice, we are told dives are started against the current, so we can return without having to fight it. Therefore, we will avoid the risk of running out of air. However, this advice is not useful to practice drift diving, simply because we will never return to the point where we started, we will emerge in a different place. Where? Wherever the current takes us.

This is why we need a dive boat to practice drift diving. We will jump into the water at one point and the boat will follow the current and the group of divers from the surface to pick us up where we end up.

The force of the currents, in many cases impossible to fight by the divers, makes drift diving the kind of diving that can only be practiced in some locations. Drift diving in Cozumel is a good example of this. Generally speaking, drift diving, apart from being relaxing and pleasurable, is very efficient in terms of saving energy and air. Sometimes we will not even need our fins to move, although we will use them to control our buoyancy


2. Drift Diving in Cozumel

If you want to experience the beauty and freedom of drift diving Cozumel is the place. With an average current of about 1-2 knots, (as much as 6 knots at times) Cozumel is the ultimate destination for all levels of divers!

Cozumel boasts the second-largest reef system in the world, teeming with vibrant marine life and stunning underwater landscapes. And with some of the best drift diving on the planet, you’ll feel like you’re flying through the crystal-clear waters, effortlessly carried by the intense currents. If you want to know which are the best places to do drift diving in Cozumel, do not miss our guide to the best reefs in Cozumel.

Don’t miss your chance to explore this aquatic wonderland. We help you to do that in the proper way to enjoy it to the fullest. If you can’t book your Cozumel drift diving adventure today, at least, keep reading the article!

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3. What Do You Need for Drift Diving?

3.1. Drift Diver Course

Drift diving allows you to effortlessly cover a large area while taking in breathtaking scenery. The Drift Diver course can help you to enjoy this exhilarating adventure that’s both safe and fun. This course is a must-do for any diver who wants to explore some of the world’s most amazing dive sites while conserving energy, including Cozumel, of course!

The Drift Diver Course covers a comprehensive range of topics to ensure that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and confidently navigate drift currents. The course will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the aquatic environment, including the causes and effects of tides, currents, waves, and surges. The course covers topics such as buddy organization, buoyancy control, navigation, communication, safety stop procedures, entries and exits, and problems and hazards associated with drift diving. You’ll also learn about the equipment used in drift diving, such as floats, lines, reels, and compasses, and the planning and procedures required for conducting drift dives


3.2. The Gear You’ll Need for Drift Diving Safely

A dive beacon or surface buoy is required for safe drift diving. This should be conspicuous and easily visible as it will be an indicator for the boat crew when they have to pick you up.

In general terms, there are two ways to do drift diving. In a first way, the group descends along a line attached to a buoy. The whole group holds on to it until everybody can start to move forward. When the dive is over, the guide unfurls his SMB. The boat, which will have followed the group’s bubbles, knows the exact pick-up point once it sees the buoy.

In the second option, the guide is the first to enter the water, and then the group gathers around him and follows him in the descent and throughout the drift dive. The boat will follow the bubbles on the surface and if a buddy team needs to ascend early, the SMB is sent up, to protect them and signal the boat. Finally, all divers ascend together and when they are all on the surface, they are picked up by the boat.

Should you need to stay in the same place despite the current, for example, on a famous spot to see pelagic action, in some places reef hooks are used. They were designed to avoid damaging the reefs. Before them, divers used to hold on to just about anything including the corals with their hands.

drift diving turtle

4. Drift Diving Tips

4.1. For Drift Diving Follow Your Dive Guide’s Instructions

Instructors and dive guides are experienced divers who are used to working in these waters. They know the strength of the current and its peculiarities. Remember that there is no substitute for a professional diver’s knowledge at the dive sites you plan to visit. If you do not dive with a guide, and prepare for the dive yourself, always check the current before diving.

The currents are mainly influenced by two elements. The tides and the wind. Often weather conditions require changes to be made to dive plans. On the other hand, although tidal maps are published on the Internet, you may not know the intensity of the current at depth. You should also be aware of the downward currents you may encounter during your drift dive. To avoid surprises, ask the local divers and be observant during the dive. If fish and other marine animals are going in a different direction than you, there may be a change in the current ahead.

Also, don’t forget that even if the reef ends, this doesn’t have to mean that the current decreases. Stay very alert and close to the reef.

All these aspects are well known by the diving professionals that work with Dressel Divers and other diving operators, for this reason, we recommend that you practice drift diving in Cozumel with one of our guides.


4.2. The better your buoyancy, the better your Drift Dive

Having good buoyancy control is very important in order to optimize the enjoyment of drift diving.

Maintaining a horizontal position, about one meter from the bottom, will help you adapt to the current easily. However, if you move forward in an upright position, the current will push you harder.

The same applies if you move away from the reef, or the bottom, as the current increases due to the fact that encounters less friction.

Knowing how to weigh yourself correctly is vital in this task.” 3 Secrets of Buoyancy Control to Dive as An Expert Diver. ” Our Human Resources Director and technical diving expert, Victor Cordoba, teaches us how to do it.

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4.3. Go for the Drift

With currents as strong as we are talking about, swimming against them would be a strenuous effort for any diver, as well as futile. You cannot beat the ocean no matter how hard you try. To lessen the effect of the current, you can take advantage of the reef’s nooks and crannies to slow down your progress.

Always stay close to your dive partner and if the current separates you from your group, use your SMB to ascend and be picked up by the boat. Never attempt to find the group if you have lost it. Look for a brief moment but no more. The rule is to surface, and they will do the same.

4.4. Drift Dive, Keeping an Eye Out

Don’t trust the fish, they know how to swim against the current. Instead, be observant. Soft corals and seaweed will indicate the direction of the current. By observing the orientation of gorgonians, divers can determine the direction and strength of the current.

Often, when practicing drift diving, we will find obstacles in our path such as the pinnacles of the reefs, rocky formations, etc. It is vital, therefore, to foresee in advance the movements you have to make according to the speed you are moving with the intention of avoiding those obstacles in time. Ah! And if you are a lover of underwater photography, have your camera ready so you don’t miss the picture of that animal you see ahead, you will only have one chance to take it.


5. Other Places to Practice Drift Diving with Dressel Divers

Drift diving is one of the specialties of Dressel Divers. Approximately 90% of the dives made at our Mexico locations are drift diving. While in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, they account for about 50% of the dives depending on the time of the year. Therefore, if you are looking for an operator with whom you can practice drift diving in Cozumel or other Caribbean locations with the maximum guarantees of safety and quality, trust the more than 30 years of experience of Dressel Divers. Contact us!