Diving on the reef of Cozumel, with Sergio Sandoval. Quintana Roo, Mexico, July 2014.

Colourful Immersions on The Reefs of Cozumel


Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

  Mexico: Yucatán - July 2014

The Caribbean Sea, it changes Asia! In Mexico, I could not ignore the island of Cozumel, renowned diving spot.

A Mexican summer

July 2014: new exoticism, new seabed. This summer, I chose to discover the Caribbean coast of Mexico, that of the state of Quintana Roo. The region attracts me for his fabulous cenotes - these engulfed chasms venerated by the Mayans that can now be explored while diving - and  its spectacular gathering of whale sharks, off Cancún, which I dream to see for years ...

Between cenotes and whale sharks, I could not ignore the island of Cozumel, explored by Cousteau in the early 1960s. It is THE dive spot of the Yucatán peninsula, the most famous of the area! Because of Cozumel and thanks to diving, I met a sacred character ...

Diving on the reef of Cozumel. Quintana Roo, Mexico, July 2014.
Diving on the reef of Cozumel. Quintana Roo, Mexico, July 2014.

Sergio Sandoval, pioneer of diving in Cozumel

His full name : Sergio Sandoval Vizcaíno. A pioneer of diving in Cozumel, where he has lived since 1979, he celebrated his 74th birthday at the beginning of 2015 and continues to make bubbles under water!

UPDATE - OCTOBER 10, 2018. I just learned, via Facebook, the death of Sergiofour years after our meeting in July 2014 ... He was 77 years old. I have not been to Mexico since. Never again will I have the opportunity to dive again with Sergio, who made me discover the magnificent reef of Cozumel. I let you re-read or discover below what I wrote at the time.

Sergio Sandoval. Cozumel, July 2014.
Sergio Sandoval. Cozumel, July 2014.

The man is an inexhaustible storyteller, picturesque as possible. Concerned with his form, he avoids alcohol and drinks seawater regularly, convinced that "it's good for health" - he often shows it on his boat, to impress the customers he brings. to dive ... But in fact, he does not drink it pure! It just dilutes a little seawater in a bottle of fresh water.

Sergio may be a bottle diver, he never separates from his snorkel, clinging to his mask, because it saved his life a long time ago. Lost in the sea after a dive, he drifted several days in the middle of the waves before being rescued. His snorkel allowed him to breathe on the surface without drinking the cup and not perish drowned.

Sergio Sandoval, with his tuba and his home-made box. Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico. July 2014.
Sergio under the water, with his snorkel and his home-made box.

A former automotive engineer, Sergio is also an underwater photo enthusiast and a patient handyman: he makes himself the waterproof boxes for his devices, in his workshop, at home! Finally, this septuagenarian is obviously not "digital native", but since he discovered the GoPro and social networks, he publishes many small underwater films on Facebook.

Most importantly, Sergio is particularly familiar with Cozumel's dive sites and the formidable currents in the strait between Playa del Carmen and the island. Day after day, at every trip, he monitors the health of corals and fish, takes pictures underwater and, back on earth, praises the beauty of the region's underwater world to tourists.

He is a passionate and passionate man, warm, multilingual, extraordinarily friendly. I am delighted to have discovered Cozumel Reef with him.

On the dive boat of Sergio Sandoval. Cozumel, July 2014.
Sergio gives tips for better filming with a GoPro to young Belgian divers.

A very aquatic mexican family

Sergio's house, in San Miguel, the big city of the island, is known by all taxi drivers under two names: Aquarama, which is now the children's swimming school run by his daughter and granddaughter, whose classes take place in the garden pool (Aquarama is also the name of one of his boats); and Aquatic Sports, which refers to the small dive structure he leads with the help of his wife Lolita.

It's time for a small swimming class at Aquarama. Cozumel, July 2014.
It's time for a small swimming class at Aquarama. Cozumel, July 2014.

Sergio Senior (also known as Sergio Junior, his son, who bears the same name and organizes dive trips and big game fishing) has been involved in the preservation of the seabed for a long time. from the oldest dive operators in Cozumel. He is also a pillar of the Scuba Fest annual, in December.

Sergio's little boat, with which I dive in July 2014 on the reef of Cozumel.
In the port of la Caleta, theAquarama, Sergio's little boat, with which I dipped on Cozumel's reef.

At Sergio's, a Virgin Mary watches the pool from her alcove and newspaper clippings, framed and hung on the walls, greet the aquatic exploits of her daughter and granddaughter, both named Beatriz.

The first, in 1985, at the age of 14, swam the 30 miles between Cozumel and the coast in 10 hours and 55 minutes. A generation later, in 2009, the second, nicknamed "Betty", then 13, tried to beat her mother's record, but the currents have unfortunately deported her too far from the island, preventing her to achieve one's goal. The little girl still swam nearly 13 hours in a row ... At the Sandoval, we really like water, it's family! ! !

The fabulous reef of Cozumel

For the underwater photographer I am, who enjoys "à la carte" dives and preferably in small groups, Sergio's family structure is ideal. As he is also a photographer, I often end the dives with him, while Cristobal, his young dive-master, supervises the rest of the team.

Between two dives, it's picnic "salsa-guacamole-ham-cheese-fruit" on the boat Aquarama. The atmosphere is relaxed and international.

During this week spent in Cozumel, I dive, according to the days, with a young couple of Belgians, an American, a German and a couple of Japanese, with whom I discover myself common knowledge in Indonesia - they dive often in Asia , like me. They are great friends of Sergio and Lolita, they come regularly on holiday in Cozumel.

On the dive boat of Sergio Sandoval. Cozumel, July 2014.
At lunch time, Sergio always has a good story to tell.
Souvenir Photo with Cristobal and Sergio (left).
Souvenir Photo with Cristobal and Sergio (left).

Underwater I discover an environment different from what I'm used to in Asia. The species of rays, for example, are not at all the same. There are also plenty of big angelfish (from the family of Pomacanthus, tells me a reader of the blog) that remind me of the Asian batches.

And then, in these waters, the lionfish flying (the "lion-fish") are invadersThese Asian fish have been introduced into the Mexican waters of the Caribbean Sea, where they have no predators. They are voracious and proliferate at the expense of other species, unbalancing the ecosystem. Diving professionals are allowed to kill them when they see them.

Update - May 3, 2015: AFP has just published an infographic on the subject, which sums up the situation well. I insert their picture below.

AFP infographics on the proliferation of scorpionfish.
AFP infographics on the proliferation of scorpionfish.
Red Lionfish, harpooned not during my stay in Cozumel, but in Isla Mujeres, a few kilometers away. Mexico, July 2014.
Red Lionfish, harpooned not during my stay in Cozumel, but in Isla Mujeres, not far from there.
Line. Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico, July 2014.
It changes Asian blue polka dots!
A Mexican cousin of the batfish. Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico, July 2014.
A Mexican angelfish, which makes me think of Asian batfish.

The reef of Cozumel is much more beautiful than the sites opposite, on the coast, around Playa del Carmen. I had a great time exploring it, even though I found it to be less exuberant and teeming with life than the Indonesian or Malaysian spots I love so much.

The "usual" tropical fauna is present, but the density and the diversity seem to me less ... Which does not prevent to make beautiful meetings, the proof!

Shark and moray eels. Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico. July 2014.
A solitary barracuda, surrounded by photographers. Cozumel, Quintan Roo, Mexico. July 2014.
Diving on the reef of Cozumel. Quintana Roo, Mexico, July 2014.

My favorite sites on Cozumel Reef are in the area called Palancar, where there are huge and spectacular coral formations. Their yellow and pink growths are the most beautiful effect under the light of the flash.

For divers, this is a fantastic playground: there are cavities to explore, arches and passages where you can sneak and a lot of life to watch.

Diving on the reef of Cozumel, with Sergio Sandoval. Quintana Roo, Mexico, July 2014.

Diving on the reef of Cozumel. Quintana Roo, Mexico, July 2014.

Diving on the reef of Cozumel. Quintana Roo, Mexico, July 2014.

To learn more about diving with Sergio Senior in Cozumel, I refer you to these links:
The Aquatic Sports Center website
→  His Facebook page

  Mexico: Yucatán - July 2014

  1. Always beautiful pictures that made me completely want to go diving. I intend to throw myself this summer in the Canaries. What do you recommend for a first approach, knowing that I already practice snorkelling.
    Diving baptism or immediately past the different levels?

    Thank you Corinne.

    1. @Chrissand: I think it's always better to do a baptism to discover the sensations of diving. Not everyone is comfortable with a regulator and oral dissociation. The fact of having to breathe only by the mouth, to know that we have several meters of water above the head and that it is not allowed to go back to the surface at full speed, is not necessary. obviously obvious at first & #8230; If after a first try, you feel that it's your thing, it will be time to register for a training in the wake. Depending on the centers, the baptism can be included in the training as a dive counting for the validation & #8230; Good bubbles !!! 8)

  2. Your photos are absolutely superb. We were in Mexico this beginning of the year, and I was a little frustrated not to be able to dive, advanced pregnancy requires! I'm going to read a little more about your blog because since my trip to Indonesia and my dive, I have never seen anything so beautiful and I can not wait to start again and / or find new ideas of beautiful destinations for diving and snorkeling. I think I will find my happiness here! 😀

  3. As usual, a pleasure to read you and look at your photos, really.
    Too much lionfish in Mexico? and I'm always ecstatic whenever I meet one in Indo!
    Your character Sergio reminds me of Christiane du Froggies in Bunaken, no doubt do you know her?
    Bubbles-bizzzzzz 😉

    1. @Pit: delighted that you still like so much on my Little Bubbles Elsewhere !!! 8)
      Yes, I met Christiane in 2007 (she is not the one who keeps Froggies today), I talk about it here:
      France 3 had even devoted a report in 2008 on the show Thalassa:
      I do not know what has become of her since ... A character, she too, for sure.

  4. The photos are beautiful, it is true that there are fewer fish but cons photos are super sharp no?

    Cozumel-07 is really impressive!

    1. @Brice: the visibility was overall very good, so it can make beautiful pictures of atmosphere. But I have not changed anything in my way of taking pictures or in their treatment ...
      Nice that the barracuda made you feel great 🙄

  5. @Corinne: After taking a little time to "thaw", and having a bad luck with icy water 😡 (yes, I'm the only one to go through the pack ice, proof that I miss the dive 😉 heat through your images, will do me the greatest good!
    Beautiful pictures anyway, in this beautiful place! Sergio! What character!

    1. @Didier: what ??? You went through the ice ??? !!! Ouch, Ouch, Ouch & TTP38230; If I dared, I would say, "Wherever you go, you do not miss one," #8230; 😆
      I will continue with images that warm up, then! Looking forward to reading your adventures on your blog 🙄

    2. @Corinne: More fear than harm! But yes, I confess, it always happens to me weird stuff! 😳
      Imagine what could have happened, if I had the pleasure of being your diving partner one day !! 😀 (and your model for the photo, hey, hey

  6. At each of your travels you meet a sacred character. Your stingray is superb and I love the coexistence of the moray eel with the nurse shark. Cozumel will be a great memory too for me if we avoid the American stopover cruise. Diving in the limpid sea in the footsteps of Cousteau ... .I am missing from Raja Ampat!

    1. I love your site, I revisit some of my travels. Me it was in September 2013 El Carmen Beach, Cozumel, Grand Cenote and Angelina. A lot of rain late August, September. I have a photo where we are in Grand Cenote on a platform where there are benches. We sit regulator in the mouth and there is 1 m of water above our heads. Sea conditions with current (washing machine) worthy of some dives Bali. Automatic distribution of anti seasickness on the boat. Scares sometimes!

  7. Well, as usual, you make envy! Or let's say that you add dreams to our already long lists! Thank you for this beautiful report 🙂

  8. The photos are beautiful ! If I understand you're a journalist, is that it?
    I myself am studying journalism (I already work a little in my area) and I dream of traveling around the world like you to report!
    Waiting to leave ... I'm looking at your blog, it's a dream!

    1. @Solandtrips: thank you for your little word! In the "real life", yes, I am a journalist. But unlike a common myth, it's not my job as a journalist that makes me travel around the world to photograph fish & #8230; 😆 "Little Bubbles Elsewhere" is my personal blog, dedicated to my passion for underwater photography and traveling, and what I publish there has nothing to do (or very rarely) with my daily job & #8230 ; To learn more about me, it's here :

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