Cozumel  is considered one of the world’s best places to scuba dive, which is the best and most popular reason to visit the island. Not surprisingly, Cozumel has a profusion of dive shops and operators—more than 100 at last count.
Rates vary considerably across the island: For fun diving, expect to pay US$70–90 for a two-tank dive, plus US$12–35 for equipment rental, if you need it, while PADI open-water certification courses run US$350–425 (3–4 days, including all equipment and materials). Virtually all shops also offer advanced courses, Nitrox and night diving, and multidive packages.
All divers also must pay US$2 per day for marine park admission and to support Cozumel’s hyperbaric chambers and marine ambulance; ask if the fees are included in a shop’s rates or charged separately.
Cozumel’s diver safety record is good, and there are many competent outfits in addition to those listed here. Consider this list a starting point, to be augmented by the recommendations of trusted fellow divers, travelers, locals, and expats. Most important, go with a shop you feel comfortable with, not just the cheapest, the cheeriest, or the most convenient.
Scuba Gamma (Calle 5 near Av. 5 Sur, tel. 987/878-4257, www.scubagamma.net , 8 a.m.–7 p.m. daily) is a mom-and-pop shop (literally) run by an amiable French family. It’s one of few shops that’s equipped and certified to offer diving and instruction to people with disabilities.
Scuba Tony (tel. 987/869-8268, U.S. tel. 626/593-7122, www.scubatony.com ) is different from most scuba operations in that it has no storefront—lower overhead typically means lower prices. It is just a three-person operation—American Tony Anschutz, his business partner/PADI instructor, Mario, plus the captain. Tony and Mario lead all their own dives and courses, and offer excellent service before, during, and after your trip.
Deep Exposure Dive Center (Av. 10 Sur btwn Calles 3 Sur and Rosado Salas, tel. 987/872-3621, toll-free U.S. tel. 866/670-2736, www.deepexposuredivecenter.com ) is a small operation with friendly, professional service (and great lunches on board!).
Deep Blue (Calle Rosado Salas at Av. 10 Sur, tel. 987/872-5653, www.deepbluecozumel.com , 7 a.m.–9 p.m. daily) is a long-standing shop with a reputation and track record that keep it busy even through the low season.
Liquid Blue (Av. 5 btwn Calles Rosado Salas and 3, tel. 987/869-7794, www.liquidbluedivers.com , open by appointment only) has somewhat higher rates than most shops, but it offers small groups and attentive, personalized service.
Careyitos Advanced Divers (Caleta Harbor, tel. 987/872-1578, www.advanceddivers.com ) caters to experienced divers, allowing up to 75 minutes bottom time and offering top-notch service. Reserve online or by telephone and just meet the crew at the boat.
Caribbean Divers (Av. 5 at Calle 3, tel. 987/872-1145, www.caribbeandiverscozumel.com ) takes pride in its professional service and two 40-foot (12-meter) boats, which make surface intervals and getting to and from dive sites comfortable.