Cozumel is known for some of the best drift diving in the world. The currents run on almost every reef here, every day. It’s usually about 1-2 knots, but can be as much as 6 knots at times. That may sound intimidating at first, but with practice, you will learn to prefer the faster currents.
Cozumel Drift Diving Everything You Need to Know
First-time drift diving
When drift diving for the first time, new divers can feel intimidated. Often new divers feel out of control, and at the mercy of the water.
The faster the current, the farther you travel during the dive and the more you see. Some of it you can’t see for very long because you are flying by, but often you can find a way to stop or at least slowdown.
Having a guide with you is helpful of course. Us guides know what to expect. We know which direction to go, and where to end up so we meet up with the boat.
Have you ever wondered why we get in the water first and check the current and location? It tells us a lot but only because we are used to it, and it can usually show us where we will go and what will happen during the dive.
It will still throw us a change-up mid-dive sometimes, but mostly we can predict it.
The Power of the Water
The water in Cozumel has a lot of power. The stronger the current, the more you have to surrender yourself to it. If you know how to play it, you can still go where you want, but you have to know the tricks. If you don’t you can end up getting blown away, or waste your whole tank in the process of fighting against the current.
How to Stay in Control When Drift Diving
Here are a few techniques to stay in control and not let the current overpower you:
The current is a lot like the wind.
If you are standing straight up, you get hit with more wind. If you are low or behind something, there is less wind.
The difference, of course, is that water can push you away whereas it has to be a mighty wind to change your balance. The lower you are, the slower and less force the current has. If you are on a wall dive, get close to the wall. On shallower dives, tuck behind a rock or a sponge or a little ledge.
The higher you are, the faster you will be blown downstream. If you get behind the group, move up about 10 feet. Again, the farther you are from obstacles, the faster the current runs. If you stop to take a picture or pose with a turtle, just rise a few feet, and you will catch up to the group without having to swim.
Where have you heard that before? The more streamlined you are, the less the water has to grab as it flows past your body. Tuck in gages, gear, and accessories especially if you have to swim against the current for a short time. Play with it. Instead of swimming up over an upcoming coral head, just inhale and sail over the top of it and exhale to descend back down.
If you need to stop or slow down find something that you can get behind to wait. It does not take a huge thing at the bottom to slow down. Anything 2 feet across or more will be enough to come to a complete stop. You just have to get close and stay in the slipstream position.
You might also look for a small hole in the bottom rock that you can put your finger inside. Make sure it is not living coral and never grab a sponge. They will tear away if you do and you have killed it.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Any more tips will have to come from one of the guides.
Never be afraid to ask questions, us diver love nothing more than to talk about diving!
We are here for you to become better divers.