SCUBA Diving - Cozumel, Mexico

Airplane Flats

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Airplane Flats is on the outskirts of downtown Cozumel right next to interational pier. The actual site runs from about La Ceiba Hotel to the Sol Caribe Hotel. Within these land boundaries there are huge schools of relatively tame fish, the remains of a twin-engined prop plan movie backdrop, the skeleton of a wooden boat, and a large upright anchor. There used to be beatiful coral on the flats, however, much of it was destroyed by major hurricane in 1988 and the rest harmed by heavy traffic. The site is very shallow at about 10 to 35 feet. I have never actually dove here but I have snorkeled here on many occasions. This is a great snorkeling site where you can see plenty on the day of your arrival (after arrainging the week's dives, of course), after your dive boat has come in for the day, or on the day you fly.

Alt text The plane

The wildlife here is impressive, partially because of the sheer volume of the fish, and partially because of the easy access. Make sure to bring some fish food (tortillas!) and plan on being mobbed by grunts, bermuda chub, sergeant majors, and occasionally angelfish. Keep an eye out for large rainbow parrotfish nibbling on plants and coral in the open areas. Pay particular attention near the boat remains as the largest sand tilefish in Cozumel has his nest just north of the wreck. Also make sure to look for the scraping bite marks of the parrotfish and the purple eggs of sergeant majors on the plane.

A school ready for handouts Alt text

There are several dive shops in the immediate vicinity of Airplane Flats that would be more than happy to provide you with anything you need. They have tanks, BCDs, regulators, and even snorkel gear but be warned that most close around 5 o'clock. If there is any current it's best to enter at the up-current site which most of the time is La Ceiba to save yourself the swim. If the current is running the other way simply start the dive at Sol Caribe. Stay well away from international pier which is south of La Ceiba, an off-limits area, and very dangerous due to large boats which frequent the area. The anchor is very shallow and located in the swim area seaward of La Ceiba's concrete beach / boat ramp. The plane lies in about forty feet of water in the northen corner of the swim area, but be warned it freqently shifts location. Both the anchor and the plane are usually marked by white buoys making them easier to find. The edges on the plane are very sharp and show no reluctance in slicing careless divers. The wooden wreck is between the Sol Caribe and Dive Cozumel / Diver's Inn complex in about 30 feet of water. Some warnings; there are a large amount of large-spined sea urchins which are not good to step on and territorial damselfish which are quite willing to snap at invading divers. Finally, there is extremely heavy boat traffic in the area. I would not recommend snorkling outside the swim area and be very careful ascending; stop about ten feet from the surface while looking and listening for boat traffic.

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Some of the fish around the dive sites are huge. In addition, most are not too shy and will let divers aproach within a few feet. Here a curious angelfish checks out a brave diver.


[Yocab] [Paraiso Reef] [San Francisco Reef] [El Paso del Cedral] [Tormentos]

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This page created and maintained by Jonathan Bryant.
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