Getting a scuba certification has been a dream of Jenny’s for a long time. I (Kris) am already certified and before we left Denmark we had talked about how cool it would be if we could dive together during our travels.
So when the people at Scuba Tony reached out to us and offered Jenny the opportunity to come and get certified with them, we immediately said yes! In addition The Mesoamerican Reef, which is the world’s second largest reef after The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, passes through Cozumel offering a unique dive site and ideal conditions to get certified.
Prior to our arrival in Cozumel Jenny was going to complete the theoretical part of the scuba certification via PADI’s online elearning platform. She passed the theory with flying colours allowing her to jump right into the practical part upon our arrival.
Arriving in Cozumel
We of course wouldn’t go to Cozumel without our beloved Tortuga.
After looking into the two ferry companies, Transcaribe and Ultramar, operating the route between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel we learned that Transcaribe does not recognise a Kombi as a family car, but Ultramar does. So we went with Ultramar which was also the cheapest option of the two (400 MXN per way, compared with 1,663 MXN with Transcaribe).
To see the updated schedules and prices we recommend you to visit their websites in advance of your departure.
We took the 8 pm ferry which went really smooth and we can definitely recommend the Ultramar service to others bringing their vehicles.
Day 1 – Learning the basics
We are luckily used to waking up early, so when the alarm went off at 6 am we were super excited to get going for our class which started at 7.30 am. After a quick breakfast we headed down to Scuba Tony’s place in the centre of town to begin with Jenny’s shallow water lessons. I (Kris) was going to tag along during Jenny’s dives and witness and document the whole thing.
Upon arrival we got introduced to Israel who was going to be our dive master and Jenny’s instructor throughout her certification. He is a super cool guy and we immediately felt comfortable and in good and safe hands with him.
The first part of the morning consisted of basic skill testing and review of some of Jenny’s knowledge from the theoretical part of the course to ensure it had stuck with her. We also both had to assemble and disassemble our dive equipment repeatedly to ensure that we both knew and would remember how to do it properly in the future.
The second part of the day took place in very shallow confined waters of 3-5 meters where Jenny safely learned basic skills like removing and clearing her mask from water, recovering and clearing her regulator, practicing ‘out of air’ scenarios, sharing air, breathing without her mask on and a lot of other stuff.
Throughout the dive our dive master Israel made sure to explain everything in advance, monitor that everything was performed correctly and correcting Jenny where needed. He always gave Jenny the time she needed to get ready to perform the skills and was a stellar instructor throughout.
Jenny did great in all tests and completed day 1 by also passing the swim test with ease.
Day 2 – Going into the deep blue
Our second day of diving – which had been postponed by one day due to harsh weather – was taking place from the Marina. Today we went out on deeper waters to continue learning and developing our skills on 12 meters depth. Prior to starting the dive lessons Jenny had some doubts about her ability to equalise the pressure in her ears, so how she did today would be key to whether she could continue with the certification or not.
After arriving at the Marina we got geared up and headed out to the dive site Palancar Gardens. We were blessed with really beautiful weather – clear skies and hardly any wind.
Upon arrival to the dive site Jenny was going to perform her first ever roll back entry in to the water. This can be a bit intimidating to some, as you cannot see the water behind you and basically just let yourself fall backwards till you hit the water.
Jenny was a bit nervous about this and a small panic grew in her when she was about to go for it. Luckily the amazing guys at Scuba Tony again showed that they are top professionals and quickly got Jenny calmed down and talked her through the steps so she could perform the skill in a calm and safe manner.
Once in the water she went through many of the same exercises as from day one, but this time at deeper depth. She also practiced descending and ascending as well as her buoyancy. On top of that we both got to see a lot of beautiful marine life and coral formations. Luckily Jenny also had no issues equalising her ears, which was a huge relief as it meant she could continue with the certification.
Today we did two dives at different locations with 1 hour of surface time. In between the dives we chilled on the boat and enjoyed some snacks and fruits provided by the Scuba Tony team. We also used the time to test our compass skills in the shallow waters near the dock we were berthed at.
Dive two took place at Yucab where Jenny again repeated skills and kept building on new ones. Jenny was much more confident about the roll back entry this time and in general performed to the dive master’s great satisfaction. I was really proud of her!
During our second dive we got to see an eagle ray, sting ray, moray eel and a lot of other beautiful reef fish and coral formations.
Day 3 – All the way down and a happy new certified diver
Day three was the last day diving for the certification and we again met up at the Marina to head out to the first dive of two which took place at Palancar Bricks.
Here we would go to 18 meters depth which is the deepest you are certified to go with the Open Water certification.
Upon arrival to the site we immediately spotted a large adult turtle swimming around in the surface taking in new air. It was an amazing sight which we were lucky to capture on camera (will be shared on our YouTube channel!).
Once down in the deep blue we again experienced amazing coral formations, coral corridors and caves. We saw more rays, various reef fish, barracudas, grouper fish, arrow crab and big lobsters the size of a small dog.
The second and last dive took place at Cedral where we got down to 16 meters and again just took in the sights whilst going through the final skills before surfacing to get the final verdict whether Jenny passed or not.
Upon reaching the surface after our 3 minute safety stop at 5 meters Israel, our dive master, shouted out “Congratulations Jenny, you did it!”. We were filled with adrenaline and overly excited about Jenny now being a certified diver.
When we got to the marina Jenny had her picture taken for her ID card and the certification was celebrated at a really nice Indian restaurant called Bindiya, which made some amazing plant based dishes for us.
Day 4 – Fun dives and saying farewell
Jenny woke up being a fully certified Open Water diver which meant that today’s two fun dives were all about enjoying the experience and no more skill exercises.
We again headed out with the Scuba Tony guys from the Marina and today our dive instructor was Charlie.
Our first site was an absolutely amazing experience, as it was a wall dive called Santa Rosa Wall. The first wall dive for the both of us.
There is something strikingly beautiful about swimming towards a ledge where the sandy bottom just stops and the deep blue opens up in front of your eyes.
The Santa Rosa Wall is a very long coral formation which sits on the ledge of the wall and climbs down as far as the eye can see. We had excellent visibility at about 30 meters and had an amazing time exploring the many cave and shelf formations. The marine life was very curious about our presence and came by inquisitively giving us the elevator look before going on with their daily business.
This is actually what we love most about diving and snorkelling. Just going below the surface to realise that there is a whole other world which has the same social structures as we do above the surface. There are thousands of different species, they have families, they have daily choirs, they courtship to each other, fight off nosy neighbours and intruders, feed, hunt, poop and breed.
They, just like us, have a life that they go about and one day it ends.
Getting to observe their world and their lives is really a privilege, seeing as we humans physically aren’t supposed to be able to be down below with them.
Our second dive was a relatively flat dive at Tormentos which was less eventful, but still beautiful.
Charlie was an excellent dive master and he made sure that our last two dives went well and without any incidents.
Are you thinking about getting scuba certified?
If you, or anyone you know, are thinking about getting scuba certified in Mexico then we can highly recommend swinging by Cozumel to do it with Scuba Tony. Their professionalism, friendliness and patience has been second to none and we could not have dreamt of a better place to get Jenny certified.
Besides that, the great Mesoamerican Reef is strikingly beautiful and Cozumel’s waters are filled with exquisite colourful fish, sea turtles, and other rare marine life.
If you have any questions then do not hesitate to reach out to us in the comments or on Instagram @nomadnorthlings. You can also contact the Scuba Tony team directly via the Scuba Tony website or via their Instagram account. They are super responsive and very helpful.
We wish to send a huge thank you to the whole Scuba Tony team, and a special thank you to Adam, Israel, Charlie and our boat captains for making this chapter unforgettable!
We cannot wait to see them again and to explore more of the Mesoamerican Reef with them.
Sending love and good vibes always,
Jen & Kris