Columbia Reef Tours
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Columbia Reef is famous for its complex architecture of caves, arches, and coral spires. Here you can find schools of snapper, barracudas, sea turtles, scorpion fish, and even the rare passing nurse shark. With both shallow coral gardens and deep ocean-floor caverns, the reef is accessible to snorkelers and scuba divers alike.
Depths rarely exceed 40 feet (12 meters) in the Columbia Shallows, making this portion of the reef ideal for snorkelers, photographers, and novice divers. Columbia Deep, with an impressive drop-off of 80 feet (24 meters) is better suited for experienced divers looking to explore caves and tunnels.
Because of its proximity to Cozumel, Columbia Reef is best explored on a snorkeling or diving tour from the island’s downtown marina. Most excursions visit Columbia Reef along with Palancar Reef and El Cielo Marine Park, and sometimes include hotel pickup and drop-off.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Columbia Reef is a must-see attraction for nature and wildlife lovers.
- Remember to bring sun protection and water. It’s also a good idea to wear a wetsuit or rash guard to protect your skin from rough coral and jellyfish.
- Evidence of scuba diving certification is required for certified dives.
- Be careful not to touch or disturb the wildlife.
- To maximize your chances of seeing wildlife, minimize your motions and let the fish come to you.
How to Get There
Columbia Reef is located off the southern coast of Cozumel, near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. You can get there by guided tour or private charter boat—although the reef may be hard to locate on your own.
When to Get There
You can visit Columbia Reef year-round, but it’s busiest from December through April, when the weather tends to be sunny and warm. There are fewer crowds during hurricane season (May through October), but be sure to check the weather for storms.
Cozumel’s Coral Reefs
Cozumel’s expansive coral reefs are some of the largest in the world. Paradise Reef and Palancar Gardens are ideal spots for novice divers and snorkelers due to their shallow depth, and offer a chance to glimpse sea turtles, colorful fish, towering coral spires, and gently waving sea fans. The Palancar Caves are probably the most famous dive site, with huge brain corals and swim-through tunnels. Palancar Horseshoe, a natural underwater amphitheater made entirely of coral, is another must-see.
Address: Cozumel, Riviera Maya & the Yucatan, Mexico
4 Tours and Activities to Experience Columbia Reef
Sail the shimmering sea on a glass-bottom boat and snorkel at specular reefs off the coast of Cozumel on this half-day guided tour of the National Marine Park. At El Cielo, named after heaven itself, marvel at the sea stars that decorate the sandy ocean floor. Float beside sea turtles at Columbia Reef then plunge into the crystal clear waters of Palancar Reef to discover fascinating fish, nurse sharks, and colorful coral reefs. Between sublime snorkeling stops, refresh with complimentary beverages as the warm sun soothes your skin on this unforgettable ocean odyssey.
Nature and Wildlife
Set off for a great adventure to the caribbean on a Glass bottom boat and admire the spectacular marine life in the most incredible Cozumel snorkeling tour, explore the caribbean sea and its underwater treasures while you snorkel at 3 of the most amazing reefs and marine attractions in Cozumel including the magical El Cielo Beach. PLEASE NOTE: El Cielo Beach has recently open its waters to public for a limited time, don't miss your chance to visit one the most amazing places on the caribbean!
If you want to see all the beauty of the reefs of Cozumel, this is the trip for you. On our daily trips we make 3 stops to snorkel at all the best reefs. We supply all snorkel and safety equipment as well as beverages, water, soda, and beer, plus fresh local fruit and a great time. We also give free pictures of your trip which you can download from our Facebook page. We take great pride in making all guests feel safe and comfortable while in the water. Even if you have never snorkeled before or are a experienced snorkeler we can make your trip an excellent one.
Nature and Wildlife
Enjoy heaven on earth surrounded by starfish, crystal clear waters, and beer!! We have 30+ years of fantastic service. Our tour includes expert guides, snorkel equipment with full service, music, drinks, snacks, guacamole, fruit, and lunch (can be ceviche). Tell us if you want a special drink and we will add it for a small extra. We follow certified health measures, everyone wears face masks, spaces are cleaned constantly and our spacious boat allows you to keep a safe distance. We let you have as much fun as you want at each of the 3 locations we visit during the tour. Palancar and Columbia reefs are the 2 greatest reefs at Cozumel, with giant corals and filled with marine life.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What's the best way to experience Columbia Reef?
The best ways to experience Columbia Reef are:
- Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
- Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Colombia and El Cielo Beach
- Chala-Michal's Daily Snorkeling Adventures
- Cozumel Snorkel Tour at El Cielo, Palancar, and Columbia
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