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Columbia Reef
Columbia Reef

Columbia Reef

Cozumel, Riviera Maya & the Yucatan

The Basics

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.

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El Cielo reef by Catamaran with Beach Club
El Cielo reef by Catamaran with Beach Club
star-4.5
$75.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Amazing experience!
Snorkeling and the sand bar where they served margaritas and homemade guacamole! The instructors were awesome and very helpful and energetic throughout adventure.
Shyanne_R, Dec 2021

Recent reviews from experiences in Cozumel

star-4
Quick snorkel tour on a day trip in Cozumel
Jacques_M, Nov 2021
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
Good time with the crew on the boat. They show you on a quick trip what needs to be seen, sea life at different depths with some drinks and fruits. Good for half a day.
star-5
Amazing
EleniSelene_I, Aug 2021
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
The boat personnel was amazing the snorkel was amazing and the locations were breath taking ❤ I would come back again the same tour again.
star-4
Snorkeling was fun…beware of possible scam
Philip_V, Jul 2021
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
5 dollar tax not mentioned when we booked this excursion. Photographer worked on commission and had a complete photo shoot with one family and took about 6 pics of us. And tried charging us the same price for way less pics
star-5
Had a lot of fun! Good deal!
Evan_D, Jul 2021
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
We had a great time snorkeling with pachie and the crew! Cool fish to look at and drinking beer on the sandbar was a nice highlight. Maybe seeing more of the reefs would have been nice but very fun time and well worth the money!
star-5
A very fun snorkeling experience
Matt_C, Jan 2019
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
Our crew was very friendly, and the three locations where we stopped to snorkel were beautiful. We had some pictures taken of our group underwater, which all turned out great and we were able to purchase for a very reasonable price. Beverages were provided throughout the tour, although beer was only available after the snorkeling for safety purposes.
star-5
Amazing Snorkeling Experience
Jason_P, Jul 2020
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
We booked a snorkeling trip last minute with Juan, Rene, and Wilbur and had an incredible experience. We visited three snorkel spots and then got to swim at El Ciel at the end. Rene took incredible pictures of our family snorkeling and I was thrilled to be able to buy them at the end for only $45 for my family of 4. The pictures were in my email in the next few hours. The three crew members on our boat could have not been nicer or more helpful. I highly recommend this trip!
star-5
Overall, a great tour with helpful guides
PTProfessor, Jan 2020
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
I previously wrote a review that mentioned I never received the pictures i paid for at the end of the tour. I contacted the tour operator and photographer, and within two days, received all the pictures I was expecting. Other than that temporary problem, it was a great trip.
star-5
Good Snorkel trip
Pascal_E, May 2019
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
Did have a really good time on the boat and in the water. Lots of fish to see. The crew does a good job of providing a safe and enjoyable trip.
star-4
Awesome times!
Lisa M, Jan 2019
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
We had an amazing time on this snorkeling excursion. The reefs were beautiful even without 100% visibility. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. Needed to read the fine print regarding the taxes of $3.00 each and not being met at the port.
star-5
Fun day on the wayer
Maps585030, Dec 2018
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
Enjoyed our day with this excursion. Friendly folks. Safe snorkeling. Great underwater photos taken. Very glad we chose this snorkeling tour!
star-5
Excellent trip, great value, helpful staff
John_M, Feb 2020
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
Our boat was crewed by Juan, Roman & the photographer, all really friendly guys. They took time to explain exactly what we would be doing, what we could expect to see, and looked after us very well. The snorkeling was better than we expected as we saw a turtle, shark, parrot fish, queen ocean trigger fish & many more. Juan kept the group fully informed during the snorkeling, telling us whenever he stopped anything interesting. The photographer took great photos of us and the turtle; we never normally buy 'tourist' photos, but made an exception as the photos were excellent. Really enjoyable trip, thoroughly recommended

Things to Know Before You Go

  • Columbia Reef is a must-see attraction for nature and wildlife lovers.

  • Remember to bring reef-safe sun protection and water—wearing a wetsuit or rash guard can help protect your skin from rough coral and jellyfish too.

  • 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, move as little as possible and let the fish come to you.

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How to Get There

Columbia Reef is located off the southern coast of Cozumel, near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The reef may be hard to locate on your own, so it's best to arrive on a guided tour or by charter boat with a local diver from Cozumel.

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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 forecast for storms.

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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.

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