Thirty years ago, adventurous scuba divers traveled to the Mexican island of Cozumel, lured by reports of pristine reefs, abundant fish life and high-voltage drift diving. These early visitors stayed in modest hotels in the town of San Miguel and enlisted the services of local fishermen for transportation to the reefs. Today, Cozumel is a world-famous vacation spot and the most visited dive destination in the Caribbean. San Miguel's waterfront now boasts a cosmopolitan collection of duty-free shops, restaurants and nightclubs. Upscale resort hotels flank the white-sand beaches of the island's southwestern coast, and the dive charter business has evolved from freelancing fishermen into a professional network of operators offering a full range of underwater adventures. Fortunately, growth has not spoiled the things that first attracted divers to the island. Thanks to the prevailing life-giving currents -- and to a strong conservation ethic -- Cozumel's underwater attractions remain world-class. Growth also means more choices for divers. The small wooden fishing boats that were once the dive boat of necessity have now been joined by fast, comfortable charter vessels that whisk divers to remote southern sites in an hour or less. One of the finest dive charter fleets now in service belongs to Scuba Du, the company that brought the concept of full-service diving to Cozumel. The company currently operates five fast, fully equipped fiberglass dive boats. All diving is in small groups with a maximum of seven divers per divemaster. Daily dive charters include morning and afternoon two-tank dives, midday single-tank dives, night dives and special three-tank excursions to less visited southern sites such as Punta Sur and Maracaibo. Divers looking to max out bottom time safely can choose computer and nitrox diving programs. All boats carry DAN oxygen units and are in constant communication with the chamber by way of VHF radio. Fast, first-class boats and flexible diving itineraries have earned Scuba Du a reputation as one of the island's top operators, but it is the personal service that customers find most appealing. When owner Jorge de la Fuente started the company, his goal was to bring the world-class service of a European resort to the Cozumel dive market. Today, this family-owned business employs an expert, multilingual staff of divemasters, instructors and captains who are equally skilled at lavishing extra attention on new divers or at helping experienced divers discover the best Cozumel has to offer. All instructors are PADI-certified and accept referrals from all other major agencies with the International Referral Program. Advanced training is available, including nitrox, rescue and specialty certifications. Scuba Du has one additional advantage that makes it a first choice among discriminating divers: a location on the grounds of the Presidente Inter-Continental hotel. Dive boats are moored on the edge of Presidente's private clear-water cove, adjacent to a white-sand beach and just a few hundred feet from the hotel's ocean-view rooms. Equipment rinse tanks and storage facilities are available, and the staff offers to rinse equipment for you. Among the upscale properties on Cozumel, the Presidente remains the island's premier hotel, offering a unique blend of grand hotel service and resort amenities. Expect to be ushered to a taxi by a courteous, uniformed attendant, catered to by a multilingual concierge and attended by cosmopolitan servers at the four-diamond El Arrecife restaurant. If casual is more your style, you can kick back and watch the sunset at the oceanfront Cana Brava beach bar. Room decor blends casual beach style with upscale touches such as marble floors and white cedar trim, and most rooms feature terraces that offer breathtaking views of the beach and the reefs beyond. Meanwhile, 24-hour room service and an entire staff of hospitality professionals are only a phone call away.Affordable Luxury To experience the level of service and luxury offered by Scuba Du and the Presidente Inter-Continental, one would expect to pay a premium. In reality, a dive vacation hosted by these premier business partners is reasonably priced by Caribbean resort standards. For example, a recent fall promotional package provided divers with daily two-tank service, ocean-view rooms, beverage credits and unlimited shore diving for a price of $112 per person. This offer, combined with the reasonable airfares often available from the United States, could allow divers to enjoy a full week of upscale diving and resort activities for less than $1,000, including airfare. For more information about luxury diving services, click on the home page below. For information about deluxe accomodations on Cozumel, click on the home page below.
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