A string of all-inclusive resorts sprouted up along Cozumel's western shore in recent years. Despite this trend, Hotel La Ceiba and its sister property Casa Del Mar have remained essentially the same - and that's a good thing. We've always been a family-style diving hotel and we're not changing, says sales manager Nancy Murray. There is at least one new offering this year, however. Guests can now enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet before jumping on the dive boat. Murray says many of the same divers return year after year to the two hotels, located minutes south of San Miguel, because they know what to expect: A clean, safe, comfortable place to stay where it is easy to dive. We make them feel at home. Convenient Diving Hotel La Ceiba and Casa Del Mar each have full-service dive centers operated by Del Mar Aquatics, a 5-Star PADI facility that offers a full range of instruction. It's just a short walk from your room to the piers where eight fast boats pick up divers for the short trek to Cozumel's famed reefs. Surface intervals are spent at the Nachi Cocom beach club, which includes a pool, restaurant and a beautiful stretch of sand that is perfect for sunbathing. The shallow waters behind Hotel La Ceiba are one of the island's most popular shore-diving sites. This area is also an ideal setting for a tune-up dive. The big attraction is a sunken plane teeming with schools of blennies at a depth of about 35 feet. The fake skeleton that pranksters strapped in the pilot's seat last year makes for an eerie sight on night dives. Hurricane Gilbert and other storms have taken their toll on the mangled fuselage of the sunken DC3, which was used as a prop in a 1970s Mexican disaster film. But divers can look forward to exploring a new plane that will be lowered onto the site within the next year. Powers of Rejuvenation With its serene ocean views and ample amenities, Hotel La Ceiba appeals to divers with a craving for comfort and an unhurried atmosphere. The hotel's name refers to an odd-looking tree that early Mayans believed possessed powers of rejuvenation. Between dive outings, guests can stand under the La Ceiba tree growing next to the hotel and judge for themselves. Or they can take a dip in the two pools before relaxing in a shaded hammock. Another option is walking next door for an exciting cruise on the Atlantis sub. Hotel La Ceiba's 112 air-conditioned oceanfront rooms come with cable television, telephones and mini-refrigerators. In addition to two restaurants and bars, the hotel property includes a small convenience store, an underwater photo shop and a car rental agency. There's also an exercise room, sauna and lighted tennis court. After watching a golden sunset, guests dining outdoors at the hotel's La Chopa Loca restaurant are entertained by the spectacle of towering cruise ships casting off from a nearby pier as they depart for the next port of call. Located virtually across the street from Hotel La Ceiba, the recently renovated Casa Del Mar also caters to divers and sun lovers. The hotel has 96 oceanfront and garden rooms, a pool, bar and outdoor restaurant. San Miguel's restaurants, bars and gift shops are just minutes away from either hotel via taxi, or about a half-hour on foot. While all-inclusive resorts may have certain advantages, Hotel La Ceiba and Casa Del Mar appeal to divers like me who are seeking a more genuine and authentic Cozumel experience. For more information about Cozumel diving, click onto the Del Mar home page below. For more information about diving Cozumel and staying at Hotel La Ceiba or Casa Del Mar, click onto the Island Dreams home page below.
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