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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
$79.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Boat waited for us.
We were running late. There had been traffic through the ferry port. We called the number on our reservation David answered he was directly at the boat and not only held the boat but was waiting to meet us in the parking lot to assure us they weren’t leaving without us. Greatfully thankful!!!
Bernie_F, Apr 2022

Recent reviews from experiences in Cozumel

star-5
Excellent experience
Elsa_G, May 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Excellent experience! The tour guys Alex & Philly were so helpful. The water was nothing I’ve seen better. So clear and clean. I would definitely recommend it.
star-5
Incredible
Basak_D, Mar 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
The guides and the captain were excellent and professional. Reefs were clean. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing underwater wildlife. Be advised that there are no bathrooms on the boat and essentially no cover. We lost an iPhone due to torrential downpour drenched during the trip but that was on us. Overall an exceptional memory. Highly recommend
star-4
Cozumel Day Trip - DO IT
Catherine_K, Jun 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
The snorkel tour was amazing! The guide and the crew were very nice and helpful! He pointed out sea life while snorkeling to make sure we got the most out of the trip! One of the crew members even made handmade guacamole for everyone to enjoy while we hung out on the sand bar with our beers! The only reason it's a 4 and not a 5 is simply because the boat doesn't have a restroom on-board. After being out for nearly 4 hours while drinking water and beers a toilet is an absolute necessity.
star-5
Wonderful experience - great crew
Scott_M, Jun 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Our boat crew was very friendly and knowledgeable! The reefs were amazing. This was a highlight of our entire cruise. Be sure to wear a shirt in the water. The sun is unforgiving!
star-5
Would definitely...
Jennifer_G, Jun 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Would definitely recommend & do this again! Such an amazing experience. Alex did such a great job!!!!
star-5
Adventure /Great Experience
Ernest_S, Mar 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
The Friendly Staff also very good with communication in whats taking place. The How too's and Why not, Best part was being with my Bestfriend/ Husband . And seeing the beauty of under water life💦🐟💙
star-5
It was our lucky day!
Tom_M, Jun 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
We have snorkeled at 5 different places We saw sea turtles, a shark, sea stars, sting rays and baracudas. Great experience! After snorkeling we ate some guacemole and drank some cervezas. Thanks Juan and his colleague for this great day!
star-5
Greatest experience and great price!
Dianna_S, May 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
My husband and I enjoyed the crew. Very friendly and encouraging. Alex the tour guide assisted in begginers who needed assistance and gave the experienced swimmers guide to seeing things. He dived to show snorklers what was around coral and coves deep in the water. He dived 30 feet that was amazing to my husband and i. Thanks for the wonderful experience! I would recommend. There was no lunch but served drinks with gucamole and chips at end.
star-5
Clear water snorkeling
Anna_O, May 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
We had a great time snorkeling through the clear waters. Our captain and tour guide were amazing! At our last stop we saw lots of stingrays while enjoying a cold beer and the BEST guacamole we ever had!
star-4
Great family fun.
Richard_B, Dec 2021
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
It was a bit of a slow start - we had to make two pick ups on the way to the reef. Once we were there it was great. Guides were very helpful, polite and kept the group happy! A fair amount of sea-life and I was happy to pay the tax towards conservation.
star-5
Great price, great tour!
Matt_R, May 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Carlos was an incredible guide. The tour was lovely, incredibly scenic, and ended with great snacks and cold beer. We had a really perfect day.
star-5
Amazing!
Lynn_S, May 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
We had a wonderful time. The snorkeling was amazing. The tour guide, captain and photographer were great and kept a close eye on everyone in the water. We ended the excursion at a clear shallow area and provided drinks and some great chips/ guacamole. While sitting in the water we saw numerous stingrays swimming by. Such a memorable experience!
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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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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the nearest attractions to Columbia Reef?
Q:
What else should I know about attractions in Cozumel?
A:
As well as visiting the Columbia Reef, check out these trip ideas to make the most of your visit: