Palancar Horseshoe is the westernmost part of Palancar Reef, a large coral reef located on the southwest side of the island of Cozumel. Cozumel is famous for its spectacular reefs and due to their intensive use and ecological importance and fragility, most of the reefs surrounding the island and lagoons on its south side were declared as the “Arrecifes de Cozumel” National Park in 1996.
The Horseshoe is one of the most popular places to begin a drift dive and like most of palancar the formations here are nothing short of spectacular with towering coral heads and amazing swim-throughs over your head. As the name of this fantastic site suggests, Palancar Horseshoe gets its recognition from its U-shaped like structure that can be divided into several sections based on depth & coral formations. The top of the reef around horseshoe is approximately 30 feet (9m) deep and the spot is usually dived as a 60 to 80 foot (18-24m) dive.
The dive is best in deeper sections and as you plunge into the depths, you will discover spectacular terrain labyrinth full of caves, tunnels and swim-throughs throughout the whole reef structure. Apart from beautiful coral and large gorgonian fans, there is an array of fish and invertebrates to be found here; angelfishes, schools of creole wrasse, lobsters or horse-eye jacks can be spotted in every dive. And let's not forget the ever-present turtles that seem to like being photographed here, and are abundant just south of the horseshoe.
While the deeper portions require a little more skill, it's never a bad idea to look around for a certified scuba dive guide. Repeatedly recognized as one of the top 10 dive operators in Cozumel and the Caribbean for many years by industry publications like Scuba Diving Magazine, Sport Diver and Undercurrent, there is no doubt that Scuba Du is one of the top dive operators in Conzumel. Over the years (the company started out small in 1992) Scuba Du has received the PADI gold palm and 5 star dive center recognitions for providing world-class quality services and safety to their clients. Their fleet of 5 custom dive boats is equipped with DAN oxygen units, VHF radios and very experienced staff. Special arrangements can be made for groups of all sizes. For more information visit Scuba Du's website.
Photos: © Scuba Du