Published On: Sat, Jul 21st, 2018

Cozumel from a Minnesotan point of view…

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COZUMEL, Mexico — This lovely, laid-back island off the coast of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, which provides the easygoing yin to those cities’ pulsating yang, holds a special place among my travels.

My first visit here came for the express purpose of getting certified as a scuba diver. After an entire week of exploring nothing more exciting than the bottom of the YMCA pool in New Orleans, I was at last getting ready for my check-out dive at Cozumel’s beautiful Palancar Reef.

Gradually descending to a depth of 75 feet, I would have gasped at the marine life around me if I hadn’t had a regulator clamped firmly in my mouth. Aside from multi-colored corals, I observed sea life ranging from gorgeous — sunfish, parrotfish and sea turtles — to gruesome — barracuda, moray eels and nurse sharks.

I was so entranced with this alternate universe that I was saved from running out of air only by the gentle tug of the dive master motioning me toward the surface. I got my PADI certification, but sadly, never returned to Palancar, instead opting for far-off reefs in Australia, Palau and the Red Sea.

I did return to Cozumel twice, but only as day stops on cruise ships doing a western Caribbean route.

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