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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
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
El Cielo reef by Catamaran with Beach Club
star-4.5
USD79.00 per adult
Traveller Favourite
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-5
Great Experience!
Gavin_M, May 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
The tour guides were very nice and always asking if we were ok during the whole trip. The chips and guacamole they made right on the boat was to die for and we got to see a lot of fish, a sea turtle, and a few stingrays!! Highly recommend for anyone wanting a fun adventure!
star-5
Wow!
Alice_Q, May 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
The reefs were beautiful! Most beautiful thing I have seen in my life. The boat ride was fun and the capitain and the guide were super kind and helpful. Thank you again Alex and Juanito! We really appreciated our tour!
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
Excellent & Fun Tour!
DianaDunn, May 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
This was an excellent tour. The crew worked hard to make us feel safe & comfortable. They also were very fun!
star-5
Amazing snorkeling trip
Tristan_B, Apr. 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
This was a magical experience. Our guide brought us to the best spots and we were able to see a lot of fish, 4 turtles and some sting rays and starfish. Unforgettable !!!
star-5
Great experience!!
paloma_t, Apr. 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Great experience, breath taking coral reef. We run into lots of different animals, along them a little baby turtle and hundreds of star fish. The staff was great, very helpful and professional We ended up in a sand bank with a drink and some nachos
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-4
Beautiful snorkeling experience, bring biodegradable sunscreen
Sydney_P, Apr. 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Snorkeling was amazing — our favorite spot was a shallower area that was covered in giant starfish and clear blue water. The guides were friendly and the last spot was a giant beautiful sandbar where we drank beer and ate fruit. The two downsides is that we didn’t know we couldn’t wear sunscreen because of the reefs so we got very burnt and there was some confusion at the end about the taxis, though others didn’t seem to have issues.
star-5
Awesome!
Andrew_G, Apr. 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Alex and the team were wonderful and accommodating, brought fresh snacks and drinks on board. Wonderful experience!!
star-5
Fun Experience for water lovers
Wanda_M, Apr. 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Love the boat ride to Reefs. Windy day which made snorkeling a challenge. Juan & Jorja were great guides and tailored the excursion to our wishes. Snack was delicious.

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: