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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
Fun Fun Fun !!!🤪
The crew, the catamaran, the reefs and the sandbar at cielito lindo we’re the best!!!! Had a wonderful time!!! 👍🏻👊🏻😎
francisco_f, Jul 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
Awesome ocean
marleneuria, Jul 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
El Cielito beach and el Cielo with the starfish. Weather was perfect and ocean very clear and warm. Great time !!
star-5
Overall amazing
Kimball_A, Jul 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
The crew was awesome! And we had a great time!! They accommodated to us and to the others on board with language and food and drink
star-5
Excellent!!
Belinda_N, Aug 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
This was an amazing snorkeling trip! It was my sister's first time snorkeling and she wants to go back! We snorkeled the two reef locations and they made an extra stop before the star fish location and we were able to swim with the sea turtles!! Magnificent!! After the star fish we went to a shallow area and hung out for about 45 minutes and they provided fresh fruit and drinks... There were sting rays there!!! So all in all 5 separate area with sea life at them all!!! Highly recommend!!!
star-5
Super fun time!
Linna_D, Aug 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
We were on the Pechanga with Andres and Philly. We had an awesome time and got to see a lot of cool sea life. The energy Andres gave our group was awesome and we felt very comfortable and safe in their care. Philly made us the best guacamole too! It would’ve been nice to get flippers along with the snorkel and mask but it didn’t keep us from enjoying our time!
star-5
Great tour, Would recommend it.
Dorothy_S, Jul 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and Cielo Reefs
The tour was well run. Despite the failure of the ship to clarify the discrepancy of the ship time and local time, the tour owner accommodated our group of 14 by putting us on a separate boat so that we would make it back to our ship on time. The equipment was great and the staff on the boat were competent and very nice. The beer and the tequila shots at the end were fun.
star-4
Very good
Ricardo_O, Jul 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Boat is small, but pretty fast, so we were able to see the three reefs and enjoy a good time swimming at a sandbar. Crew is very attentive and takes good care of our needs. A very good experience
star-5
unforgettable
kaegan_b, Jul 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
The experience was amazing and it’s something i’d again. our tour guide was great, his name was hasol (says it sounds like a-hole lol). i’m not happy with is the fact that I paid the tour photographer naomi, $30 for the pictures she had taken of me and my boyfriend, and I never got the pictures. which is why I have none to post for what a great time I had.
star-5
Excellent afternoon touring the reefs
Anonymous, Jul 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Excellent tour and a marvelous way to spend a few hours! The beer and guacamole on the sandbar was a real treat. Would very much recommend.
star-5
The most amazing snorkeling experiencia
joni_B, Jul 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Absolutely amazing experience. If you want a variety of sea life and some amount of time in the water go on this tour. We saw tons of fish, stingrays, a barracuda, tons of starfish and sea turtles. By far the best snorkeling trip yet.
star-5
Worth your time! Excellent excursion.
Sharon_S, Jul 2022
Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs
Excellent crew, very friendly and attentive. They gave us pleny of time in the water seeing all kinds of fish, including a sea turtle. The last spot was amazing with guacamole, chips, and drinks. GO!
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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: