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Cozumel Mexico’s “Norte” Weather Patterns

Norte Washes Up Sailboat

From Sunny Skies to Stormy Seas: Demystifying Cozumel Mexico’s “Norte” Weather

Have you ever heard of a norte? It’s a term used to describe the wintry winds that blow down from the north, often originating from the chilly country of Canada. During these weather patterns tourists always ask “Why is Cozumel’s port closed?” I chuckle when people blame Canadians for the freezing temperatures during the winter. However, it’s not the cold air that poses a problem–it’s the powerful wind that accompanies it. In Cozumel, Mexico, these nortes can disrupt the usual activities in the region, including diving adventures. Join me as we explore the fascinating weather patterns of Cozumel’s nortes and how they affect the local dive industry.

The Boat Dilemma

One significant consequence of the nortes in Cozumel is the restriction it places on dive boat operations. Because of the high winds and large waves, dive boats often cannot leave the marinas safely. They take this precaution to ensure the well-being of divers and the integrity of the boats themselves. Many dive boats have low rear areas, which makes it challenging for divers to perform their signature giant stride into the water or climb back onto the boat using a ladder. The powerful waves during nortes can easily swamp these boats, leading to potential accidents and damages.

To prevent such incidents, local authorities closely monitor weather conditions and prohibit boat departures when nortes are in full force. You can view the website at and if winds are 10 knots or greater and from the west, northwest, or north the port captain will close the port to small boats (diving and snorkeling). While this may disappoint avid divers hoping to explore the mesmerizing underwater world of Cozumel, safety remains the top priority. The people and car ferries make their own decisions based on whether they can dock safely.

The Origin of “Nortes”

You may wonder, where do these nortes come from? As mentioned earlier, they primarily originate from the north, especially Canada. When cold air masses build up in the northern regions, they move southward, pushed by atmospheric pressure systems. As these chilly air masses cross the Gulf of Mexico, they collect moisture and energy, intensifying their strength. By the time they reach the coast of Cozumel, they have transformed into formidable nortes, capable of causing significant disruptions.

Norte Waves

The Impact on Diving

Diving is a prevalent activity in Cozumel, known for its rich marine life and stunning coral reefs. However, the unpredictable nature of nortes can affect diving experiences. The rough sea conditions during nortes make it challenging to ensure diver safety, especially during entry and exit from the dive boats. Divers may have to adapt their diving plans and reschedule their underwater adventures until the winds calm down.

The strong currents stirred up by nortes can make diving more difficult. These currents can alter the visibility underwater and potentially limit the dive sites accessible to divers. While experienced divers may enjoy the extra challenge, it may not be ideal for beginners or those seeking a peaceful underwater exploration. However, it’s important to note that nortes occur infrequently, and often calm, pristine diving conditions follow them.

The Beauty of Adaptation

Despite the inconvenience caused by nortes, the local dive industry in Cozumel has learned to adapt and make the most out of these weather patterns. Dive operators closely monitor weather forecasts to inform their divers of potential disturbances, allowing them to plan their dives accordingly. Some dive centers also offer alternative activities during nortes, such as land-based excursions to explore the island’s natural beauty.

Cozumel boasts many breathtaking dive sites that are relatively sheltered from the direct impact of the nortes. These sites, located on the protected areas along the island’s eastern side, provide divers with options even during turbulent weather. As the saying goes, “When life gives you nortes, find a hidden dive gem!”


Cozumel, Mexico’s “norte” weather patterns, add an adventurous twist to this tropical paradise’s typically serene diving experiences. While nortes may disrupt boat operations and create challenges for divers, they also offer an opportunity for adaptation and exploration. Understanding and embracing the unpredictability of these weather patterns allows divers to make the most out of their time in Cozumel, discovering hidden dive sites and finding unique beauty beneath the waves. So, if you find yourself in Cozumel during a norte, don’t let it dampen your spirits–instead, seize the opportunity for a different underwater adventure!

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