Exploring Cozumel’s Two Shipwreck Diving Sites

Cozumel’s Two Shipwreck Dive Spots: A Deep Exploration

Cozumel Mexico is renowned for its incredible diving opportunities, and one of the major attractions for divers is the chance to explore the fascinating shipwrecks that lie beneath its turquoise waters. The C-53 wreck, also known as the Felipe Xicotencatl, and the 2 Navy Patrol Wrecks are two popular sites that offer a unique and thrilling diving experience. In this article, we will explore these shipwrecks, their histories, the marine life that lives there, and some tips on safely explore these sites.

C-53 Wreck: A Diver’s Delight

Resting on the ocean floor off the coast of Cozumel’s Chankanaab Beach Park is the C-53 wreck, which used to be a US Navy minesweeper. The Mexican Navy purchased this ship, measuring 154 feet long and 33 feet wide, from the US Navy after World War II, and used it for patrolling the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean Sea. After 55 years of service, the Mexican Navy decommissioned the ship and sunk it to create an artificial reef in 1999.

Dive Details and Accessibility

The C-53 wreck lies in 80 feet of water, with the upper portions of the boat reaching depths of around 40 feet. Both novice and experienced wreck divers find this dive site popular because of its easy accessibility and lack of harmful materials on the ship. They chained the wreck to the seabed to prevent shifting during storms or hurricanes.

Exploring the Wreck

Divers explore various sections of the C-53 wreck, including the engine rooms, galley, officers’ quarters, head, and radio room. The interiors of the ship is intact, providing a captivating glimpse into its history. We recommend using a detailed wreck guide or a waterproof dive site card to navigate the different areas of the wreck.

Marine Life and Highlights

Despite being submerged for over a decade, the C-53 wreck boasts a clean exterior, likely because of the currents in the area. However, it is teeming with marine life, with schools of barracuda, grouper, eels, and a wide variety of reef fish frequenting the site. The ship’s structure also serves as a thriving habitat for sponges and other marine organisms.

The Wreck Dives of Cozumel

Navy Patrol Wrecks: Snorkeling Adventure

For snorkelers (and shore divers) seeking a unique and shallow wreck diving experience, the 2 Navy Patrol Wrecks off Playa Las Casitas is a must-visit site. The wrecks are the Laguna de Mandinga and the Laguna de Pátzcuaro Mexican Navy patrol boats that were sunk in 2006 as part of an artificial reef program.

Snorkeling the Navy Patrol Wreck

The 2 Navy Patrol Wrecks are in shallow water, around 20 feet deep, making it accessible to snorkelers and shore divers. From Playa Las Casitas, you can reach the wrecks by swimming towards the buoy offshore. The wrecks are situated beyond the buoy and a few minutes swim to the left.

Exploring the Wrecks and Safety Considerations

Snorkelers can observe the Navy Patrol Wreck from the surface, whereas those seeking a more thrilling experience can dive and inspect it up close. However, it is essential to have strong swimming skills and feel comfortable swimming longer distances before attempting to reach the wrecks. Snorkelers should also be cautious of passing boats and ensure they have a marker buoy for visibility.

Playa Las Casitas: A Local’s Beach

Playa Las Casitas, where the Navy Patrol Wrecks are located, is a local beach. While everyone is welcome, there are limited amenities available. Snorkelers and divers will need to bring their equipment, as there are no rental shops nearby. The beach offers restrooms and a few covered tables, and it is located just north of San Miguel, a short taxi ride away.


Cozumel’s shipwreck diving sites, such as the C-53 wreck and the 2 Navy Patrol Wrecks, offer divers and snorkelers the opportunity to explore fascinating underwater worlds full of history and marine life. Cozumel’s underwater sites provide unforgettable experiences that showcase the beauty and intrigue of the underwater world, whether you’re an experienced wreck diver or a snorkeling enthusiast. Remember to follow safety guidelines, use proper equipment, and respect the marine environment as you embark on your shipwreck diving adventures in Cozumel.

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