Just got back from diving with you and Don this last few days. I wanted to tell you what a great experience it was – especially the Cenote diving! I am really interested in the cave diving now. Do you run the course pretty regularly? Anyways, I signed up for the newsletter last night and checked out your website again. I do want to come back down there and spend more time! Thanks again for taking such good care of us. I hope the 6 novice divers are behaving themselves J Ciao for now!
DEBORAH J. MARSHALL
Senior Business Analyst
My wife Chrissy and I dove with you and your company earlier this month. I just wanted to email and say thanks for making our Mexican vacation a fun one. You and your staff are a great dive company and made that part of our vacation very stress free. Thanks again to you and Don, Debbie and Jerry.
We had a great time.
Mike and Chrissy Sonke
They say "better late than never!"
After a bit over a month after we have returned from Mexico I just wanted to let you know how much Sylvia and I have enjoyed diving with you guys! A big thank you from Sylvia to Don and Debbie for their patience and empathy while teaching her the "art" of diving! And my deep gratitude to them for making my wish come true to finally being able to dive with my beloved wife!
I want to be very frank with you: when Sylvia and I first came to the dive center I was wondering whether I had made the right choice!
However, the way in which Debbie greeted us and started introducing us to the location and what the dive center has to offer did prove my doubts completely unnecessary! In other words: don't judge the book by the cover! What followed were astoundingly nice, relaxed dives with an extremely experienced team of divers! enjoyed every minute of the time spent with you guys either diving or hanging around at the center! Never before and nowhere else I have booked a diving package did I feel so welcome and "in family" like with the whole Wet Set team. The dives were some of the best I've had and never felt so safe teaming up with either one of you. Should someone ask me who I would recommend for dives in
Mexico: Ole Paul, Debbie, Don and team!
Hey, we're already planning to come back to your area (quoting Paul:
Thanks for the warning, buddy!!) and will let you know when we'll be around.
I just want to thank you and you entire staff (except Jerry, just kidding) for an excellent time and some great diving. I really enjoyed meeting you guys and I know that you personally enjoyed meeting Patricia. Don is a great instructor and a pleasure to dive with. Jerry is a great guy and will make a good dive master someday soon with a little more of yours and Don's tutelage.
David and Patricia
I just want to thank you and your staff again for a great, all-too-short visit. Puerto Morelos was a great discovery (although I should have known about it years ago) and I'm sure Mark would agree. You run a great outfit. And I'm already trying to figure out when I can come back, hopefully with my wife and daughter the next next time. Best of luck with the rest of the season, and I look forward to diving with you again soon.
Paul, Don, Debbie and Jerry,
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR OUR GREAT TIME DIVING!! I know I speak for David too when I say how much I appreciate your time and patience taken with me. You and your “ways” made me see that diving can be a stress free experience. I am looking forward to using my credit soon! I hope you all had a great holiday and Happy New Year to you!
David and Kari Canavan
North Carolina, USA
Hi Paul! Monday morning and back to reality in California. We wanted to thank you for a great time diving out of Puerto Morelos. Based on your web site we held high expectations for the treatment, personal service and diving we should be receiving from you and you met those expectations. Your dive captain and co-captain were great also taking excellent care of our gear. What a great change for us to not have to do the work.
The nights dives were my favorite and both Rick and I look forward to doing a lot more of them on our next trip down, hopefully in August. What an absolute blast they were. Rick's ear infection was bad timing cutting our diving short but we now know how to deal with that problem in the future. So thank you all for a great time and we can't wait to back in the area diving with you again.
Rick & Linda Walker
Paul, Thank you so much for everything. We are so glad that we found you and your dive operation. We were searching the web looking for a local dive operator close to the El Dorado Royal, after reading some of the reviews and forums on your site, I thought that your operation seemed too good to be true. After a brief email correspondence with you, I looked no further and planned to come find you once we arrived. A short cab ride from the resort into Puerto Morelos, I stumbled across your shop. After our initial meeting that morning and our discussions about the diving, sharing your experience and mine, we made our fist dive. I was impressed with your attention to detail in the pre-dive debriefing. I was blown away by our first deep dive, the current was moving at a pretty fast pace and it was a rush to ride that current, as we blew past a few nurse sharks, a lemon and a marlin. Our 2nd dive at Albert's Reef was a shallow dive with relatively good vis, considering the swells above. ! It was nice to get in the bottom time we did (67 min) with still loads of air left. Next day Joanne (mi esposa) joined us and William took us out for a shallow dive at Cabezas Grande (lots of huge brain coral formations). Jo had not been diving since last year and was a bit nervous. William was an excellent dive-master/instructor and explained all the details of the dive to her and a de-briefing that made Joanne very comfortable. With a slight issue on entry to the water, William was able to assist Joanne and she had no issues on the descent or the rest of the dive. The Cenote dives that you and I did, Paul, was the coolest dives I have experienced to date, it was like we were in another word. Words can't explain it!!!! Again your expertise and experience was extremely helpful for me as this type of a dive was a new experience for me. Paul thank you for everything, not sure if every customer gets the same treatment we did, but I can only imagine that you do your best to go above and beyond or (above and below) for all of your guests. You're a great instructor and confidant for many components of our trip, not just the diving and it was a pleasure meeting you and spending time together in you little piece of paradise. Nos ha gustado mucho, Hasta luego, Kerry and Joanne
Diving the Mayan Riviera from Puerto Morelos Mexico
As with most things in life, diving the Mayan Riviera from Puerto Morelos is a tradeoff. Instead of thoroughfares jammed with tourists and trinket shops, you get a normal, working fishing village. Instead of neon nightlife, you get unblemished views of the moon and stars. Instead of large dive boats and groups, you get small, customized six-person dives. Bummer.
Granted, the first week of September is part of the “low” season between the summer tourists and the snowbird escapees, but for 13 dives in 6 days, my wife, Diane, and I were the only divers on our boat. Even in the high season, the Puerto Morelos dive shops maintain small groups, each boat with its own dive master. You just won’t find yourself on a cattle boat.
A quick internet search for dive operators in Puerto Morelos listed three operators. I sent my proposed trip plan to each of them. One was kicked back as undeliverable and one didn’t respond. By default, and our good fortune, we wound up diving the week with Wet Set.
The owners, transplanted Texans, Paul and Jennifer Hensley, are both avid divers who truly care about their clients having a great experience. Their enthusiasm for diving in Puerto Morelos is contagious. They took such good care of us, that by the end of the week, we were trying to get them to adopt us.
They exercise personal oversight of every dive trip. Paul had personally answered our initial email query and that personal interest continued throughout our trip. The dive oversight begins with you telling Paul what kind of diving you want to do. Then Paul very tactfully checks you out on a beautiful but fairly low intensity dive. Based on that, Paul will suggest which dives and sites best fit your desires and skill levels. This ensures that every diver gets the rewarding dives they came for without undue risk or stress that can turn a fun dive into a struggle to survive.
Working out of the Caribbean Reef Club, about 25 minutes south of the Cancun airport, Wet Set took care of everything. They rinsed and dried our gear each day, stored it in their shop, and set it up for us the next day - much more convenient than trying to keep it all in your hotel room. The Wet Set Dive Masters and boat captains arelocals who have all been with the operation for several years. They were all friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Although they didn’t speak a lot of English, I had the distinct impression that they understood a lot more than they let on.
Having previously dived a good bit of the Caribbean, I have to honestly say that the reefs along the Mayan Riviera, south of Cancun, probably have the most abundant and healthy coral and marine life populations that I have experienced – including Cozumel, and, in most cases, within a 10 to 15 minute boat ride. Reefs ranged from shallow tongue and groove complexes, to patch reefs, to incredible walls dropping into the abyss. Water temperature was 82 degrees at 100’ and visibility ranged from about 70’ in a high runoff area to around 150’ in the open ocean. Not quite as good as certain areas around Cozumel, but still on the high end of excellent.
Although we elected to do only 13 dives in our 6 diving days, we could easily have done more, but decided to take in some of the local sun and beach (and more than a few margaritas) instead. Relying on Paul’s extensive knowledge of conditions and sites, some days would be the typical deep dive (80’-100’) followed by a shallower dive (40’-60’) while other days would be two shallower dives (50’-60’). After demonstrating reasonable proficiency, we made all dives to our computer limits. We’re talking bottom times well over an hour – without even getting chilled in basic lycra skins! With the Suunto computer, Paul often had more conservative NDL times than we did with our Genesis React Pros. In those cases, Paul would simply ascend and watch us or continue to lead the dive from the shallower depth. As an additional safety feature on all dives, Wet Set provides a cuidador (“care giver”), a Dive Master who snorkeled above the group at all times – just in case.
On the shallower dives, Albert’s Reef being a good example, the light, life, and color was tremendous. Large schools of grunts and pork fish milled about the large coral heads.
At least five different types of angels were spotted on most dives. Good size formations of Atlantic spadefish often cruised in to check us out. Even at the shallower depths, a little poking around the many holes and ledges yielded some great finds including large grouper and snapper, turtles, and large green morays. If they weren’t obvious to us, they would often make their presence known by swimming out to take a look at us, or, as in the case of one white-spotted moray, entangling itself in my Diane’s hair.
Off Playa del Carmen lies Maramos Wall, one of the longest running walls in the world. Since the shallower southern end of the wall begins in 118’ and sports a fairly stiff current, we planned this dive as drifting decompression dive to 160’. However, we’d seen everything we wanted to see by the time we reached 145’ and moved back up to the top of the wall and into the 80’ flats a little farther in. When I say that we saw everything we wanted to, I mean “everything”! Numerous turtles in the two to three foot diameter range, huge grouper under the ledges, and pelagic sharks in the 12-foot range feeding in the upwellings.
Not to mention the corals. Another interesting observation was that, even at 145’, the water was so clear that reds and oranges were still present in the color spectrum.
As if this quality of “normal” diving could ever get boring, we also took advantage of a few specialty dives including sharks, night, a wreck, and cavern (cenote) dives.
Being thoroughly familiar with the area reefs, Paul knew where to find a lot of the sleeping sharks during the day. After a bit of reassurance on the wisdom of this action, we were able to get very close to several nurse and lemon sharks. Actually, I was content to take photos while my wife got close.
The night dive in 30’ to 40’ found plenty of lobsters, a couple of good size octopi, and more sleeping parrots and surgeons than you could count. Even on our third dive that day, using the computers at that depth, we finished our air after almost 90 minutes of bottom time!
As part of their artificial reef project, Mexico has sunk four former US Coast Guard Cutters, three of them along the eastern coast. The C-56, sunk three years ago off Puerto Morelos, sits upright in 104’ of water, and is an excellent model of diver and fish friendly artificial reef projects.
Hatches and doors have been removed or welded open, numerous cutouts offer direct access to outside from all compartments, and a permanent guideline runs along the main route through the ship. Each compartment seemed to be its own biosphere ranging from shrimp in the galley (ironic?) to grouper in the crews quarters. Numerous eagle rays cruised the outside while large stingrays waited on the sandy bottom. Barracuda in the four-foot range patrolled the exterior and patiently lurked in every downstream eddy.
As a final bonus, the Yucatan is covered with “cenotes”. Originally dry caverns, complete with stalactites and stalagmites, these caverns are now filled with water either from collapse or underground springs. Once the caverns and associated caves and channels were mapped, this system proved to be the longest underground stream system in the world. The ancient Mayans used some of the cenotes as sacrificial sites and others as waste sites, so the chance of finding artifacts is not unreasonable. However, artifacts are protected antiquities.
Paul selected two caverns that were well suited for beginning cavern divers. We drove south for about an hour and then into the jungle – real jungle – to the first cenote. Upon stepping out of the SUV, Paul cautioned us that there were some very poisonous snakes around if we left the trail. However, the mosquitoes proved to be much more of a threat than any jungle snake. I mean they were ravenous and able to bite through our lycra suits. Not until we had on our full 3mm wet suits were we protected. Then they just concentrated on our heads. Needless to say, there is a lot of motivation to gear up quickly.
A quick walk down a well maintained path, and we were in the water. The caverns we explored came with a permanent guideline and we ran as deep as 50’. Wet suits and lights are necessary for the 72-degree water and almost total darkness. From a geological standpoint, the cenotes were quite interesting as we floated between the columns, slabs, and stalactites. From a color and life perspective, there really wasn’t much to see but a few small catfish. Overall, a great experience, but I prefer the open ocean.
Getting to and from Puerto Morelos proved to be quite easy. Many airlines fly into Cancun International throughout the day and night and very reasonable fares. We found immigration and customs to quick and efficient. Ground transportation to your hotel, if not included in your package, will run about $15 US per person for a shuttle bus or $20 US per person for a taxi. US dollars are accepted everywhere.
While there is not the over-abundance of hotels in the Puerto Morelos area, there are still plenty in all price ranges. Since this was a long overdue vacation for us, we chose one of the all-inclusive hotels in the area. None of the all-inclusives that I researched included diving. So, if you plan on diving, you need to consider that in your vacation planning. If you are planning a diving vacation and don’t really want the all-inclusive package, Wet Set works with a couple of very nice local hotels for a great dive package – less, in fact, than I paid for my dives alone. With that said, the entire Mayan Riviera and Playa del Carmen is a resort area and dive rates reflect that. Rate’s are still less than diving at most US destinations and become cheaper still when bought in bulk.
Getting to the bottom line …. Would we stay in the Puerto Morelos are again? Absolutely. Great beaches, water, weather, and fantastic diving without the crowds of Cancun or Cozumel. Would we dive with Wet Set again? Definitely. Compared to many other dive operators, Paul and his Wet Set staff have found a good balance between fun and safety in their dives, allowing their clients a high degree of independence without sacrificing an appropriate level of guidance and supervision. This is certainly an enjoyable change from those operations that employ more of the “dunk and drag” approach and try to keep their group in one tight little “bait ball”.
The personalized program and attention, the small group size, and the general diving quality all made for a fantastic dive week.
Will and Diane
Paul, Jennifer, & Skye I want to thank all of you for the wonderful time we had in your little corner of the world. Cancun is nice for the "civilized" among us but to come to Puerto Morelos and really kick back was wonderful. The diving was great and you have set our standard for future excursions. Paul, the environment you set with your boat and safety crew really provides a feeling that nothing can go wrong, except possibly ignorance, and even that can easily be dealt with. Jennifer, we cannot thank you enough for your hospitality. We will catch up with ya'll soon. Please add ALLISONFFF & BRETTFRANK (*****) to your mailing lists for upcoming and future events.
Thanks again, and talk to you soon. Hondo
Paul, Mitch and I had a great time diving with you during our stay in Puerto Morelos! I can't tell you how relaxing it was and how great it felt to be the only boat out there. We were both very surprised at how good the diving was. I had always considered Cozumel to be the best and thought that the Cancun area was just a lot of sand with not much to see. Mitch and I both agree that we have found a new "spot" and have already started planning our next trip. We are anxious to let our friends know about you, however, we also want to keep this part of the world a secret. Let them go to Cozumel! Thanks again.
See you soon! Raye and Mitch
Dear Paul, When Ingrid and I first came to your dive shop that Monday morning, I must admit we were both a bit hesitant. I didn't want to go to one of the mass dive operations in Cancun so I searched the internet for something else, and that's how I found your web page. But not knowing what to expect, we were a bit taken aback, this was SO the opposite from Cancun. After talking to you for a while, I felt really relaxed and I was ready to go. And when Ingrid found her tanning spot on the beach, all by herself, besides her new canine friend, we were both warmed up to Puerto Morelos! The diving was great, my first drift dives what a rush! We covered so much territory it was unbelievable. And the fact that it was just you and me made it even better. Not having to wait for twenty people to get into the water or back into the boat makes it real appealing. Having your guys free diving above us during the drift dives was a good feeling, I looked up once in a while and there was always somebody up there looking at us and the boat. I was a bit disappointed that the weather spoiled it for a couple of days, but it turned out that it was worth the wait. The deep dive at Tortuga Turn on Thursday was definitely the high light of my whole week! I had seen some sharks before but never gotten really close to them, let alone pet them. I must admit during the boat ride to the site I was a bit nervous (which made it a long 25 minute ride!). But once we were down there I was in such awe of their beauty, I felt at ease right away. At first I didn't see much because when one of the sharks took off it caused some sand to be kicked up so I only saw your legs. But I figured, hell this is it and I swam into the "unknown" and the next thing I saw were two six foot nurse sharks right in front of me! Just touching them gave me such a sense of their strength and elegance, very, very cool!!!! The last two dives, both at Cabezas Grande were very interesting as well. During the navigation dive my square turned into a trapezoid, but we blamed that on the current, wind ,choppy seas and anything else I could think of. And finally the night dive, ending in the "spacewalk" was groovy dude! After the night dive, sitting on the deck looking at an almost full moon talking about the dives and sipping ice cold Sol's, what else could you wish for? So to anybody who wants to go diving off of the peninsula in a relaxing atmosphere and with a great crew, go see Paul at Wetset Diving Adventures in Puerto Morelos. Thanks for a wonderful time Paul!
Robert & Ingrid
Just a quick note (before we head off to work!) to let you know how much fun we had and enjoying the both of you as well as the rest of your crew and friends there. Can't wait to get my pictures back. If I got any real good ones, I'll send you copies.
Talk to you soon, Robert and Jill
Hi Paul! Just a note to say we really enjoyed getting to know you and having you as our first SCUBA instructor!!! We have arranged to do the class and pool part of SCUBA certification here and both really hope to do the open ocean part with you. Our current plans are to be at CRC in mid May of 1999. Will you be available then? Hoping your summer is going very well. Carl and Ginny Lundeen Hi Paul!!!! Love your website!!!! We are doing the class and pool certification course now (at the university). Instructor is NAUI with 40 years of diving experience. So far he hasn't taught us a lot more than you did in Mexico!!!! We appreciate more and more the quality instructor and person you are. Say Hi to Ray, Jose, Ali and Charles for us. See you in May!!
Carl and Ginny Lundeen
Dear Paul and the Wetset crew and Jennifer, We feel pretty lucky to have ran across your web page when we were looking for a dive operation to complete our open water certification dives. The personalized training we recieved as part of our certification is virtually unheard of in the real dive world. The sites that we dove were full of abundant sea life. Turtles, morays, barracuda and groupers were among the few we were introduced to on our first dives. The safety of the dives was very comforting and the capabilities of the crew are excellent. By the way the snorkeling was definitely mentionable too. Philipe took us to some great spots where we saw lots of life in a shallow environment. We will definitely be looking your operation up again Paul and Jennifer on our next trip to the suncoast. Hope to see you guys and Mexico again soon, we can't wait to dive again.
Thanks, Eric and Julie.
Hi Paul, We are already trying to book a trip for May to come back and dive. I noticed you have packages which include the hotel. What are the rates for the standard room and the studio. What would be the rate if we wanted to do our advanced course instead of just diving. Also, our friend is interested in the Rescue Diver course (what it would cost and how long etc.) We would have at least two couples coming down at that time if that makes a difference. I got the pictures developed. I couldn't find a place within 30 miles of here that would push the processing, but they came out pretty good anyway. I have to scan them in and I will send them to you. I want to thank you again for the terrific dives. We had a great time and very memorable experience, even though the people we tell think we are crazy. We look forward to hearing from you. We want to book something fairly quickly.
Darla and Bob
Dear Paul, Remember that ginger-haired Medical student called Pach (as in Patch) who you were trying to get narced on Moromas Wall over New Year? Here I am, sitting in cold, wet England, studying to be a doctor, and wishing I was doing that deep diving and hunting course with you. One day I'll be back, don't you worry!! Just thought I'd e-mail to tell you what a fantastic time I had diving in Puerto Morelos. Some of the things we did and saw were simply fabulous - patting the sharks, touching the huge turtles, that pair of incredible eagle rays. And Moromas wall, what can I say. I've simple never had an experience like it, and that's from a man who's sky-dived, bungy-jumped, and white-water rafted his way around the world. I've recommended you to some friends who are in Cancun in August, so look out for some Medics from Newcastle. Say hi to all the guys at Rancho from me.
With best wishes, Pach
Thank you Paul, for another fun diving adventure! Our four dives on our recent visit were beautiful and fun, and you are our favorite dive master. The two nurse sharks swimming out from the ledge right next to us were pretty awesome, and the stingray, barracuda, morays, multiple lobster, and of course the beautiful tropical fish all added to very pleasant diving. We look forward to returning soon to visit more dive sites, and we'll try not to forget the underwater camera we bought especially for the trip!
Janet & John