[y] Cozumel Visitors Guide
Cozumel, the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean and with the largest population, lies 12 miles off the eastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. With a Mexican heart and a Caribbean soul, Cozumel is a joyous confluence of setting, circumstance, and tradition. Famous the world over for its peerless coral reefs, it offers in addition to world-class diving, other waterborne sports such as deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, and more. With its beautiful beaches and exotic locale, Cozumel is a favorite destination for honeymooners where they can enjoy the breathtaking, tropical sunsets, moonlit walks on secluded beaches, refreshing swims through the crystal-clear turquoise waters, and romantic candlelit dinners.
Cozumel Fun Guide
The choice of things to do in Cozumel is boundless, where something interesting is always cooking and where you are always welcome to join in. Come and experience the friendly people, the local festivals, scattered Maya ruins, fabulous dining, duty-free shopping, diving, golfing, romance; a whole new world of Cozumel attractions awaits you where everybody has a place under the sun.
Explore the jungle in a jeep — or the Caribbean in a glass-bottom boat.
Cozumel Mexico is bursting with things to do. Yes, we’re an all-inclusive resort but please take some time to venture off the property and enjoy our lovely island. The scuba diving is amazing here. In fact, Cozumel is one of the world’s foremost diving destinations. You might just see the elusive sea horse but certainly, you’ll encounter lots of colorful sea life along the Great Mayan Reef. In fact, it’s the second-largest reef in the world. Enjoy these creatures from the comfort of a glass-bottom boat or even from a submarine. Tour the jungle on horseback, ATV or in a jeep. The island is dotted with Mayan Ruins and they truly are a must-see. We also offer spectacular golf, deep-sea fishing, and even stingray encounters. It’s nice to know we’re only 10 miles from the Cozumel International Airport and only just 30 minutes to the Yucatan Peninsula by ferry. Don’t forget everyone must have a passport for international travel to Mexico.
Year after year, thousands of visitors come to see the superb Cozumel attractions including the best diving and golfing that can be enjoyed on the island. The diving in Cozumel enjoys a deserved reputation of being among the best in the world. The reefs are easily accessed and are available year-round; topside temperatures average 25° C and water temperatures fluctuate between 25° and 28°C (77° – 82°F). In recent years, golfing on Cozumel has experienced a boom with the opening of a world-class course.
Getting to Cozumel could not be easier. There are numerous daily domestic and international flights into Cozumel. Direct flights from the United States are available from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, Houston, Newark, and Philadelphia, and other cities. For vacationers traveling between Mexico City and Cozumel, Mexicana Airlines offers daily flights.
Each day, Mexico Water Jets and Ultramar ferry hundreds of passengers back and forth between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. The ferries operate continuously, and the crossing takes approximately 35 minutes. A car ferry is also available and departs from Calica, which is five minutes away from Playa Del Carmen. The trip takes one hour and the ferry sails four times a day.
One of the easiest and least expensive places to get to in the Caribbean is Cozumel, just off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. A favorite destination for scuba divers and cruise ships, it is a great place to relax for a week. One of the draws to Cozumel is the cheap airfare, often via charter flights from U.S. cities. Once there, you have a choice of accommodation ranging from all-inclusive deluxe resorts to basic Mexican hotels for as little as $20 a night. Scuba diving is a big draw for many visitors.
“Discovered” by Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s, the reefs off of this tiny island provide some of the best diving in the Caribbean. The terrain is suitable for beginners, yet experienced divers will be fascinated by the tunnels, aquatic life and coral formations found on Columbia Reef near the south of the island. For a change of pace, hop on one of the many ferries over to Playa Del Carmen on the mainland. Stroll along the busy pedestrian-only walkway or relax at one of the many restaurants along the beachfront. Enjoy the excellent beach and great snorkeling before heading back to Cozumel.
The nightlife is another draw to this tiny island. The main (actually, only) city of San Miguel sports dozens of excellent restaurants, most specializing in locally caught seafood. Barbecued chicken is another local specialty. There are clubs for the die-hard partygoers, including a Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood. After a busy day of diving, exploring Mayan ruins or downing Cervasas on the beach, the hustle and bustle of San Miguel will top off your vacation.
Cozumel Diving services range from first-class to rag-tag with over 150 service providers on the island as well as along the Yucatan coast. Talk to the Cozumel diving boat operators. You should feel confident of their expertise and professionalism.
Begin with a shore drift dive from your beachfront hotel. Ask the dive shop where are the entry and exit points, and carry a dive flag. Check out your gear, brush up on your skills, and find your buoyancy control point.
If you don’t care for a diving certification take one of the snorkel catamarans. For $18 you can rent one of the smaller glass-bottom snorkel boats that leave right from the pier.
The number one mistake of “newbies” is carrying too much weight. Ask your Cozumel diving master for help in selecting the correct weight (weightless sweet spot) for buoyancy control.
The shallows or “coral gardens” at 20 to 40 feet are filled with patch reefs and coral ridges rich with tropical fish. Some near-shore reefs can even be explored as shore dives from Cozumel’s waterfront hotels.
Follow the leader (divemaster) and maintain visual contact with your dive group at all times. The dive boat will be following the group’s bubble trail. Don’t be the “Lone Ranger”. Stay within safe diving limits. Closely monitor your gauges and air supply. It’s easy to lose track.
The Palancar Reef‘s towering coral pinnacles are a maze of tunnels and canyons located 40 to 70 feet deep.
The “walls’” drop of 3000 feet separates the men and women from the boys and girls. Dive sites closest to the “drop-off” tend to have the swiftest currents and the greatest amount of marine life (from 6 foot Morey eels to Volkswagon sized Grouper).
Cozumel diving waters are crowded. Remember to raise your hand as you surface. Then spin on the surface looking for traffic. It’s better that your hand than your brain gets turned to “fish food” by a twin Evenrude.
- Airport: The Cozumel International Airport is located 2 miles north of downtown San Miguel. From the airport, frequent shuttle van transfers are available; transfer rates range from $7-$20 US per person. (Prices subject to change).
- Arriving via Cancun Airport: A bus service exists from Cancun Airpor to Playa del Carmen using air-conditioned, modern buses; bus fare is $65 Mexican pesos per person one way. Buses run from the Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen from around 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM and from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport from around 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM (prices subject to change).
- Boat & Ferry Travel: A passengers-only ferry sails to/from Playa del Carmen and Cozumel every hour on the hour from 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The trip is approximately 35 minutes in duration; ferry fare is $110.00 Mexican pesos per person one way. A vehicular and passenger ferry leaves from Punta Venado or Calica Port four-times a day, the trip takes one hour and fares start at $60.00 US. (Prices and schedules are subject to change).
- Ground Transportation: Taxi cabs run 24 hours a day. The average fare between the northern hotel zone and downtown is about $7.00 USD; $20.00 USD from the southern hotel zone and $2.00 USD within the town. (prices subject to change)
- Climate: The average daily temperature is 80° Fahrenheit. July and August temperatures range in the high 80s to the low 90s. During December and January, average daytime temperatures are in the mid-70s.
- Currency: Mexican peso. The rate of exchange fluctuates daily. Most hotels and tourist spots accept international credit cards. Dollars are widely accepted as well.
- Electricity: 110-volt/60 cycle
- Language: Spanish; English is also widely spoken throughout the island.
- Population: 75,000
- Time: Central Daylight Savings
- Tipping: The customary tip for service personnel is 10 to 15 percent
- Water Temperature: Ranges from 77° to 82° F
History of Cozumel
Cozumel derives its name from the Mayan words “Cuzam” (swallow) and “Lumil” (land of), which form the word “Cuzamil” (land of swallows). The Mayan word changed with time to the Spanish name of Cozumel.
The first Maya settled in Cozumel some 2,000 years ago but it was during the classic period 300-900 A.D that it flourished. During these six centuries, the priests were at the top of the social hierarchy in the Mayan world and life revolved around religious ceremonies. Thus, Cozumel became one of the most important sanctuaries in the Yucatan region.
Religious pilgrimages to the island from all over Mesoamerica were common especially by expecting women or those who wished to become so. They paid homage to the goddess X’chel, the deity of the moon, fertility, and childbirth. It was a tradition among the Mayan people, in general, to make the trip to the goddess’ shrine on the island at least once in their lifetime.
Explore Mayan Culture
Beyond the island’s waterside activities, visitors to Cozumel can explore the Mayan culture on the island itself and at nearby sites in the Yucatán peninsula.
San Gervasio, inhabited from 200 A.D. until the Spanish conquest, is the biggest archeological site on the island and was a sanctuary of the goddess X’chel.
El Cedral, located just off Cozumel’s main road about 10 miles south of San Miguel, is today the site of La Santa Cruz celebration each May. Now a quaint village, El Cedral was a site of worship where offerings were made to the gods before Spanish settlers built a church over the site. Castillo Real (Royal Castle), a Mayan site on the eastern coast near the northern tip of the island, features a lookout tower, the base of a pyramid, and a temple with two chambers capped by a false arch.
El Caracol is a well-preserved ancient structure built between 1200 and 1400 A.D., used by the Maya to signal the approach of a hurricane. This was accomplished by an ingenious whistle propelled by winds funneled through a seashell. The ruins are now part of the Parque Punta Sur Ecological Reserve.
Dining & Entertainment in Cozumel
With over 90 restaurants and cafés to choose from, visitors to Cozumel are sure to find something pleasing to their palate. They can sample authentic Mayan and Mexican dishes or choose from several restaurants serving international fare.
Cozumel’s bars, dance clubs, and discos are open until long after midnight. Clubs like 1.5 Tequila Lounge, Viva Mexico, Señor Frogs, Hard Rock Café, and Carlos’n Charlie’s are just some of the famous places where merry tropical parties take place every night.
People on the go, on a budget, or traveling with children, will be happy to know that Cozumel also has its share of familiar fast-food hamburger and pizza restaurants.
With a Mexican heart and a Caribbean soul, Cozumel is a paradise where tradition, flavor, and joy come together. You will always find a friendly face and a warm welcome to make your stay an unforgettable one. Cozumel is perfect for simply relaxing on the beach in one of the many beach resorts on the west side of the island or the more deserted beaches on the east side (but beware of dangerous currents when swimming on the east side). The strong tourist industry means you are spoilt for choice for shops, bars and restaurants where you can find many bargains and avoid paying tax on luxury items.
Famous all over the world for its coral reefs, there are plenty of water sports such as diving, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, and more. Cozumel’s mostly undeveloped territory at the center of the island is covered by jungle and swampy lagoons, which are home to tiny mammals and endemic birds that have never left the island. Noteworthy is the Chankanaab National Park, a Cozumel icon, and the Punta Sur Ecological Reserve. This vast protected area at the southern tip of the island includes Punta Celarain and its historical lighthouse, as well as the Colombia Lagoon, a shelter for many of the island’s endemic species, as well as other endangered forms of life, such as marine turtles and their nesting areas.
With its beautiful beaches and exotic locale, Cozumel is an ideal destination where honeymooners can enjoy colorful and breathtaking sunsets, moonlit walks on secluded beaches, swim through crystal clear blue waters and romantic candlelight dinners. Water sports are very popular in Cozumel, with scuba diving on the island’s beautiful coral reefs being the most practiced. It is also possible to sports fish, sail, snorkel, surf, cycle or hike on and around the island and many other excursions in Cozumel. The island is also host to a Nicklaus designed golf course.
Just south of the town of San Miguel is located within Isla Cozumel’s Reefs National Marine Park and features the only inland coral reef formation in the world. The park is home to the world-renowned eco-system and natural aquarium, Chankanaab Lagoon, with more than 60 species of tropical fish, crustaceans and corals, and the only botanical garden on the island, featuring the most diverse species of tropical plants.
Popular park sites and excursions include Dolphin Discovery, where visitors can swim with the dolphins or enjoy the 45-minute dolphin encounter. The Sea Lion Show, an exciting display of stunts and other performances featuring the talents of these lovely mammals. The Maya Zone, a modern-day reproduction of a Maya village, in which visitors can learn about the ancient culture’s building and farming practices. The Botanical Gardens, a forest cut by trails, in which visitors can identify 350 different plant species, watch exotic birds, or bask in the sun. Also, Snuba and Sea Trek are two exciting activities that provide opportunities for visitors to view the reefs located near the shore. Colorful tropical fish fill these waters for the delight of swimmers who can almost touch them.
Punta Sur Light House
Ecological park and nature reserve is a breathtaking environment of mangrove jungles, white sand beaches and reef formations at the south end of the island. The park extends over more than 247 acres of land, harboring varied wildlife, including crocodiles, which visitors can watch from a safe distance in a look-out tower, 220 species of birds, iguanas, and giant turtles, which come to shore between June and August to lay their eggs. Among the park’s most fascinating structures is an old lighthouse and navigation museum displaying the evolution of seamanship and navigation from the time of the Maya to modern times. Here, visitors can also learn about life in Cozumel during the first part of the 20th century through photos and other articles belonging to several generations of lighthouse keepers and their families. Near the lighthouse, El Caracol is a well-preserved ancient structure used by the Mayas to signal the approach of a hurricane.
The Museum of the Island of Cozumel
Located in downtown San Miguel, showcases the island’s history and natural environment; its origins, wildlife migration patterns, reefs, archeology, ships, and pirates. Four exhibit halls, dioramas, sculptures, charts, traveling exhibits, and interactive demonstrations, complete with guides who speak English, Spanish, and Maya, bring the museum to life. The museum also has a casual restaurant, located on the second-floor terrace, that offers breakfast and sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea.
Discover Mexico is the newest and “must-see” destination in Cozumel. Discover Mexico is a cultural theme park about Mexico, where the entire family can truly experience this rich country through its different historical periods and amazing culture: pre-Hispanic, Colonial, and modern.
This park is truly spectacular, as you will enjoy an exterior walk of Mexico’s most important archeological sites and colonial buildings, an on-site museum with temporary and permanent exhibits, as well as a state-of-the-art video experience room to view award-winning videos and documentaries.
Give yourself 90 minutes and let us show you what Mexico is really about. Discover México, Km 5.5 Carretera Costera Sur, Cozumel Q-Roo, México
The closest Beach Club to the piers welcomes you to enjoy activities such as our exclusive clear kayak tour, or shore guided snorkel Chankanaab reef tour and scuba diving for certified or beginners, these are some of the examples of experiences you can live while you are visiting us. Or if you feel like relaxing, enjoy a massage in our lounge area by the pool, where under palm trees, you will feel the breeze of the Caribbean Ocean. If you feel like shopping, you can browse in our store of typical Mexican crafts. Our specialties restaurant and our bar will complement and excellent day of sun, sea, and sand. But above all, let us transmit the pride of serving you in our beach, located in a privileged area of Cozumel, by the marine national park of Chankanaab.
Playa Mia Grand Beach Park
Live the experience and make it your own! Playa Mia® is the ideal place for fun and relaxing day at the Beach; you will have a memorable experience. You will find more than 20 services & attractions available for you, such as, the fabulous underwater Mayan City, lounge chairs, showers located on all areas of the Park, Fully equipped bathrooms and dressing rooms, Kayaks, Paddleboats, the amazing Iceberg water mountain, Water trampoline, Sailboats, Floating mats, Volleyball court, Beach soccer area, Ping-pong tables, Inflatable hubs, Pool, Kids club and playground, access to shopping center with a lot of variety like downtowns stores, entertainment team, wave runners, parasailing, banana boat, snorkel and diving tours, bungee trampoline, tattoo, outdoor massage, lifeguard on duty with rescue boat, First Aid and paramedic station the security is the most important for us.
Playa Mia® is located just 10-15 minutes away from the downtown at the south side. Playa Mia Grand Beach Park® is not just another beach…the fun never ends!!
Is a place visited by tourists & locals, a unique ambiance with special & fun activities, such as horseback riding, ATV tours, great food, and Caribbean taste with Mexican style? Located in Cozumel’s best beach on Coastal Road South KM 15; just a few meters from it are Cardona & San Francisco Reefs, and 15 minutes boat ride south, you’ll find the very best reefs in America like Santa Rosa Wall, Cedral Pass, Punta Francesa & Palancar Reef.