By Katy DeHaven
Continuing our look at popular cruise ship ports in the Caribbean, let’s take a look now at Cozumel!
Popular on Western Caribbean cruise itineraries, Cozumel is an island located on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula opposite Playa del Carmen. The clear, warm water, and spectacular coral reefs make it one of the world’s best scuba-diving locations. In addition to diving, tourists are attracted to Cozumel’s sandy beaches, fishing, water sports, duty-free shopping, and relaxed atmosphere. Let’s take a closer look at some of what the area has to offer!
Located just 15 miles from downtown is Cozumel’s largest eco-park, Punta Sur has a lighthouse, a lagoon and one of the best beaches on the island. The park is also home to exotic birds, wild flora and crocodiles in their natural habitat. Visitors can climb the Celarain Lighthouse and visit the Museum of Navigation next door. Snorkeling at the nearby Chunchacab Reef is some of the best on the island. The park offers two restaurants, beach chairs and showers. Check out this short video of the park.
San Gervasio is an archeological site from the pre-Colombian Maya civilization. It is the most important and most documented site on Cozumel. The area is constituted by six architectural sets and other temples connected by a network of roads. To see a short video of the site:
The Cozumel Pearl Farm is a popular activity located on the north part of the island and only accessible by boat. Visitors learn how pearls are made at the farm, snorkel in the waters just off the coast, and relax on the sandy white beach. The Farm also offers an overnight experience.
Renowned for its tequilas, visitors wanting to know how it is made should check out a tour from a top tequila maker in the area, check out this video tour of Hacienda Antigua.
Visitors looking for a whirlwind tour of Mexican culture should check out Discover Mexico Park. Here visitors can enjoy a José Cuervo tequila tasting session, a chocolate making workshop, and check out large scale representations of top monuments like Temple of Kukulcan at Chichén Itzá. The park also has a folk art museum and botanical gardens planted with many species native to the area. For a tour of the park, click here.
Cozumel offers many beautiful beaches. Visitors will find that the east coast of the island is fairly rugged, and its rocky coastline is undeveloped. The west coast of the island faces Mexico’s mainland is much more sheltered with calmer waters and colorful marine life. Here are some beaches worth checking out on the east coast;
1. Playa Bonita Fairly remote, but there is bar/restaurant catering to visitors. Nearby visitors will find an ancient ruin dating to Mayan times.
2. Punta Morena- Waves are not as wild as other spots on the east coast, loungers are available as well as refreshments at a local beach club.
3. Playa Chen Rio - The surf here is broken up by a series of large rocks, showers and lockers are available as well as a restaurant.
Some beaches to consider on the western coast:
1. Playa San Juan - A fair amount of coral for snorkelers to explore. Local shops nearby as well as food and drink. Windsurfing equipment is also available for rent.
2. Playa Azul - Waves here are gentle and the play area makes it a perfect place to bring children. The snorkeling is also fantastic and there is plenty of marine life to check out. There is a beach club, and showers, snacks and cold drinks are also nearby.
3. Dzul Ha - Sunset is a great time to visit, bring your camera! There is an offshore reef accessible to divers and snorkelers without the need for a boat or guide. Drinks and food are available at Money Bar.
4. Paradise Beach - Another great spot for families due to the sheltered beach and calm waters. The beach club has a pool and refreshments with a small admission fee charged for access. The club also rents out kayak, snorkeling equipment and paddle boards. The admission charge also covers a chair for the beach.
5. Mr. Sanchos Beach - Cozumel’s largest private beach, has no charge for entry, but you can purchase a day pass to access a number of facilities including large pools with bars.
6. Playa Corona - Chankanaab Reef is located just offshore offering excellent snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. Beach huts are available offering shade, The beach is narrow and tends to get crowded, especially on the weekends.
7. Playa Mia The largest beach in Cozumel offers a wide range activities for visitors to enjoy. Snorkelers head for the underwater, “Mayan City” attraction, and children and families will enjoy the water park and play area.
Some of the best day trips from Cozumel:
Xel- Ha - An aquatic theme park located just north of Tulum, offering snorkeling, river tubing, cave tours, zip lines, rope swings, floating bridge, cenotes, biking, hiking trails and a children’s area.
Xcaret Park- Located near Playa del Carmen, offers swimming, in lagoons, natural pools and cenotes. There is an underwater archeological site, an aquarium, Butterfly Pavillon and a bird-breeding aviary to explore. Check it out here.
Tulum - The site of a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city which served as a major port for Coba. With walls on three sides and the Caribbean Sea on the other is was built as a fortress. Check out this visitor’s guide.
Coba - An ancient Mayan city, its main attraction is the ancient pyramid with 130 steps to climb to the top. Check out this video to learn more about the site.
Chichen Itzá - Once the center of the Mayan empire in Central America from A.D. 750 to 1200. The site has stepped pyramids, temples, and columned arcades. To learn more about the site click here.
Isla Mujeres - A small town offering beautiful white sand beaches, and crystal clear waters. Top attractions include Dolphin Discovery and Garrafon Natural Reef Park. To see what the island has to offer, click here.
We hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to Cozumel and the surrounding area!