Destination Guide: Cozumel, Mexico – Home of Heavenly Beaches and Surreal Scuba Diving

Cozumel, Mexico

There’s no doubt you’ve heard of Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, Cozumel.  However, this isn’t just another Mexican beach town.  From extreme divers and nature lovers to beach bums and history buffs, this Mexican Caribbean Island has something for everyone!

Over the years, we’ve heard a lot about the island of Cozumel.  However, no matter how many people we talked to or photos we saw, nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to experience on our first visit to Cozumel.  After our stay on Isla Mujeres, it was hard to imagine anything coming close to the beautiful beaches of Playa Norte, but the beaches of Cozumel are in a class of their own.

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This Caribbean island is located just south of Cancun and only a short ferry (Ultramar) ride from the adjacent Mexican mainland of Playa del Carmen and along the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Many visitor’s to the Yucatán often stay in the resort area commonly referred to as “Riviera Maya” which is located between the towns of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

The name Cozumel comes from the Mayan “Ah Cuzamil Peten,” which we’re told translates to “Island of Swallows.”  Fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving have traditionally been Cozumel’s main draw (and these are probably the Cozumel activities you’ve heard most about). The people of Cozumel “Cozumeleños” are authentic and genuine.  They have a great mix of Mexican heart and that Caribbean energy that we’ve come to love.

Whatever means of transportation you use to travel to Cozumel, once you’ve arrived – venture outside of the main tourist areas and step into the Island’s interior jungle pathways. Here you will find Mayan Ruins, and many cenotes surrounded by the natural beauty of a largely untouched landscape.  To its benefit, a large part of the Island is void of development, and in result, the island is sprinkled with exotic plant life.

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From beginner to advanced, the Island’s surrounding crystal clear waters and large reef systems celebrated by Jacques Cousteau are what make Cozumel the perfect destination for divers of all levels.  Cozumel is home to the Caribbean Basin of the largest coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mesoamerican reef which encompasses Mexico, Belize, Guatamala, and Hondorus.

San Miguel de Cozumel

Our Ultramar ferry arrived in port on the Island’s western shore in the town of San Miguel de Cozumel, the Island’s main entry point for travelers.  This is the heart of Cozumel as it is where most Cozumeleños reside. The streets and alleys of San Miguel are lined with restaurants, colorful cafes, souvenir shops, and bars with outdoor entertainment.

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The Centro area of San Miguel is home to popular chain restaurants like Hooters and Margaritaville

San Miguel’s International Pier is also a haven for cruise ships.  From Carnival to Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, and even Holland America, many cruise lines regularly drop anchor at Cozumel’s two massive international cruise ports.  At times, we’ve counted six ships in port on the same morning, and it’s clear why Cozumel is one of the most popular cruise ports in Mexico.  For this reason, the Island, it’s resorts, attractions, and especially the town of San Miguel can become quite congested on days when large ships are in port.  For this reason, we use –> Cozumel Cruise Ships) <– to plan our visits to the island around these mega ships.  This plan of attack guarantees us blissful seclusion and leaves Cozumel’s beaches practically deserted – all for us!

Malecón – Boardwalk

Upon arriving to the Island of Cozumel, we prefer to escape the popular tourist areas of downtown San Miguel.  We enjoy taking in the unobstructed views of the Yucatan with a seaside walk along the coastal road of Avenida Rafael E. Melgar.  We often find ourselves making the trip to the Royal Village Shopping Center.  This outdoor mall is located adjacent to the island’s two international cruise ports and mixes shopping with natural beauty thanks to its gardens and two cenotes.

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The Boardwalk from San Miguel de Cozumel to Punta Langusto along Av. Rafael E. Melgar is a relaxing and scenic way to see some of Cozumel

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A statue of General Rafael E. Melgar located along the Boardwalk

Best Beach Club

In addition to the above, the Island of Cozumel is known for its beach clubs.  This should come as know surprise after hearing that Cozumel is home to some of the most heavenly beaches in the world.

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The translucent waters of Cozumel’s beaches

Beach clubs are one of the most visited attractions on the Island for both locals and tourists, so if you plan to go, be sure to do your research on the cost of admission per person and what exactly is included in that admission.  These are the perfect destinations for guests visiting the Island of Cozumel for the day by cruise ship.  Also, if you find yourself looking the perfect Spring Break destination, Cozumel has plenty of beach clubs for you to bar hop all week long!

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The warm waters of Cozumel, Mexico are only a short ferry or Ultramar ride away from both Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya

Of course visitors to the Island can still enjoy all that Cozumel has to offer without ever visiting one of the Island’s many beach clubs, but if you’re beach bums like us – then our pick for Best Beach Club is the family-owned and operated Mr. Sanchos Beach Club (Club de playa Mr. Sancho’s) and it should not be missed.

When to Visit

We were told September through October were some of the wettest months on the Island of Cozumel.  During our most recent visit, we traveled to Cozumel during the second week of September, and we did not find this to be true during our visits to the Island.  Although it was raining on the shores of Playa del Carmen, once our ferry arrived to the Island of Cozumel the sun was shining and we were able to enjoy full days on the beach while our friends back in PDC weren’t so lucky.  If you’re visiting Cozumel for the day, let this be a lesson to you.  The weather in PDC may not be so great, but perhaps the sun is shining on Cozumel as it was for us.

Travel Tip: Cozumel’s Carnaval celebration takes place in February, and this event draws a large audience with live music and entertainment.

Obviously, we were very lucky during our time in Cozumel, and of course there are no guarantees when it comes to weather.  However, if you’re looking to visit Cozumel during the season with the least amount of rain, your best bet is to visit during the months of February, March, or April.

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There’s nothing we love more than walking the shores along the beaches of Cozumel

Have you had the chance to or are you planning to visit the Island of Cozumel? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts, tips and tricks in the comments below!

The comments, opinions, and views set forth on this site are the reflected personal positions of the site’s creators.  This site is not an affiliate of Cozumel.  The comments, opinions, and views set forth within this site are not the official positions of Cozumel, and they do not reflect the Island’s position.

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