Cozumel is the largest inhabited island in Mexico and sits a few miles off from the Yucatan Peninsula coast in the Caribbean. Most of the local residents reside in San Miguel, which is the main town while large portions of the rest of the island mainly consists of very thick jungles. Even though tourism and development has rapidly increased on Cozumel during the last couple of years, the island still has a lot of jungles and beaches that have been untouched. So what is it about Cozumel that attracts about two million tourists to its shores each year? Apart from having white sandy beaches, crystal clear Caribbean waters and Mayan ruins in it’s jungles, it’s also where you will find the second largest coral reef system in the world. So, if you are planning on visiting here expect to do quite a bit of scuba diving or snorkeling.
Cozumel has so many things to keep its guests busy with and even a 2 week vacation here might not be enough to experience everything that this Mexican paradise has to offer. Here I have listed some of the most popular activities available on the island but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Cozumel is known for having the most exquisite beaches in all of Mexico and you will have no shortage of soft white sandy beaches to choose from once here. If you get tired of working on your tan, you can spend time in one of the many beach bars that you will easily find on most of the beaches. The Northern, Southern and Western side of the island are the most developed sections, mainly because of the white sandy shorelines and this is where most of the beach lovers spend their time. The Eastern shoreline is what is known as the Iron Shore. It’s named that because it’s very rocky in most parts and is not recommended for those who want to suntan. It’s more popular with scuba divers and snorkelers as this is where the barrier reef runs past the island.
Find some of the best Cozumel beaches here.
There are a number of attractions that makes Cozumel unique to other tropical island destinations around the world, with one of them being the Chankanaab National Park. It is the only inland coral reef system in the world and even has a natural aquarium. Tourists can visit the Dolphin Discovery Center to experience activities such as swimming with dolphins or dive and snorkel with a variety of other beautiful oceanic wildlife. The National Park is open 7 days a week and is situated 15 minutes from San Miguel.
The coral reef that runs past Cozumel has been attracting large amounts of scuba divers and snorkelers from around the world for more than 60 years now. Tourists will have the choice of exploring the coral reefs by themselves by entering the water from the shore or by taking a boat tour out deeper into the ocean. Either way, scuba divers and snorkelers will have a great time exploring the breathtaking and colorful reef and fish species. You can also expect to see manta rays, barracudas and sea turtles. Those who do not have any experience in snorkeling and scuba diving but would like to try it can make use of one of the many tour operators found on the island who will teach you and take you on guided diving and snorkeling expeditions.
Cozumel Island has a history with the Mayans that stretches back for thousands of years and even today you will find their ruins scattered throughout the jungles of this beautiful island. The most popular site is the San Gervasio ruins which was built for Ixchel, a Mayan goddess. The site is open 7 days a week and guided tours are available for tourists. It is advised that tourists do not enter the jungles without a tour operator as it is very easy to get lost. Find out more about these Mayan ruins.
Stingray Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations on Cozumel and as you can tell by its name, it’s famous for its stingrays. Tourists can go on tours where they will learn learn how to snorkel with these fascinating creatures and even get taught how to feed them. It’s generally safe to swim with these creatures but for extra safety their barbs have been clipped.
Swimming with dolphins in Cozumel is an incredible experience. There are a number of good tour operators across the island who specialize in this activity but one of the best places to do this is with Dolphin Discovery at the Chankanaab National Park.
The Cozumel Pearl Farm is the only pearl farm in the entire Caribbean region. The tours of the family-run business will show you the long, difficult and complex process behind harvesting the beautiful Atlantic Pearl Oyster. After touring the facilities you will be taken by boat on a snorkeling trip to see for yourself how pearl hatchery takes place. Visit their website here for more information about this incredible tour.
Thinking of playing some golf on your trip to Cozumel? Well, you’re in luck. The island has one 18-hole golf course at the Cozumel Country Club which sits on the northwest corner of the island. Learn more here.
No place is entirely safe but you’ll be glad to know that Cozumel is one of the safest places in Mexico. Cartel activity has affected other Mexican tourist places such as Cancun but it rarely affects tourists and as of to date there are no cartel activities on Cozumel. As a matter of fact, violent crime is extremely rare here which makes this a perfectly safe destination for couples and families.
Most people would recommend visiting Cozumel island during the months of May to July as this is when the weather and temperatures are at their most pleasant. This is also the busiest period but the winters aren’t really cold at all either so those who prefer a little bit of peace and quiet should visit during the winter months.
Cozumel Beaches: What would an island be without beaches? Luckily, this island is blessed with the best beaches in Mexico and you can see an informative map of all the beach destinations on this breathtaking Mexican island.
Diving Spots: Interested in coming here for the many incredible diving spots? If so, then check out our list of recommended dive spots.
Dive Shops: If you’re on the island and in need of buying or renting diving gear then check this page out.
Mayan Ruins: The jungles of the island is home to a spectacular set of ancient Mayan ruins. Learn more about it here.