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Cozumel, Unlocked!

Cozumel is a Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea.  The island is roughly 10 miles off the Eastern coast of the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula.  It is South of Cancun and near Playa del Carmen on the mainland. Cozumel is one of the best scuba-diving destinations in the world.  It became a major resort area in the early 1970s when tourism became the driving force behind the economy.  It was Cozumel’s tropical climate, white sand beaches, and duty-free shopping, that attracted travelers. Many come via Cruise Ship.  The relaxed atmosphere attracts families and those looking for less action than it’s nearby cousin Cancun. Let’s unlock the access to Cozumel.

About the Island of Cozumel

The island of Cozumel is 32 miles long and 9 miles wide.  Spanish is the official language and the Mexican Peso (MXN) is the official currency. Many places will take US currency.  The island has multiple resorts. Lots of restaurants and plenty of shopping. Because tourism drives the economy many stores and restaurants make their schedules around the ships that come into port.  For instance, restaurants and shopping stay open late when the ship departs late. Consequently, the reverse is true as well. Shops may not open until the ships arrive. You know the old saying “You make hay while the sun is shining”.

Things to do in Cozumel:

Cozumel Beaches

The list of beaches on Cozumel is impressive, even though most Cruisers only get to the beaches Western side of the island.  There are many more beaches than the wildly popular Mr. Sanchos Beach. Travelers can try Passion Island Beach, Playa Uvas, Playa Corona and Paradise Beach.  If you like less crowded beaches then try Palancar Beach or Playa San Martin.
Playa San Martin is on the Eastern side of Cozumel and is less traveled. When you hear people talk about Paradise they are talking about Paradise Beach.  The beach has beautiful soft white sand, plenty of coconut and palm trees, crystal clear water as well as a heated pool.

Mayan Ruins of Cozumel

Cozumel has over 20 known ruins on the island.  That includes El Cedral and the coastal watchtower Castillo Real.  There are ruin sites all over the island and it is easy to find maps of the locations.  The largest ruins on the island are San Gervasio and the shrine of the goddess of fertility (Ix Chel). While I do enjoy history I have to admit is hard for me to give up the beach for the ruins but to each his own.

Diving in Cozumel

I am not a Diver.  However, Cozumel has a large number of coral reefs surrounding the island. The reefs are a part of the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park. Several local companies can assist you if are interested in diving.  Shops and scuba instruction are available on the island. Including underwater scooters for those who are daring

Lighthouse at Punta Sur, Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel Parks

Cozumel has 3 main Parks to choose from. Each offers a little something different. With great water adventures being the common theme. In exploring them you will find options to your liking, The parks are an often overlooked experience in Cozumel.

Punta Sur Eco Park

Punta Sur is a 2,700-acre reserve.  Among the things to do are snorkeling, eco-boat tours plus small boat tours around the Colombia Lagoon on a catamaran or kayak.  The famous Celarain lighthouse is also located inside Punta Sur along with the Mayan ruin El Caracol. If you like birds there are some great spots to bird watch including an observation deck.  Punta Sur Beach has a magnificent beach with lots of space to soak up the sun.  There is a beach club with a restaurant that has outstanding food.  The snack bar is further down the beach. There is another area with loungers and umbrellas along with restrooms, and showers.  If you have a day, Punta Sur is where you want to spend it.  

Chankanaab Park

Cozumel also has Chankanaab Park.  The Park is about 3 miles from most of the piers the Cruise Lines use.  Chankanaab Park has places to swim with manatees, sea lions, or dolphins for a fee.  The Park also offers a place to snorkel, scuba dive, parasail, and kitesurf. The park provides hammocks, beach chairs, huts, restrooms and showers for those who want to relax on the beach.

Playa Mia Grand Beach Park

Cozumel, Mexico’s Playa Mia Grand Beach

Playa Mia Grand Beach is another all day type activity.  They have many things for guests to do.  The beachfront park has a large recreational area that includes beach games, 2 swimming pools, a hot tub and lots of places to sunbathe.  Playa Mia is littered with loungers and umbrellas all complimentary for the guests. There is a large lunch area with a full bar. Plus there are many other activities including Mexican cooking, getting a massage, shopping for souvenirs, scuba diving, snorkeling or just playing on the beach.  Playa Mia also has daily activities such as Spanish classes, sand castle contests and more. Although if you are looking for a place to relax, Playa Mia offers the beautiful tropical beach environment where you can listen to the waves and enjoy the warm water while soaking up the sun.  

Shopping

Cozumel has all types of shopping.  The downtown shopping area usually has the best deals.  You can get everything from souvenirs to luggage. With a multitude of jewelry stores in between.  Cozumel has large Shopping Malls such as Plaza Punta Langosta which is popular due to its close proximity to one of the main piers.  The Royal Village Shopping Center is another Mall smaller but popular because it is across the street from the Carnival Cruise Line Dock.  Royal Village also has Mexican Restaurants for your dining pleasure. Cozumel has other shopping all around the island. If there is something you are looking for you are sure to find it.  If you like large box stores try Mega or Chedraui.  These stores are similar to Walmart but picture Montgomery Ward with Groceries. Mega and Chedraui are the 2 best places to purchase liquor!

Cozumel Restaurants

Cozumel offers restaurants in all price ranges and category of food.  If you want authentic Mexican try La Maison. They make fresh guacamole tableside and they usually have a Mariachi Band.  If you want atmosphere then try Pepe’s Grill in downtown Cozumel overlooking the water from the 2nd floor and a great menu. If you like sunsets and the Caribbean Sunset is one of the best then try the Hemingway Lounge Rest. & Bar.  They have Live Music at Sunset and a front row view! The island has limited traditional American fast food restaurants only Burger King and Carl’s Jr. can be found. No matter what type of food you are looking for, you can find it by just asking around.

We have visited the Island of Cozumel 12-15 times by Cruise Ship. We didn’t really get to see what all Cozumel had to offer until we stayed a week on the island. If you are going to Cozumel we hope this helps you pick your next excursion. Rent a Jeep or car and see the things most people don’t see. Enjoy the less crowded pretty beaches that Cozumel has to offer. Take in any of the fabulous restaurants in Cozumel. Take the time to go shopping if that is your thing. Cozumel had plenty to do. Unlock your access to Cozumel.

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 28 different Countries mainly concentrated in the Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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