Are you looking for a tropical destination that has mangrove forests full of birds and mammals, deep water-filled sinkholes just waiting to be explored, and a sunny climate that never dips below 18°C/64°F year-round? If so, then you want to visit Cozumel Mexico!
Cozumel is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island. Located across the water from Cancun, it serves as the largest cruise port in the Yucatan. The variety of things to do in Cozumel runs the gamut, from stunning beaches to historic adventure tours, and an abundance of both family-friendly and adult activities. So if you’re looking at Cozumel cruise excursions, you have lots to choose from!
Why visit Cozumel?
Cozumel offers dozens of fantastic things to do. You’ll be able to walk or take a horseback ride to discover beautiful parks and sandy beaches on the island. Or you could take the ferry to the mainland from San Miguel, hire a car or scooter in Playa del Carmen, and visit Riviera Maya for the day.
Many people extend their stay, though. You can fly to Cancun for a few days, then transfer to Playa del Carmen. Spend a few days in Riviera Maya enjoying the beaches and exploring the Mayan ruins in Tulum and Coba, then head to Cozumel for your island time. (You can prearrange transportation from Cancun airport or head to your Cancun hotel using Cancun airport transportation.)
This Cozumel travel guide will give you the essentials for planning your trip. Just remember to bring your camera. You’ll come home with some spectacular photos!
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Here are some things to do in Cozumel for a day (or more!)
Cozumel is a popular cruise port and vacation spot, and a lot of visitors spend their time on silvery white sandy beaches, enjoying swaying palm trees and an azure blue ocean.
Others spend their days at all inclusive resorts and easily fill two weeks with activities. However long you’re spending here, you can find plenty of things to see and do, for all ages and interests. (Hint: Scuba diving in Cozumel is especially popular!)
ⓘ TIP: If you only have one day in Cozumel, you can do many of these activities on your own but you’ll make better use of your time with a tour. Self-booked tours are less crowded and often cheaper than cruise ship shore excursions. (We use Get Your Guide.)
1. Visit Punta Sur Eco Beach Park
Want to see crocodiles and exotic birds, explore the El Caracol Mayan ruins or simply relax in a hammock on a stunning white sand beach? If you’re a nature lover, then 2500-acre Punta Sur is a must. Also known as Faro Celerain Ecological Reserve, you can enjoy crystal clear water and a reef that is perfect for drift snorkeling. Or perhaps you’d like to visit the Faro Celerain Lighthouse, which contains a small maritime museum – you can climb to the top to admire the view!
Punta Sur Ecological Park is one of four parks on Cozumel. The others are Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park, San Gervasio Mayan Archaeological Site, and Museo de la Isla).
ⓘ TIP: This private jeep tour takes you to two of the most famous eco parks on all of the island, Punta Sur & Chankanaab. It includes tequila, snorkeling, lunch, and much more.
2. Spend a day at the beach
Most beaches offer sand and surf, and some even offer a beach bar, which is basically food and drinks with a view. Cozumel beach clubs kick the beach experience up a notch with a ton of additional amenities.
Although features vary by club, a day pass will give you access to such things as free WiFi, food, and drinks, aquatic sports and tours. Imagine snorkeling to your heart’s delight, or having an expert guide teach you how to paddleboard and then take you on an underwater adventure before you relax with a book at the pool or chill out at the beach bar.
For adventure lovers traveling with beach bums, there’s even a beach club at Chankanaab National Park.
For something a little more refined, another option is to take a tour on a catamaran boat. Click here to learn about one that includes a coral reef snorkeling tour in Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park plus food and drinks at Playa Mia Grand Beach Park.
ⓘ TIP: Buy a day pass to Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club or Playa Mia Grand Beach Park. For one low price (about $30), you can relax on the beach and swim in the sea for the entire day, eat and drink, enjoy water slides and a floating park, and more.
3. Zipline through the jungle
Many theme parks have zip lines where you can get an adrenalin rush as you fly through the air. Shelved platforms and thousands of feet of lines make this experience a blast.
The one at Chankanaab offers a variety of lines and you can challenge yourself to fly over the jungle and the lagoon on a zip line and walk on the suspended crocodile bridges.
4. Explore ancient Mayan ruins
Three of the best Mayan ruins in the Yucatan are:
- Chichen-Itza – a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the center of the Yucatán
- Tulum – perched on cliffs overlooking the Caribbean (See our photos here.)
- Coba – one of the few Mayan sites that allow visitors to climb the ruins (See our photos here.)
We cannot recommend this highly enough. You can either visit on your own or arrange a guided tour through the historic remains and learn all about the ancient Mayan culture.
Professional day trips are better, though. Guides know all about the authentic Mayan world and will give you or a small group a personal experience. Here are some examples:
5. Join the turtle conservation program
Cozumel is blessed to be the nesting site for thousands of sea turtles each year, and even Cozumel’s Municipal Department of Ecology has a Turtle Program.
Depending on the time of year, you’ll be able to watch turtles making nests and laying eggs or guide the baby sea turtles to the sea after hatching.
ⓘ TIP: Some private Jeep tours offer customizable itineraries. You can add additional activities, such as the San Gervacio archaeological site, a tequila tasting or the above, a chance to release a turtle into the wild.
6. Take part in the Amazing Cozumel Race
The Amazing Cozumel Race is a unique, self-guided tour of San Miguel – part obstacle course and part scavenger hunt. The aim is to be the winner as you follow clues to solve mysteries as you run through San Miguel streets onto the beach.
Each new clue will lead you to a new location. You’ll need your wits, energy, and spirit of fun as you race against the clock and other competitors. The fun doesn’t stop when the clues run out, either. The race ends at a local cantina – complete with prizes – and everyone is treated to snacks and beverages.
If you don’t want to race, you can just walk – and shamelessly ask the locals for help!
7. Go scuba diving
In Cozumel scuba diving is really popular. That’s due to the Yucatan Peninsula’s crystal clear waters and unrivaled coral reefs, all teeming with diverse marine life.
Five favored Cozumel dive sites are:
- Santa Rosa Wall – providing divers with caves and tunnels to swim through with an array of marine life on the descent deep into the Caribbean sea
- Columbia Wall – this is over 30 meters tall with coral pillars as high as 20 meters. Sea turtles, barracudas, and eagle rays can be spotted on the dive
- Palancar Reef – this reef located in a calm sea is ideal for beginners and offers views of multi-colored corals and sponges
- Barracuda Reef – only for experienced divers as the currents can be dangerous, but the marine life sightings of sharks, rays, and barracudas make this a truly memorable experience
- Punta Tunich – is renowned for its white sandy dunes with ridges of coral rising up to 18 meters, where grunt and snapper fish reside.
Prices start from about £120 for a single dive. This normally includes transportation to and from the dive site plus the equipment rental – your wetsuit, boots and flashlights (torches). Cenote entrance fees and certified guides are also often included. Here is a good dive company to go with.
On the other hand, if the open water doesn’t appeal, maybe another unique activity would be more to your liking: scuba diving in a cenote. These are water-filled caves, and you have a whole range of diving locations to choose from.
8. Become a certified scuba diver
A scuba diving certificate confirms that you know all about the risks involved in diving – and know how to stay safe underwater. Open water classes will teach you the basic skills at beginner level, then you can progress onto more advanced courses. Here is one you may like.
Once you’ve got all the required skills, you’ll be able to take part in tours exploring mysterious underwater caverns. Why not go on a crocodile night dive, or a whale shark tour? Bull shark diving and lionfish hunts are another two adventures you could go on. SCUBA will give you some of the best experiences in a lifetime.
9. Take a food tour
One of the great joys of travel is discovering local foods, and a food tour is the perfect way to do it. On a food tour, your guide will bring you to small, out of the way eateries far from tourist mainstays, where you’ll taste the authentic dishes of the Yucatan.
This is a great experience for adventurous food lovers.
You’ll have an opportunity to taste a wide variety of dishes, ranging from traditional street fare to regional Yucatan cuisine. And your guide will ensure that you won’t need to worry about Montezuma’s revenge or fret about dietary restrictions because you can only eat vegetarian food.
10. Get out on the water
Hopping aboard a boat is one of the best ways to enjoy Cozumel. You have your choice of cruise styles, too, from yachts to catamarans and more. There are Pirate cruises, dinner cruises, and other cruises where you just relax on board enjoying drinks and snacks. Others take you to snorkel on the reef so you can check out all the abundant sea life.
When it comes to romantic experiences, few things can compete. Picture yourself on the water with your loved one, enjoying a Margarita while watching the fiery sun touch the horizon as the stars come out.
Things to know before visiting Cozumel
Here are some useful links to help you plan your own trip.
|RIVIERA MAYA TRAVEL PLANNING ESSENTIALS|
|✔ Tourism authority: Mexico’s tourism website has many useful trip planning resources. Other sites: Go-Mexico and This is Cozumel.|
✔ Travel guide: This book is a top seller on Amazon.
✔ Flights: Cancun’s airport code is CUN. Check availability
✔ Accommodation: Browse hotels on Agoda ● Vrbo ● TripAdvisor
✔ Airport transfer: Taxis and Uber are available. Or book an airport shuttle. They will greet you in the airport, help with your luggage, and escort you to your hotel.
✔ Travel visas: Check visa requirements
✔ Travel insurance: You’d be surprised at how cheap it is and how much it covers. Trust us, when an airline misplaces your suitcase for a week, you’ll be glad you have it. Check prices here.
✔ Getting around: Renting a car is the most convenient. You can also take a taxi.
✔ Tickets & tours: Find dozens of fun ideas on GetYourGuide and Viator
✔ Organized trips: G Adventures has insanely affordable small-group tours + guaranteed departures.
✔ International SIM card: Drimsim allows for roaming-free travel in 229 countries
✔ Currency: This website will help you calculate currency exchange values.
What are the best places to stay in Cozumel?
To save you time, here is some of the best Cozumel accommodation. Read their reviews on booking.com.
- High end. All-inclusive hotels will suit you if you’ve got the means as luxury resorts have views of the ocean from private terraces. Grand Park Royal Cozumel, Allegro Cozumel All-Inclusive, and The Landmark Resort Cozumel are excellent choices.
- Mid-range. If you’re on a middle of the road budget, you can opt for accommodation close to amenities in the down-town hotels. Suites Colonial and Casa Mexicana offer great rates and breakfast buffets!
- Budget. The island also boasts a boutique hostel catering to travelers on a low budget. Recommendations for the Villablanca Garden Beach Hotel and the Hotel Mary Carmen are also very favorable.
When is the best time to visit Cozumel?
December through March is Cozumel’s busiest period. Expect crowds and premium hotel prices, especially during Christmas and spring break.
The best time to visit Cozumel is between March and June, before the hurricane season and heat set in. You’ll likely score a great hotel deal in San Miguel.
Between May and October, this area often experiences a seaweed problem. Swimming in the aquatic plants does not create a health hazard, but it can be annoying. If it’s especially bad, you may wish to stay out of the water and plan more land-based activities.
Technically, hurricane season in the Atlantic runs between June 1st and November 30th, but most hurricanes occur August through October.
January is the coldest month and June is the hottest. The rainiest months are from June to November (hurricane season).
ⓘ TIP: It bears repeating: Hurricanes can ruin a trip. The best precaution you can take is to purchase travel insurance.
Are there any annual festivals in Cozumel?
Depending on whether you enjoy festivals or prefer a less crowded holiday, plan your vacation around these events:
- February/March – Carnaval (February-March)
- April/May – El Cedral Festival
- May – Boat Rodeo and Fishing Tournament
- June – Festival of San Pedro and San Pablo
- September – Cozumel Independence Day
- November – Ironman Cozumel
- December – Fiesta of the Virgin of Guadalupe
What to wear in Cozumel
Even in mid-winter, it’s generally hot in Cozumel, so dress light. Cool, casual resort wear is acceptable everywhere.
Remember to pack a sweater or lightweight windbreaker for cool evening breezes and frigid air-con.
ⓘ TIP: Walking around in your swimwear is frowned upon. If you’re planning to both sightsee and spend time at the beach, we recommend wearing your swimsuit beneath your clothes.
Tipping guidelines in Mexico
It is customary to tip between 10% – 20% in Mexico.
- Tour guides: Good tour guides – 10% to 20%.
- Bars. Bartenders / waiters – $1 per drink or 10% to 15% of the total bar tab.
- Restaurants. Wait staff – 10% of the total bill, more if you have received good service. BUT some restaurants add a 10% service charge, so check your bill before automatically leaving your tip.
- Luggage. Hotel porters / taxi drivers – 10 pesos per bag.
Book a guided tour in Cancun
Would you like to have a knowledgeable local show you the sights and manage all the arrangements? Get Your Guide offers a wide variety of excellent skip-the-line tickets and guided tours in Cozumel.
For multi day tours, G Adventures offers insanely affordable small group tours on all 7 continents. 100% guaranteed departures, even if you’re the only traveler. Expect local accommodation, cuisine, and transport to connect you with the planet’s people, cultures, and wildlife. Click here to look at their itineraries.
Other relevant articles include:
- 10 Fun and Easy Things to Do in Guadalajara Mexico
- A Traveler’s Guide to Vegetarian Mexican Food
- Celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico City
If you’re traveling to Cozumel, you may be interested in: