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Cozumel, Mexico is a beautiful destination that caters to many different types of travelers during all times of year. Having had the opportunity to visit Cozumel twice in the last few months (both times on a cruise), I’ve been able to scope out some of the best beaches and attractions on the island. Since I was only on the island for one day each time, I wanted to make the most of my time there and fully immerse myself in the local culture as much as possible during my short stays. That’s why I decided to rent a scooter to get around the island and why I would recommend doing the same if you are looking for the quickest and most affordable way to get around Cozumel. You will find many scooter rental companies around the island, but look for one that seems reputable and that does not charge more than $25-$35 USD per day (with the higher end of the price range including insurance). Whether you’re staying in Cozumel for one day or one week, here are our recommendations for the top things to do in Cozumel.
Punta Sur, literally “South Point,” is the southernmost point on Cozumel and the largest ecological reserve on Cozumel as well. You can take a stroll along the beach, tour the Faro Celarain lighthouse, snorkel or scuba dive with turtles, and even go crocodile hunting on a guided boat tour in the lagoon. You can easily spend a full day there but will want to spend at least a half day enjoying all that the park has to offer. The park is open Monday-Sunday from 9AM-4PM and does have a fee of $14 USD for adults and $8 USD for children (ages 3-11), but don’t let the high price point deter you from visiting. Punta Sur is by far my favorite spot on Cozumel and is fun for the whole family.
Everyone should visit the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá at some point in their lives, but in case you don’t have time to make the 4 hour (one way) journey from Cozumel to Chichén Itzá, San Gervasio is a great alternative. Located right in the center of Cozumel and about 11 miles from downtown Cozumel, these ruins give a glimpse into the history of Cozumel and make for an interesting and educational excursion from spending your entire day sunbathing on the many beaches in Cozumel. There is a $9.50 USD entrance fee for adults, and children under the age of 10 can get in for free. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, as there is some shading in the park, but some of the ruins are out in the open and you will get burnt by that strong Mexican sun (as I learned the hard way).
Playa San Martín
The beach at Playa San Martín spans nearly three miles, and the soft white sand and crystal blue water there are irresistible. Since the beach spans such a long distance, it tends to be less crowded than other beaches on Cozumel. Generally speaking, beaches on the east coast of Cozumel, where Playa San Martín is located, are less crowded because they are located farther away from the cruise ship ports on the west side of the island. If you’re looking for a quiet beach oasis away from all the crowds, Playa San Martín is the place for you.
Punta Morena is another beach on the east side of Cozumel that we love. If you are driving over on the main road connecting the east and west side of Cozumel (Transversal de Cozumel), Punta Morena will be the first beach you come across once you arrive on the east coast. It is also less crowded than the beaches on the west side of the island, but not quite as calm as Playa San Martín, since Punta Morena is the first point of access after traversing all the way across the island. There are a couple of great food options here as well, although they had run out of many of the beers they typically carry when we visited. You’ll recognize Punta Morena by the large mural facing the road, and you can even learn to surf there like I did in the photo below.
Compared to the other beaches mentioned above, Playa Azul is a busier beach that is located closer to the cruise ports and gets a significantly higher amount of traffic. If you are coming to Cozumel on a cruise ship and just want a fun and relaxing day at the beach without doing much else, Playa Azul would be the perfect option for you. You can find plenty of good food and drinks there, although be ready to pay premium prices due to its location and popularity. The fresh coconuts we are drinking in the photo below cost $6 USD a piece, with no alcohol added.
Cozumel is not all beaches and sunbathing – although if that’s what you are looking for, you will be able to find plenty of it in Cozumel. It is also full of culture and adventure, and one of my favorite ways to immerse myself into local culture is by trying local food and drinks. If you are looking for good local spots to eat and drink in Cozumel, here are some places I would recommend checking out:
- El Gato Negro Cantina – Good tacos with several tequila options that are quite delicious
- Fish Cantina – Great Mexican and Cantina food options
- El Coffe Cozumel – Serves up a great cup of coffee and a nice hearty breakfast
- La Choza Cozumel – A favorite of locals serving up authentic Mexican food
- La Cozumelena – Another great breakfast contender
- Las Boyas – Great place to grab a nice cool beer
Cozumel is a fun and relaxing destination that we don’t think we could ever grow tired of. Whether you are visiting on a cruise or on your own, you can stay as busy as you’d like or as relaxed as you like and still have an equally good time. If you are visiting for the first time, make sure you save some of the spots above onto your downloadable map and add our top things to do in Cozumel to your trip itinerary.
Looking for more fun things to do in the Caribbean? Then you might want to check out these posts:
- Beginner’s Guide to Island Hopping in the Virgin Islands
- Guide to Taking a Day Trip to Virgin Gorda (BVI) From St. Thomas (USVI)
- Traipsing Through Turks and Caicos Islands
- Relax and Recharge on Florida’s Paradise Coast
- 6 Essential Things to do in Cartagena, Colombia
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