Cozumel

Cozumel is a Caribbean island just off the Yucatán Peninsula in southeastern Mexico. It has great diving, nice people, safe streets, and prices comparable to other Mexican tourist destinations. The diving is the main draw to Cozumel; if you prefer white sandy beaches then other nearby destinations would be a better bet (e.g., Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Isla Mujeres, etc.) It was badly battered in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma, but, with few exceptions, has been completely repaired.

Get in

By plane

Cozumel has an international airport (Airport Code: CZM) which receives direct flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Halifax, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, and Toronto as well regional flights from Mexico City.

Alternatively, you can fly into Cancún (Airport Code: CUN) which generally has more flights, then take a bus or van south to Playa del Carmen and take the ferry across to Cozumel. A shared van from Cancun airport to Playa Del Carmen will cost around 300 pesos per person one-way, where a bus will be around 130 pesos (or $12 USD if you do not have pesos handy) per person one-way.

Also you can take a small plane to Cozumel from Cancun airport's domestic terminal. It takes just 15 minutes and the trip is an amazing experience for about $75 USD per person one way.

By boat

Ferries

Cruise ships often visit the island. A few can dock virtually downtown. A larger pair of piers lies about two miles south of downtown San Miguel, and primarily serves Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships. If many ships arrive the same day (occasionally in "high season"), some may moor offshore and tender passengers to docks virtually downtown.

Get around

Walk, rent a car, or take a taxi; there is no public transit out of town. The docks are saturated by pushy agencies trying to lure you into car rentals and activities. The younger travelers or anyone who has free time may want to take them up on their offer. Always check first so you are not getting scammed but it is usually just a timeshare offer. You pay about $20 for a jeep rental or a moped for the entire day and you get free breakfast at a five star resort. A regular day car rental is around $55, but speaking Spanish will get you a discount 95% of the places if you ask. For example, the posted price for a VW Pointer at Less-Pay (next to Hotel Barracuda) was $40, without insurance and taxes. As an American who speaks Spanish, you can get that same car for 350 pesos, with insurance and taxes. Even if prices are posted, they can be bargained. Scooters half that (~25 dollars). Alternatively, taxis are always available and will take you to the west-shore beaches for $20 onwards, depending on distance and number of people. Taxis cost between $2 and $3 (30 to 60 pesos) for intra-town destinations. Like the rest of Cozumel, they accept US Dollars at the current exchange rate.

Car Rentals

It should be mentioned that the majority of traffic accidents that befall tourists involve scooters (known locally as "motos"). These accidents seem to be due to a few factors:

Scooters can be a great way to explore the island, but should only be driven by experienced riders. If you are not experienced, please do not rent them.

See

Most visitors travel to Cozumel to dive and see its wonderful underwater life. While there are quite a few beach clubs that offer snorkeling, the main attractions are the reefs offshore and the multiple dive shops and operations are always ready to take you there.

The main town, San Miguel, and dive operations are on the west side of the island, but if you rent a car or scooter then the east side of the island is the place to go. The east side of the island is mostly undeveloped, but there are beautiful beaches, big waves, and rocky outcrops over the ocean. If the waves are sufficient you can find a few small blow holes. (Be aware that the waves and attendant undertows can make swimming on the east side very dangerous, however.) You will also find a restaurant on the beach every few kilometers.

Cozumel also offers several Mayan archaeological sites. The most extensive vestiges are those at "San Gervasio" (admission fee is 77 pesos), an inland site a few miles north of the "Carretera Transversal" highway. Another site is located near the village of El Cedral, inland from the "Carretera Costera Sur" highway. In Punta Sur Park, at the southern tip of the island, there is the "El Caracol" temple, believed to have been used as a lighthouse by the Mayans.

Do

Scuba Diving

Cozumel is one of the premier scuba diving destinations in the western hemisphere. The island abounds with dive shops, most willing to give you a scuba class (resort course) and take you out if you are not yet certified. A boat dive for certified divers (two tanks) will cost around $70, plus any equipment rental and Marine Park Fee. Most dive sites are located well south of the city proper, as are a number of dive shops if you want a short boat ride. Most diving in Cozumel is drift diving, where you are dropped off by the boat at the beginning of the dive, are carried along the reef by the current, and picked up at the end of your dive by the boat. There is some shore diving, but it is limited compared with what you can enjoy further out and places like Palancar Reef and the walls. Along with other marine life Divers are able to see Seahorses and Eagle Rays and Turtles especially during Turtle Nesting season sees large numbers of Turtles on Cozumel's beaches during nesting seasons.

Other Activities

If diving or tours are not what you're looking for, there are still plenty of other things to do:

Buy

Silver is cheaper here than in the U.S. but be sure to look for the .925 stamp as some places do sell fake silver jewelry.

Tip: To avoid being caught out, carry a small magnet when you shop. If the silver sticks to the magnet then it is NOT sterling silver.

Eat

Local restaurants, most fairly good and fairly similar to each other, are plentiful in and around the city's "downtown" main square.

Drink

Downtown, bottled liquor prices seldom vary, though you'll find some dropoff the farther you get from the center of the city. Don Julio Tequila runs $45–50 at the tourist shops, but if you have time find a local grocery and get it at half price. Kahlua runs $10.

Bars seldom monitor customers for age or drunkenness, so take care driving or walking as the evening wears on.

Sleep

Cope

Consulates

Go next


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 15, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.