How to Spend a Day in Cozumel, Mexico

January 14, 2019 2 Comments
Cozumel
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One of the things I love about Playa del Carmen is that there are so many fun options for day trips.  When some friends were visiting from back home, we decided to show them how to spend the day in Cozumel.  Located just 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen by ferry, Cozumel is a small island known for its beautiful beaches and incredible reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving.   I had been to Cozumel a couple other times on a tour or as a cruise ship destination but never on my own.  I was excited for a fun and leisurely day in the sun!

Once we arrived to the ferry terminal in downtown Playa del Carmen, we were immediately bombarded by sales people offering tickets for the ferries.  It can be a bit overwhelming but there are just two ferry options to choose from – Ultramar and Winjet.  From what I’ve seen, they are basically the same in quality so we just checked the overhead signs for the next departing ferry.  Lucky for us there was an Ultramar ferry leaving in the next 10 minutes!  We proceeded directly to the ticket counter and paid for our roundtrip tickets which cost $390 pesos ($20 USD).  Credit cards accepted – score!

Ultramar Ferry to Cozumel
With a few seconds to spare, we boarded the ferry and I was immediately impressed at how modern it was.  It is a two-level, full-service ferry with indoor air-conditioned seating, food and beverage, a live band, and complete with a Starbucks barista bar. There is even an upstairs VIP lounge for first class passengers. WOW Ultramar, definitely wasn’t expecting all this!   We had a fun ride over enjoying some snacks and a nice view of the Caribbean.  For the most part, it was a pretty smooth ride but you definitely can feel the subtle rocking motion at times.
Playa del Carmen Ferry

Before long we were pulling into Cozumel and down came torrential rain.   BUT we weren’t going to let that ruin our day!  We ran quickly with towel-covered heads through the ferry terminal to the main street and grabbed a van from the line of waiting taxis.   We wanted to spend the day at an easily accessible beach club and decided to try Playa Palancar, which is about a 30 minute drive south from the ferry terminal.  While we were cruising down the coast, the heavy rain subsided and out came the sun.  That’s one good thing about living here – when it rains, it usually doesn’t last for long.

Playa Palancar
Playa Palancar Peacock
Playa Palancar

Once we arrived to Playa Palancar Beach Club, we strolled through the main entrance and were greeted by colorful peacocks in full force.  What a welcome!  We then grabbed a table and starting snapping pics of the pristine white-sand beach.   The water was so clear and the prettiest shade of pale turquoise blue.  The best thing about the beach was there was literally no sargazo (seaweed) in sight.

We all enjoyed a pretty mediocre lunch of your average Mexican dishes including tacos, quesadillas, and guacamole.  The food at Playa Palancar Beach Club is definitely nothing special, but it hit the spot before we made our way down to the beach. There were decent looking beach loungers for rent but we decided to head over to the less crowded left side of the beach club and setup our own beach blankets in the sand.  One nice thing about Playa Palancar is that you can still order food and drinks even if you don’t rent the beach chairs.

Before long we waded into the shallow sea, admiring the crystal clear water and soft white sand beneath our feet.  We spent the entire afternoon basking in the sun and taking fun underwater pictures.   I had just purchased a GoPro camera and this was the perfect opportunity to take it for a spin.  “GoPro take a picture!” was obnoxiously all you could hear from us for hours.

After spending an entire afternoon soaking up the sun in Cozumel, we decided to head back to the downtown area.  Luckily there are taxis that are waiting at the entrance to the beach club for your return trip.  Before heading back to the ferry, we decided to explore the streets and shops of downtown Cozumel.  The area is very cute with several shops, restaurants, and souvenir street vendors all centered around the main square.  We were on the hunt for the perfect icecream shop but unfortunately for us it was a Sunday evening and most of the stores were closed. 

Cozumel

From downtown Cozumel, we hopped across the street and got back on the Ultramar ferry to Playa del Carmen.  It was so beautiful to watch the sun set on Playa del Carmen as we cruised over the Caribbean Sea.   Spending the day in Cozumel is such an easy trip from Playa del Carmen and with all the activities left to try, I can’t wait to head back to the island for another adventure.

VIVA LA TRAVELISTA PRO TIPS

  • If you are a local resident and show a valid residency card, the ticket price for the Ultramar ferry is only $140 pesos.
  • On the Ultramar ferry, there is a posh upstairs lounge that is reserved for first class passengers. However, if it’s not full you can politely ask the attendant and they may let you sit there. There you can enjoy a full menu of snacks and alcoholic beverages.
  • Taxis are much more expensive in Cozumel than in Playa del Carmen. Our ride to Playa Palancar cost about $300 pesos ($15 USD) each way so make sure you have enough cash on hand.

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