Is Cozumel Safe? Top Cozumel Safety Tips for 2023
Cozumel is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico offering stunning beaches, exceptional coral reefs, and picturesque island landscapes.
But with the increased crime rates throughout Mexico widely broadcast across international news channels, you might be wondering – is Cozumel safe?
That’s where I’m here to help! As a solo female traveler that lives in Playa del Carmen, I’ve visited Cozumel many times and have been able to experience firsthand how safe Cozumel really is for tourists, families, and solo travelers alike.
In this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about safety in Cozumel and my top tips for staying safe in Cozumel, from being aware of your surroundings to knowing where to find help if you need it.
Cozumel Mexico Safety Overview
Located just 30 minutes east of Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is a small island in Mexico known for its spectacular white sand beaches, colorful coral reefs, and phenomenal scuba diving sites.
First, let’s start with some of the basics on crime and safety in Cozumel:
Is Cozumel Safe?
Cozumel is a safe place to visit. The island relies almost 100% on tourism and has a long history of welcoming tourists and cruise ship visitors from all over the world.
Locals and business owners understand the value of tourism dollars, which is why keeping the island safe for visitors has always been a top priority and the crime level has remained low.
In addition, Cozumel’s beautiful all inclusive resorts and cruise ships typically attract families and older individuals so it’s not really known as a party destination, which means safety and security incidents are less common.
Crime Index for Cozumel
Numbeo is an online global database of perceived crime and safety rates in major cities and countries throughout the world.
One statistic that Numbeo uses to measure crime rates is “Crime Index”, which is an estimation of overall level of crime in a given city or a country based on the following scale from 1-100:
- Very Low: <20
- Low: 20-40
- Moderate: 40-60
- High: 60-80
- Very High: >80
The reported Crime Index for Cozumel is currently 34.94, which is considered a low level of crime. For comparison, Mexico City has a Crime Index of 68.49 and Chicago has a Crime Index of 66.08.
Compared to other large cities around the world, the Cozumel Mexico crime rate is low and is generally a safe destination for travelers.
Safety Index for Cozumel
In addition, another metric Numbeo uses is “Safety Index” which is basically the opposite of Crime Index. If a city has a high Safety Index, it is considered very safe.
Currently, Cozumel is reported to have a Safety Index of 65.06, which is considered a high level of safety.
For comparison, Mexico City has a Safety Index of 31.51 and Chicago has a Safety Index of 33.92.
U.S. Travel Advisory for Cozumel
The official U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory for Cozumel, Mexico is currently “Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution” due to the high levels of crime and violence in the state of Quintana Roo (where Cozumel is located).
The Mexico travel advisory mentions that criminal activity and violent crime may occur in popular tourist destinations such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, but does not specifically list Cozumel as an area of risk.
While the remote island of Cozumel is generally considered safer than mainland Mexico, it is still recommended that travelers should maintain a high level of situational awareness at all times when visiting Cozumel and avoid any areas where illicit activities are occurring.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
If you are a United States citizen, I would also recommend registering for the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which allows you to submit your travel plans to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico.
You’ll then receive news and safety alerts by email for Cozumel travel warnings and any other areas you’re traveling to in Mexico. I’m enrolled and have found it to be very helpful and informative.
International Media Perception
The media often portrays Mexico as an unsafe place to visit, with extreme stories of drug violence and kidnappings making headlines. However, the reality is that most of the country is actually very safe for tourists.
While it’s important to be aware of the potential risks in some areas, such as the border regions, overall Mexico is a great place to visit and Cozumel has some of the lowest crime rates in the region.
Yes, there has been an increase in drug cartel-related incidents in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum in recent years but these incidents are rare and 99% of the tourists visiting the region do not have any safety issues.
Safety is never guaranteed but with its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and friendly people, there’s no need to let the media scare you away from enjoying Cozumel or any other parts of this amazing country.
FAQs about Safety in Cozumel
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Cozumel safety:
Is Cozumel safe in 2023?
With its low crime rates and high safety rating, Cozumel is a safe place to visit in 2023. Cozumel has remained open throughout the pandemic and has experienced low levels of Covid-19 transmission.
Cozumel resorts, restaurants, and attractions have taken necessary safety precautions and the island’s open-air environment has helped to keep the levels of infection low.
Is it safe to travel to Cozumel alone?
It is safe to travel to Cozumel alone. Cozumel is a sleepier beach destination because there is not much late-night activity or wild nightlife outside of the downtown tourist area of San Miguel de Cozumel.
There are plenty of snorkeling tours, activities, and attractions to keep solo travelers busy, and the people are friendly and helpful.
Most tourists tend to stay at their resorts at night, so Cozumel is best suited for solo travelers looking for a relaxing and tranquil getaway.
How safe is Cozumel for solo female travelers?
Cozumel is probably one of the safest places in Mexico for solo female travelers. The Cozumel crime rate is very low and the island is safe for tourists.
There is also a strong police presence on the island, so female visitors can feel safe walking around at night or during the day.
In fact, Numbeo rates the safety of walking alone during the day in Cozumel at 87.50 (Very High) and during the night at 66.07 (High).
As in any destination, female travelers should still exhibit caution but should feel perfectly safe when staying at a hotel or resort or when exploring the more populated tourist areas.
Do you need travel insurance for Cozumel?
Travel insurance is absolutely necessary if you’re planning to travel to Cozumel, Mexico. It’s important to make sure that you have the right travel insurance coverage in case of any accidents, illness, or Covid-related disruptions.
There are always certain risks and dangers associated with traveling in a foreign country and most insurance plans in your home country will not cover incidents abroad.
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Is Cozumel safer than Playa del Carmen?
As a solo female traveler who’s lived on my own in Playa del Carmen for over 3 years, I’ve become quite aware of the risks of living in Mexico.
I can honestly say that from my experience, Cozumel is safer than Playa del Carmen and other parts of Riviera Maya like Tulum and Cancun.
I live pretty cautiously in Mexico because I’ve learned what to avoid and how to stay safe in Playa del Carmen. But when visiting Cozumel, I’ve never felt unsafe even at night.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t still be cautious when visiting Cozumel, but I have always felt more safe in Cozumel than in Playa del Carmen, where the risks of drug-related incidents are higher.
Most Common Safety Risks in Cozumel
Cozumel is generally a safe destination for travelers, but there are still some important safety considerations to keep in mind.
These are the most common safety risks in Cozumel to be aware of, as well as steps travelers can take to minimize their risk:
As in most tourist destinations around the world, petty theft does occur in Cozumel and includes pickpocketing, bag snatching, and purse snatchings. Property theft from vehicles and home break-ins have also been reported.
There are a few things that travelers can do to stay safe from petty crime and theft. First, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and not to leave valuables unguarded in public areas or while at the beach or a beach club.
For ladies, I would recommend a crossbody purse or belt bag to keep your bag securely attached to you at all times. You’ll also want to keep your purse on your lap or within close sight while dining at restaurants.
It is also a good idea to keep your belongings in a secure location and only take what you’ll need with you for the day’s activities.
Always use the hotel safe to store your passport, credit cards, valuables, electronics, jewelry, and large amounts of cash. You never know who has access to your hotel room and it’s not uncommon for theft to occur.
Finally, it is important to be cautious when interacting with strangers and to avoid situations that could put you at risk.
Taking a taxi in Cozumel is generally safe – the most common risk is that you’ll be overcharged.
To avoid this, be sure to confirm the price upfront. Taxi drivers are known to overcharge tourists but there are typically set rates to the most popular destinations on Cozumel.
If you feel like you are getting overcharged, ask the taxi driver to see the rate chart to make sure you are getting a fair rate. You’ll also want to have enough cash on hand (pesos or USD) as credit cards are typically not accepted.
In addition, you should always be aware of your surroundings, particularly when leaving the car. Be sure to check you have all of your belongings when exiting.
Scooter and Moped Accidents
Scooter and moped accidents are a growing safety concern in Cozumel. This is partly due to the increasing popularity of scooters as a means of transportation on the island, but irresponsible tourist behavior also plays a role.
From intoxication or irresponsible driving to dangerous road conditions and even poor maintenance by vendors, there are many ways that scooter and moped accidents can occur on the island of Cozumel.
The main concern related to scooter and moped accidents on the island is that tourists often don’t understand the safety risks of using these vehicles.
Many tourists are under the impression that they can just hop onto a scooter or moped and ride it like an automobile, even if they have never ridden a vehicle like this before.
However, these types of vehicles need to be driven in a very different manner than automobiles, as they are much less stable and require special skills for maneuvering and parking safely.
If you plan to rent a scooter during your stay on Cozumel, make sure you take all necessary precautions for your safety before heading out.
Rental Car Accidents
Similar to scooter rentals, rental car accidents are also a common risk factor for tourists in Cozumel, Mexico.
Many visitors rent cars or jeeps to explore the island, and it’s common for the rental vehicles to be older and not in the best working condition.
Driving on the island can also be challenging sometimes due to its narrow roads and occasional hazardous conditions like heavy rain or fallen branches. In addition, some tourists may tend to drive irresponsibly or while intoxicated.
These factors can contribute to the risk of car accidents or breakdowns. If you’re planning to rent a car or jeep in Cozumel, make sure to do a safety check on your vehicle to make sure everything is in good condition.
It’s also a good idea to study a map of Cozumel to familiarize yourself with the main roads and plan out the best ways to navigate to your destination.
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Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Accidents
The risks associated with snorkeling and scuba diving in Cozumel, Mexico are fairly high compared to other destinations around the world.
This is due to the relatively large amount of reefs along the Caribbean Sea shoreline that attract many tourists each year.
While there are a number of preventative measures tourists can take to make their experience safer, it is always important to exercise caution when engaging in these activities.
Some important tips include wearing appropriate safety gear, such as a life jacket or wetsuit, and avoiding diving areas that are known to be dangerous.
It is also crucial to follow the advice of experienced dive instructors and never attempt to go beyond your skill level.
By following these simple guidelines, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience while snorkeling or scuba diving in Cozumel.
Food Sickness and Water Contamination
While less dangerous, food sickness and drinking the tap water are still common safety risks for tourists in Cozumel Mexico.
To have a safer experience, tourists should make sure to only eat food that is cooked properly and to avoid drinking tap water, which is not safe to drink.
Purified and bottled water is widely available and is a safe option for drinking water at your resort or at the restaurants in Cozumel.
It’s also a great idea to bring your own collapsible water bottle to use throughout your trip to reduce environmental impact and single-use plastic.
When it comes to food, stick to cooked meats and vegetables, avoiding anything raw, undercooked, or cross-contaminated. If you are unsure about the safety of something, it is best to err on the side of caution and not eat it.
By following these simple tips, you can help reduce your risk of getting sick while on vacation in Cozumel Mexico. Because let’s face it – no one wants to spend their precious vacation days on the toilet!
Travelista Tip: It’s always a good idea to add some Pepto Bismol to your Mexico packing list!
Top Cozumel Safety Tips
Follow these Cozumel travel safety tips to minimize your risk and make the most of your experience in Cozumel:
1. Confirm the price of the taxi before getting in: Taxi drivers have been known to overcharge tourists so it’s always best to confirm the price upfront. Most destinations in Cozumel have set rates so you can always ask the taxi driver to see the rate sheet to confirm you are getting a fair price.
2. Always be aware of your surroundings: As always, use common sense, be aware of your surroundings, and keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Wear a crossbody purse or belt bag, especially in busy areas like the ferry terminal or San Miguel de Cozumel, the main town area.
3. Don’t be a target: Avoid wearing expensive clothing, flashy jewelry, and accessories which can make you stand out as a target for theft, exploitation, and getting overcharged.
4. Utilize the hotel safe for valuables: Always keep your passport, valuables, money, and at least one credit card locked in the hotel safe. That way if you were to lose your wallet, you’ll still have access to funds for the remainder of your trip.
5. Be careful with your alcohol consumption: Cozumel is a vacation destination and most of the all inclusive resorts in Cozumel offer unlimited alcohol. By all means indulge but watch your consumption to avoid theft and being taken advantage of. It’s also important not to leave your drinks unattended.
6. Don’t carry large amounts of cash: It’s best not to carry large amounts of cash which can make you stand out. Only carry the amount of money you’ll need for the day’s activities in case it were to get stolen.
7. Be responsible with car and scooter rentals: If you plan to rent a car or scooter, don’t be reckless and make sure to take extra precautions and save emergency contact numbers in your phone before heading out. Accidents happen more commonly than you would think.
8. Bring biodegradable sunscreen and a water bottle: With the abundant sunshine and endless outdoor activities in Cozumel, you’re probably going to need sun protection. It’s absolutely essential to wear biodegradable, reef-safe sunscreen when swimming in the ocean to protect the coral reefs. You’ll also want to bring your own water bottle to fill up with purified water and stay hydrated throughout your trip.
9. Learn some basic Spanish: The primary language spoken on Cozumel is Spanish. While most tourist-facing locals will speak English, it’s always best to learn some basic Spanish phrases when traveling to Mexico to better connect with locals, request assistance from non-English speakers, and avoid getting ripped off.
Where to Find Help in Cozumel
In the event of an emergency, here’s where you can find help and assistance in Cozumel:
Police and Emergency Services
There are a number of security measures in place on Cozumel, including 24-hour police presence and regular patrols by the military.
In the event of an emergency, you can call 911 to request police assistance, emergency care, or transport by ambulance.
In the case of a medical emergency, there are many medical facilities and even an international hospital located directly on Cozumel.
Hotel and Resort Medical Services
Most major resorts in Cozumel will have a doctor or medical professional on-call so if you or someone you are traveling with is injured, you can call the Front Desk at your resort to request medical assistance.
A doctor will likely come to your guestroom and complete an examination and provide basic medical services. For more serious injuries, they may refer you to the hospital in Cozumel.
Guest Assist App for Quintana Roo
You can also download the Guest Assist App for Quintana Roo, which is a new app created exclusively for tourists to provide emergency and tourist assistance.
The app can be downloaded to your phone or you can visit the Guest Assist website, which also provides helpful resources like contact information for embassies and consulates.
Pretty much everyone in Mexico uses Whatsapp so I would definitely recommend downloading this free messaging app before your trip.
This is the easiest and most convenient way to get in touch and communicate with locals, tour operators, and car rental contacts for questions or emergencies.
Conclusion: Is Cozumel Safe?
In conclusion, Cozumel Mexico is a safe place to visit. There are no major safety concerns that should deter travelers from enjoying all that the island has to offer.
Of course, as with any travel destination, the most important thing is to use common sense and always be aware of your surroundings.
But overall, Cozumel island is a safe and amazing place to visit if you’re looking for a relaxing or adventurous beach getaway.