Are you planning a trip to Mexico and wondering if Cozumel is worth visiting? You’re in the right place!
Before you book your trip or plan your route around Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, you might want to know more about Cozumel to decide if it’s worth including in your itinerary.
As a travel blogger who lives in Playa del Carmen and has visited Cozumel several times, I’m here to share everything you need to know about visiting this stunning Caribbean island.
Throughout this article, I’ll discuss why Cozumel is worth visiting so you can decide whether or not to include it on your vacation itinerary.
Plus, I’ll share the top reasons to visit Cozumel, how to get to Cozumel, tips for visiting Cozumel, and some other essential information before your upcoming trip.
Ready to find out if visiting Cozumel is right for you? Let’s get started!
Is Cozumel Worth Visiting?
Yes, Cozumel is definitely worth visiting, especially for beach lovers, and snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts.
Thanks to its location on the Mesoamerican Reef System (the second longest barrier reef in the world), Cozumel is best known for its world-class scuba diving and snorkeling sites.
Palancar is one of the most famous spots, not far from Playa Palancar Beach, with extensive “Disneyland-esque” reefs. However, there are around 30 other dive sites available to the public.
But there’s much more beyond diving and the aquatic allure of this island. Cozumel also offers a rich cultural tapestry that embraces its Mayan heritage and Mexican culture and traditions.
Visitors can embrace the lively ambiance of San Miguel de Cozumel, the island’s main town, or stroll through the newly renovated Cozumel Museum.
Furthermore, Cozumel has endless activities for adventure seekers. From riding an ATV through the jungle to taking a lagoon tour in crocodile-infested waters to jetskiing up and down the coast, there are tons of activities to get the heart pumping.
So, whether you’re hopping off one of the cruise ships for the day or planning a multi-day trip to Cozumel, you can easily find the best activities to fit your wants and needs.
Is Cozumel Safe to Visit?
Is Cozumel safe for tourists? Yes, Cozumel is a very safe place to visit. Cozumel is a small island off the coast of Playa del Carmen with little-to-no cartel activity and a high police presence.
In fact, based on my experience living in Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is significantly safer than other popular destinations in the Riviera Maya, such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.
Cozumel relies almost entirely on tourism, either divers and ocean lovers or cruise ship guests. Most local people here embrace tourists and all that comes with them.
Of course, you should still practice Cozumel Mexico safety tips, such as:
- Avoid wearing high-end clothes and expensive accessories
- Don’t flash your cell phone and wallet while walking down streets
- Don’t leave your belongings unattended at the beach or anywhere else
- Make a note of your taxi number and license plate
- Don’t walk around alone at night
What is Cozumel Like?
Cozumel is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island and Mexico’s third-largest island overall.
That being said, it only takes about an hour to drive around the perimeter of the entire island (without any stops). So, it’s a large Caribbean paradise that is relatively small.
Cozumel has a laid-back, surfer vibe. Near the cruise ship ports are lively restaurants, shops, and local markets.
But the further you get away from San Miguel de Cozumel and the center of the island, the more relaxed and laid-back everything feels.
The island’s best beaches can be found on the southwestern part of the island, including Playa Palancar, known for its white sandy beaches.
Alternatively, the island’s eastern side is largely undeveloped and has a rocky coastline that is not suitable for swimming.
And one of the best things about Cozumel is the scenic oceanfront drives, where you can rent a jeep or a scooter to enjoy some incredible views.
Reasons to Visit Cozumel
Here are just 10 reasons why Cozumel is worth visiting:
- Stunning Coral Reefs: Cozumel is one of the best scuba diving spots in the world, known for its drift diving, lively marine life like sea turtles, and crystal clear waters. It’s also a spectacular spot for snorkelers or swimmers.
- Rich Mayan History: Cozumel Island has a unique history tied to ancient Mayan influence. While it doesn’t have the largest and most famous Mayan ruins, the island’s two ancient ruins sites are worth visiting. San Gervasio and El Cedral offer a unique glimpse into what island Mayan life was possibly like.
- Thrilling Adventure Activities: Cozumel has many exciting adventure activities, like riding a submarine dozens of feet below the surface, riding an ATV through the jungle, taking a lagoon tour to visit crocodiles, and so much more.
- Support Eco-Tourism: While it hasn’t always been the case, multiple conservation efforts currently support Cozumel and its unique ecosystem. For example, Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel shuts down certain reefs every month to help restore and avoid the collapse of these reefs.
- Luxury Resorts: If you’re one of those people who like luxury travel, Cozumel is perfect for you. There is no shortage of all-inclusive hotels with private white-sand beaches, high-end beach parks, and other comfortable activities.
- Stunning Sunsets: One of my favorite things about Cozumel is the sunsets. Cozumel is always a welcome change after being in eastern-facing Playa del Carmen, where you can’t physically see the sunset.
- Cozumel Carnival: If you happen to be in Cozumel in February, you can’t miss the Cozumel Carnival. The small Caribbean island is well-known around the country for having a lively Carnival celebration.
- Drive Around the Island: You can drive around the entire island in about an hour non-stop in a car. Whether you take a jeep, motorbike, bicycle, or regular vehicle, this is a fun way to explore the natural beauty of the island. Each corner of Cozumel is different, with so much to do.
- Easy Accessibility: Between the Cozumel International Airport, the frequent ferry arrivals from Playa del Carmen, and the several cruise ship dockings a day, Cozumel is easy and straightforward to get to.
- Beautiful White Sand Beaches: If you want a sunny, crystal-clear beach, Cozumel is the perfect place for you. The island is home to numerous white sand beaches, where you can relax and soak up the sun with a tropical drink in hand.
Who is Cozumel Best Suited For?
Cozumel has something for everyone, so you’ll find various people and families around the island. Here are some of the most common types of travelers to Cozumel:
- Cruise ship passengers
- Families enjoying the water parks
- Scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts
- History and culture seekers
- Adventure seekers
During the high season, Cozumel can welcome more than 25 cruise ships a week from the main Cozumel cruise ports (Puerta Maya, Punta Langosta, and SSA International Pier). That equates to about 75,000-100,000 island guests from cruise ships alone.
But aside from cruise ship passengers, Cozumel is the perfect spot for other types of travelers too.
Cozumel is known for its stunning marine life, where snorkelers and scuba divers can jump into crystal-clear waters with vibrant sea life and possibly sea turtles and beautiful coral reef formations.
And then, Cozumel also has some great outdoor activities for adventure and culture seekers. Between the coast, the jungle, and the Caribbean turquoise waters, there’s something in Cozumel for practically everyone.
Where is Cozumel?
The island of Cozumel is located about 10 miles (16 km) off the coast of Playa del Carmen, on the eastern shoreline of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Here is the distance between Cozumel and all popular points of interest in the region:
- Playa del Carmen to Cozumel: 10 miles (16 km)
- Tulum to Cozumel: 58 miles (94 km)
- Cancun to Cozumel: 70 miles (113 km)
- Isla Mujeres to Cozumel: 80 miles (130 km), including land and sea travel
- Holbox to Cozumel: 80 miles (130 km), including land and sea travel
How to Get to Cozumel
Although Cozumel is a small island off the Mexican coast, getting to Cozumel is relatively easy.
Fly into Cozumel International Airport (CZM)
The easiest and fastest way to get to Cozumel is by flying directly into the Cozumel International Airport (CZM).
The local airport has been continually expanding to include more direct flights from Mexico and other North American cities.
The Cozumel airport is on the edge of San Miguel de Cozumel and is only about a 9-minute drive from the ferry dock in central Cozumel.
Fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN)
You can also fly to Cancun International Airport (CUN), which offers more direct flights.
From Playa del Carmen, you head to the Cozumel Ferry terminal (operated by Winjet and Ultramar) near Parque los Fundadores on 5th Avenue.
Take the Ferry from Playa del Carmen
If you’re coming from the mainland, many people take a Playa del Carmen to Cozumel day trip, which is easy and straightforward.
The Cozumel Ferry Terminal is off 5th Avenue, near Parque los Fundadores and the Paseo del Carmen shopping mall.
The Playa del Carmen to Cozumel ferry takes about 45 minutes and brings you to the center of San Miguel de Cozumel.
Best Time to Visit Cozumel Mexico
Cozumel’s tropical climate and inviting atmosphere make it a desirable location to visit throughout the year.
However, understanding the different seasons and weather patterns might help you choose the best time of year to visit Cozumel:
- December to April: Peak season with more tourists, pleasant weather
- May to August: Hottest months with fewer tourists, the beginning of hurricane season
- September to November: Low season (fewer tourists), rainy season, and hurricane season
The best season for you may depend on what you’re looking for. For example, September and October will have the lowest prices because fewer tourists are around.
Conversely, December and January may cost more due to the high season but much better weather.
Best Things to Do in Cozumel
Here are some of the best things to do in Cozumel whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation:
Cozumel is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world, only second to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
And fortunately for those that want to explore the coral reefs here, there is no shortage of fantastic Cozumel snorkel tours around the island.
El Cielo is one of the most popular Cozumel snorkeling spots where you can snorkel with starfish in crystal clear water.
Or the Cozumel Invisible Boat Adventure is a one-of-kind boat ride and snorkeling experience.
In addition to snorkeling, Cozumel has world-class dive sites full of lively marine life, stunning reef structures, and thrilling currents that make for semi-challenging drift dives.
You can head to the wall (“La Pared”) for a fast-paced dive, explore one of the many sunken ships like the “Felipe Xicotencatl Ship Wreck”, or try a night dive from the shore.
It’s important to note that while there are dive sites for every level of dive, the best dives in Cozumel are all drift dives.
That means they are better suited for an experienced diver, as they are a bit faster-paced and slightly more challenging than traditional dives.
Jeep Tours and Rentals
Whether you rent a jeep or motorbike or hop on one of the popular jeep tours in Cozumel, you’ll have a blast driving around the entire island.
The roads have great views, especially along the island’s south side, and it takes no time at all to get from point A to point B, considering the island is so small.
Cozumel ATV tours are a great way to explore the more undeveloped side of the island off the beaten path.
Often paired with other adventure activities, you’ll get lost deep in the island jungle and visit hidden cenotes.
Cozumel Submarine Expedition
The Atlantis Submarine in Cozumel is a real submarine that takes you to the underwater world of coral reefs, tropical fish, and sunken ships.
There aren’t many opportunities for tourists to ride in an actual submarine, and this is such an unforgettable experience!
Beach Clubs & Water Parks
There are dozens of beach clubs and water parks in Cozumel, where you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and water sports and activities that surround the island.
The water parks range from action-packed with floating water parks and endless water activities like at Playa Mia Grand Beach Park.
Or you can opt for a more relaxed atmosphere with comfortable beach loungers and high-rated spa services like at Paradise Beach.
Punta Sur Eco Beach Park
Punta Sur Ecological Park is located on the southernmost tip of Cozumel Island, and is an eco-park and nature reserve.
While it’s a bit off-the-beaten-path, driving through the eco-park, possibly encountering some wild crocodiles, and climbing the Celarain Lighthouse make it worth the trip.
Visit The Ruins
San Gervasio Ruins and El Cedral are the two archeological sites on the island. The San Gervasio Ruins are Cozumel’s very own ancient Mayan ruins.
And El Cedral was once the capital of Cozumel. While not as grand as Chichen Itza or the Tulum Ruins, stopping in at these spots is a great way to learn about Cozumel’s history and culture.
Where to Stay in Cozumel
It can be hard to choose between all the amazing resorts in Cozumel, but here are some my top picks:
- Luxury: Presidente InterContinental Resort & Spa is a five-star hotel known for having the largest private beach on the island. This luxurious all-inclusive resort has everything you need and is the perfect place to get pampered during your holiday.
- Mid-Range (Adults Only): Hotel B Unique Cozumel is the best adults-only boutique hotel on the island. This oceanfront hotel has trendy rooms, incredible views and an unforgettable infinity pool.
- Mid Range (Families): Fiesta Americana Cozumel is a great value for beach-front all-inclusive hotels on Cozumel. While it isn’t as high-end as other resorts, it’s a quality resort with excellent staff.
- Budget: Kinta Kan Hotel Boutique Cozumel is a small boutique hotel perfect for budget travelers who still want top-notch care and accommodation. The hotel has a pool, spectacular service, and an ideal location.
Tips for Visiting Cozumel
Here are some tips before you visit Cozumel:
- Bring reef-safe sunscreen: Protecting the reefs is so important so it’s best to only wear reef-safe sunscreen whenever you’re swimming in the ocean. And you’ll want to put it on well before you jump in the water (even if it’s waterproof, it will wash off if it hasn’t dried on your skin).
- Wear water shoes: There are a lot of lime sea urchins and stone fish in Cozumel. If you plan to go snorkeling, protect your feet with water shoes and watch where you step. Additionally, many of the Cozumel beaches are a bit rocky so a pair of water shoes will make your visit much more enjoyable.
- Bring bug spray: The mosquitos can get a little vicious around sunrise and sunset, especially if you’re down near the water. Bring along some insect repellent if you tend to get bug bites.
- Bring cash: While credit cards are accepted in many places in Cozumel, it’s still a good idea to bring cash to Mexico for taxis, tips, and smaller purchases.
- Try new things: Be open to trying new foods and experimenting. For example, Cozumel is known to have some of the best lionfish meals in Mexico. Give lionfish pizza, tacos, or burgers a try while you’re there and help rid the reef of the invasive lionfish.
- Don’t miss the sunset: As I mentioned, the sunsets in Cozumel are absolutely incredible as you’ll get to see the sun set over Playa del Carmen. Head to a fun tiki bar like Cocomama Tiki Room to enjoy a tiki cocktail and the sunset views from their outdoor terrace.
Visiting Cozumel: FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about planning a trip to Cozumel Mexico:
Cozumel is well-known for its world-class scuba diving, with large drop-offs, sunken ships, drift dives, and more. But there’s much more to the island including deep sea snorkeling, ATV adventures, and more.
It is recommended to stay in Cozumel for at least 2 nights but if you’re looking for a true beach vacation, then staying up to a week is preferable.
Yes, it is definitely worth going to Cozumel on a day trip. While having more time is better, you can still see and do a lot in Cozumel on a day trip. After all, you can drive around the island in about an hour.
When comparing Cozumel vs Cancun, they both have a very different vibe but neither is better. Cancun is a built-up city with a lively Hotel Zone and a vibrant nightlife scene. Cozumel is more quiet and laid-back, with more of an island vibe.
Most people visit Cozumel to explore the stunning coral reefs or as a stopover on a Caribbean cruise ship.
Yes, Cozumel is very safe. You can walk around most areas of the island without any worries.
You can walk around the downtown area of Cozumel but outside of the town center, you will need transportation to get around. If you want to explore the rest of the island, it’s best to rent a jeep, ride a motorbike, or even tour the island on a bicycle.
No, there is no Uber in Cozumel. While legislation was recently passed in January 2023 allowing Uber to operate in the state of Quintana Roo, strong opposition from taxi drivers has made the service unsafe to use.
Final Thoughts: Is it Worth Going to Cozumel?
Cozumel keeps things interesting between the unforgettable scuba diving sites, the deep sea snorkel adventures, the fast-paced ATV adventures, and the laid-back beach clubs and all-inclusive resorts.
So, is Cozumel worth it? Yes, Cozumel is definitely worth visiting! I love escaping to Cozumel because it’s much more tranquil than Playa del Carmen and the ocean views are just incredible.
And no matter what you’re into, you will find something to keep you busy in Cozumel. The island is just so full of life and natural wonders.
Whatever you decide to do, you’re sure to have the best time exploring the largest inhabited island in Mexico!
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