The Ultimate San Miguel de Cozumel Mexico Travel Guide (2023)
Do you want to visit San Miguel de Cozumel? You’ve come to the right place!
As the largest town on Cozumel, it is a popular tourist destination with an abundance of activities and attractions.
I’m a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen, and I’ve visited nearby Cozumel plenty of times and have been able to experience many of the amazing things the island has to offer.
In this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about San Miguel de Cozumel including where it is, how to get there, what to do there, where to stay, and more!
Read on for my ultimate San Miguel de Cozumel travel guide!
About San Miguel de Cozumel
First, let’s start with some of the basics on San Miguel de Cozumel:
What is San Miguel de Cozumel?
San Miguel de Cozumel is a town on the island of Cozumel in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is the largest town on the island and is its main tourist center.
To simplify, Cozumel is the name of the overall island and San Miguel de Cozumel is the name of the largest town and main town square.
Where is San Miguel de Cozumel?
The town of San Miguel de Cozumel is located on the west coast of the island, about 7 miles (12 kilometers) from the mainland port of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
What is San Miguel de Cozumel known for?
Cozumel is a popular tourist destination thanks to its stunning Caribbean beaches, incredible coral reefs, and jungle landscapes.
It is also one of the most visited cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean and welcomed over 3 million cruise ship visitors in 2022.
The incredible coral reefs surrounding the island are part of the Mesoamerican Reef, which is the second-longest barrier reef system in the world, only second to the Great Barrier reef in Australia.
Its abundant snorkeling and scuba diving sites attract tourists and diving enthusiasts from all over the world.
How big is Cozumel?
The island of Cozumel is about 30 miles (48 km) long and 9.9 miles (16 km) wide. With a total area of about 184 square miles (478 km2), it is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island.
The town of San Miguel de Cozumel is the island’s largest town and the city center spans several square blocks on the island’s western side.
How do you pronounce Cozumel?
The English pronunciation of Cozumel is “Kaa-zoo-mel”. However, the Spanish pronunciation is “Koh-soo-mel”.
History of San Miguel de Cozumel
Dating all the way back to 250 AD, the island of Cozumel first served as a commercial and ceremonial center for the Mayans.
The San Gervasio Mayan Ruins Cozumel still remain on the island today, which were originally used by the Mayans as a sanctuary to Ixchel, the goddess of fertility.
Every Mayan woman was required to travel to the island at least once in her life to worship Ixchel, and pray for fertility and healthy motherhood.
The Spanish first arrived to Cozumel in 1518 and one year later, Hernan Cortes used the island as a base for the Spanish to conquer the Mayan people.
Sadly, the Spanish conquest brought smallpox to the island of Cozumel, which resulted in thousands of deaths, and the island was almost completely abandoned by the year 1600.
Many years later, people eventually sought refuge on the island from neighboring wars on the Yucatan peninsula. During this time, the island was surrendered to Yucatan troops and the population grew in the 1900s.
Tourism on the island expanded rapidly with the arrival of a cruise ship port in the 1980s and today, San Miguel de Cozumel is a popular tourist destination with many all-inclusive hotels, restaurants, and shops.
How to get to San Miguel de Cozumel
To get to San Miguel de Cozumel, you can either fly to Cozumel or take the ferry from Playa del Carmen.
Flying to Cozumel
Cozumel International Airport
The closest airport is Cozumel International Airport, which is located less than 2 miles north of San Miguel de Cozumel.
Many international flights from the United States and Canada fly directly to Cozumel, however, San Miguel de Cozumel flights are usually more expensive than flying into Cancun.
Airlines that fly to Cozumel from the United States:
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Sun Country
- United Airlines
Airlines that fly to Cozumel from Canada:
- Air Canada
Cancun International Airport
Alternatively, you could also fly into Cancun International Airport, which is generally less expensive.
It’s then about a 1-hour drive to Playa del Carmen followed by a 30-minute ferry ride to Cozumel.
San Miguel de Cozumel Ferry
The Cozumel ferry is one of the most popular ways to get to the island of Cozumel from Playa del Carmen.
The ferry ride takes a little over 30 minutes and departs every hour on the hour from both locations. The cost is around $12 USD for a one-way ticket.
When you arrive in Cozumel from Playa del Carmen, the San Miguel de Cozumel ferry terminal is located directly across the street from the main town square making the town center within easy walking distance.
To get to further destinations in Cozumel, there are plenty of taxis available right outside to take you to your hotel or final destination.
San Miguel de Cozumel Weather
San Miguel de Cozumel is located on the east coast of Mexico and enjoys a tropical climate, with an average temperature of 80°F (27°C).
The weather is warm and humid all year round. There are two main seasons, the wet season (May to October) and the dry season (November to April).
The wet season is characterized by higher temperatures and more rainfall. The dry season is cooler and has less rainfall.
During high season (December-April), the weather is usually less humid and very pleasant but you might want to add a light sweater or jacket to your Mexico packing list to stay warm in the evenings.
San Miguel de Cozumel Map
Here’s a map outlining the downtown area of San Miguel de Cozumel to give you an idea of the town’s location on the island.
How to Get Around San Miguel de Cozumel
Cozumel is a small island but you’ll still need to rely on these transportation methods to get around:
The downtown area of San Miguel de Cozumel is pretty walkable making it easy to get around to restaurants, cafes, shops, and the beachfront.
Be sure to map out your route on Google Maps to estimate walking distances as some restaurants and attractions may be further on the outskirts of town and better suited for a taxi ride.
To go further distances, you can also rent a bicycle to explore the island from one of the many bike rental companies. Some Cozumel resorts and hotels may also offer the complimentary use of bicycles for hotel guests.
Cozumel is bike-friendly but you will want to be extra careful when biking on major roads and around vehicles as the drivers in Mexico can be a little unpredictable.
If you plan to travel further distances or want to explore some more off-the-beaten-path locations, then you’ll want to rent a car or jeep to explore the island.
Rental cars are widely available in Cozumel but you’ll want to do a thorough safety check on your vehicle as it’s common for them to be worn or in poor working condition.
👉 For a hassle-free experience, book your car through my favorite rental service Discover Cars by clicking here!
For further distances, taxis are safe, abundantly available, and probably the most convenient form of transportation on the island.
You’ll be able to pay for taxis in pesos or USD but credit cards are typically not accepted so you’ll want to make sure you have enough cash on hand.
Where to Stay in San Miguel de Cozumel
When visiting San Miguel de Cozumel, you can select to stay in the main town square where you’ll find more budget-friendly boutique hotels, apartments, and vacation rentals.
Or you can venture further outside of the downtown area and stay at one of the many beachfront resorts in Cozumel.
San Miguel de Cozumel Hotels
Choose one of these San Miguel de Cozumel hotels for a more budget-friendly option with easy access to the downtown shops, restaurants, and bars.
Kinta Kan Hotel Boutique Cozumel
Located in downtown San Miguel de Cozumel, Kinta Kan Hotel Boutique Cozumel is a great choice for travelers looking for a budget-friendly base to explore the island of Cozumel.
The boutique hotel only has 12 rooms, each with a unique and comfortable design. Continental breakfast is included in the room rate, and there is also a swimming pool and hammocks in the center of the hotel for guests to relax in.
Some of the rooms have patios, which are perfect for enjoying the beautiful weather on the island. The hotel is clean and quiet, and its location provides a happy medium between airport access and a reasonable walk to the town center.
👉 Click here to check rates and availability at Kinta Kan Hotel
Hotel Kiin Cozumel
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Cozumel that’s reasonably priced, clean, and well-maintained, Hotel Kiin Cozumel is a great option. The boutique hotel has 12 rooms and a small swimming pool and garden.
It’s only a ten-minute walk from the beachfront and ferry terminal. Plus, each room has a large fridge – which comes in handy if you want to stock up on snacks or drinks. The staff at Hotel Kiin are also very helpful and friendly.
👉 Click here to check rates and availability at Hotel Kiin Cozumel
Villas Colibri Cozumel
Featuring larger villas that are perfect for families or groups of friends, Villas Colibri Cozumel is a hotel that feels like home with its colorful Mexican-style accommodations.
The lovely, spacious villas are set in attractive gardens with patios and balconies facing the pool and nearby palms.
Villas Colibri has a good central location in downtown San Miguel de Cozumel providing walkability to nearby restaurants and attractions.
With continental breakfast included, it’s a reasonably priced and great value option in downtown Cozumel.
👉 Click here to check rates and availability at Villas Colibri Cozumel
San Miguel de Cozumel Resorts
Choose one of these resorts a little further outside of San Miguel de Cozumel for a more upscale beachfront or all-inclusive experience.
Hotel B Unique Cozumel
Hotel B Unique Cozumel is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking for a more upscale hotel, as it has some of the most modern and contemporary accommodations in Cozumel. Some rooms even have spacious balconies with incredible sea views.
Located just north of San Miguel de Cozumel, the hotel is situated directly on the oceanfront. Guests can relax on the trendy outdoor deck with an infinity pool and bar directly facing the ocean.
American breakfast is included in your stay, and you can enjoy dining at tables nestled into the oceanfront infinity pool while taking in breathtaking views of the clear water – perfect for snorkeling!
👉 Click here to check rates and availability at Hotel B Unique Cozumel
Cozumel Palace Resort is a luxurious oceanfront Cozumel all inclusive resort that offers a luxury experience for families, couples, and diving enthusiasts.
Accommodations at Cozumel Palace feature 24-hour room service, in-room double whirlpool tubs, and CHI bath products. Not to mention in-room liquor dispensers with top-shelf liquors!
Whether you’re looking to scuba dive, stand-up paddleboard, or simply enjoy some time snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Cozumel, Cozumel Palace has everything you need for an incredible vacation experience.
👉 Click here to check rates and availability for Cozumel Palace
Presidente InterContinental Cozumel
Presidente InterContinental Cozumel is a beautiful, luxurious resort featuring 218 spacious guestrooms and suites, as well as a private beach.
Operating on a “European plan”, the resort is not all-inclusive, so guests will need to pay for food and beverages at the four on-site restaurants.
Scuba lessons are offered at the on-site dive shop, and there are two outdoor pools including an infinity pool. For active travelers, the fitness center is top-notch, there are two tennis courts, and morning aqua yoga sessions are offered.
One of the highlights of Presidente InterContinental Cozumel is the impressive snorkeling right off the resort’s private beach, which makes it one of the best resorts in Cozumel for snorkeling.
👉 Click here to check rates and availability for Presidente InterContinental Cozumel
Top Things to Do in San Miguel de Cozumel
There are so many Cozumel tourist attractions all over the island whether you’re looking for adventure activities, water sports, or cultural attractions.
Here are 10 of the top things to do in San Miguel de Cozumel:
Explore the main town square
In the center of San Miguel de Cozumel just across from the ferry terminal, you’ll find Benito Juarez Park – the main town square known as “Centro” to locals.
This is where you’ll find the tourist information center where you can gather visitor information from friendly and knowledgeable guides.
In this area, you’ll also find the colorful Cozumel letters and the signature orange clock tower. With many vendors surrounding the square, it’s a great place to start exploring the island!
Here you can check out the shops, stroll along the beachfront “malecon” (boardwalk), or just sit back and relax on the many benches surrounding the square.
Discover the colorful graffiti
The island of Cozumel has another hidden gem: street art. Cozumel’s street art scene is vibrant and ever-changing.
You can find murals and graffiti all over the island, from the downtown area to the more residential neighborhoods. The street art ranges from colorful and whimsical to political and thought-provoking.
If you’re interested in seeing some of Cozumel’s street art for yourself, you can explore on your own, or you can take a guided tour. Either way, you’re sure to be impressed by the creativity and talent of local artists.
Go souvenir shopping in San Miguel de Cozumel
If you’re looking for a place to do some souvenir shopping while in Cozumel, San Miguel de Cozumel is the perfect spot. The quaint town square is full of shops selling traditional Mexican handicrafts and souvenirs.
You’ll find everything from ceramic pots and colorful blankets to Mayan-themed trinkets and jewelry.
While bargaining is common practice in Mexico, be aware that many of the prices in San Miguel de Cozumel are fixed.
But even if you don’t get a great deal on your purchases, you’ll still be supporting local artisans and businesses.
Go on a jeep tour to explore the island
Driving a jeep in Cozumel is the perfect way to explore the island. You can either rent a jeep on your own or book a fun jeep tour led by professional guides.
Before heading out, you’ll want to do a thorough safety check on the vehicle to make sure it’s in good working order as it’s common for the jeeps to be older and in less than ideal condition.
You’ll then be able to cruise around the island at leisure and get to see some of the more secluded beaches and jungle landscapes on the less developed eastern side of Cozumel.
👉 Book the best Cozumel jeep tour by clicking here!
Go on a snorkeling tour
Snorkeling in Cozumel really shouldn’t be missed and is one of the best things to do if you’re looking for more adventurous water activities.
The clear turquoise waters and abundance of marine life make it a snorkeler’s paradise, where you’ll get to see a variety of colorful fish, coral reefs, and other marine life.
There are many different snorkeling tours available, whether you want to explore the reefs, go on a glass-bottom boat, or set sail on a catamaran.
One of the most popular snorkeling spots on the island is El Cielo, a sandbar known for its abundance of giant starfish. On the El Cielo tour, you’ll get to visit El Cielo, as well as snorkel at Palancar and Colombia Reefs.
At El Cielo, you’ll be astonished at the water’s clear turquoise color – it is truly incredible! I’ve visited El Cielo twice and it has been my favorite tour experience in Cozumel.
👉 Book the best El Cielo Cozumel snorkeling tour by clicking here!
Relax at a beach club
There are many beach clubs on the island that offer visitors a chance to relax and enjoy the stunning views.
Aside from beach beds, many Cozumel beach clubs and restaurants also offer fun water activities which are perfect for kids or adventurous adults.
The San Miguel de Cozumel beaches right across from the main town square are not the best so I would recommend venturing further south for a better beach club experience.
I’ve found the best beaches in Cozumel to be on the southwestern side of the island, where the waves are calmer, the beach area is more widespread, and there is little to no seaweed like on many of the other beaches in Riviera Maya.
These are some of the most popular beach clubs in Cozumel, which are a short drive from the downtown area:
- Playa Palancar: A personal favorite, Playa Palancar offers an absolutely stunning widespread beach with clear crystal water and a few different beach clubs and restaurants to choose from for a relaxing beach club experience.
- Money Bar Beach Club: A short taxi ride away from San Miguel de Cozumel, the Money Bar Beach Club is one of the most popular Cozumel beach clubs offering a restaurant, lounge beds, live music, and clear snorkeling right off the beach.
- Tortugas Beach Club: A popular oceanfront restaurant and fun beach hangout, the beach area at Tortugas Beach Club is not the most widespread but it’s most known for its water activities like floating trampolines, a floating obstacle course, jet skis, and hydro-bikes.
- Mr. Sanchos Beach Club: This all-inclusive beach club experience offers a wealth of activities like parasailing, jet skis, pools, a water park, and a swim-up bar along with classic beach loungers and cabanas. Plus, food and unlimited alcoholic drinks are included in the admission price.
👉 Book an all inclusive day pass at Mr. Sanchos Beach Club by clicking here!
Travelista Tip: For a less commercialized Cozumel beach experience, head to the lesser well-known Playa Chen Rio on the east side of the island where you can hang out in a beautiful beach cove and grab some fresh seafood or drinks at the El Pescador beachfront restaurant.
Go scuba diving
With its world-renowned coral reefs, scuba diving in Cozumel should not be missed for those that are scuba certified.
The water is crystal clear and the reefs are teeming with marine life such as sea turtles, eagle rays, colorful fish, and tiny seahorses.
Even if you’re not scuba certified, many dive shops and resorts in Cozumel offer scuba certification or introductory training sessions if you want to give it a try. I recently became scuba certified and can’t wait to do some more diving in Cozumel!
Visit Punta Sur Eco Park
If you’re looking for adventure while in Cozumel, Punta Sur Eco Park is the perfect spot.
A paradise for nature lovers, the eco-park marks the southern point of Cozumel and spans a whopping 247 acres of pristine beaches, natural lagoons, coral reefs, and low forest eco-systems.
With activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, and even a small history museum, there’s plenty to do and see at this park. Not to mention the scenic lighthouse and Instagram-worthy directional signs.
One of the most popular ways to visit Punta Sur Eco Park is via an electric bike tour where you can cycle along sandy beach roads on a Pedego bike, taste tequila, go snorkeling, and spot wildlife such as crocodiles, turtles, and flamingos.
Plus, you’ll get to end the ride by relaxing in a beachside cabana.
👉 Book the best electric bike tour to Punta Sur Eco Park by clicking here!
Visit the Cozumel Museum
For a more cultural experience, visit the Cozumel Museum, which provides an in-depth look at the culture and history of the island and is conveniently located on the waterfront just outside the main town square.
The museum is newly renovated, and the 11 interactive exhibits are engaging and informative. Admission is only $11 USD, making it a great value for your money.
👉 Book Cozumel Museum admission tickets online by clicking here!
Go on the Submarine Expedition
The Submarine Expedition in Cozumel is a great way to see the island from a different perspective. The Atlantis XII is Mexico’s only submarine designated for tourism and it dives to more than 100 feet.
While on the 2-hour submarine expedition, you’ll see the Felipe Xicotencatl sunken ship and pass near “La Pared”, a vertical drop that plummets to more than 2,000 ft deep at the edge of the island.
The submarine has 26 side portholes and one large viewport across the bow, making it ideal for kids or those who are not interested in snorkeling or scuba diving but still want an up-close view of the underwater life in Cozumel.
👉 Book the Cozumel Submarine Expedition by clicking here!
Best Restaurants in San Miguel de Cozumel
In recent years Cozumel has developed a vibrant foodie scene and there are no shortage of San Miguel de Cozumel restaurants featuring a variety of cuisines.
Best Mexican Restaurant: El Moro
Whether you’re looking for an authentic Mexican dining experience or just some good comfort food, El Moro has some of the best Mexican food in San Miguel de Cozumel.
Serving traditional Mexican dishes such as burritos, fajitas, moles, and seafood platters, it’s a popular local hangout that’s also tourist-friendly. Margaritas and fresh juices are also on the menu.
While the restaurant doesn’t offer a fancy interior, it is family-owned with a friendly and welcoming staff and the food is highly rated. Large portions also make this place a great value for your money.
Best Taco Restaurant: Guisados
If you’re looking for a delicious and authentic Cozumel taqueria experience, look no further than Guisados.
This small taco restaurant is located just two blocks from the main town square and is known for its handmade blue corn tortillas.
With a daily revolving menu of tacos, you’ll find many different types of tacos such as chicken mole, pork chop, potato, chorizo, and vegetarian options. The service is friendly and helpful, and the interior decor is colorful and fun.
And best of all, it’s a family-run restaurant so you know the food is fresh and made with care.
Best Italian Restaurant: Guido’s
For a laid back intimate dining experience, head to Guido’s, which is one of the best Italian restaurants in San Miguel de Cozumel.
The seasonal Italian food is simply amazing, featuring dishes such as pizza, lasagna, fettuccine alfredo, fresh fish, and risotto dishes. And be sure to try the handmade garlic bread – it’s famous for a reason!
With a candlelit outdoor courtyard, the atmosphere is perfect for a romantic evening out. And be sure to save room for one of their delectable desserts such as creme brulee, key lime pie, and toffee cake to name a few.
Best Trendy Restaurant: Kondesa
Kondesa is a newer, trendy seafood restaurant in San Miguel de Cozumel featuring inventive dishes in a jungle environment.
The thatched-roof hut and garden seating with live jazz music combine to create a classy jungle ambiance.
The creative menu features items such as surf and turf, catch of the day, lionfish cakes, ribeye, octopus tacos, and lobster bao. All of which can be paired with their high-quality craft cocktails.
Reservations are recommended because it can get pretty busy! Kondesa is a great place for an upscale dinner if you’re looking for something different than the typical Mexican food.
Best Upscale Restaurant: Bajou Steakhouse and Seafood Grill
Bajou Steakhouse and Seafood Restaurant in Cozumel is one of the top-rated fine dining restaurants if you’re looking for an upscale steak and seafood dinner.
Located right on the waterfront, the restaurant is newer with modern and trendy interior decor.
The menu features fresh, local seafood as well as steak options cooked to perfection. Highlights from the menu include filet mignon, tuna burgers, baked oysters, seafood empanadas, and ceviche.
Each dish is beautifully presented making it perfect for a fancier dinner or special occasion. And don’t forget to order one of their delicious cocktails crafted with high-quality ingredients.
Best Bars in San Miguel de Cozumel
The bar scene in San Miguel Cozumel ranges from tourist traps like Fat Tuesday and Senor Frog’s to trendy and high-end cocktail bars.
Here are some of the best bars in San Miguel de Cozumel:
Cocomama Tiki Room
Located on the second floor of a building right across from the Cozumel ferry terminal, Cocomama Tiki Room Bar is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing tiki cocktail to put you in the vacation mindset!
Its fun tiki atmosphere with bamboo decor features tropical-inspired cocktails served in tiki mugs as well as food dishes such as guacamole, ceviche, and fish tacos.
The nice ocean views and creative cocktails make this bar the perfect place to relax and enjoy a delicious drink.
Aqui + Ahora (Here and Now)
If you’re looking for a trendy spot to grab a coffee or cocktail while enjoying views of the ocean, Aqui + Ahora Bar in Cozumel is the place for you.
This stylish bar has three levels, each with its own unique vibe. The top level outdoor rooftop and bar is perfect for watching the sunset, the middle level has an arcade room and couches, and the bottom level is a coffee shop and comfortable dining space.
In addition to their regular food and cafe menu, they also offer coffee-infused alcoholic drinks and craft cocktails.
Whether you’re looking to relax, work, or have some fun, Aqui + Ahora Bar is a trendy and eclectic option with fun vibes.
Agave Cocktail Bar
If you’re looking for craft cocktails, Agave Cocktail Bar is one of the must-visits when in Cozumel.
It’s located in the main town square and its award-winning mixologist crafts cocktails with a tiki-inspired twist as well as hand-picked mezcal and tequila.
On the cocktail menu, you’ll find unique drinks such as “La Bruja” (The Witch), which is served in a cauldron mug with a smoky brew.
Although the food menu is limited, it’s definitely worth checking out for the unique drink recipes and artistic flair.
FAQs about San Miguel de Cozumel
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about San Miguel de Cozumel:
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.
Yes, with its low crime rates and high safety rating, Cozumel is one of the safest places to visit in Quintana Roo. Check out my complete Cozumel safety guide for more Cozumel safety tips.
Cozumel means “land of the swallows”, a name originally given to the island by the Mayan people derived from the Mayan word “Cuzamil”.
Once the Spanish arrived, they adapted the name from “Cuzamil” to “Cozumel”.
The town of San Miguel de Cozumel has a population of about 80,000 people and continues to grow each year.
Conclusion: San Miguel de Cozumel Travel Guide
I hope this San Miguel Cozumel Mexico travel guide was useful to get to know everything that the town and surrounding island has to offer!
It’s a quaint, colorful, and welcoming destination that you are sure to enjoy.