The Best of Isla Cozumel
Isla Cozumel is Mexico’s largest island, with much to offer the curious traveler, from Maya ruins to deserted beaches. Cozumel’s claim to fame is its diving and snorkeling, and this tour allots plenty of bubble time.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, there’s still plenty to do and see in Cozumel, although you also could just take the ferry to Playa del Carmen to explore the mainland for a day or two.
Fly straight to Cozumel. There are numerous daily flights, including a few nonstops from the United States. This saves you the time and expense of taking a bus or taxi to Playa del Carmen, then a ferry across to Cozumel. Spend the evening soaking up the atmosphere in the central park—on weekends, there’s live music and dancing.
Spend a day on the beach. Most hotels don’t have beach areas, but there are plenty of beach clubs nearby. Some are boisterous, others more laid-back—decide on one that suits your style. In the evening, book a day or two of diving or snorkeling. And if you don’t have your own snorkeling equipment, arrange an extended rental at any of the dive shops in town.
Revel in Isla Cozumel’s richest resource: its marine park and pristine coral reef. Palancar Reef is a good warm-up site, with a shallow profile and mild current to help sharpen your skills before the more challenging dives to come. In the evening, enjoy dinner at one of the excellent eateries near the central plaza.
Spend another day diving or snorkeling on the reef. Santa Rosa Wall is a terrific drift dive and one of Cozumel’s most famous. Or ask your dive guide about Paso del Cedral, with dramatic scenery, or Maracaibo, for a shot at seeing large animals like sharks and rays.
Rent a car and spend a day exploring the island. San Gervasio Archaeological Zone, in the middle of the island, is a good place to start. Continue on to Cozumel’s barely developed east side for lunch on a deserted beach while watching the waves crash ashore. Plan on returning to town in time for a night dive—an incredible experience.
If you’re tempted to dive, remember that you need at least 24 hours between your last dive and your flight home. Return any rental gear at the end of the day.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition