Outside of Town
Located just minutes from some of Cozumel’s best kiteboarding spots, the aptly named Casa Viento (House of Wind, Country Club Estates, tel. 987/869-8220, www.casaviento.net, US$110–190 s/d with a/c) appeals to kiters and nonkiters alike, with charming rooms and cheerful mi casa es su casa service from the live-in owners. Choose between large standard rooms, one- and two-bedroom suites with kitchen, and a honeymoon suite with cupola and great ocean views; all rooms have air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, and deluxe linens, and most have TVs. Decor is appealingly eclectic, ranging from colonial-style armoires to modern Mexican paintings. A midsize pool and complimentary snorkel gear complete the package. Casa Viento also is home base for Kite Cozumel, a kiting school and tour operator run by legendary Mexican kiteboarder Raul de Lille.
The only hotel on the east side of the island, Ventanas al Mar (south end of Playa Tortugas, cell. tel. 987/105-2684, www.ventanasalmar.com.mx, US$94–104 s/d, US$164–184 s/d suite) has 12 large rooms and two suites, all with high ceilings and private patios or decks, many with marvelous ocean views. The interiors lack the detailing and upkeep you’d expect at this price but suit the hotel’s isolated feel. All have kitchenettes with microwaves; some have minifridges. There’s no air-conditioning, as the hotel runs almost entirely on wind and solar power. Fortunately, the constant sea breeze keeps rooms cool. There’s a good restaurant next door, but you’ll probably want a car, as the east side has no ATM, grocery stores, or other services. Or you can embrace the isolation: Many guests spend a week or more without going to town at all. Rates include full breakfast.
An easy 15-minute walk north of town is Condumel (Zona Hotelera Norte Km. 1.5, tel. 987/872-0892, www.condumel.com, US$120–142 up to four people), an old-school but well-kept condominium complex on the main road. Each of the 10 one-bedroom apartments is spacious and has air-conditioning, a king-size bed, a marble bathroom, and a fully equipped kitchen—the refrigerator even comes stocked with basics so that you don’t have to go grocery shopping right away. Oversized sliding-glass doors offer views of the Caribbean—which is spectacular at sunset—and incoming airplanes. The coast here is iron shore, so there’s just a small patch of sand, and steps and a ladder for swimming and snorkeling. Condumel’s owners also run Aqua Safari dive shop and offer attractive dive-and-lodging packages.
If your main objective is to dive, Fiesta Americana Cozumel All-Inclusive (formerly Fiesta Americana Cozumel Dive Resort; Carr. Sur Km. 7.5, tel. 987/872-9600, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/343-7821, www.fiestamericana.com, US$120–299 s/d all-inclusive) is perfectly adequate, with a well-regarded dive shop (including gear storage), great snorkeling from shore, and small clean pools to relax in at the end of the day. The resort recently went all-inclusive—one less thing for divers to worry about—and package prices can make this a bargain. Then again, you get what you pay for, and guests here complain about plain food, hard beds (especially in the cheaper rooms), and spotty service. The “beach” is a patch of imported sand; okay for sunbathing, but not really swimmable. On the upside, Parque Chankanaab is within walking distance, and town and other beach clubs are a short cab ride away.
North of town near the airport and country club, Playa Azul Hotel (Zona Hotelera Norte Km. 4, tel. 987/869-5160, www.playa-azul.com, US$147–247 s/d) caters mostly to golfers—guests pay no greens fees—but has packages for divers and honeymooners as well. Medium-size rooms and more spacious suites all have fairly modern furnishings, large bathrooms, and excellent ocean views, and include complimentary breakfast. The pool is clean and attractive, but the beach (already small) can get crowded with day-trippers. Downtown is a US$8 taxi ride away—some find this tiresome, while others appreciate being removed from the hubbub. All told, Playa Azul is modest but comfortable, with excellent service and loyal clientele.
Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort Spa (Carr. Sur Km. 6.5, tel. 987/872-9500, toll-free U.S. tel. 888/424-6835, www.intercontinental.com, US$260–599 s/d) may well be the best hotel-resort in Cozumel, with spacious, classy rooms featuring flat-screen TVs, stereos, and turndown service. While the views are of either garden or ocean, all roads lead to one of the best hotel beaches on the island—thick white sand and calm, turquoise waters with excellent access for snorkelers and shore divers. A well-regarded dive shop, two lighted tennis courts, three restaurants, a pool, and a full-service spa round out an already relaxing stay.
Iberostar Cozumel (Carr. Sur Km. 17.8, tel. 987/872-9900, toll-free U.S./Canada tel. 888/554-3215, US$200–450 s/d all-inclusive) is a longtime favorite among repeat visitors to the island. It’s a mellow place with simple but comfortable rooms set up in two-story bungalows around the verdant property; look for flamingos and peacocks wandering around. Service is consistently good, while the nightly entertainment is rather hit or miss. The resort offers daily activities like water aerobics and yoga, and has an on-site dive and snorkel shop. The Iberostar has a wide sandy beach, but the shallows are quite rocky. That means there’s great snorkeling right from shore, but you’ll definitely appreciate having water shoes. All in all, a good value.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition