Western Cozumel Beaches
On the west side of Cozumel, with calm turquoise waters, a small beach, and lots of coconut trees, Playa Palancar (Km. 19.5, no phone, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) caters to visitors who just want to spend a quiet day lounging in a hammock or taking a snorkeling trip to nearby Palancar Reef. A palapa-roofed restaurant serves classic Mexican seafood and a wide range of drinks (US$5–16).
Trips to the reef leave as soon as there is a critical mass of people (snorkel US$30, 2 hours, scuba US$80/two tanks). Snorkel gear also can be rented separately (US$10), but with no reef within striking distance, there’s not much point in spending your cash on it. The club is 750 meters (0.5 mile) off the main road.
Playa San Francisco
With over three kilometers (1.9 miles) of thick white sand and calm turquoise waters, Playa San Francisco is one of Cozumel’s most attractive beaches. Its beauty is compromised somewhat—to say nothing of the tranquility—by a string of beach clubs, many of which are hopping with cruise-shippers.
Of them all, the most attractive is Paradise Beach (Carr. Costera Sur Km. 14.5, tel. 987/872-6177, www.paradise-beach-cozumel.com, 9 a.m.–sunset daily), a large and remodeled club with a gorgeous pool and a picture-perfect beach. Cover here isn’t officially charged, but visitors must spend at least US$10 on food and drinks to be able to use the facilities. But not all of them.
Curiously, beach chairs cost an additional US$2, and if you’re interested in using any of the myriad of beach “toys”—kayaks, rock climbing and trampoline floats, paddle boards, and snorkel gear—you have to pay US$12 more. Coming here could add up fast, but, then again, you may also have a fantastic time.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition