If you’ve ever booked a Caribbean cruise the chances are you’ve paid a visit to the Mexican island of Cozumel. And while many tourists skip the island or just head straight to the beach, there’s more to this busy island than meets the eye.
Cozumel – the name of which is derived from Mayan civilisation – is the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean and is separated from mainland Mexico by the Yucatan Channel. Size doesn’t matter here – at just 28 miles long and ten miles wide, it more than punches above its weight, particularly with regards to its revered coral reefs.
Tourism is a huge part of the economy – and it’s one of the most popular cruise destinations in the western Caribbean and one of the busiest cruise ports in the world.
GETTING FROM THE SHIP…
Cozumel has three piers on the western side of the island. Punta Langosta is in downtown San Miguel and so is the easiest in terms of access to the heart of Cozumel – a mere ten-minute walk at a leisurely pace. The International Pier is about 3 miles from the city, while Puerta Maya Pier is located south of the International Pier, about five miles from San Miguel. Both of which will require a taxi to take you into the heart of the island.
WHAT WE LOVE…
Scuba Diving: The Cozumel reef system is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is the second largest in the world. Therefore, it’s no surprise that scuba diving is high on the list of things to do for many visitors. One of the most popular areas is Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, which encompasses the southern tip of the island.
Discover Mexico: The place to be for those who want to know all things Mexico. This museum has a host of artefacts and presentations to tell the story of the history and culture of the country. Guests can learn about Mexico’s ancient civilisations and learn more about the Spanish colonial era. It’s a fantastic educational day out and you’ll leave with a deeper appreciation for Mexican culture.
Punta Sur Eco Park: The largest ecological reserve in Cozumel where it is possible to see birds, wild flora and crocodiles in their natural habitat – one for the nature-lovers then. Punta Sur also has some Mayan ruins to see for all the history buffs out there, as well as majestic views of the bay below from the top of the park’s lighthouse. It’s a triple threat!
TOP 3 PLACES TO EAT…
Guido’s: This long-running Italian restaurant serves up healthy portions of pasta and pizza with a rotating specials board of fresh seafood.
Wet Wendy’s: If you want to experience a slice of Americana in Mexico then you could do worse this Tex-Mex restaurant. Give the burrito a go!
Kinta: Mexican food often gets a reputation for being satisfying rather than refined but Kinta is looking to change all that with its modern, forward-thing Mexican cuisine.
TOP 3 PLACES TO SHOP…
Puerta Maya: You don’t need to go far to find the best shopping in Cozumel, in fact, it’s right in the port itself! There’s over 50 shops and stalls here perfect for souvenirs.
Plaza Del Sol: The main square of San Miguel is lined with shops, restaurants and bars perfect for spending an afternoon strolling around.
Royal Village Mall: The Americans aren’t the only nation who loves a good mall and Cozumel’s version is filled with fun boutiques and more popular names.
OUR LOCAL TIP…
A good way to see the island is via bike – there’s plenty to hire in the town centre. Perhaps you can take a ride down to the one of the island’s famous beaches?