The island Cozumel in Mexico: Cozumel attractions
The attractive island Cozumel in Mexico is just a stone's throw away from the popular Riviera Maya. Located in the southeast of Mexico, the island of Cozumel is the first who sees the sun in the morning. In the evening it enjoys an incredible beautiful sunset. Despite the numerous cruise ships, Cozumel is largely uninhabited. Subtropical nature, white sand beaches and beautiful coral reefs are among the main attractions on Cozumel island.
Outside the hotel zones you quickly feel the Caribbean flair, the Mexican life style and the slower island pace. The Mexican island of Cozumel is the opposite of the party zones on the mainland. Many come to visit Cozumel island for a day and would like to stay longer. On this web page we would like to inform you about the island of Cozumel in Mexico and give a comprehensive overview of Cozumel shore excursions, day trips from Playa del Carmen, the history of Cozumel and the Cozumel attractions.
Cozumel Attractions: San Miguel, the capital
San Miguel de Cozumel is the only city on Cozumel. Almost all of the 100,000 inhabitants live in San Miguel. Located directly by the sea, the pretty town center is opposite the ferry that arrives from Playa del Carmen. The main square Benito Juarez is named after one of the most important presidents in Mexico and lined with numerous restaurants and souvenir shops.
One of the main attractions on Cozumel is the beautiful clock tower in the main square. You can not miss it and it is illuminated at night in different colors. It is the oldest building on Cozumel Island and so far it has survived all tropical storms. The clock tower was built in 1910 as a reminder of the 100-year independence scream in Mexico, which began in 1810. The approximately 800 inhabitants of Cozumel had to contribute to the construction of the tower, either with material or labor input. But also the buildings behind the clock tower are of historical value. In the former town hall is now the BBVA Bank and the SevenEleven was once the village school.
During the day, guests of the cruise ships and day trippers from Playa del Carmen stroll through the souvenir shops. In the evening, the city center belongs to the locals. When the heat cools down, cultural events, performances and dances take place here. At small stalls, food is sold, for the greater hunger you should look for one of the many restaurants.
Other Cozumel attractions in San Miguel are located in the Museo de la Isla de Cozumel. It is an interesting museum about the history of the island of Cozumel and Mexico. It has also an exhibition of the underwater world and archeology. The museum is closed until 2019 due to renovations.
If you follow the beach promenade further north, you get to the beautiful beach bars. Here is the most spectacular attraction on Cozumel: Fantastic sunsets, accompanied by Mexican margaritas.
Cozumel Attractions: The coral reef
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the most famous coral reef. But few know that off the coast of Mexico is the second largest barrier reef in the world. This important Cozumel attraction is closed to the island and easily accessible by boat.
The Cozumel reef became famous when, in the 1960s, the marine biologist and underwater photographer Jacques Cousteau was invited to dive on Cozumel. He described the Cozumel reefs as beautiful dive sites, among the best in the world. So Cozumel became popular with American and Canadian divers. Now they did not have to travel all the way to Australia for a diving vacation, but had the Cozumel reef almost in front of their country borders. On our pages we have compiled interesting information about the Cozumel attraction coral reef, Cozumel Snorkel Tours and Cozumel Dive excursions.
Cozumel attractions - Ancient Maya and 500 years Spaniards
The history of Cozumel goes back to the time of the ancient Maya. Many fascinating Mayan ruins are important Cozumel attractions and testify the old Mayan history with powerful religious influences. Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Maya knew about navigation and used canoes for the crossing to Cozumel island. Because they wanted to make pilgrimage to their mother, the goddess IX Chel and bring offerings. At those times, Cozumel was dedicated to the important goddess Ix Chel, goddess of the moon and fertility. As a result, Cozumel became an important pilgrimage site of the ancient Maya.
The pre-Columbian history of Cozumel came to an end when the Spaniards arrived. Exactly 500 years ago, the first Spanish boat arrived Cozumel under the command of Spanish navigator John Grijalva. For more details on the fascinating history of Cozumel Island and historic sights on Cozumel, see our History of Cozumel section.
Sightseeing on Cozumel: Shore excursions
Many guests come to visit Cozumel for a day. They arrive with one of the Cozumel cruise ships from a cruise ships. One day is already enough to visit many Cozumel attractions during a Cozumel shore excursion and get to know the tropical island life.
The cruise ships on Cozumel give an impressive sceenery. The largest cruise ships in the world stop here on their way to the southern Caribbean. Especially in the dark the cruise ships on Cozumel are beautifully illuminated in the dark. On our Cruise Ship page, we provide important information about Cozumel shore excursions.
Sightseeing on Cozumel: Long, wild beaches
After just a short drive you leave the town of San Miguel de Cozumel behind. Then you are in nature, over 90% of the island are uninhabited. To get to the Cozumel beaches, you need a rental car on Cozumel. Alternatively, taxis are available or a private Cozumel Tour.
Limestone formations alternate with beautiful sandy beaches. While all of the beaches on the east side of Cozumel are open to the public, many of the most beautiful beaches on the west side are part of a hotel or beach club. Here you pay admission or can use the facilities against consumption.
Why is Cozumel better than Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen in in a construction boom, it is the fastest growing city in Mexico. Meanwhile live in the city more than 300,000 inhabitants. Almost the entire coast from Cancun to Tulum is closed with resorts. Public beach accesses are rare. Especially among American and European partygoers 'Playa' is popular. If you are looking for a quiet and Caribbean flair, you are better off on Cozumel.
Cozumel has an ocean view in every direction. Spectacular Cozumel sunrises and even more magical sunsets are among Cozumel's major attractions. The sunsets on Cozumel are famous as it is one of the few places on Mexico's east coast where you can see the sun go down in the sea.
Numerous diving schools in Playa del Carmen advertise with diving courses and introductory dives. Those who like to dive or snorkel in the sea should do so on Cozumel and not on the mainland. Because the reefs of Cozumel are much nicer and more spectacular than in Playa del Carmen. Because the coral reef in Playa is unfortunately almost completely destroyed through the coastal development.
More about Cozumel and Mexico
The time difference between Europe and the Riviera Maya is 6 hours in winter and 7 hours in summer. There are no time changes on the Mexican Riviera Maya, which means there is no summer or winter time. However, one should take into account in the flight booking that due to the time difference, the return flight sometimes arrives the next day in Europe.
For Mexico you do not need a visa, but the passport should be valid for another 6 months. On the plane, the Tourist Card FMM is issued with a validity of 180 days. Together with the tourist card, you will receive a form indicating whether you plan to import food or plant or animal products into Mexico. Also, more than $ 10,000 USD in cash must be declared. These forms can be filled out on the plane. Therefore, it is advisable to pack a pen in your hand luggage.
Both forms must be handed in at entry. The tourist card is required by the employee at the migration. The lower section is stamped. This remains as a copy in the passport. Do not lose it, otherwise you will have to pay a fine of 500 pesos (~25 USD).
After the migration, the luggage can be picked up. Before leaving the airport, suitcases are x-rayed. There you will have to hand in the paper indicating what is being imported. Occasional random checks verify that all information is correct.
Climate on Cozumel and the Yucatan Peninsula
Cozumel has summer temperatures all year round. The best travel time is between November and April, because in summer it can get very hot and humid. Tourist high season is at Christmas and Easter vacation, because many guests from Europe and the US use their days off for a holiday. You can tell by the higher flight and hotel prices. In the months of December to February, the average is 22-28 degrees. Then it's winter. When the wind turns and blows from the north, it can get fresh at night. Therefore, you should bring a jacket.
In the months of March and April is our short dry season. The humidity is not too high and it is pleasantly warm. From May, the temperatures rise to 30 - 35 degrees. Then it can be very humid. It rains every now and then, but usually not more than an hour. These rains are very pleasant. The summer months are perfect for beach vacations.
The tropical storm season is between September and November. That does not mean that it is constantly windy. In Yukatan there is the possibility that it will be stormy all year round. But the risk of a tropical storm is higher these months. The last hurricane on Cozumel was Wilma in 2005.
The official currency is the Mexican pesos. Especially in the tourist areas in Cancun, around Playa del Carmen and also on Cozumel, there are exchange bureaux everywhere that exchange euros and dollars into pesos. The dollar is also widely used as a payment means. In the big supermarkets you get a very good exchange rate when you pay with dollars. The course is often better. In the tourist souvenir shops the exchange rate is very bad. There you pay better with pesos. In many places Euros are also accepted. However, coins can not be changed in the banks.
Basically, it is not necessary to exchange dollars in Europe. Many travel agencies recommend this, but you pay twice the exchange fee. Because you have to first exchange in dollars and bear the costs for the exchange. And then the dollar in Mexico has to be exchanged for pesos. You can just as easily change Euros into pesos almost everywhere. Also, pesos can be easily withdrawn with the usual credit cards at the ATM. For security reasons, use ATMs in large supermarkets or in banks.
If you are on a cruise, you might want to bring dollars, because with those dollars you can basically pay in every country.
Mexico has no vaccination requirements. Nevertheless, it is advisable to take a look at the vaccination certificate before traveling. The tetanus and polio protection should be checked, and for stays in more remote areas, the timeliness of the typhoid and hepatitis vaccines. Malaria is not common on the east coast of Mexico, but rarely occur cases of dengue or Zika. Therefore, a mosquito repellent and long light clothes for the evening are recommendable. Mosquito repellent can also be bought everywhere on Cozumel.
You should not drink tap water in Mexico, it is only suitable for showering and washing. Bottled water in bottles or from a canister (container with 20 liters of water) is suitable for drinking. Cubes are made from drinking water. Medicines can be bought in pharmacies without a prescription and are cheaper than in Europe.