Welcome to Cozumel
What was once a secluded island hideaway, has now become one of the most recognized tropical locales in Mexico’s majestic Caribbean region. This is Isla Cozumel.
Boasting white sand beaches, coral reefs, modern amenities and an enormous swath of wild areas, it is an island paradise in every sense of the term. With countless activities both below and above the waves, your visit is sure to be one you brag about for years to come.
For more transportation information, check out our Getting Around The Yucatan Guide
1. Visit The Wild East Side
The “wild” east side of the island is absolutely worth a visit. While the west side is primarily hotels and beach clubs, the east side of Cozumel is a paradise of remote beaches interspersed with fantastic local beach bars. There are also a few great places to grab a lounger, eat some fresh fish tacos and take a dip in the water such as Chen Rio and Punta Morena, but the real highlight of the east side is the wonderful natural emptiness of it all. Be sure to stop for a fresh handmade beach cocktail at Rastas, Welcome to Miami or Mezcalitos (or all three!) and let the sea breeze wash over you. Hammocks included.
To reach the wild east side you can rent a car, hire a taxi in town or book a private van and driver for the day.
2. Go Diving
Cozumel is world-renowned for its scuba diving and proximity to numerous top dive sites. The Mesoamerican reef system is the second-largest reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef), and there is extensive coral and sea life with incredible visibility. From beginner’s discovery dives to advanced drift dives, there’s something for everyone around Cozumel.
Be sure to check out our Cozumel Diving Guide for extensive information including recommendations for the top reefs, dive shops & dive schools.
3. Spend the Day at a Beach Club
The west side of Cozumel has incredible sparkling, turquoise waters and numerous beautiful beaches. When visiting the island, there are several fantastic beach clubs where visitors have access to sandy beaches, swimming pools, oceanfront restaurants, beach bars, sun loungers, water activities and more. They typically range in cost from $10 USD to $65 USD per person with the pricier options being all inclusive with drinks and food.
Check out our Best Cozumel Beach Clubs guide for great information about the top rated clubs on the island.
4. Take A Tour With A Local
Take your vacation in Cozumel to the next level by taking a tour with a local! There is nothing quite like getting an insider experience with people who live here and love all that the island has to offer. Curious about Cozumel’s green interior? Take a jeep tour to Cozumel’s original capital town, Cedral, a quaint community surrounded by forest on all sides. While there, take a jungle off-road visit to caves, trails and even a cenote where you can take a swim. If you are more interested in a water experience, head out from the local’s marina (not the tour boat marina) for some fishing, snorkeling and exploring on the way up to Passion Island. Once there, swim in the clear waters and enjoy a bbq on the beach, local family style! It doesn’t get much better than that. For arranging tours with a local, we recommend contacting Arturo at Smiggie’s Excursion Concierge, and start planning your unique private experience. By the end of the day, you will have enjoyed an authentic piece of Cozumel, just like a local.
To arrange a private tour with locals, contact Arturo at Smiggie’s Excursion Concierge.
5. Go Sailing
There are few things as fun and perfectly tropical as going sailing on the Caribbean Sea. The turquoise water rippling like jewels beneath the bow while fresh fruit and rum punch are passed around. Cozumel is an incredible place to take a sailing tour, be it a catamaran voyage to the remote beaches of Passion Island or a sunset cruise with friends, family or a loved one. While there are many “sail” boats in Cozumel, Grand Cozumel Catamarans is one of the few that actually raise the sails, making their trips a special experience. Their Passion Island day tour is a blast that includes a great lunch at the beach, drinks, snorkeling and lots of fun with water toys like kayaks and SUP boards. Without a motor running, the sound of the waves lapping on the hull, fun music and jovial conversation accompany you on a truly “tranquilo” time out on the water.
For incredible Passion Island Sailing Tours and Sunset Sailing Tours, contact Grand Cozumel Catamarans.
6. Go Snorkeling
The water off the coasts of Cozumel is world famous, so jump in! There are numerous snorkeling locations where you can simply enter from the shore, or you could take a boat tour out to the incredible reefs. If time is short, a shallow reef snorkel tour may be the perfect way for you to experience the underwater world. Feel like a full day snorkel excursion? Check out some of the many longer tours to the deeper sections of the reefs to try and spot some of the larger species that call this water home. Whatever you choose, you will be smiling the whole time.
Be sure to check out our Cozumel Snorkeling Guide for the best snorkel sites and tour company recommendations.
7. Go Shopping
No vacation to Mexico would be complete without at least a little shopping, and Cozumel is the perfect place to do just that. With dozens of shops ranging from high end silver jewelry to beach bag vendors, whatever your heart desires can be easily found. Although most people naturally flock to the town center or the Royal Village Mall by the cruise ship port, we recommend taking the time to explore a little further afield to find some true treasures. You may just end up buying your hammock from a local who has just finished stitching it on his front stoop! Also, whether you have one day for shopping or many days, you must be sure to visit Los Cinco Soles. Located at the north end of the waterfront, this is an exceptionally well-appointed shop. Filled to the brim with stunning art, souvenirs, jewelry, clothing, traditional handicrafts and more, Los Cinco Soles has something for everyone. It even has a tequila tasting bar! All created by Mexican artisans, farmers and families. You will be so happy you visited.
Be sure to check out Los Cinco Soles about a 5 minute walk up the coast road from the main square.
8. Take a Mexican Cooking Class
Mexican food is definitely one of the main things to love about this region. Be it traditional Yucatecan cuisine or home-cooked Mexican classics like enchiladas or street tacos, there is something for everyone in Cozumel. Why not have some fun learning how it’s done and take home some great memories and new skills with you?! There are a few popular cooking classes available in Cozumel.
This Cozumel Farm to Table Experience is a more down-home authentic experience, while the Original Mexican Cuisine Cooking Class at Playa Mia Beach Club is more the fancy resort-style cooking class, complete with chef caps and an open bar! Interested in Mayan food? Check out this highly rated Mayan Cooking Class.
9. Visit Punta Sur Ecological Park
The entire southern point of Cozumel island is a sprawling nature preserve known as Punta Sur, and is one of the best places to see the island’s vast natural habitat. With some of the most beautirufl beaches on the island (bring your swimsuit!) and incredible mangrove marshlands (a free boat ride to see wild crocodiles and birds is included), Punta Sur is a nature lovers dream. Be sure to stop at the lighthouse and climb to the top for epic 360 degree views. There is so much to explore a Punta Sur, be sure to get there early and bring some extra money for food and drinks at the couple of beachside restaurants.
To reach Punta Sur you can rent a car, take a tour or book a private van and driver for the day.
10. Go on a Jeep Tour
While there are a number of paved roads around the island, many parts of Cozumel still only have dirt road access. Jeep tours are a popular way to see much more of the island. With trips through the woods and stops at beaches, a Jeep Tour can be an excellent (and at times, bumpy) way to get the lay of the land on the island.