Dream Beaches | Coral Reefs | Mayan Culture
Excursions on Cozumel: Sights and attractions
Many come for a day and would like to stay longer because there are so many things to do on Cozumel. On our pages we give travel recommendations about the island of Cozumel in Mexico, including tourist attractions, interesting information for day trips to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen and for Cozumel cruise ship guests.
Are you planning a tour to Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya from Cozumel? Get inspired by our private excursions on the Riviera Maya.
All of our excursions are carried out in small groups and English speaking guides. We also offer all of our Cozumel tours as private excursions.
The island of Cozumel is 40 miles long and 10 miles wide. The road network covers only about two-thirds of the island. This means the north is accessible only by boats or SUVs. 85 percent of Cozumel are uninhabited, outside of San Miguel de Cozumel huge haciendas and jungle dominate the picture. About 20,000 people on Cozumel still speak Maya Yucateco, the language of the natives. Spanish is the official language. Many residents of Cozumel work in tourism and speak English, about 10,000 people from America live on Cozumel.
Things to do in Cozumel
San Miguel de Cozumel is the capital of the island with many shops, restaurants, bars. If you are interested in the Mayan culture, there are also interesting things to do. The largest Mayan ruins in Cozumel, San Gervasio, can be visited as part of Cozumel excursions or on your own.
Cozumel Excursions: San Gervasio
The main square Benito Juarez is named after one of the most important presidents in Mexico and is lined with numerous restaurants and market stores.
One of the main attractions on Cozumel is the beautiful clock tower on the main square. You cannot miss it. At night it is illuminated with different colors and lights. It is the oldest building on Cozumel Island and so far, it has survived all tropical storms.
The clock tower was built in 1910 to mark the 100 year anniversary of the call to arms of the Mexican War of Independence (Spanish: grita de independencia), which began in 1810. The, approximately, 800 inhabitants of Cozumel had to contribute to the construction of the tower, either with materials or labor. The buildings behind the clock tower are also of historical value. In the former town hall is now home to 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 market stores. 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, tasty snacks are sold. For bigger appetites , you will find many delicious restaurants around.
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 also has an exhibition of the underwater world and archeology.
If you follow the beach promenade further north, you get to some beautiful beach bars. Here is one of the most spectacular Cozumel attraction: Fantastic sunsets, accompanied by Mexican margaritas.
Cozumel Excursions: National Parks
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 or Asia for a diving vacation, but had the Cozumel reef almost in front of their country borders. There are many tours on Cozumel available that go to the reef. We recommend Cozumel Snorkel Tours, Private boat tours and Cozumel Dive excursions.
Cozumel Excursions: San Gervasio
Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Maya knew about navigation and used canoes to cross from the mainland to Cozumel Island. They wanted to make pilgrimages to their mother, the goddess Ix Chel, and bring her offerings. At those times, Cozumel was dedicated to the important Mayan god Ix Chel (pale lady) who was responsible for the moon and fertility. As a result, Cozumel became an important pilgrimage site of the ancient Maya.
One of the main attractions on Cozumel is located at the ruins of San Gervasio, where the shrine and the oracle of the Mayan goddess Ix Chel is located. Certified tour guides wait at the entrance to offer their services for a Cozumel tour through the archeological site of San Gervasio.
The pre-Columbian history of Cozumel came to an end when the Spanish 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.
Cozumel Excursions: Beaches
Cozumel Excursions: Beaches
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 as a customer.
Cozumel beaches on the East side
The beaches on Cozumel’s east side are a bit rougher than on the protected west side. That’s because these Cozumel beaches are exposed to the open ocean. There is more wind and waves on this side. When the temperature rises, many locals enjoy the fresh breeze on the beaches of the Cozumel east side. The waves offer good opportunities for surfing on Cozumel. If you see red flags on the Cozumel beaches, swimming is prohibited as there are strong currents towards the open sea and swimming is often dangerous. There is an indescribably beautiful and wild nature waiting to be experienced.
In the summer months, there is also the phenomenon of brown algae in Mexico, which can be seen on the beaches of the Cozumel east coast. Although theoretically all beaches on Cozumel can be affected, the currents predominantly flush the algae to the east side.
Cozumel beaches in the south
The beaches on the south side of Cozumel are accessible via the Punta Sur Eco Park. They are among the most beautiful beaches of the entire island of Cozumel and are protected in the most part, from wind and waves, by their location
Since the Punta Sur Eco Park is located in the very south of Cozumel, it is not easily accessible. Our private lagoons and beach tour or our private jeep tour are beautiful guided trips to this Cozumel National Park.
Cozumel beaches in the west and north
Most Cozumel beaches in the west side have a hotel or beach club that provides their facilities for an entry fee or for customers. While the southern beaches are gorgeous, sandy beaches, the more northerly beaches are more suitable for snorkeling. Most of the times, beaches on this side of Cozumel are protected from winds. Only if the wind comes from the north will it be windy and wavy.
Cozumel Excursions: Boat Tour Isla Passion
There are a few surprises to discover along the way. A sunken boat, snorkeling stops and sandbars with crystal clear water. A private boat charter to Isla Passion is definitely one of the best highlights on Cozumel away from the crowds.
Excursions on Cozumel to the National Parks
-> Cozumel Island Tour Punta Sur Lagoons and Beach
Cozumel excursions: Chancanaab
In the park there is a freshwater cenote with a connection to the sea, a theme park with duplicates of ancient Mexican works and a rocky beach for snorkeling. Here a salt water lagoon, a coral reef and some underwater caves were combined in a beach park. It is a beach, botanical garden and zoo at the same time.
As this park is close to the cruise ships piers, it can get very crowded here. With the additional packages such as dolphin swimming, we have strong concerns as to whether animal welfare is ensured. We therefore advise against those activities.
Excursions on Cozumel: Taxis
Due to the lack of public transport, day guests have the following options:
Even if Cozumel is an island and the distances are relatively short, you don’t get far walking. Those who come from Playa del Carmen after leaving the ferry crosses the street come directly to the main square of San Miguel de Cozumel.
The city center is also within walking distance from the Punta Langosta cruise port. Many souvenir shops and restaurants invite you to hang our here. However, no one comes to Cozumel to stay only in the city center. If you want to get to know the beauty of Cozumel, you have to rely on transportation.
Numerous taxi drivers are waiting for you on arrival at Cozumel. Taxis are expensive for the reasons mentioned above and it is always advisable to agree the price in advance. Price boards at the taxi stands tell visitors what a taxi shall cost.
However, taxi drivers also earn on the commissions of beach clubs, restaurants and souvenir shops, which already pay for simply bringing potential customers. Guests are not aware of this, but are often not driven to the most beautiful, but to the most lucrative places.
Excursions are the most convenient way to get to know Cozumel. Our tour guides have known Cozumel for many years and show the most beautiful corners on the island.
We have put together a selected package of excursions that shows visitors the highlights of Cozumel in just a few hours.
There are numerous rental car offers on Cozumel, which look very cheap compared to a taxi. However, these vehicles are often very old and the offers do not include any insurance. As soon as insurance are booked, rental car prices rise significantly.
Driving on Cozumel is relatively easy, there is right-hand traffic. A national driver’s license is sufficient, an international one is not necessary. Outside the city of San Miguel de Cozumel there is only one road around the island so that you cannot get lost. However, there are only 5 petrol stations on Cozumel, which can often lead to waiting times. Therefore, you should allow time for refueling before returning the rental car.
Motor scooters are also available to rent on Cozumel. Due to some extremely serious accidents that involved tourists, we do not recommend this form of transportation.
Cozumel Cruise Ports
Cruise ships on Cozumel: Shore excursions
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 excursion.
Ports for cruise ships on Cozumel
Cozumel has a total of three ports for cruise ships. Up to seven large ships can dock there. On days with many ships in Cozumel, the port of call may change at short notice. The cruise ship crew may update you a few days before your arrival. The three cruise ports on Cozumel are about 4 miles apart.
Cruise Port Cozumel Punta Langosta
Punta Langosta is the only cruise port on Cozumel right in the city center of San Miguel de Cozumel. Two cruise ships can dock here at the same time. Punta Langosta Cozumel Cruise Port is just a few minutes walk to the city center. The ferry to Playa del Carmen on the mainland is about the same distance.
Cruise Port Cozumel International Pier SSA
The Cozumel Port International Pier can hold two cruise ships. It is located just outside the city center, about 5 kilometers south. If you want to go to Playa del Carmen, you have to take a taxi to the ferry station, which is about 5 miles away, the journey takes around 10-15 minutes depending on the traffic.
Cozumel Puerta Maya cruise port
Puerta Maya is right next to the International Pier. Depending on the size of the ship, three to four cruise ships can dock here.
Why Cozumel – Vacation
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.
Those who like to dive or snorkel in the sea, would enjoy Cozumel more than the mainland as the reefs of Cozumel are much nicer and more spectacular than those in Playa del Carmen. Unfortunately, the coral reef in Playa is almost completely destroyed through the coastal development.
Excursions from Cozumel to the Riviera Maya
- Cozumel is the third largest island in Mexico.
- Cozumel is great for a day trip.
- 85% of the island of Cozumel is uninhabited.
- Cozumel is best known for its beaches, coral reefs and national parks.
Further Information Cozumel and Mexiko
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. Flight and hotel prices are noticeably higher in these periods. In the months of December to February, the average temperature is 22-28 degrees Celsius (71-83 Farenheit). This is wintertime. When the wind turns and blows from the north, it can get fresh at night. Therefore, you should bring a jacket.
During the months of March and April is our dry season. The humidity is not too high and it is pleasantly warm. From May, the temperatures rise to 30 – 35 degrees Celsius (86-95 Farenheit), and 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.
For Mexico you do not need a visa, but the passport should be valid for 6 months after arrival to the country. 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 upon entry. The tourist card is required by the immigration officer. 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 (~30 USD).
After going through immigration, 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.
The official currency is the Mexican pesos. In the tourist areas of Cancun, around Playa del Carmen and also on Cozumel, there are currency exchanges 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. In the tourist souvenir shops, bars and in taxis, the exchange rate is very bad. There you are better to pay with pesos. In many places Euros are also accepted. However, coins cannot be changed in the banks.
Also, pesos can be easily withdrawn with all major bank 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. There is no need to get pesos.
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 cases of dengue or Zika can occur, albeit very rarely. 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 as it is only suitable for showering and washing. Bottled water in bottles or from a canister (20-liter container) is suitable for drinking. Ice cubes are made from drinking water. Medicines can be bought in pharmacies without a prescription and are cheaper than in other countries.
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