Best Things to do in Cozumel in 2020
3 days In Cozumel
We´ve waited a loooong time before having the opportunity to visit Cozumel. As a diver, I was curious about the diving in Cozumel, even more listening to Esteban who knew how good the diving was. Due to the Covid-19 situation, we had to wait for the lockdown to be over and to Cozumel to re open to divers. We finally got an opportunity to visit Cozumel and as we were planning our 3 days to the island, we were getting very excited. Now, I understand why Cozumel is so popular. It is a real dive and snorkel paradise you should definately visit, an island where go can take a submarine tour, snorkel the 2nd largest coral reef in the world, visit a Mayan archaeological site or try an ancient Mayan chocolate recipe. This gorgeous has plenty to do both above and below the water, so we encourage you to go, explore and enjoy 3 days in Cozumel.
Best things to do in Cozumel
Table of Contents
How to go to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen?
As we had our own car here, we decided to bring it to Cozumel to have more freedowm to move around. You have to know that the taxi rides are quite expensive, especially if you want to explore the island. We roughly knew the ferry timetable (check it prior to you travel by calling ultramar +52 1(998) 293-9092 if you don´t want to have unpleasant surprise like us!!!!) but when we arrived at the ferry deck, the security guide told us the the ferry was full and left half an hour earlier. WHAT!!!!! Yes, things like this happens! We had to wait for the next ferry at 1.30pm, 2h30 later. All good, we always have an emergency plan. We went to a gorgeous beach in Playa del Carmen called Playa Punta Esmeralda. It is located at the far end the the 5th avenue going North where the locals like spending weekends far from the busy town beaches. Then we went back to the ferry and arrived in Cozumel after a 30 minutes late departure and 1h15 ride.
TIPS: Arrive minimum 1 hour before departure time to make sure to get a spot. Sometimes, people lined up for 2 hours!
Where to stay in Cozumel?
As we mentioned, our travel mission is to find typical places and make the local home owner get profits out of the tourism industry. In Cozumel, various types of accommodations are available, from cheap hostel to luxury all-incluisive resorts. We found a lovely apartment to rent for our 3 days in Cozumel called Studio XH. Located right in the center of Cozumel, it offers a simple comfortable studio apartment with bathroom, queen size bed, wifi and terrace where you can chill at the end of the day. PRICE: M$ 1349 ($60)
Other options are available from budget accommodation to luxury resorts.
- Casa Calido : central location and well-equipped accommodations featuring free WiFi in Cozumel, double bed and shared bathroom PRICE: M$376 ($16)
- Casa de Yoli : entire apartment located in the town center od San Miguel de Cozumel with patio, specific units are air-conditioned and have a dining area and a seating area with a flat-screen TV. PRICE : M$ 573 ( $25)
- Casa Coral Cozumel : This hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, a shared lounge and air-conditioned accommodations with a patio and free WiFi. PRICE : M$ 984 ($43)
- Hotel Cozumel & Resort : Conveniently located in Cozumel, Hotel Cozumel & Resort is a great base from which to explore this vibrant city. PRICE : from M$ 1505 ($69)
- Casa Mexicana Cozumel : Cental located, offers its guests free breakfast buffet and complimentary Wi-Fi connection. There is coffee service available in the lobby area. All rooms are air conditioned and have cable TV. PRICE: M$1657 ($75)
- Kinta Kan Hotel Boutique Cozumel : Featuring an outdoor swimming pool, garden and views of pool, private bathroom, air conditioning, and certain rooms also offer a patio. PRICE : M$ 1108 ($49)
- El Cid La Ceiba Beach: This beachfront resort is on the beautiful island of Cozumel in Mexico. It offers 2 pools, tennis courts, a spa and free meals. All air-conditioned suites have a balcony with ocean views. PRICE: M$2309 ($103)
- The Explorean Cozumel All Inclusive : located in Cozumel, right on the Caribbean Sea. It is surrounded by jungle and features on-site snorkelling. PRICE : M$ 5987 ($267)
- Grand Park Royal Cozumel All Inclusive : Turquoise often crystal clear waters are just offshore. Beneath the surface are breathtaking reefs to attract undersea divers (and fantastic undersea life) from around the world and the Grand Park Royal Cozumel is in the center of it all. PRICE : M$ 6717 ($299)
How to start a 3 days in Cozumel trip?
As we arrive quite late, we had less time than expected but, as we are the kings of the emergency plans 😅, we decided to spend some time to stroll in the city center to immerge ourself in the local tropical vibes. Downtown has tons of options as far as dining and shopping. While you’re in the area, take a brief look around the bustling shopping port of San Miguel. This is the only dense area of shops you will find on the island. Visit the Kaokao Chocolate factory or simply enjoy a fresh bear or cocktail watching the sunset. As the cruise industry has stopped, we were very lucky to see cozumel without those hudges flotting hotels, which made it more enjoyable.
Why diving in Cozumel in so good? Our experience
Best things to do in Cozumel Mexico
So, we came to Cozumel to dive, this is the best part of our 3 days in Cozumel. As we all know, Cozumel is a dive paradise and they is a lot of dive shops and dive sites, so choosing a good dive shop and the best dive sites. Of course, if you made it to Cozumel, you want to dive as much as you can but the dive here is quite expensive so, depending on your budget, you will have to choose where to dive. Diving in cozumel is awesome because of:
- The perfect crystal clear water with stellar visibility
- Vibrantly colored sponges
- Leisure drift dives
- Wall dives
- Abundant marine life
- Tunnels and caves
After investigated on different dive shops, we decided to dive with a local dive shop. We contacted them some days in advance and they were very responsives and giving clear informations about prices and diving. EXCELLENT choice. They are a local small business, excatly what we were looking for. Professional and friendly team, good diving equipments and advises, the boat is spacious and comfortable and they have reasonnable good prices.
We dived in Santa Rosa wall, Tormentas and Paraiso. It was absolutly amazing.
- Santa Rosa wall is a 65% angle drop wall with hudge coral formations and caves
- Tormentas is a coral platform with impressive coral shapes and colors where you will experiences the Cozumel “drift dive”
- Paraiso is another coral platform with more marin life such as lobsters, crabes and trigger fish
Other dive sites
- Palancar Gardens is one of the most popular dive sites. It has some amazing coral formations and extremely healthy coral
- Colombia wall is a deep reef featuring massive coral pillars, caves and tunnels. You’ll see a colorful array of corals and sponges, home to colorful fish.
- Chankanaab is a dive site with large coral mounds, sponges, small black coral trees, gorgonians, sea fans, scorpionfish, feather duster worms and flamingo tounge
- Barracuda reef is a dive site where the coral is lush, beautiful beyond description – acres of multi-colored corals covering underwater valleys, mountains, and plains
Drive to the wild east side & visit the Mayan site
Paradise Beach Cozumel
After our fantastic day diving, we had some spare time to discover the east side of the island. Cozumel’s beautiful and wild east side faces the open Atlantic and Cuba. The waters on this side of Cozumel are not as calm and are not well suited for snorkeling. However, they are perfect for surfing! We actually came on a very quiet day and didn´t see the waves but a calm ocean. However, people told us there are dangerous rip tides and even experienced local swimmers have died there. So if you go for a swim be very carefull.
Here, sea turtles come to nest and send their little ones off into the big ocean to repopulate. It is a lovely place for a drive and to stop in at one or more of the little beach bars. Plus there are great beach bars to hang out and just chill. Coconuts Restaurant is one of the best restaurants to stop at on the east coast and there are many beaches where you can spend the day.
Cozumel east side Beaches
- Punta Morena, this beach in the midpoint of the east coast is a beautiful stretch of sand and the waves are not as wild as some other shorelines here.
- Playa Chen Rio has a series of large rocks, as a result, there is fairly sheltered water at a depth of less than two meters. Swimmers and snorkelers will enjoy the sea and a small, rocky island lies just offshore which is fun to explore.
- Playa Bonita is slightly sheltered, so the waves are manageable and swimming is no problem and it has a powdery white sand in a lovely cove.
San Gervasio Mayan Site in Cozumel
Located in the northeast portion of Cozumel Island, the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio are comprised of four different areas extending over several kilometers. While the size of San Gervasio may not impart the importance of the site to the ancient Maya, perhaps this will: San Gervasio served as the second most important site of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya of the region just behind Chichen Itza. San Gervasio is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. Adults pay a $4.50 USD entrance fee, and kids 10 and under can visit free of charge. The Cozumel ruins have basic services and facilities including restrooms, a snack bar, free parking, and souvenirs and handicrafts available for purchase. Try and go early as that way you can beat the crowds and the heat. Also, be sure to bring some water, a hat, and insect repellant, especially during rainy season
Restaurants on the East side of Cozumel
- Paradise Café is located on the southeast tip of Cozumel and looks a bit more like a roadside stand in Jamaica than Cozumel. But don’t let that fool you. The food is good, the atmosphere is laid-back
- Coconuts is a lovely restaurants with tables surround the colorful bar and are usually plentiful. It’s the view that’s the draw, as well as the nachos and ice cold beer. The main dishes are pretty good, too. There’s even a small walking path with even more exceptional views.
- El Pescador Beach Club: a beach club with lots of space for beach volleyball and hanging out, with tons of lounge chairs to choose from.
Shouls I take a tour to El Cielo in Cozumel
El cielo snorkeling tour
On our last day, we decided to take a tour to the famous beach El Cielo. They booked us for a departure at 12pm so we had the all morning to enjoy the island. We drove to the north part of the island which is a bit more remote. There is not much to do but the jungle and mangrove lanscape are gorgeous. Passing the airport, the road/track ends at the laguna where you can take a small boat to get to “isla passion” We didn´t have the time to cross there but people told us it was a beach were the locals like to spend their weekends. We guessed it must be wild and beautiful.
Anyway, after the drive we made our way to the same dive shop where we booked the dives, they are also operating the tour to El Cielo.
What is El Cielo in Cozumel?
El Cielo in Cozumel is a snorkeling spot that is only accessible by boat where you can see a surplus of starfish and snorkel in crystal clear turquoise waters. The El Cielo tour in Cozumel is one of the most popular excursions on the island and one that I had been dying to try. El Cielo (meaning ‘Heaven’ in Spanish) is one of those surreal destinations deserving of a feature photo. It is located on the southwestern tip of Cozumel island. It’s a shallower area of water right off the coast of the island. It’s considered one of the best snorkeling spots in Cozumel and known for its abundance of starfish and crystal clear water.
About the El Cielo tour in Cozumel
The tour included snorkeling at two different reefs – Palancar and Colombia, snorkeling at El Cielo, and a leisurely stop at El Cielito. The tour was offered at a couple of different times throughout the day but we opted for the morning tour departing at 12:00 pm. The meeting point is at the ferry deck where you will meet your tour guide at the designated and they will escort you to the boat nearby. The tour includes snorkeling gears, water, soft drinks, fruits, snacks and beers. After departing from the Cozumel ferry, we cruised down the coast and the first stop on the tour was snorkeling at Palancar Reef, the to Colombia reef and finally to El Cielo. After visiting El Cielo, we cruised over to Playa El Cielito (“Little Heaven”) which a very shallow beach nearby with equally stunning turquoise water.
Is the tour worth it?
ABSOLUTLY! You might hesitate as the tour is so famous or lose your patience because of the milions of guide harasing you when you arrive, but we definatly recommand to take the tour. The snorkeling is spectacular and El Cielo is really something unique and extremely beautiful. Book your tour online or when you arrive, you will easily find an agency selling the tour.
Book your tour
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As a conclusion
We finished the snorkeling tour around 5pm and had to rush to the ferry, departing at 8pm. Well, it seems that we had plenty of time but, as they recommend to be 1h30 before at the ferry, we took a fast shower, grabbed something to eat and head to the marina. It was such a shame to end the weekend in a rush but as we were waited for the ferry, we both had sparks of hapiness in our eyes.
So YES, cozumel is a paradise you shoud put on your bucket list.Spend at least 3 days in Cozumel to enjoy your trip fully!