This sunny, 29-mile-long island, located off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula just south of Cancun, is a playground for cruisers with an appetite for exploration, adventure — and margaritas. The town of San Miguel is a vibrant yet laid-back maze of shops, restaurants, and bars, while the rest of the jungle-clad island is dotted with pretty beaches and its world-famous offshore reefs attract divers of all skill levels. Here are the seven top things to do in Cozumel.
1. Take a snorkel tour.
Whether you’re in search of adorable sea turtles, schools of Technicolor tropical fish, or even massive whale sharks, Cozumel offers easy access to several stellar reefs teeming with sea life. Choose a tour based on your ability and preferred vibe (larger boats tend to attract more of a party crowd) and dive right in to exceptionally clear, warm water.
2. Visit Mayan ruins.
While the ruins at San Gervasio, located northeast of San Miguel, offer insight into ancient Mayan culture, Tulum and Chichen Itza on the mainland are far more captivating — Tulum for its seaside beauty and Chichen Itza for its impressive pyramids, such as El Castillo. Just note that visiting either of the mainland ruins involves both a boat and bus ride, taking up most of your day in port.
3. Make your own lunch with a Mexican cooking class.
If you’d love to return from your cruise with some extra culinary skills, book a class with hands-on instruction in preparing regional Mexican specialties. The classes usually include a market visit to shop for fresh produce, chicken, pork, and fish. You may even learn how to mix up authentic margaritas.
4. Rent a scooter or Jeep.
Arrange for your own wheels and you can custom-make a day just for you. Head down to the calmer waters at Playa Caletita or Playa Palancar on Cozumel's southern coast, explore the ruins at San Gervasio, or book a relaxing massage at one of the island’s day spas. Finish up in San Miguel with burritos and an ice-cold cerveza.
5. Scuba dive spectacular reefs.
There are more than 20 reefs off Cozumel's coasts, with options available for divers of all levels. Novice to intermediate divers should head to Columbia, Cardona, Palancar, or Punta Dalila. Advanced and expert divers can choose from more challenging sites, including the caves of Punta Sur and the wreck Xicotencatl.
6. Play at Punta Sur Eco Beach Park.
This 2,500-acre reserve located at Cozumel’s southwest tip is a family-friendly playground with wildlife spotting (sea turtles, crocodiles, tropical birds), Mayan ruins, a climbable lighthouse, and an array of gorgeous beaches for swimming and snorkeling.
7. Explore San Miguel.
If your idea of a relaxing day in port is souvenir shopping and sipping a frozen cocktail or two, San Miguel has you covered. In Cozumel's only town you’ll find boutiques selling silver jewelry, colorful ceramics, leather sandals, and tropical clothing. Many shops and restaurants are clustered around Plaza Del Sol, but it’s better to venture further into town for a bit more authenticity.