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There are many things to do in Cozumel when it comes to tourism. But every tourist destination has its specialty depending upon its region, climate, culture, and landscapes. So what's the specialty of Cozumel? What makes it different? Let's find the answers.
This island with breathtaking views in the Caribbean Sea makes this region an international tourist hub and a popular stop for cruises. Home to many tourist activities like fishing, diving, swimming, snorkeling, etc., Cozumel separates itself from other resort destinations by its historical ruins from Ancient Maya. Considering its uniqueness, we've compiled a list of 10 unique things to do in Cozumel. But before getting there, let's discover some basic facts about the island.
Crystal-clear warm and calm water with plenty of sea species around the island make it a perfect destination to lead a peaceful life with a lot of seafood around. There was a time when inhabitants of the island relied upon fishing to feed their families. But today, Cozumel has become a great attraction for tourists around the world, and its whole economy is based on tourism.
Cozumel is situated on the southeastern shore of the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. The distance between the mainland and Cozumel is about 82 km (51 miles), and the total area of the island is 478 sq km (297 sq miles), making it the third-largest island of Mexico, the largest Caribbean Island in Mexico, as well as the largest inhabited island in the Caribbean Sea. Most of the inhabitants live in the small town of San Miguel on the western side of the island. The island's surface is flat and mostly covered with mangrove forests, home to ample native birds and animals. Climate conditions rarely change in Cozumel, with temperatures typically between 32 ºC to 23 ºC (90 ºF to 73 ºF), making it a tourist hotspot for Americans and Canadians during the winter months.
The Maya ruins of Cozumel are the earliest evidence of human life on the island. It indicates that the Mayan civilization started here during the early first century C.E. During the Spanish colonial expedition, the population of Mayans was around 10,000. In 1520, a Spanish crew brought Chickenpox to the island, resulting in the total population decreasing to less than 400. Besides, the island also faced many pirate attacks in the 17th century, forcing islanders to leave their homes.
Though there's no trace of Maya culture in Cozumel, the late inhabitants have different cultural traditions. Notably, "Cozumel Carnival" and "Santa Cruz Festival and El Cedral Fair" are Cozumel's famous cultural traditions and are more than 150 years old.
Be it a daring, adventurous tour or a simple tour with friends or family, choosing a suitable place to stay is always necessary. In Cozumel, the best place to stay is an all-inclusive resort. An all-inclusive resort in Cozumel offers all types of food and beverages, accommodations with wi-fi, room service, and fitness facilities. Additional packages also include access to the spa, night shows, scuba equipment to go on an accompanied dive, or group snorkeling. You may find such resorts on the western coast of Cozumel Island alongside Quintana Roo C-1 coastal road. Some of the best resorts are Occidental Cozumel, Iberostar Cozumel, Cozumel Palace Resort, Secrets Aura Cozumel, and Allegro Cozumel. We have personal experience staying at the Iberostar Cozumel and it's an excellent resort, we made many memories there!
Considering its topography, we recommend you at least try snorkeling or diving accompanied by a local guide. This way, you can be sure to see manta rays and a wide array of fish near the reefs. The water visibility around the island is crystal-clear. You can see thoroughly into 230 ft depth, allowing you to take fantastic pictures while snorkeling. As you dive, you will find an impressive formation of colorful corals and a stunning variety of colorful fish.
As you finish discovering underwater beauty, head towards the Southern part of the island to see Punta Sur. As you reach Punta Sur, you will see a giant lighthouse. Climb up the stairs, and you will observe the finest view of the island.
Since Cozumel is flat, you can get a great view on a clear day, especially if you bring binoculars. Nearby there's Laguna Colombia, north of the tower which is home to many species of crocodiles. You can see them from either a trail in the mangroves or from the shore. You can also climb on the dock over the lagoon to have a better look.
If you have a genuine enthusiasm for tourism and want to make your journey memorable with some real adventure, then head to Punta Molas. However, if you are traveling there for the first time, we advise you to hire a local guide because you will face many sandpits and swamps on the way.
Punta Molas is situated on the northern tip of the island. You will find a magnificent yet deserted lighthouse there. You can also have a breathtaking sky-view by just climbing up. Due to its remoteness from populated areas, Punta Molas has preserved its natural aesthetics. You will witness some overwhelmingly attractive beaches with crystal-clear blue water on your way to the Punta Molas. It's necessary to rent a jeep or truck to handle the terrain full of sandpits and swamps. Also, don't forget to fill your vehicle's fuel tank so you won't get into any trouble.
Get up early in the morning and prepare for a tour through the Maya Ruins. These ruins are believed to be over 2000 years old. There were many ruins on Cozumel Island, but over time they were destroyed, and the last remaining largest ruins are at San Gervasio. These ruins were sacred places for the Maya Civilization, and they worshipped "Ix Chel," the Maya Moon Goddess or Goddess of fertility. People used to come here for pilgrimage, especially the women who desired fertility.
The entrance to the ruins requires two tickets that cost $10 in total. We highly recommend hiring a guide for the whole experience. A local guide in Cozumel should cost up to $20 for almost 5 hours of tours. They do an excellent job bringing you back in time to marvel at this ancient civilization.
If you visit Cozumel in April, you could be lucky to have one of the best festivals held in Cozumel annually. El Cedral is a village situated at one of the Maya ruins in the southern part of the island, which was modified as a jail in the 1800s, and its original foundation dates back to the 8th century CE.
The festival is a big deal across Mexico and has had many people participating for over 150 years. There are plenty of things performed here, including rooster fights, bullfights, horse racing, and rodeo concerts. As well as the best tasting Mexican foods are served, and merchants sell their traditional and non-traditional goods here. So if you are seeking a more local experience, joining this festival would be one of the best things to do in Cozumel.
If you are looking for a better understanding of the whole story of Cozumel Island, you should consider visiting the Cozumel Museum. It's on the western side of the island, close to the Ferry Ultramar port of Cozumel. The museum features the best presentation of Cozumel's geography, geology, marine life, ancient Maya history, the domestic lifestyle of Mayans, and much more about the island.
No one can deny the importance of food and beverages, especially when you are in a country with such excellent food. Most of the restaurants in Cozumel offer seafood with their particular specialties, such as Casa Denis, one of the oldest restaurants in Cozumel. You will never find Cochinita Pibil tacos anywhere tastier than here, coconut shrimp and grilled fish are the specialties of Casa Cuzamil Restaurant, and Paprika Restaurant has its famous poke bowl and fish tacos to serve. In addition, you will find some restaurants that offer desserts, beverages, cakes, etc. for instance, look at the variety provided by Los Tacotales, El Rincon de Addy, and El Coffee Cozumel restaurants. You will easily find most of the restaurants in the San Miguel town of Cozumel.
The Eastern part of Cozumel, due to its remoteness, makes the place great for nature-lovers. As you travel out to this side of the island, you will discover breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. Notably, you will observe on your way that the sea is rougher as compared to the western side of the island. Every spot in Cozumel has its charm, but this tour will bring some special memories if you plan it out. Setting up a campsite and spending the night here and having a party would be one of the best things to do in Cozumel at night. Just remember to be respectful and clean up after yourselves.
If you are lucky to be in Cozumel between April and October, you may get a chance to participate in one of the best activities in Cozumel. Every year from April to June, sea turtles return to lay eggs at their nests on the island's eastern side. Volunteers help them make new nests. Then between July and October, baby turtles hatch from the eggs and make their way to the sea. If you sign up to volunteer them and escort them to sea, it would be your duty to watch them and rescue them if they get tangled in any obstacle. Once they reach the water, you will see them vanishing into the water for the very first time in their lives.
This experience is utterly different from what you can ever do in Cozumel. But, if you get the chance, you must become a turtle rescue volunteer and bring home one of the most remarkable stories from your trip.
There are so many exceptional places to see from the beginning to the end of your tour. We created this list of 10 based on their uniqueness and popularity. However, there is still more treasure to be uncovered on this amazing Cozumel Island. If you have read this thoroughly, you should have a good start to plan the perfect trip to Cozumel. We hope you have a fantastic experience, and we wish you the best of luck on your adventure!
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