The Mexican island of Cozumel is located just off the eastern coast of Yucatan in the Caribbean Sea. This secluded paradise boasts breathtaking scenery and a laid back atmosphere. With its exotic wildlife, serene beaches and intriguing Mayan ruins, you’ll never run out of things to see on the island.  Swim in crystal clear water, go scuba diving, soak up some sun, and sample the local cuisine. From adventure-filled trips to relaxing days spent lounging on the beach, Cozumel is the perfect travel destination.

01Spend the Day at Chankanaab National Park

Chankanaab Park, Cozumel, Mexico

The word Chankanaab comes from the Mayan term, which means “small sea.” This unique outdoor park is known for its beautiful cenote, where visitors are invited to swim, snorkel, and search for dolphins. This park is perfect for families and groups of friends, as there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The diving is unbeatable and perfect for beginners, but swimming in the clear waters is also a great way to spend an afternoon. The park even has a spa for those looking for the ultimate way to relax. The park opens early, and you should try to get to the park in the morning to snag the best spots on the beach!

 

02Explore Punta Sur Eco Park

Cozumel, Mexico Palm trees at noon Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

This sprawling eco-park is perfect for any adventure lover. The 2,500-acre park spreads across the southern tip of Cozumel, and it’s full of exotic animals, including sea turtles and birds. Pack some water and a few snacks and head into the park to explore. Apart from spotting local wildlife, there are also two pre-Hispanic lighthouses located in the park.

When you need a break from the outdoors, check out the park museum and learn about the Mayans as well as the pirates frequented the island. For more of an adventure, book a boat tour of the Colombia lagoon and keep an eye out for crocodiles!

03Go Boating

Group of friends relaxing together on a party boat tour of the Carribean Sea adogslifephoto / Getty Images

The sea surrounding Cozumel is calm, and sailing is one of the best things to do while on the island. Hire a boat and relax onboard or jump in the water and do some snorkeling while out at sea. There are usually plenty of sea turtles and stingrays to see in the water, and if you’re lucky you can spot a few sharks! Head back to the safety of the boat and enjoy a glass of wine or an ice cold beer while you sail through the serene Caribbean.

04Visit the Cozumel Pearl Farm

Photo credit: steviep187 on VisualHunt.com CC BY-ND

A trip to the Cozumel Pearl Farm is unlike anything else! This family owned and operated business is based on a secluded beach on Cozumel that can only be reached by boat. Learn how pearls are farmed and take a tour of the farm hatchery. Be prepared for snorkeling as you will be invited to dive under the water to see how pearls and coral reef grow. You’ll also see the magnificent underwater statue of Virgen de Guadalupe. The tour includes lunch, drinks, and some cozy hammocks to relax in.

05Take a Tour of the Mayan Cacao Company

Ceremonial cacao drink (raw chocolate super food) on top of a mayan calendar Renphoto / Getty Images

The Mayans are famous for their cultivation of cacao. The Mayan civilization was the first to grow, ferment and roast the beans, and they also made the first hot chocolate using the cacao, cornmeal, chili, and other ingredients. Today, you can see how the Mayans did it by taking a tour of Cozumel’s Mayan Cacao Company. The 70-minute tour includes a tasting session where you can try some traditional Mayan recipes.

06Stroll Through San Miguel

Tourists visit shops and restaurants in downtown Cozumel Mexico

San Miguel is the capital of Cozumel, and it’s more than worth a visit. The city is on the western side of the island, and the large, sun-soaked boardwalk is a beautiful place to meander along. Get up early to enjoy the sunrise or walk around the city throughout the day to see the various street performers. To get a truly local experience, head to the central square, known in Mexico as the Zócalo and enjoy some people watching. The city is also home to some beautiful churches and fascinating monuments.

07Go Scuba Diving

Turtle with Angelfishes, Cozumel

No trip to Cozumel is complete without spending a day or two scuba diving. Beginners have their pick of places to dive, including the Chankanaab cenote. There are also an almost unlimited amount of places offering classes in scuba diving and snorkeling. For more experienced divers, there are the deeper Punta Sur, Colombia, and Palancar Reefs.

Do some research before your trip to find a few locations that match your skill level, and prepare yourself for some seriously awesome dives. Cozumel is also full of underwater statues, so you can challenge yourself and your friends to find them!

08Soak up Some Sun on the Beaches

Nachi Cocom Beach Club Carretera Costera Sur, Cozumel, Mexico Photo by The Travel Nook on Unsplash

If you’re searching for perfect sandy beaches and crystal clear water, Cozumel is the place for you. The island is lined with idyllic beaches that are the very picture of a Caribbean paradise. Spend a few days lounging beachside and work on the perfect tan. Punta Sur Beach, Playa Palancar and Chen Rio are particularly worth a visit. Indulge in a margarita and spend time catching up on some much-needed rest and relaxation.

09Visit the San Gervasio Mayan Ruins

One of the five temples at Ek Balam

Before the arrival of the Spanish, Cozumel was inhabited by members of the rich and fascinating Mayan civilization. The island is still home to some well-maintained Mayan ruins that you need to see before you leave. Although not nearly as famous as Chichén Itzá, the impressive San Gervasio Ruins are the main ones to see while on Cozumel. The ruins mark where Mayan women brought offerings to Ixchel, the goddess of love and fertility. Although you can explore the ruins by yourself, it’s worth paying extra for a guided tour to get the full experience.

10Sample Cozumel’s Cuisine

Traditional Mexican tacos in a restaurant in Cozumel

Food on Cozumel is similar to food found on the coastal towns on Yucatan, but there are certain dishes that can’t be found anywhere else. Cozumel dishes are influenced by Mayan, French, Spanish, and Caribbean cuisine, and they typically feature a huge array of fresh and flavorful seafood. Apart from fish and seafood, some local dishes include cochinita pibil, pork seasoned with sour orange and achiote paste that’s wrapped in banana leaves and baked as well as papadzules, tortillas filled with eggs and a spicy sauce made from pumpkin seeds. Wash your meal down with a smoothie, known locally as agua fresca. The food on Cozumel is simple, delicious and always affordable.