Things to do in Cozumel, Mexico
Looking for Things to do in Cozumel, Mexico? I’m sharing more on our recent trip today. We made some amazing discoveries in Cozumel.
Cozumel is best known as Mexico’s most important port (according to the residents of Cozumel) so it is a very popular cruise destination. Yet, for those wanting to spend their vacation time on a relatively quiet island, Cozumel is a wonderful place to visit!
Isla Cozumel may not offer the high-rise glitz and glamor of nearby Mexican vacations spots like Cancun and Play Del Carmen. However is does provide a tropical paradise experience at a much slower pace, and without the crowds you find in Playa Del Carmen and Cancun.
If you love pristine beaches and water sports, Cozumel is a fabulous place for a beach vacation, year round.
Things to do in Cozumel, Mexico:
Cozumel is considered one the world’s best snorkel and scuba diving spots. The second largest coral reef on earth, the Meso-American Reef, runs the length of the west coast of Cozumel, with a huge drop-off at the southern end of the island known by scuba divers as “the wall.” Uncountable species of fish, turtles, coral, and marine life live in the reef providing brilliant color and endless activity for snorkelers and divers to witness.
Check weather reports before booking your trip. At certain times of the year, the water is rough, making snorkeling dangerous.
If snorkeling and scuba diving make you nervous, don’t worry. You can still experience the beauty of the reef in a submarine! Atlantis Submarines makes daily voyages through the Meso-American reef for anyone who would rather see it without getting wet. The submarine ride is perfect for honeymooners and families, and also gives you a good idea of where to go if you decide to make the plunge later in the week.
Cozumel is known for its crystal blue waters and soft sand beaches. The public beaches on the east side of the island are long and wide, so they are great for sun bathing and water sports.
The beaches of the west side of the island hug the coral reef, so they tend to be small. However you have the option of snorkeling very close to the shore.
Cozumel’s private beach parks offer snorkeling, water sports, pools, and activities for the whole family, all in one spot. We visited Playa Mia Beach Park one afternoon, a park filled with waterslides, splash parks, massage tubs, lazy areas for lounging, a wide sandy beach with places to snorkel out front, an enormous inflatable obstacle course floating out on the ocean, and various boats, kayaks, and water toys at our disposal.
The kids had a marvelous time running from pool to beach and exploring all the parks activities, while Lt. Dan and I had a marvelous time laying in lounge chairs and gazing out over the gentles waves, with tiki drink in hand.
Take advantage of sunset cruises, private boat tours, and fishing excursions. Whatever your seafaring fancy, you’ll find it on Cozumel.
Pirate Dinner Cruise
Cozumel’s very own Pirate Ship experience is big fun for the whole family! Enjoy surf and turf while swash buckling pirates take to the high seas.
Whatever your passion when it comes to the waves, you’ll find it in Cozumel, Mexico. Parasailing, Stand Up Paddling, Kiting, Wind Surfing, Surfing, and more.
We visited the Museo de la Isla de Cozumel one day when we were in town. When traveling with the kids, we always like to expose them to a little history and geography. We loved learning about the natural resources on the island, the Mayan ceremonies, and wildlife on and around Cozumel.
Another wonderfully memorable experience was visiting Cozumel’s Kaokao Chocolate Factory and Museum. We did this on a rainy day and had the most fun making chocolate from scratch with a hand-crank mill. We brought our chocolate home to make Mexican style Hot Chocolate this winter.
The people of Cozumel are very concerned with preserving plant and animal life on and around Cozumel. Therefore, you can experience nature all over the island.
However certain spots provide the best opportunity for you to learn about the natural environment. Chankanaab National Park is a wonderful place to visit to experience nature on land and in the water, and get acquainted with the animals of Cozumel. The mayan word “Chankanaab” means little sea, and the park is situated around Chankanaab Lagoon, the world’s only inland coral reef formation. Jacque Cousteau spent a substantial part of his life fighting to protect the lagoon and the reefs around Cozumel. The animals in Chankanaab Park are rescue animals that are on display for visitors only while they are being rehabilitated, then are released back into the wild.
There is also a large area of the park dedicated to preserving Mayan history. Visitors can walk through Mayan relics, and visit a traditional mayan home.
Swim with Dolphins
Chankanaab Park is also known for another amazing experience, swimming with Dolphins.
Because the park is dedicated to the preservation of nature and marine life, the dolphins (as well as manatees and sea lions) that participate in the program are rescue animals that are not capable of returning to the wild successfully. Instead they live in Chankanaab Park and are cared for by the marine staff. Some of the animals have been trained to respond to signals (and treats) to allow visitors to have an up-close and personal experience interacting with them.
We were able to take part in the Dolphin Encounter’s Royal Swim which allowed us to pet, kiss, and play with the dolphins from an underwater platform. Then swim with the dolphins as they pulled (and pushed) us across an open area. It was an experience we will never forget. The kids would tell you it was their very best day in Cozumel!
Chankanaab Park also hosts the traditional Mayan fertility ceremony around Chankanaab Lagoon once a year. The Mayan people would kayak across the sea to Cozumel in order to pay homage to Ixchel, the goddess of Fertility.
If you want to see real Mayan ruins, San Gervasio Archeological Site offers even more opportunity to encounter and learn about the traditional Mayan way of life.
If you want to experience ultra fresh seafood and traditional Mexican dishes, Cozumel is a great place to eat. As with all vacations spots, there are plenty of places to get a low-quality overpriced meal. However, there are also many wonderful restaurants, both for casual and fine dining.
Our three favorites were Sea Senor, La Casa Mission, and Paprika.
Sea Senor is an upper level restaurant close to the main port with fresh sea food in a casual environment. Don’t miss the grilled octopus and banana pie!
La Casa Mission is a traditional Mexican restaurant located in the home of one of the founding families on Cozumel. We actually ate Thanksgiving dinner at Casa Mission and had a wonderful feast of Mexican favorites and Lobster. Be sure to order the Sexy Coffee!
Paprika was just around the corner from our hotel, but offered one of our most memorable meals! It’s a good idea to order family style at Paprika; you will want to taste everything you see.
Honestly, when I go on vacation I want to avoid exercise. Yet Cozumel is so beautiful, it seems everyone wants to get out and move in the wind and waves. There are plenty of paths and sidewalks for runners.
In fact, we discovered the Iron Man Competition is hosted on Cozumel each year. Sadly, we missed the excitement by one day. Maybe next time…
As with all port locations, there is plenty of shopping about. The largest shopping areas are found at the public port and cruise ports.
Where to Stay in Cozumel
Depending on your budget and preferences, you can find a hotel to fit your needs. Or consider renting a house or condo for a longer visit. We stayed at the Park Royal All- Inclusive Resort. It offered several pools, amazing ocean views, and plenty of family-friendly activities. The kids didn’t want to leave.
Best times to visit Cozumel, Mexico
There isn’t really a bad time to visit Cozumel! The winter months tend to be fairly busy, due to northern visitors escaping the snow. Summer time is certainly warmer, but is probably the best time for diving and water sports. The only time to watch closely is August through October, hurricane season, yet you’re likely to get the best travel deals.
We were there the last week in November, and although we had a couple of cloudy blustery days (as you can see in the photos) it was still warm and mild. Just what we needed!