AAA Travel Tips / Top Things to Do in Cozumel

Top Things to Do in Cozumel

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By AAA Travel Editor Michelle Palmer
April 08, 2022
Cozumel is a beautiful tropical island located just off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The underwater landscape is captivating, and the island offers a wide variety of nature-based attractions on both land and water. You can go diving or snorkeling, charter a fishing cruise, relax on the beach, learn about Cozumel culture or take a trip into the past by visiting Maya ruins.
The vibrant city of San Miguel is where cruise ships dock, but you can travel all over the small island whether you are there for a day on a shore excursion or staying longer. Check out our list of the best things to do in Cozumel and start planning your next vacation.

Rent a Jeep and drive around the island

If you prefer to see the fantastic sights of Cozumel on your own, rent a Jeep and head out on the roads, stopping wherever you wish. It’s hard to get lost on the only road that circles the island, and the travel times between stops are short. Car rentals are a relatively low cost (typically $75-$100 per day).
Before renting and driving a vehicle in Mexico, there are some things you should know. Have your valid U.S. driver's license, a copy of your passport (not the original), and a copy of your rental agreement and auto insurance. Renters must carry auto insurance; check with your credit card company to see if they provide any coverage for car rentals. If not, purchase insurance through the rental company. Follow all local traffic laws, and if you get pulled over and fined, ask the officer for a written ticket and directions to the location to pay the fine. Do not pay the officer; that can be considered a bribe and might get you into more trouble.
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Visit El Mirador

The El Mirador lookout is located on the east side of Cozumel, a 30- to 40-minute drive from the cruise ship terminals. It should definitely be a stop if you are touring the island on your own. It is a naturally formed rock where the sea created an arch from years of erosion caused by the waves.
Wear closed-toed shoes when visiting this beach; water shoes are a great option. The beach is rocky, and swimming conditions are not safe, but you can enjoy the view and walk out onto the rock formation.

Swim through the Cozumel Pearl Farm

Cozumel Pearl Farm is a family-owned business. If you take the tour, your guide will pick you up and take you by boat to a privately owned beach where the pearl farming takes place. Once you arrive, your guide will tell you about pearl farming techniques, then set you up with snorkel equipment.
On your swim through the oyster hatchery, you can see artificial and natural reefs and a sunken statue of the Virgin de Guadalupe. After snorkeling, enjoy lunch on the beach, then relax in a hammock, stroll alongside the water's edge or dive back in for a swim in the picturesque turquoise water.
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Take a catamaran trip around Cozumel

In Cozumel, you can embark on a catamaran excursion around the island. Typical stops on catamaran tours are Palancar Reef, Playa El Cielo and Tortugas Snorkel Center and Beach Bar. You can swim and snorkel in the water that stays in a comfortable range of 79 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, and you have the chance to see amazing aquatic animals and colorful reefs. Catamaran tours often feature a meal and an open bar.

Try snorkeling or diving in Cozumel

While in Cozumel, you should go snorkeling or diving. Mesoamerican Reef, sometimes called The Great Mayan Reef, is a spectacular coral reef that spans an area offshore from Honduras to Mexico and is the second-largest reef in the world. While diving or snorkeling, you may see large schools of fish, sea turtles and colorful coral reefs.
Popular dive sites for beginner scuba divers are Paradise Reef, Yucab Reef and Palancar Gardens; dive sites for expert divers include Devil's Throat, Barracuda Reef and Maracaibo Reef. You can arrange dive and snorkel trips as shore excursions with your cruise ship, or book them on your own at any of the dozens of dive shops in Cozumel.
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Check out the Mayan Cacao Company

The Mayan Cacao Company is a 15- to 20-minute drive from the cruise port terminals. Take a tour to learn about Maya history and the important role chocolate played in Maya culture; one of many Maya traditions was producing cacao beans.
In a hands-on workshop, learn how the Maya made chocolate, and when purchasing your tickets, you have the option of adding a chocolate margarita tasting. Don't forget to stop in the gift shop to get a few chocolate bars to go.

Grab a rod and go deep-sea fishing in Cozumel

Cozumel is an excellent location for deep-sea fishing. Several companies will let you charter a fishing trip yourself or you can set up a trip with the help of a AAA Travel Agent or through your cruise provider.
Fishing conditions are usually excellent in Cozumel, but the best time of year to find sailfish and marlin is typically March through April. You are also likely to see grouper and mahi-mahi. At other times of the year, fishing for barracuda and red snapper is more favorable. Cozumel is the perfect spot to enjoy a day of fishing out on the water.
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Punta Sur Eco Beach Park

Punta Sur Eco Beach Park is an unforgettable experience in Cozumel. The 2,500-acre natural reserve sits on the southern tip of the island.
Many consider this the best beach on the island, but there is more to the park than the beach. A scenic tower and a lighthouse provide fantastic views of the surroundings. General admission also gives you access to nature trails. Amenities within the park include restrooms; a changing area with showers; beach chairs and umbrellas; and kayak, paddleboard and snorkel equipment rentals. For an extra fee, you can also enjoy a massage. A restaurant and a tequila bar are within the park.
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Visit the Maya ruins of San Gervasio

About an 11-mile drive from the cruise ports, the Maya ruins of San Gervasio are an excellent spot to learn about the pre-Hispanic culture and people of Mexico. There are temples and other structures on the site where the Maya people once worshipped, conducted commerce and participated in political life.
You should definitely consider hiring a guide. You can tour the ruins on your own, but guides truly enhance the experience, bringing the history to life by telling you about the goddess Ixchel, how the temple was important to Maya women and many other interesting facts.
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Playa Mia Grand Beach Park

The Playa Mia Grand Beach Park in Cozumel is an excellent option for cruise passengers and vacationers alike who want a worry-free beach day. While at the beach park, you can enjoy the water slides, an inflatable obstacle course in the ocean, kayaks, pedal boats and water bicycles. Little ones will enjoy playing on the pirate ship in the shallow pool.
For an extra fee, you can go parasailing, take a snorkel tour or rent personal watercraft. They even offer fish pedicures and rejuvenating massages. And don't forget the white sand beach. Lounging waterside and enjoying the ocean are included with admission.

Visit Playa Uvas Sur

Playa Uvas Sur lies about a 10- to 20-minute drive from the cruise ship terminals in San Miguel. Playa Uvas Sur seems like a dream with its soaring palm trees, stunning white sand and welcoming ocean views.
Admission includes snorkel gear, a 30-minute snorkel tour, 30 minutes of kayak use and access to beach chairs and umbrellas. For an additional fee, you can take an ATV or dune buggy tour.
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Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park

The Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park is a private beach that is fun for kids and adults. A favorite among kids is the sea lion show. Scuba, snuba (tankless diving where air supply remains on the surface) and helmet diving tours are available as well.
Of course, you can also lounge on the white sand beach and enjoy the food at any of the three on-site restaurants. If you want a relaxing day, schedule a massage at the spa.
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Soak up the sun at Mr. Sanchos Beach Club

Mr. Sanchos Beach Club is a popular spot for cruise passengers to Cozumel. The all-inclusive pass includes an all-you-can-eat buffet and unlimited drinks (including daiquiris, margaritas, piña coladas and domestic beer).
The all-inclusive pass also gives you access to the pool, a separate section of the beach, lounge chairs and kayaks. For an extra fee, you can enjoy the aquatic park, an inflatable obstacle course floating just offshore. They also offer horseback riding tours and parasailing.
Towels are not included with the pass, so remember to bring your own or the one provided by your cruise ship. If you want to beat the crowds, come here on a day when only a few cruise ships are in port.
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