Cozumel is Mexico’s largest island in the Caribbean Sea. It is a popular tourist destination for scuba diving due to its beautiful reefs located only a short boat ride from the mainland. Another unique feature of the island is its cenotes, or deep, water-filled holes formed in limestone along the coast. The cenotes are popular spots for experienced cave divers. The middle of the island is mostly impenetrable jungle filled with native species of birds and lizards.
Cozumel sits off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is about 6.2 miles from Playa del Carmen, located on the mainland. Ferries depart on the hour during weekdays carrying passengers back and forth from the port on the mainland to the western coast of the island.
Cozumel is a municipality in the state of Quintana Roo. Quintana Roo is divided into ten municipalities total.
Highway stretches around the outer rim of the island, but the middle of the island is filled with dense jungle. The best reefs are located along the western side of the island. Chankanaab National Park has some of the best conditions for beginner divers and snorkelers. You have to pay to get in here, but make sure to check out the best free snorkeling spots off the western beaches.
The only gated community on Cozumel is located on the western side of the island, south of the tourist areas. It is surprisingly affordable if you have a large group travelling with you. These are great picks if you are looking for Cozumel vacation rentals by owner.
The south end of the island has really unique features. Limestone rock has been carved out by the pounding of the ocean’s waves. You can park your car and watch the waves hit inside the holes as water sprays up in the air, providing a lovely cool breeze on a hot day.
The “touristy” areas are on the northwest side of the island, mostly located around the cruise ship docks. There are some very ‘Americanized’ spots here like Senor Frogs, etc. But if you venture a little further in town you can find food for much cheaper and it will be ‘muy autentico.’
There are also some Mayan ruins, though not to impressive, located on the southern part of the island. You will need a Jeep to get out to some of them. Check the rental agreement with your car company before venturing off onto any unpaved roads. You could void your rental agreement and have to pay heavily when returning the vehicle.
Oh, and who can forget the crazy guy who sells trinkets at the southernmost point. If you are American, he will try to use lines from famous (though old) U.S. movies and shows to make you laugh. He blows through conk shells to summon you to his beachside open air shop as you drive by. So kooky.
The high tourist season in Cozumel runs from December through March. Anyone visiting from further north can get excited about absolutely the best weather for any vacation. It is warm, bright and sunny. The ocean is glistening in the daylight and sipping drinks under a palm shade while watching the sunset at night can’t be beat.
While people in the U.S. and Europe are experiencing the chill of winter, Cozumel’s population is enjoying a comfortable 65-70 degrees.
Cozumel is hot and stormy in the middle of summer. Mosquitoes are common at night and the temperature can reach 95 degrees during the daytime. While a convertible car might seem like a fun idea, if you are visiting Cozumel in the middle of summer, make sure to rent a car with a working top. The sun is so strong that you can get sunburned easily by just riding in the car.
But don’t let the heat and mosquitoes scare you off. The dead of summer is also the cheapest time to visit Cozumel. Plentiful island breezes and gorgeous white sand beaches will soon take your mind off the heat. The island is really so much fun that you will easily forget how hot it is.
I have been in mid-July and still had a great time with my friends. My one regret is not wearing sunscreen while riding in the car during the daytime. Thankfully, that incident didn’t happen until my last day on the trip.
Hurricane season is late fall and the island’s rainy season sets in during the late summer and early fall.