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Cozumel

Cozumel Vacations

Teardrop-shaped Cozumel is a calm, charming island with a primo diving reputation. Otherwise known as Ah-Cuzamil-Peten (Island of Swallows), it's Mexico's most populous island.

Thanks to a Jacques Cousteau documentary on Cozumel's world-class reefs, it has been a favorite international diving destination since 1961. It's literally swimming with dive sites - 100 have been identified within 5km (3mi) of the island; at least a dozen of them are shallow enough for snorkeling.

Region: Mexico

Featured Cozumel Hotel

Iberostar Cozumel

Our 3-Star classification designates those properties where guests experience an ideal mix of comfortable accommodations and modern amenities. Most of these hotels feature a variety of services, and offer distinguished style and comfort.
Cozumel, Mexico

This hotel is the ideal setting for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, offering easy access to the Palancar and Santa Rosa Reefs

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Overview

Teardrop-shaped Cozumel is a calm, charming island with a primo diving reputation. Otherwise known as Ah-Cuzamil-Peten (Island of Swallows), it's Mexico's most populous island.

Thanks to a Jacques Cousteau documentary on Cozumel's world-class reefs, it has been a favorite international diving destination since 1961. It's literally swimming with dive sites - 100 have been identified within 5km (3mi) of the island; at least a dozen of them are shallow enough for snorkeling.

What To Do

Thanks to the barrier reef, Cozumel, replete with tropical fish, coral and undersea flora, has some of the best scuba diving in the Yucatán. Schools of dive operators await to sink you to the clear and drop-dead-gorgeous depths below. Aficionados of snorkeling are also sure to smile a lot here.

What To See

Thank Jacques for unveiling this underwater paradise!

If you're on Cozumel it's probably for the diving or snorkeling - there's not a whole lot else to do. However, a visit to the museum will clue you in to the ways of the local coral before you head out to the deep, and there are also Mayan ruins and lush jungle to explore.

El Castillo Real
Down the same intimidating road that leads to Punta Molas, are the large Mayan ruins known as El Castillo Real (The Royal Castle). The archaeological site, as well as the Aguada Grande ruins a few kilometers' hike away, are both quite far gone, their significance having blown off into the breeze some time ago. Still, half the fun is in getting there, right?

El Cedral
This Maya ruin is the oldest on the island. It’s the size of a small house and has no ornamentation. El Cedral is thought to have been an important ceremonial site; the small church standing next to the tiny ruin today is evidence that the site still has religious significance for locals.

Parque Punta Sur
At this ecotouristic park, you can visit a lighthouse and a small nautical museum. About 10 minutes away by car is an observation tower where you can see migratory birds and possibly crocodiles. This park area offers a beach, restaurant and three midday boat tours of Laguna Colombia. You'll need a vehicle or taxi to get here.

Playa Palancar
About 17km south of town, Palancar is another great beach. It has a beach club renting hydro bikes, kayaks, snorkel gear and sailboats, plus a restaurant and a dive operation. Near the beach, Arrecife Palancar (Palancar Reef) has some very good diving (it’s known as Palancar Gardens), as well as fine snorkeling (Palancar Shallows).

Punta Molas
Head northeast, fellow traveler, and you'll find yourself at the deserted lighthouse of Punta Molas. But take a 4WD, as this point isn't the easiest to reach. You'll want to fill up that gas tank and be prepared - there isn't much traffic around here to flag down for help. Once in the vicinity, you'll find some fairly good beaches and some minor ruins. The best camping spot along the road is at the lovely Playa Bonita

San Gervasio
San Gervasio is thought to have been the site of the sanctuary of Ixchel, goddess of fertility, and thus an important pilgrimage site at which Maya women – in particular prospective mothers – worshipped.

Events

Like much of the world, Cozumel celebrates Carnaval come late February or early March. Costumed revelers, fantastic floats on parade, and music and dancing galore make up the festivities. Things also get busy during Semana Santa (Holy Week), which culminates with Easter Sunday, an official holiday. Cinco de Mayo (May 5) commemorates the 1862 end of Mexico's occupation by French forces and is also an official holiday.

The country comes alive with patriotism again on September 16 for Día de la Independencia (Independence Day), which sees Cozumel hopping with parties, food and fireworks. On November 2, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), is a time to pay tribute to the departed - every cemetery comes alive with festive visitors. December 12 is Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, or Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which honors Mexico's national patron. It is celebrated in Cozumel with a race around the island followed by a party into the wee hours.