Travel & Places Mexico

Cozumel Island


The Caribbean island of Cozumel is Mexico's premier diving destination, as well as Mexico's most visited port of call by cruise ships. Located twelve miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, across from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is approximately thirty miles long and ten miles wide.

History of Cozumel:

Cozumel's name comes from the Maya who originally settled the island some 2000 years ago.

The Maya believed Cozumel was the home of Ixchel, goddess of love and fertility. Temples were dedicated to her and in return she sent her favorite bird, the swallow, as a sign of gratitude. For this reason, the Mayans named the island “The Land of the Swallows.” In the 1500s the first Spaniards came to the island, unfortunately bringing smallpox with them, which devastated the population. The island was resettled in the 1800s by Maya fleeing the mainland during the war of the castes.

In 1961 Jacques Cousteau admired Palancar reef and brought it to the attention of the world as an important dive destination. Since 1996 most of the reefs belong to the Arrecifes de Cozumel national park, and a 25 peso fee is levied on all the reef's visitors.

What to do in Cozumel:
  • Explore the marine life in scuba diving or snorkeling adventures
  • Visit San Gervasio archaeological site
  • Wander through the botanical gardens at Chankanaab Park
  • Go shopping in San Miguel

Day trips from Cozumel:

Possibilities for day trips include Mayan archaeological sites, Playa del Carmen, and eco-parks along the Riviera Maya, such as Xcaret.

You might also consider enjoying some of the eco-adventures on offer.

Restaurants in Cozumel:

Some favorites include:
  • Alberto's Beach Bar for fresh seafood right on the beach, Carretera Costera Sur km 1 (between Iberostar Cozumel and Occidental Grand resorts
  • Casa Mission for authentic Mexican cuisine and live music, 55 Avenida between Avenida Juárez and Calle 1º Sur
  • Especias for excellent "fusion" cuisine, 3rd street with 5th and 10th ave

Cozumel Festivals and Events:

Cozumel's biggest event of the year is undoubtedly Carnaval, Mexico's version of Mardi Gras. Other important festivities include the feast day of St Michael Archangel, Cozumel's patron saint, celebrated from September 21 to 29, and the Sacred Mayan Journey, a recreation of the trip that the Maya would undertake from the mainland to Cozumel to worship the goddess Ixchel - this event takes place every year in the month of May.

Getting there:

Cozumel can be reached by plane - there is an international airport (find flights to Cozumel), or by ferry from Playa del Carmen. The pleasant ferry ride takes about 45 minutes.

Accommodations in Cozumel:

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