Cozumel Travel Guide

Cozumel Island lies just 12 miles (19km) off the Caribbean coast of Yucatan Peninsula, and is a paradise of blissful turquoise waters and sugary white-sand beaches. Home to wildlife-rich surroundings, ancient ruins and tourist-friendly playgrounds, the destination can be a highlight of any visit to Mexico.

Most of the development has taken place on the west coast of Cozumel, which is where the town of San Miguel is situated. The island's popularity with wealthy day-visitors from the passing cruise ships has led to San Miguel being packed with pricey shops, restaurants and bars, as well as dozens of dive stores.

Exceptional coral gardens and spectacular reef drop-offs have also made Cozumel a favourite holiday spot among divers, who can explore undersea tunnels, caverns, and reefs, and will encounter a mind-blowing array of sea life. The island's ease of access to the mainland makes day excursions possible to some of the famous Mayan sites, such as Chichén Itzá.

San Miguel is a duty-free zone and there are hundreds of stores selling most things imaginable and certainly anything tourists might desire. The cruise ship passenger terminal at Punta Langosta Pier has a variety of shops, but these are among the island's most expensive, catering to day-visitors with little time and lots of money. Prices decrease the further away from the docks travellers venture.

The waterfront shopping zone stretches to La Plaza, behind which is a craft market. For groceries, there are a few food stores, as well as the Cozumel Market on Adolfo Rosado Salas, where holidaymakers can buy fresh seafood, spices, and fruits and vegetables. Travellers will find some wonderful arts and crafts in the the markets, but they should be prepared to bargain.

Although there is a wide selection of night-time entertainment for holidaymakers to enjoy, things tend to begin and end earlier in Cozumel compared to the rest of the famous Mexican beach resorts. Those who desire a resort that doesn't host hordes of young party animals will prefer Cozumel's slightly more sedate and stylish nightlife, although this is not the case over Spring Break (March), when US teenagers descend on the island.