Cozumel in south-eastern Mexico is a magical place. Surrounded by gleaming white sandy beaches and stunning crystal-clear turquoise waters, it is the perfect tropical destination.
Those that do visit the island will not find themselves short of things to do, although should you wish to do nothing and simply relax on the sun-kissed beaches you’re perfectly at liberty to do so.
Those that do long for entertainment when on holidays in Mexico won’t be disappointed with the huge array of activities on offer here.
Cozumel is world renowned as a diving base and is consistently ranked in the top five locations in the world. The reason is obvious – the clear waters allow for visibility up to 200ft and the water’s average temperature of 80°F is ideal.
Close to shore is the Mayan reef, the second largest in the world, which can be explored for hours on end by keen divers. Others will find diversion in the cenotes, where the sand has fallen away and left potholes on the sea bed. Divers here can swim among old anchors and canons as well as a bronze statue of Christ. There is also a wonderful cave that can be entered at a depth of 50 ft.
Surfing is another attraction. The calm and gentle waters are perfect for beginners and those that want to learn how to surf. The best two areas for surfing are the Punta Morena and Punta Chiqueros. Some beaches will have rental surfboards available and for those that are hoping to improve on their skills, many an expert local can be persuaded to give up their time for only a few dollars.
Although the many hotels on the island are spectacular, service providers are also able to arrange for camping by the beach. There is an option to stay in one of the beach clubs, however, which can provide beds, shops, entertainment and excellent security. Beach clubs of note are the Playa Uvas, Chankanaab Reef Marine Park or the more popular Mr Sancho’s in the south of the island.
Why not take advantage of the nautical infrastructure and gentle waves to do a spot of sailing. All the equipment and services that could possibly be needed are provided on the island. It also gives tourists access to some of the beautiful areas that are close by.
For those interested in culture, the island also has a wonderful museum, the Museo de la Isla, which has exhibits on the history of the island and its natural environment. The museum is housed in the island’s first luxury hotel, which was built in 1930. The Casa de la Cultura also hosts many other cultural diversions, such as theatre, cinema and festivals.
Museums aren’t for everyone, however and for adrenaline junkies the island is also a prime location to indulge in some extreme sports. This can involve soaring through the tropical blue skies with a parachute or gliding across the pristine waters on a windsurf board. The more adventurous can also have a go at kite boarding at one of the island’s schools or free diving if you fancy a real challenge.
Cozumel may only have one golf course but what a spectacular one it is! The Cozumel Country Club course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is carefully crafted to protect the delicate eco-system. It’s set in the heart of the jungle and golfers have the opportunity to marvel at the tropical wildlife that sometimes wanders into view.
Cozumel cuisine is artful and delicious and is based on Yucatecan dishes with a distinct European influence. Fish and seafood make up the majority of the dishes, although some traditional pork and beef dishes shouldn’t be missed. For those craving something extra special, the hotels offer an array of specialities. The street stalls also provide exceptionally tasty treats at very reasonable prices.
Those who appreciate arts and crafts will find much to interest them. Local people use time-honoured techniques to create beautiful one-off pieces with mystical local references. Weaving, sculpture, shell ornaments, baskets and pottery all make for beautiful keepsakes that you can take home to treasure.
Kayaking around Cozumel is an incredible experience and the crystal waters allow kayakers to view the marine life with great clarity. The best beaches for this are Playa San Francisco and the Playa de San Juan, though the latter is much deeper.
One opportunity that shouldn’t be missed is the tour that is offered at Parque Faro Celarain, which lets you kayak around the tower to observe the crocodiles and then through the island’s lagoons to marvel at the abundance of spectacular wildlife.
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list and it is important that you research all the island has to offer before you get there to make sure that you squeeze every last drop out of your time in this beautiful part of the planet.
Image by Clinton Little