Cozumel Mexico

About Cozumel, Mexico

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Introduction

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Cozumel is an ideal Caribbean destination for all types of travelers. It is the largest inhabited island in Mexico, known as the plunging paradise for divers from all over the world. The island is located east of the Yucatan Peninsula on top of the age-old structures of the Mayan coral reef – the second largest in the world. The island’s lagoon is connected to the sea by narrow canals with underwater caves, bursting with multicolored tropical fish and unique inland reefs. The beaches in Cozumel are surrounded by dense tropical vegetation and unusual endemic species, and while these are also characteristic of the island, its greatest wealth is undoubtedly underwater.

Its name, derived from the word Cuzamil, meaning "island of swallows" in Maya, conjures up memories of its pre-Hispanic origin, the conquest of America and the pirates and buccaneers that thronged its seas.

San Miguel de Cozumel, the capital of the island, is a peaceful old village, with all the charm of the Mexican Caribbean. The quality of its gastronomy, based on its excellent seafood, is legendary throughout the region. Its provincial air does not make it any less comfortable or modern. Its days are sunny and full of unforgettable experiences.

Beaches

Playa Bonita
This beach is situated on the windward, or eastern side of the island. The waves are quite big, and the white sand is the ideal place to spend a calm, peaceful day.

Isla de la Pasión
It is located just north of the island of Cozumel. This island has small beaches where you can relax in almost complete privacy. The only sounds to disturb you are the waves breaking on the beach and the singing of the birds. You can only get there by boat.

Other beaches on the Island of Cozumel are; on the western side Playa San Juan, Playa San Francisco, Playa Palancar and Playa Escondida; on the eastern side Playa Chen Rio, Playa Chiquero and Balneario Municipal to name a few.

Climate

The Quintana Roo state is the hottest and most tropical part of Mexico and short afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon. The rainy season runs from May to mid-October.

Temperature in CelsiusJFMAMJJASOND
Maximum272829303030303130302827
Minimum202021222523232323222120
Rainfall (mm)9012050170200370140120360908060

Geography

Quintana Roo is one of the youngest states in the country as well as the furthest east, meaning that it is the first Mexican state to see the sun come up every day. It is located in the Yucatán Peninsula, which it shares with Campeche and Yucatán, to the south it is separated from Belize and Guatemala by the Bay of Chetumal and Río Hondo, and to the east it is washed by the Caribbean.

The Island of Cozumel measures 48 km from north to south but only 16 from east to west. On either side of the island, beaches form a long, white sandy coast. Gentle waves and transparent waters wash the western side of the island, while huge waves crash against the eastern side.

History

Cozumel has a rich, prehispanic past, reflected in its nearly 25 archaeological zones. Before the arrival of the conquistadors, the island was a major Mayan commercial and ceremonial center. In fact first settlements date bck to 300 AD.

in 1528 the first Spaniards made their way to Cozumel. During the colonial era, it was largely uninhabited, except for sporadic stays by pirates and turtle hunters. In the mid-19th century, groups of Indian settlers arrived from the Yucatán Peninsula, fleeing the War of the Castes.

The following years saw the development of the chicle extraction business and Cozumel became a center for collecting and subsequently exporting this gum. Later an American named Henry Fleer had the idea to sugar-coat the natural gum and sold it under the name of Chiclets.

Jacques Cousteau’s declarations in 1960 about the richness of the coral reef surrounding the island made underwater enthusiasts aware of Cozumel’s existence.

Nature

The flora and fauna have a number of unusual features and include certain endemic species, such as the dwarf raccoon and the Cozumel wren. Cozumel’s greatest wealth, however, lies underwater.

Chankanaab Park
Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park

This lagoon is connected to the sea by means of narrow canals with underwater caves full of multicoloured tropical fish and some unique inland reefs. There is also a pleasant beach bordered by some dense tropical vegetation. The adjacent botanical garden contains a fascinating section on native flora. A great place to spend the day!

The Palancar Underwater National Park
This submarine park consists of a barrier reef that stretches along the length of the west coast of the island of Cozumel. It is home to a vast number of marine species such as snails, globefish, sponges, crabs, lobsters, jellyfish, stingrays, moray eels, and thousands of colourful tropical fish.

Punta Sur is a beautiful ecological reserve and includes a 30 ft observation tower and a lighthouse. Just past it is the Laguna Columbia, a saltwater lagoon.

Unique to Here

Cozumel is encircled by over 25 reef formations, where divers of all ages and levels can explore a fascinating world: endless colonies of corals inhabited by enormous shoals of brightly colored fish. The possibilities are infinite, for novice and expert divers alike.

Chicle, a natural gum extracted on the island, was used for the first commecialy sold chewing gum under the name Chiclets.

  • Airport :
    Cozumel International Airport
  • Airport Tax :
    The departure tax of around US$40 per person is usually included on your plane ticket, please verify.
  • Distance from Airport :
    3 km of San Miguel
  • Tourist Office :
    9-872-0972
  • Tourist Season :
    November through May
  • Festivals & Events

    February - Carnival

    March - The Fiesta de la Catedral, in the town of El Cedral.
    During the event, there is an agricultural fair that brings together many people from the Yucatan Peninsula region, and you can also see popular regional dances such as La Cabeza del Cochino and Las Cintas.

    June - Fiesta de San Pedro y San Pablo

    September - Fiesta de San Miguel

    Transportation

    Even if Cozumel has an international airport, most tourists arrive at the Cancún International Airport. From the airport you can take a transfer van or take an inexpensive flight between Cancun and Cozumel via Air Cozumel and Aero Caribe.

    Once at destination, taxis are available or you can rent a car, a moped or a bicycle to get around. A ferry transports people and vehicles from Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos to a terminal on the island.

    Activities & Sports

    The beautiful island of Cozumel is a paradise for divers and snorkelers. With over 25 reef formations, divers of all ages and skills can enter into a completely fascinating and different world: endless coral inhabited by immense shoals of colourful fish. As a matter of fact its transparent waters can at times provide visibility of up to 50 m. Cozumel’s ideal diving conditions have made it internationally famous.

    The Cozumel Country Club boasts a superb golf course. Designed by Nicklaus Design Group, it has 18 holes for 72 out of 6,816 yards.

    Fishing for marlin, sailfish, dorado and barracuda is allowed on a "catch and release" basis. This activity, however, must be done a safe distance from the Cozumel reefs.

    Cozumel has a harbour from which you can sail where a particularly interesting place is the stretch of sea separating Cozumel from the mainland. All water activity is based on the condition that the coral reefs are treated with the utmost respect.

    Cozumel Island provides facilities for almost every type of beach activity. You can sunbathe on the white sand, go for exciting trips on wind-powered vehicles, speed across the water on a Jet Ski or observe the coast of Cozumel from a parachute.

    Although no great effort is required as the island is flat, bicycling around the perimeter road is a lot of fun.

    Archaeology

    The Isla of Cozumel has a rich, pre-Hispanic past, reflected in its nearly 25 small archaeological zones. With the majority still only at the exploration stage, two of them are worth visiting:

    San Gervasio
    This is the best preserved site. It includes a group of shrines and temples honouring Ix Chel, the Mayan goddess of medicine, corn, weaving, love and fertility.

    San Cedral
    Not much has survived except one small structure with an arch. You can look inside and see faint traces of paint and stucco.

    Attractions & Sights

    Stroll through the town's main square, the Plaza del Sol, were lovely benches and a stone gazebo and a tall clock tower and enjoy the shade of the tropical trees.

    There are three interesting museums on the island of Cozumel. The Museum of the Island of Cozumel where you can see objects related to the island’s flora, fauna, pre Hispanic culture and history. Pax is a small museum displaying pre Hispanic musical instruments; The Celarain Museum of Navigation in the Celarian lighthouse at Punta Sur is the result of a project aiming at rescuing and restoring the old lighthouse structure and displaying preserved artefacts from nearby historical sites.

    Glass Bottom Boat Tours take you to see two or three reefs, which are small parts of the second largest coral reef in the world. Look through the glass bottom of the boat to see all the sea-life you pass on your way.

    Nightlife

    Great night-time entertainment on this island paradise can be found at the Hard Rock Café, Neptune’s, Carlos ‘n Charlies and Viva México where you can dance, enjoy a drink and listen to live music.

    Many hotel bars offer live music such as the Presidente Hotel where you will find a Marimba band and a trio.

    Side Trips

    Participate in a jungle jeep tour and visit such sites as the pre-Hispanic Castillo Real and the Punta Molas lighthouse while exploring the exubarant tropical forest. Tours last around 5 hours.

    Playa del Carmen is a 45minutes ferry ride away. Please visit the Mayan Riviera section of this guide for activities and attractions.

    Puerto Morelos, also reachable by ferry, is an authentic, peaceful, small fishing village claiming to have the second largest coral reef in the world.

    Accommodations

    With around 4 500 lodging units, there is a wide range of accommodation available, from deluxe hotels, to small, inexpensive hostels. Most hotels are in or around San Miguel: the north offer older refurbished hotels, downtown has simpler bargain price accommodations and the south has most of the luxury resorts.

    The Plaza Las Glorias, Playa Azul and the Ceiba Beach Hotels all have spa, massage, steam bath and Jacuzzi services available.

    Eating Out

    The quality of Cozumel's gastronomy, based on its excellent seafood, is legendary throughout the region. The food is, of course, Yucatan specialties consisting mainly of fish but international cuisine is also available. Some of the restaurants offering this type of cuisine include Mediterranean, pizza and seafood. One notable mention is:

    Casa Denis
    This family-run business, the island's first restaurant, has been around for more than 30 years and has the memorabilia to prove it. Menu features tasty Yucatecan specialties.

    Shopping

    There are several shops selling souvenirs in the tourist town of Cozumel. You will find places like Bazár del Àngel, Casablanca and La Campana (among others) all along Avenida Melgar.

    If you’re looking for a greater assortment of handicrafts go to the Mercado de Artesanías, located a few blocks from the main square, is a must. Cozumel is not noted for its production of handicrafts.

    Other, more expensive shops where you can admire and buy top quality art include Los Cinco Soles, Playa del Ángel and Talavera.

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