There are many things to do in Cozumel – Mexico’s top Caribbean Island. When we mention Cozumel to other travellers, their eyes glaze over and they imagine silvery white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees and an azure blue ocean. Cozumel certainly offers all of that, and much more.
When travelling Mexico, you may decide you just want to chill out on this Caribbean island (only 30 miles long and 10 miles wide), and I understand completely.
But, after visiting here, I recommend you leave the beach behind and experience the many other things to do in Cozumel.
Would you be able to fit in a submarine tour, snorkelling the 2nd largest coral reef in the world, visiting a Mayan archaeological site or trying an ancient Mayan chocolate recipe in just a few days? Probably not! This is one of the top places to visit in Mexico, so give yourself some time here.
I highly recommend that you plan a minimum of a week to see all the things to do in Cozumel, you may even want to plan 2 weeks. With numerous incredible things to do in Mexico, make sure Cozumel is on your list.
Note: This article has been updated for 2021 to reflect the best activities, excursions and costs in Cozumel. Enjoy your trip!
Where is Cozumel?
The Island of Cozumel or “Isla Cozumel” as it’s known in Spanish is located 12 miles off the coast opposite Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan Peninsula. Cancun, known as “Mexico’s top party destination” is 45 miles to the north of Cozumel.
Cozumel is the quieter alternative to Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Actually, one of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen is to take a ferry across to tranquil Cozumel.
In Playa del Carmen, the terminal is located downtown near the main square. In just 30 – 45 minutes, you’ll cross the sea and arrive in Cozumel. Click here for the Cozumel Ferry schedule, which includes costs.
Update May 2021: Ultramar Ferry runs on “odd” days, while the Winjet Ferry runs on “even” days of the week. The latest times can be found on their respective Facebook accounts. Having experienced both, I can say that the Ultramar ferry to Cozumel was nicer, faster and had more amenities on board.
When is The Best Time to Visit Cozumel?
You can visit Mexico year-round, but the best time to visit Cozumel is during the months from March to June, before the hurricane season commences.
The hottest months are July and August which coincides with the hurricane season that lasts until November. Winter is Cozumel’s busiest period and it runs from December through to March.
Getting to and From Cozumel
Before you can enjoy all the fun things to do in Cozumel, you need to get there. While there are direct flights to Cozumel, most people will arrive at the Cancun airport. From here, you have a few options to get to the ferry terminal in Playa del Carmen (to take the boat over to Cozumel).
You can either take the bus, hire a taxi, or opt for a private shuttle from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. This is the fastest, safest and most comfortable to get to the Cozumel ferry. Click here for details about airport transfers.
Note: if you’re on a budget and don’t mind sharing, there is a quick, safe and easy $25 shuttle you can take from the Cancun airport to the ferry port in Playa del Carmen. Learn more here.
Once you’ve arrived at the ferry port, you’ll need to take the 30-minute boat across.
Now that you know when to visit and how to get there, here’s my list of the top things to do in Cozumel that you don’t want to miss!
1. Visit Punta Sur Ecological Park
Punta Sur Eco Beach is the best beach on the Island, and a visit to this eco-park is definitely one of the top things to do in Cozumel. This area is located on the south of the island and covers an area of 2,500 acres.
Here you’ll find exotic birds, crocodiles, sea turtles, beautiful flowers and beautiful beaches – the perfect place for nature lovers.
If you don’t feel like snorkelling the reef or visiting the lighthouse (see below), you can just hang out on hammocks and enjoy the sun.
There’s an entrance fee for this park ($18 USD for adults and $11 for children), but in my opinion, it’s worth it. Click here to find this top Cozumel day trip on the map.
Within the Punta Sur Eco Park is the Celarain Lighthouse, which was constructed to warn sailors at night of the dangers of running aground off the southern coast of Cozumel. The Lighthouse is now part of a maritime museum.
For 360 degree views of the Island, you can climb the 133 steps to the top. On a clear day, you can even see the coast of Cuba, but unfortunately for us, that was not the case.
Entrance fees to the Punta Sur Eco Park include the Celerain Lighthouse.
A 40-minute tour of the Marshlands of Punta Sur Ecological Park is also available. They can’t guarantee that you will see any crocodiles on the day of the tour, but you will see many species of birds especially the roseate spoonbill.
Update May 2021: these short boat tours are currently departing at 1:00 and 2:00 pm. Confirm the times at the entrance to the park when you arrive.
The Punta Sur Ecological Park has so much to see and do, there’s even a Mayan Ruin here. El Caracol ruin – also called Tumba del Caracol because of its small size – dates back to 1200-1500 AD.
Caracol means snail in Spanish and the ruins were named this because of the snails that decorate the small dome on the top of the temple.
The structure was built as an early hurricane warning system for the Mayan people. The roof was constructed in a way that the strong breeze gave a humming noise alerting the Mayans of the impending danger.
2. Playa Mia Grand Beach Park
If you’re looking to visit a beach park during your trip to Cozumel, consider Playa Mia Grand Beach Park, an ethical adventure park. While there are many “marine parks” that may sound great, Goats On The Road doesn’t recommend visiting them due to the captivity of wild animals.
Check out Playa Mia Grand Beach Park instead.
Here, you’ll have use of snorkels, waterslides, pools, kayaks, hobie cats, paddle boats, volleyball courts and more. This park doesn’t have any animals in captivity, which is why we recommend it. Entrance fees start from $30 USD.
Another option is to take a tour on a catamaran boat, including the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park for snorkelling, and a visit to Playa Mia Grand Beach Park (with food and drinks). Click here to learn about that fun day tour in Cozumel.
*Note that Goats On The Road does not condone any tourism activities that involve cruelty to animals, or promotes their captivity. We’ve been advised that the Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park and many places to visit in Mexico offer tours such as swimming with dolphins. Please be a responsible traveller and consider where you want to spend your tourism dollars, and avoid any animal shows or activities. It’s way more fun to see the animals in the wild anyways! Go snorkelling on a boat tour and have a more authentic experience with the wildlife.
3. Try Seatrek
A unique way of experiencing the underwater world is by trying helmet diving with Seatrek. The fully enclosed helmet sits neatly on your shoulders and a steady stream of air assists you in breathing.
If you wear prescription glasses, no problem, you can still wear them in the helmet as you walk along the bottom of the ocean at around 20 – 25 feet. Bookings for this tour can be made direct at Seatrek.
4. Try Atlantis Submarines
In Barbados, we had the opportunity to experience a night dive with Atlantis Submarines. In Cozumel, they offer 3 daytime departures at 10:00am, 12 noon and 1:00pm.
During the dive, you will visit the Felipe Xicotencatl wreck that sank in the year 2000 plus colourful schools of fish, sharks, turtles, stingrays and lobsters. For more information and the latest prices click here.
5. Cozumel Private Jeep Tour With Lunch and Snorkelling
One of the best activities to do in Cozumel is a private Jeep Tour with lunch and the opportunity to go snorkelling. The tour comes with your own private guide which means that he knows the best-secluded beaches to go snorkelling and swimming without the crowds.
The best part about this Cozumel excursion is that it’s completely customizable. Let your guide know ahead of time what you’re interested in seeing in Cozumel and he’ll put together an itinerary to suit your needs.
Apart from private transportation, snorkelling, tequila tasting, Mexican lunch, and a margarita (or two) are included in the trip. For more information click here.
6. Sail The Waters Off Cozumel in a Catamaran
This is definitely one of the best things to do in Cozumel! There are many things to see around the island and hopping aboard a catamaran is the best way to do so.
You can either relax on board enjoying drinks and snacks or you can snorkel the reef and check out the abundant sea life. When you’re snorkelling you’ll have the chance to spot some sea turtles, stingrays and maybe a shark or two.
The waters around Cozumel are abundant with marine life and are safe for swimming and snorkelling. Click here to learn more about catamaran tours in Cozumel, and click here for glass-bottom boat trips with snorkelling.
7. Visit The Mayan Ruins
Did you know that there are Mayan ruins on Cozumel?! To be honest, we didn’t until our recent visit.
Located on the northern part of Cozumel, tucked away in the undeveloped jungle, you’ll find the San Gervasio archaeological site (the pre-Hispanic name was Tantun Cuzamil).
Sure, these ruins aren’t as large or impressive as Chichen Itza or Tulum, but they are unique in their own way. This is one of the more off-track things to do in Cozumel, and is a great day trip.
We drove there in our rental car and then hired a guide at the site — who really brought the place to life. There are two entrance fees that need to be paid, but in total, it’s around $10. The cost of a guide (if you choose) is around $20 for a 1.5-hour tour.
8. Visit the Cozumel Pearl Farm
A visit to the family-owned and operated Cozumel Pearl Farm is a unique excursion where you are taken by boat to a secluded beach on an uninhabited area of Cozumel.
The first part of the tour is a demonstration and explanation of pearl farming techniques. The second part of the tour takes you to the pearl hatchery itself where you can do some snorkelling to see how the pearls are grown while learning about the reef system and viewing the underwater life-size Virgen de Guadalupe statue.
The rest of your time is spent either swimming in the warm azure waters or lazing in one of the many hammocks, and of course, enjoying your lunch with drinks which are included. Click here to learn more.
9. Check out the Mayan Cacao Company
Just 15 minutes from downtown Cozumel and next to Playa Mia Beach Club is the Mayan Cacao Company. Who doesn’t love chocolate?!
One of the many things Mayans are known for was their production of chocolate from the beans of the cacao trees. After the fermenting, drying and roasting process, they ground the beans into a paste, added hot water and made the first hot chocolate drink.
The tour lasts for 70 minutes and you can try ancient Mayan recipes and of course, buy some of the tasty chocolate. For more details on the Mayan Cacao Company and ticket prices click here.
⇒ See Also: 19 Fun Things To Do in Isla Mujeres – Mexico’s Island of Women
10. Visit the El Mirador
El Mirador is located on the east side of the Island of Cozumel, 30 minutes from downtown. Hire a moped, rent a car or take a private taxi to get here.
It’s a naturally beautiful spot where the sea has carved an arch in the rocks over the years. You can climb to the top for stunning views.
This is an excellent place to avoid the crowds. If you’re looking to relax, a visit to El Mirador is one of the best things to do in Cozumel.
☞ For other natural rock formations surrounded by water, don’t miss Lands End, one of the top things to do in Cabo San Lucas.
11. Swim and Snorkel at Playa Chen Rio
Cozumel has some of the best beaches in Mexico, and Playa Chen Rio is one you won’t want to miss. With its protected area and shallow water, this beach is suitable for all levels of swimmers and snorkellers.
As an added bonus, Playa Chen Rio is located on the east coast, which is less popular than those beaches that are located on the west coast — perfect if you want to get away from the crowds.
Enjoy a day of swimming and snorkelling, followed by lunch at one of the great restaurants on the beach here, such as El Pescador Marisqueria and Bar, or at the funky Coconuts bar nearby.
Note: always be cautious when swimming on the east coast of Cozumel. The water is quite rough here and undertows are not uncommon. Always ask the locals before venturing in.
⇒ See Also: 21 Things To Do in Guadalajara You Don’t Want To Miss
12. Enjoy a Beach Club
There are many beach clubs and bars located on the west coast, which is the exact opposite of Playa Chen Rio (above). These beaches are calm and perfectly turquoise, while the beach bars and clubs are where you can hire kayaks, laze on sunbeds or enjoy the beach club.
Come of the clubs have entrance fees (such as Uvas Beach Club which is $15), while the Money Bar offers free chairs and umbrellas as long as you purchase something.
With Buccanos in the north, it’s $10 for the chairs and umbrella, but that amount is subtracted from your bill.
☞ SEE ALSO: Manzanillo Colima – The Ultimate Travel Guide
13. Visit San Miguel, the Capital of Cozumel
Since San Miguel is located on the west coast, one of the best activities here is to walk the broad sidewalk along the seafront at sunset.
During the day when the cruise ships are in port, the sidewalk is very busy with cruise passengers, but outside of that time, it’s fairly quiet.
In the middle of San Miguel is the Zocalo (a central park), every Mexican city or town has a Zocalo. It’s a meeting place for locals or a spot to sit down and just ‘people watch’.
If you are in Cozumel on a Sunday evening head to the Zocalo at around 8:00 pm for many free events.
☞ In Mexico, you’ll find numerous seaside promenades with zocalos and free activities going on. Don’t miss wandering along the Malecon and seeing street performers, these are some of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta, La Paz and many other Mexican cities.
14. Go Shopping
If you are in need of some ‘retail therapy’ during your trip, there are many opportunities for shopping in Cozumel. These are some of the main shopping areas where you’ll find clothing, souvenirs, jewelry and more:
⇒ See Also: 21 Awesome Things To Do in Oaxaca City
15. Experience Temazcal Cozumel
A Temazcal is an ancient Mayan ceremony, and while it’s one of the top things to do in Cancun, it’s also an incredible experience here in Cozumel.
You’ll enter into a brick hut which is warmed by volcanic rocks – similar to an experience in a sauna – and will be greeted by a Shaman.
During the Temazcal ritual, your body is put through a process of cleansing, relaxing and purification. It ends with a cooling swim in the nearby cenote.
The whole ceremony is a very spiritual experience and if you have a chance, don’t miss it (there are a few places, but you can check out this one). This is one of the most unique things to do in Cozumel.
16. Scuba Diving (one of the best things to do in Cozumel)
Scuba Diving along the Mesoamerican Reef is second to none. If you are an advanced scuba diver, you have the option to dive advanced sites in Cozumel like Maracaibo, Devil’s Throat, Cathedral or Barracuda.
If you haven’t tried scuba diving before, there are PADI courses available. There are numerous dive centers in Cozumel, always do your due diligence and choose a reputable company.
We recently spent a week scuba diving in Cozumel and did a total of 12 dives with Scuba Tony. The captains and dive guides were all very professional and welcoming, while the dive boat and equipment itself was in great shape.
You can either meet at their location in the marina, or, if you’re staying in the south, the dive boat will pick you up directly from your hotel’s jetty — how cool is that?!
Whether you’re open water, advanced or are just learning how to dive, you’ll be impressed with the underwater world. No matter your experience level, you’ll love spotting turtles, rays, eels, lobster, fish and of course, coloruful coral.
Night diving is also popular with Scuba Tony. This is a unique way to experience the critters — expect to spot octopus, sharks, eels and more. Diving in Cozumel is popular, for good reason. Learn more about Scuba Tony here.
⇒ See Also: 21 Top Things To Do in San Miguel de Allende
17. Eat at Local Mexican Restaurants
Mexican cuisine is our favourite. Eating street food is one of the best things to do in Mexico City, but if you’re not heading to the capital, you’ll still be spoiled for choice in Cozumel.
Think burritos, tacos, tortas, ceviche, enchiladas, churros and of course drinks such as tequila, mezcal, margaritas and a chilled Corona with a slice of lime.
Some of our favourite Cozumel restaurants are:
18. Cozumel Chef Food Tour (one of the top things to do in Cozumel for foodies)
If you enjoy food tours Cozumel Chef Food Tour is the one for you. The tour takes you to several different Cozumel restaurants where you enjoy a Mexican dish and a local drink.
The places you will visit are off the usual tourist path, meaning you’ll be eating like a local. Even vegetarians are well catered for during this tour.
This is one of the top Cozumel excursions if you enjoy authentic Mexican food. For more information and booking, click here.
⇒ See Also: 10 Things To See and Do in Guanajuato
19. Ha Haak Paddleboarding Cozumel
If you are a regular paddleboarder, Cozumel will wow you with its crystal clear blue waters, and if you’re a beginner, this is the place to learn.
Ha Haak provides a super easy intro lesson for first-timers that you will get you standing up on a paddleboard in no time.
Ha Haak’s location at Mr Sancho’s Cozumel Beach Club, South Hotel Zone, is the perfect place to enjoy the sport ($35 for a rental). For more details click here.
20. Deep-Sea Fishing
For Deep Sea Fishing enthusiasts, Cozumel is the perfect location and one of the top companies (Chi Chi Charters) offers an awesome experience. Even if you’re not a hardcore fisherman, this is still one of the best things to do in Cozumel.
Barracuda, mahi mahi and triggerfish are some of the local catch around Cozumel. You can catch tuna all year round, and from March to July white and blue marlin and sailfish are available. For more information and bookings click here.
⇒ See Also: 21 Things To Do in Mazatlan, Mexico
21. Watch Sunset
At the end of the day, nothing beats a good sunset with a cocktail in hand. We recommend checking out Hemingway, El Palomar Restaurant and Bar and La Monina on the west side of the island.
If you head north about 5 minutes from the Ferry Terminal you will be greeted by El Palomar, who have actually stopped serving plastic straws, way to go! A margarita on the porch at sunset is a great way to end the day.
If sitting at a restaurant isn’t your thing, you can always watch the sunset from the malecon, a jetty or the beach…for free.
Now You Know What to Do in Cozumel
Cozumel is a true island paradise. It’s laid back just like the locals and offers the visitor a quieter atmosphere than its coastal neighbours.
This island offers the best of adventures under the sea — where else in the world could you visit an underwater museum, dive to the bottom of the ocean onboard a submarine or snorkel around a pearl farm?
Cozumel is an island that will wake you up with sunrise on the eastern side, while just 10 miles across the island, you can enjoy a sundowner on the west coast. There are numerous fun things to do in Cozumel and we hope this list gave you some good ideas of where to start.
Goats On The Road Recommended
Travel Resources for Cozumel
✓ Wondering where to stay in Cozumel? There are numerous accommodation options on Booking.com – from luxury resorts to midrange hotels and cute guesthouses. Goats On The Road stayed at Stingray Villa which is a 4-villa property with a pool. Stingray Villa offers excellent value for money and is in a great location. Close to restaurants and bars, a couple of blocks to the sea — yet, you’ll enjoy a quiet night’s sleep. Learn more here.
✓ With all of the adventurous things to do in Cozumel, it’s important to have adequate travel insurance. Goats On The Road use and recommend Safety Wing (one of the most popular options for travellers and digital nomads). Click here for a free quote.
✓ If you’d like to rent a car in Cozumel and are scuba diving with Scuba Tony, they offer a rental car for their customers. If you’re not diving with that company, you can have a look at Expedia for car rentals. Click here to find the latest prices and be warned that you will have to pay extra insurance on top of the listed price.
✓ For tours, activities and other things to do in Cozumel, check out Get Your Guide for low prices and excellent service. Always cross-reference your tours with reviews and find one that suits your needs.
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