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Things to Do in Cozumel

With its inimitable mix of Mayan ruins, sophisticated beach clubs, and world-class snorkeling opportunities, it's easy to see why Cozumel is one of Mexico’s top destinations. Immensely popular with cruise ships, Cozumel Island (Isla Cozumel) caters to short-stay visitors with a variety of shore excursions. Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the archaeological ruins at Tulum are doable on day trips, while shorter cruise excursions invite you to drive an ATV to the cenotes of Jade Caverns; explore Chankanaab Park (Parque Chankanaab) in a submarine; or sail at sunset near Playa Palancar, home to the biologically rich Palancar Reef. Outdoor adventurers can choose from horseback riding, scuba diving, dune buggy driving (which is a big hit with families), and more. All-inclusive day passes to Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club and Playa Mia Grand Beach offer access to luxurious facilities and the sublime beaches of the Caribbean. A private Jeep excursion lets you design your own itinerary, which can include anything from archaeological sites and national parks to shopping, snorkeling, and tequila tasting. What’s more, with Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen just a short boat ride away, the island of Cozumel is an ideal base for exploring the rest of the Yucatan and the Riviera Maya.
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Mr. Sancho's Beach Club Cozumel
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Set on a private stretch of white sand, Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club Cozumel allows you to avoid the island’s beachfront crowds and offers amenities for a relaxing seaside experience. Here you can swim in the Caribbean ocean, sample all you can eat from the restaurant and bar, float in the infinity pool, and relax in shaded cabanas.

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Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park
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With its unspoiled beaches, lush nature trails, and abundance of marine life, Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park is among the highlights of Cozumel, set along the island’s west coast in the area’s National Marine Park. The Chankanaab name comes from the Mayan language and means "little sea," referring to the park’s natural lagoon. The access to the warm, turquoise sea is a top draw, as are the provided lounge chairs and hammocks prime for relaxing on the beautiful beach.

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Palancar Reef
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The star attraction of Cozumel Reefs National Park (Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel), Palancar Reef is a rich underwater landscape ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. Aquatic species thrive amidst these colorful corals, including sea turtles, rays, nurse sharks, barracudas, moray eels, and a kaleidoscope of colorful fish.

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Akumal
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Akumal is a small beach town located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Meaning “land of the turtles” in the Mayan language, Akumal is famous for its plentiful sea turtle population. Its secluded white-sand beaches and peaceful bays are also ideal for those seeking a more private experience.

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Paradise Reef (Paraíso Reef)
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One of Cozumel’s most popular dive sites, Paradise Reef (Paraíso Reef) is famous for its clear water, diverse coral structures, and teeming schools of colorful fish. Here you can spot large sea species such as eels, rays, and nurse sharks in addition to smaller creatures such as seahorses, boxfish, and delicate pipefish.

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Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park
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Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park encompasses the island’s best-known diving and snorkeling spots, including the Palancar, Columbia, and Paradise reefs, as well as the Devil’s Throat at Punta Sur and the shipwreck ofFelipe Xicoténcatl—a minesweeper ship used in WWII. The park houses up to 26 species of coral and 300 species of fish.

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Columbia Reef
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Columbia Reef is famous for its complex architecture of caves, arches, and coral spires. Here, you can find schools of snapper, barracudas, sea turtles, scorpion fish, and even the rare passing nurse shark. With both shallow coral gardens and deep ocean-floor caverns, the reef is accessible to snorkelers and scuba divers alike.

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Punta Sur Eco Beach Park (Faro Celerain Ecological Reserve)
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Located on Cozumel’s southernmost tip, Punta Sur Eco Beach Park (Faro Celerain Ecological Reserve) spans 2,500 acres (1,011 hectares) of coastal wilderness, coral reefs, and Caribbean ocean. Here you can find ancient Maya ruins, a picturesque lighthouse, and sandy beaches—plus exotic birds, crocodiles, and sea turtles.

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El Cedral
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El Cedral is a village on the southwest side of Cozumel. It is also the site of the island’s oldest Mayan ruins, which date to AD 800. Spanish explorers first discovered El Cedral in 1518, and it became the island’s first official city in 1847. Today it’s home to a small community of quaint houses and farms, as well as an annual festival.

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San Gervasio Mayan Ruins
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Centuries ago, Maya women visited this sacred site to pay tribute to Ixchel, their goddess of love and fertility. Today, the San Gervasio Mayan ruins are one of Cozumel’s largest archaeological sites, with low stone structures, a central plaza, and a main temple scattered throughout the jungle.

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More Things to Do in Cozumel

Playa Mia Grand Beach Park

Playa Mia Grand Beach Park

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Playa Mia Grand Beach Park offers myriad options for enjoying the Caribbean Sea, whether you want to swim in the warm ocean, enjoy a massage, zip down water slides, or float in one of the park’s many pools. Here you can find beachfront lounge chairs and hammocks, a buffet and full bar, and even an underwater Maya city to explore.

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El Caracol (Zona Arqueológica El Caracol)

El Caracol (Zona Arqueológica El Caracol)

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Because El Caracol means “snail” in Spanish, there persists a myth that a giant conch shell once sat on top of these Mayan ruins, which are located in Cozumel’s Punta Sur Eco Beach Park. However, the name and snail sculptures that adorned the dome of the tiny temple actually refer to the rows of real snails that were embedded in the stucco.

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El Mirador Lookout

El Mirador Lookout

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Located on Cozumel’s rugged eastern coast, El Mirador lookout is a rocky seascape dotted with natural bridges, tide pools, and stone spires. This wild, undeveloped area looks out onto the open Caribbean Sea and offers a breezy escape from Cozumel’s more touristy areas.

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Playa Palancar

Playa Palancar

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Playa Palancar is a laid-back beach where you can swim, snorkel, or just relax in a hammock under the coconut-palm trees. It’s one of Cozumel’s most beautiful beaches, with fine white sand and access to an outstanding coral reef just offshore. For a relaxing beach day away from the crowded tourist spots, there’s no better place.

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Playa Uvas Beach Club

Playa Uvas Beach Club

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Facing Cozumel’s white sands and turquoise waters, Playa Uvas Beach Club sits directly on the coast and offers a variety of activities and amenities. Active visitors will enjoy snorkel tours, parasailing, and kayaking, and there are lounge chairs, beachside massages, and pool facilities for those who simply want to relax in the sun.

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Cozumel Museum (Museo de la Isla de Cozumel)

Cozumel Museum (Museo de la Isla de Cozumel)

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The Cozumel Museum (Museo de la Isla de Cozumel) sits on the waterfront in downtown San Miguel de Cozumel. Inside the historical building are a wealth of displays, all well signed in both Spanish and English. Its four permanent exhibit rooms offer an overview of the island’s geography, ecosystems, history, and culture.

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Discover Mexico Park Cozumel

Discover Mexico Park Cozumel

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Discover Mexico Park Cozumel showcases Mexican history, culture, and art through several indoor and outdoor exhibitions. Outside, miniature models depict famous sites and a botanical garden showcases Mexico’s rich wildlife. Inside, you can peruse artisanal crafts and taste traditional Mexican foods and beverages at the snack bar.

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Corona Beach (Playa Corona)

Corona Beach (Playa Corona)

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Cozumel’s Corona Beach (Playa Corona) is a snorkeler’s paradise, with an outstanding reef that starts right offshore. There’s not much of a beach scene, as the small stretch of fine white sand ends almost at the shoreline. The shallow waters are ideal for kids, beginners, and new snorkelers, while those more adventurous can swim out to explore the reef.

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Plaza del Sol

Plaza del Sol

Located adjacent to Cozumel’s ferry port, Plaza del Sol is the cultural and economic heart of San Miguel. With bustling shops, restaurants, and breezy ocean views, this sunlit square is a good place to people-watch, browse souvenirs, and grab a bite. When evening nears, the street scene transforms as locals and tourists flock to nearby bars for live music and dancing.

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Royal Castle (Castillo Real)

Royal Castle (Castillo Real)

Cozumel’s Royal Castle (Castillo Real) is a small Maya ruin on the island’s remote northeastern shore. Centuries ago, this stone outpost was likely a guard station to keep watch for enemy ships on the open sea. Today the structure is notable for its high vantage point, offering panoramic views of the coastline and the Caribbean Sea.

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Santa Rosa Wall

Santa Rosa Wall

The Santa Rosa Wall is one of Cozumel’s most famous dive sites, with coral formations up to 40 feet (13 meters) high, massive rock overhangs, a deep drop-off, narrow tunnels full of sea creatures, and hundreds of species of tropical fish—including nurse sharks, sea turtles, angelfish, manta rays, and barracuda.

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Tormentos Reef

Tormentos Reef

One of the Riviera Maya’s premier scuba diving sites, Tormentos Reef is located off the coast of Cozumel and houses a rich variety of marine life. Here you can find purple and orange coral structures upward of 30 feet (9 meters) in height, tunnels hiding nurse sharks and sea turtles, and huge manta rays nestled in the sand.

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The Mayan Cacao Company

The Mayan Cacao Company

Located close to one of Cozumel’s most popular beaches, The Mayan Cacao Company offers a glimpse into the important role chocolate plays in Mayan culture. Here, you’ll pass through interactive exhibits before sampling a pre-Hispanic chocolate drink and a chocolate margarita.

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Cozumel Cruise Port

Cozumel Cruise Port

Set against a popular Caribbean beach on the island of Cozumel, the Cozumel Cruise Port welcomes vacationers seeking an idyllic Mexican getaway. As one of the most frequented ports in the Mexican Caribbean, it’s also a convenient gateway to Cozumel’s idyllic reefs and beaches, as well as nearby Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and the archaeological ruins of the Yucatán Peninsula.

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