If your friends have been to Cozumel, the chances are high that it's been while they were on a cruise. The island of Cozumel is a popular cruise stop off the eastern shore of Mexico, close to the Yucatan channel. Famous for its underwater caves, Cozumel has often been proclaimed of the best diving spots in the world. If you're headed there, definitely don't forget to pack your snorkeling gear, but know that there's more to Cozumel than swimming with the fishes! Cozumel, which is a Mayan word for "Island of the Swallows," has many Mayan ruins to explore, spas to visit, and food to enjoy. I've picked out a few things that you should look into for your next visit to Mexico's third largest island! I have never been but would love to go! Have you ever been to Cozumel? What was your favorite attraction on the island?
Things to See
1. Mayan Ruins - On and from Cozumel, you will have the opportunity to see several Mayan Ruins such as Tulum, Xel-Ha, Coba and Chichen Itza. There are flight bus, and ferry excursions to Chichen Itza, which is perhaps the most magnificent. There a huge temple and many other significant Mayan structure await. Coba is equally interesting, as it still being uncovered. Many archeologists believe Coba may eventually be the largest site yet on the Yucatan Peninsula.
2. Vive Chankanaab Park - A national park and Cozumel's largest monument to nature, Vive Chankanaab offers adventure and tranquility in one location. Built around a small lagoon, Chankanaab is actually a Mayan word that means "small ocean." Now a conservation area, there are plenty of species of both animals and plants that are preserved here. It is also a great snorkel destination, as many sculptures and other treasures exist hidden in the lagoon, possibly by pirates who used this as a space to protect their wares.
Things to Do
3. Atlantis Submarine Expedition - Want to explore the underwater scenery but not interested in diving? Try taking the Atlantis Submarine Expedition to Chankanaab's lagoon, which includes a small cruise along the western shore of Cozumel on the way there and back. On the submarine, you will go over 100 feet underwater and have the chance to view some of the 30-foot coral reefs and many marine animals. Be warned however: this can become a day-long excursion with delays and you will miss out on some of the colors of the ocean available only to divers who are willing to see it with their own eyes and not through a glass window.
4. Swim with the Dolphins - Also taking place in Chankanaab is the opportunity to swim with the dolphins through various excursion programs. Learn how to train dolphins, see their behaviors up close and swim around with them in the warm waters.
5. Mexican Steam Bath or Temazcal - Experience an ancient Mayan traditional with the Mexican Steam Bath or Temazcal. A "relaxing and cleansing" therapy treatment for your body, these steam baths take place in little brick structures and are led by a shaman. Afterwards, cool off by jumping into one of the famed Yucatan cenotes, or sink holes, or take a freshwater shower outdoors.
Where to Eat
6. Casa Mission - Though they claim to be the best Mexican and seafood restaurant in Cozumel, many reviewers believe that the real gem of this restaurant is not necessarily the food as much as it is the location. Reservations during their busy season are highly recommended for this off the beaten path, colonial style restaurant. Enjoy your dinner surrounded by fountains and gardens in this stylish Mexican ranch.
7. Wet Wendy's - If you want to let loose after a long day of swimming and snorkeling, Wet Wendy's is apparently the place to do it. With their own house brand of tequila and margaritas "the size of Mt. Everest," Wendy's features an entirely American staff and dancing. Not the best place to dive into Cozumel culture, but for those American tourists who are homesick, Wet Wendy's may be your best bet.
Where to Stay
8. Casa Colonial Villas - If you haven't cruised into Cozumel, this is place to stay. Featured as a prize on The Price is Right and given high reviews by most major travel guides, Casa Colonial Villas has great accommodations. A Cozumel resort with old Mexican colonial style, this hotel offers both the atmosphere and amenities to help you make your trip to Cozumel a memorable one!