Surrounded on all sides by crystal clear waters, Cozumel is one of Mexico’s top destinations. Being Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, Cozumel draws tourists from every corner of the world all year long. While many travelers flock to nearby Cancun or Playa del Carmen, we think Cozumel offers a few key advantages that you can’t find back on the mainland. If the ideas of having an entire white sand beach to yourself, relaxing at non-pretentious (yet high quality) beach clubs, and eating incredible Mexican food sound appealing, then read on, because this post is for you! Also, if you’re interested in saving money on your next trip to Cozumel, check out this Cozumel Budget Travel video by our friends at For The Road!
Take a look at our Cozumel through our eyes.
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Best Things to Do in Cozumel
Cozumel is loaded with things to do, and they range from cultural Mayan activities, to gorgeous beach days, to wild parties. Whatever vibe you’re looking for, you can definitely find it in Cozumel! Here are our top 5 recommendations for the best things to do in Cozumel.
1. Spend a Day at One of the Best Beaches in Cozumel
The main reason to come to Cozumel is to experience some of the best beaches that Mexico has to offer. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that. For the best beaches in Cozumel, you can get the inside scoop by checking out our Cozumel Beach Guide. Some highlights are definitely Playa Chen Rio, Playa Palancar, and Playa El Cielo. It is important to note that many of the beaches are owned by beach clubs, so you will not be able to bring your own food and drink. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly experience, we’d recommend hitting the island’s east coast where the beaches are much rawer and less developed. You can bring all the six-packs you want, but make sure to do your part and properly dispose of all of your trash!
2. Taste Some Artisanal Tequila in Cozumel
Tequila is not made in Cozumel. Nor anywhere near Cozumel, actually, because it can only be made in a few select states which are all in Central Mexico. However, since the Riviera Maya is one of the most popular tourist spots in all of Mexico, many of the Tequila companies have ranches, stores, and tasting rooms all up and down the coast, including on Cozumel. Walking up and down the street you’ll see plenty of options for free tequila sampling, and they’re totally safe and reliable. They will just attempt to sell you their product at the end, which you do not need to buy if you don’t want to.
One very cool experience is Hacienda Antigua, which is an agave farm that offers a free tequila tour. You can see the agave in the fields, learn about the history and production process of tequila, and sample a bunch of top-notch tequilas at the end of the tour. The tour and tasting are completely free, as the main idea is to get you to buy a bottle or two to take home. The tequila truly is great, but there is no need to buy a bottle if you don’t want to. It is advisable to tip the tour guide a few dollars whether you buy a bottle or not.
3. Try Some Great Mexican Street Food in Cozumel
If you’re looking for a nice evening activity, head to the main square in the town of San Miguel de Cozumel for some street food! Living in Mexico, we fell in love with the food and it doesn’t get much better than what you can get from vendors on the street. For an overview of our favorite Mexican street foods, check out our Mexican street food guide! In the main square of Cozumel starting at around 7pm you can find churros, esquites (corn off the cob served in a cup with your choice of toppings), platanos fritos (fried plantains), tacos, fresh chips, and more!
4. Go Snorkeling in Cozumel’s Clear Waters
This was one of the highlights of our most recent trip to Cozumel. We booked a tour with Alex at Bavarian Fiesta to check out some of the great snorkeling spots in the reef around the island. Alex is from Germany, and he proudly serves bottomless German beers on his tours. He and his crew were fantastic and we had an awesome time spending the day with them.
While many tours offer upgrades with additional charges while you’re on the boat (or limit your food and beverage consumption), Alex’s goal is to provide you with a truly all-inclusive experience. The price you pay includes bottomless Mexican and German beer and a nice portion of food (ask him what he has on tap for the day. It’s normally chips and fresh Guacamole) as well as all of the snorkeling gear. His prices are very affordable and the value is fantastic for all that you get. On our tour we saw eels, starfish, a manta ray, and tons of other small fish, but Alex says you can often see sea turtles, too! If this sounds interesting to you, read more about our snorkeling experience with Bavarian Fiesta.
The Best Places to Eat in Cozumel
The food options on the island are expansive, and you can find an option to satisfy almost any craving you have. While we’d love to include every place we ate on this list, we’re going to limit it to our top 3 restaurant recommendations.
This restaurant is great, and it is actually owned and run by our snorkeling guide Alex’s wife, Frida. It is located right on a corner of the main square, and the food is very, very good. The outdoor seating is an awesome touch, and the pizza was fantastic. We ate here twice and loved it both times, ordering sandwiches, tacos, pizzas, drinks, and more. We rarely eat at the same place twice, but Frida’s was just too tasty and convenient not too return!
This place has been one of my favorites for years. The food is top notch, the drinks are great, and the prices are pretty affordable. On top of that, it is located right on a beach and you can alternate between the Caribbean sea and the Caribbean sun, all while being waited on by their bilingual wait staff. While this beach isn’t one of the best in Cozumel – in fact it is a rock beach and doesn’t even have sand – it is still a great place to swim with very clear water. It’s also not too far away from town. All in all, this is a great place to lay out and get some sun while having some drinks.
This restaurant could not be more conveniently located, as it sits right on the main square on one side and the main street on the other. Here you can get some great Mexican food and drinks for a very affordable price. We recommend getting their fish tacos or any of their fajitas, as they are all fantastic options!
How to Get to Cozumel
Getting to Cozumel takes a bit of coordination and time, but all in all it is very easy to do. If you are flying, you can either fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN) or Cozumel International Airport (CZM). If you’re budget conscious, Cancun is going to be the better bet 99% of the time. If you prioritize convenience over price, flying into the Cozumel airport can be a good option, but there are fewer direct flights there and you might wind up with a layover or two. Cancun International Airport is one of the busiest and best-connected airports in Mexico and there are direct flights to many cities in the United States and Canada. If you decide to fly straight into Cozumel, you can skip the rest of this section because all you need to do is take a taxi to your accommodations!
The easy and expensive option is flying direct to Cozumel. The more challenging (but also more affordable option) is to fly to Cancun and bus/ferry to Cozumel.
How to Get Around Cozumel
UBER | RENTAL CAR
In the state of Quintana Roo, which houses Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Akumal, Chetumal, Cozumel, and more, there is no Uber, Lyft, or Didi. You are stuck using traditional taxis. We’re always a bit weary of taxis, but we definitely vouch for the taxi drivers in Cozumel. They are very safe and reliable, and the prices are also not too bad.
If you use this Facebook page you can send a message to the dispatcher telling them your current location and number of people, and they will let you know what the price will be and the number of the taxi that is being sent your way. If you’re traveling during the low season, the driver might offer to hang out around where you’re heading and take you home at whatever time you want. While this sounded a little sketchy to us, we wound up doing it several times and had zero problems at all.
The drivers all work independently and pay daily dues to the taxi company to be able to drive, and often by waiting for you they make more money than they would driving around burning gas looking for passengers. We took a taxi to Playa Chen Rio from the center of town for about 300 pesos, and the driver offered to wait around for us. We stayed at the beach the entire day, and our loyal driver drove us home for the same price (a total of 600 pesos) 6 hours later.
After talking to a bunch of drivers, we’ve come to the conclusion that the vast majority of taxi drivers on the island aren’t looking to trick you or rip you off, and if you get a pre-quoted rate from the Facebook page you will always be in good hands.
While we found taxis to be the easiest option and very affordable, there are also rental car agencies on the island. If you choose to rent a car, check out our tips for driving in Mexico.
Is Cozumel Worth Visiting?
Every time someone asks the question “is Cozumel worth visiting?” we laugh to ourselves. As people who have traveled all through Mexico, we have a pretty good understanding of the incredible places to visit in this Latin American country. To us, Cozumel is absolutely worth visiting. While it is a bit touristy, we have never found better beaches in all of Mexico. If you want a nice Caribbean beach and a bit of Mexican culture, Cozumel is as good as it gets. Period. If you are coming as part of a cruise, you will have less time than is ideal here, but you can still do a couple of the best things to do in Cozumel in a day!
Our Final Cozumel Tips
That’s all we have for you! If you’re planning a trip to Cozumel, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have. Also, if you have any other recommendations for Cozumel comment them below.
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