Located just off the Yucatan Peninsula across from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, making it a prime boating and cruise ship destination, as well as one of the country’s most popular beach resorts.
For boaters, Cozumel offers plenty of aquatic attractions. The island sits on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest barrier reef in the world, which has created a snorkeling and scuba diving mecca. One of the top reefs is Palancar, located about a mile offshore from the southeast tip of the island. It’s actually a series of four reefs — in descending order from Palancar Gardens, Bricks and Herradura to Caves, ranging from about 30 feet to 120 feet in depth.
Other popular snorkeling/diving spots include Santa Rosa Wall, Paradise Reef, Columbia Reef, Chankanaab Reef, Punta Francesa, Villa Blanca and Yucab Reef. Most are located within Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park, a 46-square-mile protected area that is also the habitat of loggerhead turtles, hawksbill turtles, queen triggerfish and splendid toadfish.
Beaches are plentiful too if you just want to relax and recharge. The east side of Cozumel is a spectacular stretch of remote beaches interspersed with funky local beach bars. Sandy spots worth checking out include Chen Rio, Punta Morena and San Martin. Shopping and dining options are plentiful.
Winter travel tip: Carnaval de Cozumel is one of the top celebrations in Mexico, having been around since the mid-1800s. Beginning the week before Mardi Gras in February, it features multiple parades and events with elaborately costumed revelers battling in dancing competitions and bands playing live music around San Miguel.
Marina FONATUR Cozumel
The new 333-berth Cozumel marina represents one of the Mexican government’s largest investments in tourism infrastructure. Its construction has been managed by Fonatur, the same federal agency that created the Mexican Caribbean resort of Cancun, and it is also known as the Marina Fonatur. It lies next to the Caleta marina, a few miles south of downtown, and shares the same sea access as its neighbor.
BaN creatively showcases culinary masterpieces that include fish freshly caught by the owner, along with signature seafood dishes and seasonal specials.
Burritos Gorditos is all about fresh ingredients and huge portions. This small, family-owned joint serves what many agree are the best burritos in Cozumel.
Located about 10 minutes south of San Miguel town center, Ix-Kool is widely regarded as one of the best places in Mexico to get authentic Mayan cuisine. Try the Cochinita Pibil, Sikilp’aak, Pork Panucho and other Yucatecan specialties.
If you’re looking for a break from Mexican cuisine, the homemade bread and pasta here will have you thinking you’re on a rooftop terrace in Tuscany. You can’t go wrong, whether it’s the caprese, carpaccio, frutti di mare or carbonara.