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The island of Cozumel, located off of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, has a lot going for it. Not only are Cozumel beaches some of the best in the world, this idyllic destination also has a rich Mayan history, nearly perfect weather, and fantastic restaurants and bars offering seafood-heavy Mexican food and cocktails.

Some of the best beaches in Cozumel feature toes-in-the-sand restaurants, artificial lagoons for snorkeling and wildlife watching, and large swaths of soft, sandy beaches with plenty of hammocks and comfortable loungers.

Many stretches also offer kayaking and scuba diving on site, making it easy to squeeze in a spur-of-the-moment adventure while traveling.

Beachfront hotel in Cozumel


But resort-style beaches aren’t your only option. If you prefer undeveloped beaches, head to one of the Cozumel beaches on the island’s eastern side. While you won’t find tequila tastings or snorkeling tours, you will encounter gentle drop-offs, sandy bottoms, and warm water you can sit in for hours on end.

Whether you want to relax in a luxurious private cabana or prefer to rent a car and have a picnic on a remote stretch of sand, here are seven of the best beaches in Cozumel.

Playa Mia Grand Beach Resort

Aerial view of Playa Mia Grand Beach Resort

Playa Mia Grand Beach Resort

Part of the Playa Mia Grand Beach Resort, Playa Mia is one of Cozumel’s higher-end beaches. Here you’ll find a wide, sandy shore covered in lounge chairs and dotted with palm trees, making it an ideal place for a nap in the shade—though you may find it hard to sleep knowing the clear, warm waters of the Caribbean Sea are just a few steps away.

You can rent snorkeling gear (or sign up for a guided tour), go parasailing, or cruise on a jet ski right from the shore. There’s also an inflatable obstacle course and the recreated remains of a Mayan city a few feet below the surface; the perfect spot to pose if you have an underwater camera.

Meanwhile, on land, there are two waterslides, a large pool with a swim-up open bar, and a massage tub where gentle bubbles can soothe your sore muscles.

As one of the best water parks in the Caribbean, most activities, including unique options like water bikes and floating waterslides, are included with Playa Mia Grande’s entry fee. There’s an extra charge for activities such as parasailing or “fish therapy,” during which tiny garra rufa fishes nibble dry skin off your feet—and yes, it’s way more pleasant than it sounds.

Read: Best Beaches in the Caribbean

El Cielo

Starfish spotted in El Cielo

El Cielo

Most people will agree that one of the most beautiful beaches in Cozumel is El Cielo, which translates as “heaven.” While it’s logical to think that this lovely and peaceful beach’s name comes from its serene environment, El Cielo is actually named after its wildlife, as it is one of the best places in Cozumel to see starfish. Much like stars dot the night sky, at El Cielo, starfish cover the ocean floor.

El Cielo is only accessible by boat, which helps keep the water clean and healthy since there isn’t much foot traffic. The water here is anywhere from five to nine feet deep, so snorkeling here is one of the best things to do in Cozumel for beginners who may not feel comfortable in the open sea. It’s possible to see the starfish only a few feet away from the shore, but make sure not to handle them.

Even though El Cielo isn’t technically a beach since it’s a sandbar in the ocean, most boat trips will follow a visit to El Cielo with a stop at a nearby beach called Playa El Cielito (or Little Heaven Beach).

El Cielito is quite underdeveloped so don’t expect any beach bars or amenities there. If you’re lucky, you might see some stingrays in the surf coming close to shore to snack on tiny crabs and sea slugs.

Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park

Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park, one of the best Cozumel beaches

Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park

Cozumel’s National Reef Marine Park is one of the largest protected areas in Mexico, covering nearly 50 square miles of the northern tip of the Meso-American reef. If you want to explore the more than 1,000 marine creatures that call this marine park home, then head to Chankanaab Beach at the Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park.

Read: What Is Mexico Known For?

Chankanaab is one of the best beaches in Cozumel because of the many ways it allows visitors to access the water. Guests can scuba dive or snorkel at an underwater sculpture garden, try snuba (a form of scuba diving that features a hose connected to an air supply at the surface), or embark on an “aqua-trek” on the ocean floor while wearing an oxygen helmet.

Reef in Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park

Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park

The park’s long beach is bordered by a reef, making it a great place to see the marine park’s wildlife. Thankfully, you don’t have to walk across the rocks to get into the water, as the park has several bridges that cross over the reef.

If you manage to tear yourself away from your beach chair or luxury cabana on the sand, you can also dine at one of Cankanaab’s three restaurants, swim with dolphins, take part in a traditional temazcal (steam bath) ritual, or book a massage overlooking the huge turquoise swimming lagoon.

Even if you’re not much of a drinker, try and stop by the beach’s tequila tasting booth at some point during the day. You’ll be able to try a few different agave-based spirits that are nothing like the tequila you’ve tried before.

Read: Where to Go Shopping in Cozumel

Playa Chen Rio

Powdered sands of Playa Chen Rio

Playa Chen Rio

Most of the hotels, restaurants, and amenities on Cozumel are located on the island’s western side, leaving the eastern side primarily undeveloped. Therefore, if you’re looking for a “deserted island” experience, head to the middle of the island’s eastern coastline, where you’ll find Playa Chen Rio.

Playa Chen Rio is as rustic as it gets. There are no amenities, no beach resorts, and no vendors. You’ll need to bring everything you’ll need and carry it back out again.

The beach is a long stretch of sand with a natural rock barrier that blocks larger waves. However, you should still swim within the markers at the end of the rock jetty as currents can get strong outside the safety of the natural lagoon.

If you want to avoid the crowds, this is a good spot since few people make the trek to this side of the island. If you’re renting a car or want a lazy day at the beach, it’s also a great option.

There’s not much coral or rock in the surf, so feel free to leave the water shoes behind. In fact, Playa Chen Rio feels like it was made for barefoot walks in the waves. Tip: bring some cash to the nearby restaurants as most don’t accept credit cards.

Playa Palancar

Calm waters of Playa Palancar, Cozumel

Playa Palancar

If you’re looking for a laid-back beach where you can relax in the sand and also snorkel, Playa Palancar, or Palancar Beach, is one of the best beaches in Cozumel.

Rather than being a private beach club, Playa Palancar is open to the public and located about a 20-minute drive south of the town of San Miguel de Cozumel, so you’ll need to either rent a scooter or take a taxi.

However, just because it’s a public beach that doesn’t mean you won’t find any amenities. While anyone can access the sandy beach, if you buy a cocktail, local beer, or order a fresh plate ceviche, you can also make use of the umbrellas and loungers that several restaurants have arranged out on the sand.

Playa Palancar is a relaxed place, often filled with a healthy mix of tourists and locals that want to embrace Cozumel’s friendly, no-stress atmosphere for a few hours. You will find bathrooms and showers, as well as the occasional masseuse offering ocean-view massages.

Playa Palancar is also notable for the marine life found offshore. Palancar Gardens, the area of reef off the beach, is considered one of the best places to go scuba diving and snorkeling on Cozumel.

If you didn’t bring snorkel gear, it’s easy to rent it nearby. You can also sign up on-site for quick snorkeling trips that travel a few minutes offshore and which usually include a marine park entry fee.

Punta Sur Eco Beach Park

Lush landscape of Punta Sur Eco Beach Park

Punta Sur Eco Beach Park

Punta Sur is the most eco-friendly and natural beach out of all of the parks managed by the Cozumel Parks Foundation. Here, the focus is on heritage and preservation of the natural environment, making it a must-visit spot if you prefer nature and history to beach bars and tequila tastings—though it does offer both.

Start your day off at this Cozumel beach with a visit to the protected Chunchacab Reef, where you can stroll past the shoreline and see flamingo nesting grounds and crocodile habitats along the way.

Then, head out on one of the beach’s nature trails, climb the wildlife observation tower, or check out the lighthouse and museum, where you can learn all about the island’s Mayan and maritime history.

Read: Best Mayan Ruins Near Cozumel, Mexico 

Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, one of the best Cozumel beaches

Punta Sur Eco Beach Park

End your day with an hour or two at the park’s relaxing Playa Chunchacab—one of the best beaches in the Riviera Maya—where you’ll find a sandy section with palapas and beach chairs.

Aside from the soft sand, cool breezes, and shallow surf, you can also rent snorkel equipment or glass-bottom kayaks to use above the house reef. Dotted around the park are clusters of hammocks, restrooms, beach bars, and a few nice restaurants where you can have a high-end meal in the shade.

Playa de San Martin

Golden sands of Playa de San Martin

Playa de San Martin

With a shallow sandy bottom that stretches at least 100 yards out into the sea, Playa de San Martin is one of the best beaches in Cozumel among in-the-know travelers. Here you’ll find sugar-soft sand and bright turquoise water, which is probably why it’s only a matter of time before it becomes trendy. Try and go before the crowds catch up.

Located on the island’s southern tip, Playa de San Martin is not too far from Punta Sur Beach Park, but unlike Punta Sur, Playa de San Martin is a public beach.

It’s best avoided on windy or stormy days, as the eastern coast of Cozumel is on the windward side, which creates stronger waves than those on the southwestern side. Fortunately, there’s a beach flag system that advises visitors whether or not it’s safe to go into the water.

The beach itself has no restaurants or restrooms, but there’s a tasty local restaurant across the road. You’ll need a car to get here, but it makes for a great lunch stop if you’re driving a loop around the island’s southern coastline.

Playa Dzul-Ha

Quiet beach of Playa Dzul-Ha

Playa Dzul-Ha Photo by Tristan Higbee on Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Playa Dzul-Ha is only a ten-minute drive south of San Miguel along the western coast. Cozumel’s reef starts just offshore, easily reached by swimming from the beach.

That does mean there is a rocky bottom, so it’s best to wear water shoes. Don’t forget your reef-friendly sunscreen either, to help protect this precious resource.

Behind the beach is The Money Bar, a small beach club with its own private beach area. All you need to do to access this is buy a drink or some food.

The bar rents snorkeling gear and lockers, as well as having sun-loungers. They even have metal steps to ease your entry into and exit from the sea.

Playa Uvas

Playa Uvas is a pair of west coast beaches: Playa Uva Norte and Playa Uva Sur. Both are among the best beaches in Cozumel but offer different experiences.

Playa Uva Sur is a beach club with all the facilities you could want. These include hammocks, seafood restaurants, and a tiny spa.

Playa Uva Norte is free, with almost no facilities (or shade), but just as pretty. Both are around 15 minutes from San Miguel and within even easier reach of the Cozumel reef.

With snorkel and glass-bottom boat tours available, the water here can be crowded. However, much of the action remains on Sur, making Playa Uva Norte a good option if you prefer things quieter.

Playa Las Rocas

People relaxing on Playa Las Rocas

Playa Las Rocas

Just on the outskirts of San Miguel de Cozumel, Playa Las Rocas makes up in convenience for what it lacks in sand. The rocks that give the beach its name also make for much better snorkeling than at many other Cozumel beaches.

The rocks, while making access to the water difficult in places, help keep the water clear and are also home to plenty of marine life, another bonus for snorkelers.

Playa Las Rocas, one of the best Cozumel beaches

Playa Las Rocas

On this more sheltered western side of Cozumel, Playa Las Rocas is a rare uncommercialized beach. Being so close to San Miguel’s center, it’s a gem any town would love to have.

Well served with food vendors, it’s one of Cozumel’s best beaches for enjoying Mexican street food. Stop for a snack or a drink and enjoy the relaxing island vibe.

Playa Punta Morena

Playa Punta Morena, one of the best Cozumel beaches

Playa Punta Morena

Playa Punta Morena sits halfway down the eastern coast of Cozumel. It’s an idyllic place of golden sands, shady palm trees, and bright blue sea.

There is a small beach club with thatched palapa loungers and good Caribbean seafood. You’ll also find the usual souvenir sellers, some offering interesting crafts.

As with most other of these eastern Cozumel beaches, there can be very good surfing. The beach even hosts surf events during peak season and has a thriving surf school.

Playa Punta Morena, one of the best Cozumel beaches

Playa Punta Morena

Surfers enjoy the consistent waves and sandy bottom, which is forgiving if you wipe out. The shore is exposed, however, so total novices are better off at Playa Bonita or on the west coast.

Some rocky areas at each end are good for snorkelers, giving refuge for plenty of sea life. There is a sheltered cove here to tempt you into the water.

Playa Corona

Although pretty, Playa Corona is not among the best beaches in Cozumel just for its beauty. It’s at the southern end of the reef in Chankanaab National Park and the snorkeling here is what makes it stand out.

Marine life in Cozumel

Marine life in Cozumel

The reef is only 100 yards offshore, making it easy to reach from this tiny beach. You can rent snorkel gear or find a scuba center nearby to spend more time among the coral.

The restaurant is one of the better ones in Cozumel for authentic food that Mexico is known for. The restaurant owners look after the beach, so it’s polite to go in to buy a drink, at least.

Ixpalbarco Beach

Playa Ixpalbarco is a no-frills experience that’s perfect for anyone wanting to escape the crowds. This remote east coast beach sees few visitors, even in high season.

A large part of the reason for that are the high waves and rip tides that can make swimming dangerous. Be very wary of going into the water unless you are a confident swimmer.

The beach is reached by a mile-long sand road which regularly catches out visitors without a 4WD vehicle. There are no amenities, so you do have to bring your own food and drink.

Having said all this, Ixpalbarco is among the prettiest beaches on Cozumel, with white sand and clear turquoise water. In less than 30 minutes from San Miguel de Cozumel, you can be sunning yourself on this idyllic stretch of sand.

Bahia La Guera

Around a headland just to the south of Ixpalbarco, Bahia La Guera is a good alternative if the wind is northerly. “La Guera” means “Blonde [woman]”, an obvious clue to the color of the sand here.

Another advantage over Ixpalbarco is that you avoid the long drive across the sands. Bahia La Guera is only a short walk from where the C-I road heading east from San Miguel first meets the coast.

The turn is marked by Mezcalito’s Last Frontier, a rustic restaurant with a view to die for. Stop in for refreshments, as you won’t find any amenities on the beach.

These eastern beaches can all experience seaweed washing ashore, depending on winds and currents. That’s a bonus for those who love walking alone on a Caribbean shore, as it helps keep casual visitors away.

While the western beaches are generally popular with visitors, these eastern ones are where you will find local people enjoying their own secret spots. While rip tides and high waves, can make swimming dangerous, they are great for enjoying nature or a picnic.

Playa Bonita

Playa Bonita, one of the best Cozumel beaches

Playa Bonita

On the southeast coast of Cozumel, Playa Bonita more than lives up to its name of “Beautiful Beach”. With more than a mile of sand backed by a good road, you can easily find a spot to yourself.

Only 30 minutes from San Miguel, the beach is popular with surfers, although there is no lifeguard. Its exposed position on this Caribbean-facing shore regularly brings good wave action.

At the north end you’ll find a surf school that offers lessons for all levels. The headland here gives some shelter for novices and snorkelers.

Follow the C-1 coastal road south from the beach and you soon come to El Mirador restaurant. This is a great stop for fresh seafood and wonderful Caribbean views.

The shore here starts to turn much rockier, good news for anyone who likes blow holes or exploring pools for anemones or crabs. At the Ruinas Escondida, you’ll find picturesque ruins that once marked the eastern edge of the Maya world.

Playa Punta Norte

Punta Norte is at the top end of Cozumel’s west coast. From here, the coast is north-facing until it reaches the scenic Punta Molas lighthouse, the northernmost point of Cozumel.

The water on Playa Punta Norte is exceptionally clear and the beach itself is pure white sand. Much is occupied by hotels or beach clubs, so you are never far from excellent facilities, including catamarans for rent.

There is a breakwater, which helpfully keeps any seaweed to its northern side. You’ll also find everything from yoga studios to scuba rental shops.

Only a short distance from San Miguel, this is one of the island’s most popular beaches. It’s great for snorkeling, with shallow waters filled with tropical fish, rays and even the occasional sea turtle.

View of Punta Molas Lighthouse from the water

Punta Molas Lighthouse

The remote, red-ringed Punta Molas lighthouse can be reached by a boat excursion, with snorkeling along the way. You can also see it on a 4×4 tour that explores this unspoiled northern coast, much of it a natural reserve.

Passion Island

Passion Island, one of the best Cozumel beaches

Passion Island

Isla Pasión sits off the north coast of Cozumel, reached by a ten-minute boat ride. You step off onto a perfect Caribbean palm-shaded islet, ringed by white sand and blue sea.

This vision of tropical beauty is not just a slice of paradise; it’s the whole cake. You can understand why the Maya used it as a place to worship Ixchel, the goddess of love and fertility, which gave the island its name.

White sands of Passion Island

Passion Island

The best way to enjoy Isla Pasión is as part of a tour, which will include everything you need. Once on its endless beach, you can sunbathe in a hammock, swim or snorkel, and enjoy activities such as kayaking.

The island is uninhabited but there are beachside bars that also serve food. Local raccoons provide a diversion as they hustle for any crumbs from your table.

Read: Things to Do in Cozumel with Kids

Cozumel beaches FAQs

Which side of Cozumel has the best beaches?

Playa Mia Grand Beach Resort, one of the best Cozumel beaches

Playa Mia Grand Beach Resort

Like most islands around the Caribbean, Cozumel has a rough east side facing the prevailing western winds and ocean waves. Its calmer west side has more sheltered waters and therefore better beaches for swimming and sunbathing.

This western side is where you will also find most of the resorts and beach clubs. It’s also where you will find fewer problems with seaweed.

The wilder eastern coast, however, is the place to find a more isolated beach, with a more scenic setting. Some days, there can be a lot of seaweed along the shore but on a good day, there is nowhere more glorious in the Caribbean.

How much of an issue is seaweed?

Aerial view of Playa Punta Morena

Playa Punta Morena

Rising sea temperatures are leading to more sargassum seaweed in the ocean. This is washed ashore on Mexico’s eastern shores, including Cozumel’s.

Fortunately, the western coast of Cozumel, facing the mainland, remains mostly clear.

What is the best beach in Cozumel with no seaweed?

Clear waters of Playa Palancar

Playa Palancar

Most areas on both Cozumel and the Mexican mainland make an effort to clear any seaweed away early in the day if they can. Palancar Beach and Playa El Cielo are two notable west coast beaches in Cozumel that are usually free of the problem.

How do Cozumel’s beaches compare to Cancun or Playa del Carmen?

Aerial view of Playa Mia Grand Beach Resort

Playa Mia Grand Beach Resort

Cozumel’s beaches see fewer visitors than either Cancun or Playa del Carmen, so they are more tranquil. The outlying reef also makes them an underwater paradise for snorkelers and divers.

The beaches of Cancun are larger and sandier, perfect for sunbathing and recreation. While seaweed can be more of a problem here, the city’s more varied shopping and restaurants are close to hand for when you want a break from the beach.

Relaxed Playa del Carmen is closer to the eco-adventure parks of Xcaret and Xel-Há. It’s also more convenient for visits to the Mayan ruins at Tulum and Akumal.

Both Cancun and Playa del Carmen are easy to visit from Cozumel on a ferry.

How many of Cozumel’s beaches are free?

People relaxing on Playa Las Rocas

Playa Las Rocas

In theory, all of Mexico’s beaches are free for anyone to use and enjoy. In practice, you will find that many—particularly on the east coast—have been more or less privatized.

The good news is that might only mean you are expected to buy a drink or a snack, which is no great hardship if you need one anyway. Others charge a bigger fee in return for an all-you-can-eat buffet, all-you-can-drink bar, or other amenities such as a swimming pool.

You can obviously also expect to pay a fee anywhere for the use of a sun lounger or sun shade. Other beaches are located within a reserve that will require an entry fee.

On Cozumel’s east coast, the beaches are more remote and less sheltered. That’s good news for surfers and those who enjoy the wilder side of nature.

What about sunscreen?

Person applying sunscreen


To protect Cozumel’s coral systems, the use of reef-safe sunscreen is recommended. You can also help protect yourself while swimming with a hat, T-shirt, rash vest, or other high UPF/SPF clothing.

Remember that even if you don’t go swimming, sunscreen goes into drains when you shower. If you use an aerosol spray, some will inevitably land on the sand, from where it’s washed into the ocean, so you can also help by avoiding these.

Snuba in Cozumel

Watch: Discover Cozumel With Celebrity Cruises

If you’re ready to explore the coastlines around Cozumel, Tulum, and the rest of the gorgeous Yucatan Peninsula, explore Celebrity Cruises’ luxury cruises to Cozumel. From swimming in crystal-clear jungle cenotes to learning to salsa dancing and making ceviche from culinary masters, there’s plenty to do in this beautiful, easy-to-reach stretch of Mexico’s coastline.

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