Cruises to Cozumel, Mexico are popular for good reason—after all, Cozumel effortlessly balances its flashy side with a natural, unblemished beauty. The tropical climate promises close heat, plentiful sunshine, and pristine beaches for every kind of traveler.
Divers love Cozumel for its clear waters and preserved coral reefs. Beach lovers can rest and relax at beaches like El Cielo or Playa Palancar, while outdoor enthusiasts will find respite in the island’s jungles and national parks. There’s no shortage of beach bars, clubs, and dancing on the island for nightlife lovers, either. Cozumel may be one of Mexico’s biggest destinations, but it hasn’t lost its heart in the process.
While on your Cozumel cruise, you can stay close to the cruise port with shopping, eateries, and sights in historic San Miguel. Head inland to the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio, or take things one step further on your Caribbean Cruise with excursions to Tulum, Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, or the beautiful Playa del Carmen.
Make a quick stop in at the inexpensive Museo de Cozumel to learn the island’s history and culture dating back to Mayan settlement thousands of years ago. Entry is only $4, plus you’ll catch views of the waterfront from the rooftop restaurant.
About a 25 minute drive from the International Pier in Cozumel, the San Gervasio archaeological site chronicles the settlement of the Maya civilization on the island. See ruins of a holy site where the Maya once worshipped the goddess Ixchel, or take a guided tour to learn more about the history and preservations of the ruins. Today, San Gervasio is a wildlife refuge where iguanas roam free.
This huge aquarium and water park is accessible via boat from Cozumel, and a popular excursion for families and big groups. Snorkel or zipline over the water, take a river tour, or enter the Ixchel Grotto for a crystal clear, secluded swim.
This beach resort and has everything you’d expect—water slides, play areas for kids, pedal boats, kayaks, and more for a day’s worth of fun activities for the whole family.
Cozumel and the surrounding are famous for their coral, sponge, and fish populations. In nearby Quintana Roo, Mexico, Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park is a site where you’ll find abundant coral reef structures. Divers and snorkelers shouldn’t miss the chance to plunge into the depths of this protected wildlife sanctuary.
Poke around in a variety of shops, or stop into Wet Wendy’s for margaritas in downtown San Miguel, the largest town of the municipality of Cozumel. Walkable and compact, spend your stop in San Miguel if you need a break from the sun and beaches and instead want a taste of the town.
Beach “El Cielo” is a white sand beach you can’t miss in Cozumel. Take a boat tour to get to El Cielo’s impossibly clear waters. Ideal for snorkeling, starfish gazing, sea turtle sightings, and seeing the area’s beautiful coral reefs.
Rent an umbrella and post up at Playa Palancar, one of Cozumel’s quieter beaches. Of course, Playa Palancar has Cozumel’s signature warm, greenish-blue waters, so it’s easy to swim or snorkel the afternoon away while you’re there.
Swim with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery Cozumel. This activity is perfect for families and children of all ages looking to spend an unforgettable afternoon with dolphins on your Cozumel cruise. You’ll also have the chance to see manatees and sea lions while you’re there.
Address: San Miguel de Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Walk a short ways from the Cozumel cruise port to Fat Tuesdays, where cold drinks, chips and salsa, fresh ceviche, and a party atmosphere awaits to welcome you to Cozumel.
Address: Calle 8 Nte 208, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico
For a romantic night out in Cozumel, consider the candle-lit La Cocay. Influenced by Mediterranean classics, you can get small plates to share, or go all in for dishes like seared scallops, tuna sashimi, or filet mignon.
Address: Av. Rafael E. Melgar 23, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico
Restaurateur Yvonne Villiger brings Italian cuisine to Cozumel. Wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and lasagnas make up a classic menu. Add in Guido’s wine list and seafood specials for a cozy, casual night on the waterfront.
Address: Calle 5ta X 2da y 4ta s/n Centro, Q.R., Mexico
Not far from the Museo de Cozumel is the tiny but mighty Burritos Gorditos. Serving burritos, guacamole, quesadillas, and breakfast on the island, this small shop commits to a no-frills, cash only approach. Sit on one of the restaurant’s multicolored chairs while you enjoy what some call the best burritos in Cozumel.
When the Mayans settled in Cozumel two thousand years ago, they dedicated the town to the Mayan goddess of fertility and love, Ixchel. The word “Cozumel” means “Land of the Swallow” in Mayan, symbolizing Ixchel’s favorite bird. Spanish settlers didn’t visit Cozumel until the 16th century, when the Cortés expedition traveled through. In 1520, Spanish crew members brought smallpox to Cozumel, devastating the Mayan population.
Cozumel’s popularity as a tourism destination skyrocketed in the 1960s when word of the island’s scuba diving potential traveled through the grapevine. Diving and charter fishing became central to the economy of the island. Today, Cozumel is a major port of call, welcoming over a million cruise passengers annually.
The Cozumel cruise port is on the Western side of the island, where there happen to be three piers in total. The International Pier is one of the oldest and most-trafficked port areas. It’s about two miles to reach San Miguel, which you can access either on foot with a long walk or take a ten-minute taxi ride from the cruise port terminal. You’ll find food, shopping, and complimentary WiFi beyond the terminal.
You can rent a car while in Cozumel to get to the far reaches of the island, including some of the nature excursions and harder-to-reach parks. For daredevils, a scooter or bicycle is an exciting way to navigate the island. Helmets required. Then, of course, there are plenty of taxis at the cruise terminal and around the island. Taxi drivers know their value on the island, so be sure to settle on a fare before you drive off. Of course, it’s easy to explore areas surrounding the port on foot if you feel like stretching your sea legs during your stop in Cozumel.
After you disembark from the cruise ship, particularly at International Pier, you’ll find duty-free shops and souvenir shacks before you leave the terminal. The Royal Village Shopping Center is also conveniently located near International Pier, where you can purchase handmade goods, jewelry, and other items. San Miguel also has plentiful shopping just two or three miles away from International Pier.
Though the local currency is the peso, many stores will accept U.S. dollars (USD), so you likely won’t need to exchange money. Find ATMs near the cruise docks for all your withdrawal needs. Tipping is encouraged, particularly for bartenders, tour guides, and restaurant service. A tip of 15-20% is recommended.