In the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula lies the island of Cozumel. As a popular port of call for cruise ships, this island offers vacation guests so much to see and do that it may be hard to choose. To help you out, here are 12 suggestions for planning your visit to Cozumel.
In and On the Water
The second-largest reef system in the world exists in the clear blue waters southwest of Cozumel, making the island a top dive destination. In-water activities are available for all levels of swimmers. Not a swimmer? Don’t worry. You can still get in on the action!
1. Snorkel and Scuba
Certified scuba divers can explore the underwater world at Arrecifes de Cozumel National Marine Park with an experienced dive master, while beginning divers can try the sport with a PADI-certified dive instructor.
You don’t have to scuba to enjoy the underwater view. Other options include SNUBA (snorkeling with a surface-floating air tank), helmet diving — ideal for non-swimmers because you can walk on the ocean floor — and, of course, lots and lots of snorkeling.
2. Day at the Beach
Relax the day away on one of Cozumel’s famous sandy beaches. Choose an excursion that combines beach time with water activities such as snorkeling and paddleboarding, or just sit back and soak up the sun with your family.
Up Close With Nature
Nothing’s quite as spectacular as spending time up close and personal with Cozumel’s natural environment.
3. Sea Creatures
Cozumel has two dolphinariums where you can experience the thrill of being in the water with these beautiful creatures. Or maybe you’d like the chance to snorkel among the biggest fish in the world, the whale shark, or around graceful sea turtles in their natural habitat. You even have an opportunity to give back to nature by participating in a “Save the Sea Turtle” program.
You don’t have to get wet to view the beautiful sea creatures. Instead, you can take a trip through the Chankanaab reef on the Atlantis submarine and watch the underwater world swim by through the portals.
4. Nature Reserves
Explore the unusual natural features of Cozumel and the Yucatan peninsula. These include jungles, underground rivers and cenotes — deep, water-filled sinkholes formed by water percolating through the soft limestone soil over thousands of years. Choose from excursions that include the natural aquarium of Yal-Ku, an ancient Mayan cenote sanctuary, the Rio Secreto natural reserve, the Xel-Ha lagoon and Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park.
Get to Know Cozumel
A cruise to Cozumel lets you choose between activities local to the island or a short ferry trip away on the Yucatan peninsula. Consider these fun things to do right on Cozumel.
5. Island Tour
See the island’s highlights on a comprehensive guided tour that combines a visit to the Mayan ruins with island sightseeing. If you’ve never been to Cozumel, this is a great way to get acquainted.
6. Discover Mexico
Visit Discover Mexico, an interactive learning park near the island’s main population center of San Miguel. Learn about Mexico’s history through dioramas and reproductions, view contemporary folk art by Mexico’s best artisans, and wander the gardens filled with local flora.
7. Amazing Race
For something completely different, take part in the Amazing Cozumel Race. Just like the TV show, you follow clues and discover secrets to solve a mystery, all while trying to beat everyone else to the finish line — or not. It’s perfectly fine to take your time and enjoy your surroundings while solving the mystery. This race takes place on foot through the streets of San Miguel and along the shore, and the locals are totally in on the fun and happy to point you in the right direction.
Experience Local Culture
Carnival offers a wide variety of activities that explore Mexican culture, both ancient and modern.
Sit back and enjoy a Mexican folkloric show in San Miguel, or travel to Kun Che, a Mayan sanctuary, to learn about this ancient culture through food, dance and even Pok Ta Pok, a Mayan ball game.
9. Cooking Lessons
Learn how fabulous Mexican food is made by taking part in an excursion that combines salsa making and salsa dancing. This one’s fun for everyone, even the kids.
10. Explore Mayan Ruins
Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula was home to the great Mayan empire, and it has many well-preserved archaeological sites to explore. Cozumel has a number of ruins, but the major Mayan archaeological sites exist on the mainland. The two most famous are Tulum and Chichen-Itza, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Off the Beaten Path
This part of Mexico offers some pretty spectacular terrain to explore. Try one of these ideas for something a little different.
11. You Drive
If you’d like the freedom to drive yourself and your friends on an adventure, saddle up for a variety of alternative transportation options. Ride through the Mexican countryside or on jungle trails on an ATV or four-passenger off-road vehicle. Or actually saddle up and take a horseback ride on a Mexican ranch.
12. Adventure Parks
For the young and the young at heart, the Cozumel area offers a choice of adventure parks with activities to entertain everyone. Xenses has more than 15 activities that take you across air, land and water, while Adventure Park and Xplor Park offer zip lines and suspension bridges, along with swimming and snorkeling.
When you cruise to Cozumel, you can explore the ocean, the jungle, ancient Mayan ruins and contemporary Mexican culture. You can concentrate on one activity or pick a trip that combines two or three. Maybe even do a little shopping. All of these activities can be coordinated through Carnival shore excursions, which takes care of the planning and transportation. With so many choices, there’s surely one that’s exactly right for you.