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Cozumel, Riviera Maya Travel Guide

Cozumel Summary


  • Arguably the best diving and snorkeling in the region
  • Stunning beaches (though some are rocky, especially on the eastern side)
  • Great surf, mainly on the eastern side
  • Good restaurants and delicious seafood
  • Laid-back atmosphere
  • Accommodation options for every taste: from small and unique, to all-inclusive resorts
  • Family-friendly beaches on the northern coast
  • During high season, flights from some U.S. cities are non-stop to Cozumel
  • Regular ferry service to/from Playa del Carmen
  • Interesting minor Maya ruins
  • Generally safe


  • Cruise ship destination (though passengers stay close to the harbor)
  • Hurricane season (August through November), and rainy season (June through October)
  • Some beaches charge an admission fee
  • Expensive, limited shopping
  • The waterfront in San Miguel is always busy
  • Some beaches are rocky, especially on the Eastern side

What It's Like

Mexico's largest island sits off of Playa del Carmen, amid some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the Western hemisphere. Most visitors, unlike in other parts of the Riviera Maya (such as Cancun), come here for the great snorkeling and surf. Families also find this destination convenient for the shallow, calm waters of the northern side of the island.

There's only one developed area, San Miguel, which has a pleasant vibe and a charming, lively main square. The area around the waterfront is always the busiest, with tourists going in and out of jewelry and souvenir shops. Cruise ships dock here every day, but passengers normally stay close to the harbor, so finding a secluded beach and a quiet spot is relatively easy.

Nightlife is limited, as are the shopping options, but there's a wide array of hotels, ranging from small, unique properties to larger, all-inclusive resorts.

Where to Stay

Hotels of every kind line the beaches north of San Miguel, where the calm, shallow waters attract many families with kids. However, if you’re looking for surfing, head to the eastern side of the island, where you will find the best waves (and rocky beaches). Most all-inclusive resorts are south of San Miguel, and inside the town, you will find smaller, cheaper hotels, a short drive from the beach.

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