Off the Riviera Maya coast sits the pretty island of Cozumel. Travelers either come via ferry from Playa del Carmen (a 45-minute ride) or on one of the many cruise ships that dock here. Whether you're here for a long weekend or a quick stop on a cruise, spending time along the beautiful white-sand beaches and tasting delicious seafood are musts. For those who want to add a bit more to their itinerary, we've rounded up the best tours, experiences, and excursions in and from Cozumel.
While we love the sandy stretches in Cozumel, it’s worth heading offshore on an affordable catamaran sail and snorkeling tour. Cozumel is considered one of the best places for snorkeling in the region, and tours will take travelers to a gorgeous reef with numerous species of colorful fish and pretty coral. Swim under the leadership of a guide, and when you work up an appetite, guacamole, chips, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages — margaritas, bottled water, and Corona beer — will be provided.
A tour of the Tulum Mayan ruins is a suitable option for both cruisers and travelers getting stir-crazy on the island. The Tulum ruins are unique in that they’re along the coast, allowing for sensational views of archaeological sights with the ocean in the background. A knowledgable guide will talk about the history of the ancient Mayans and their way of life, while pointing to preserved frescoes and temples. Travelers typically have two hours to explore the ruins. A simple lunch and transportation from Playa del Carmen (a 50-minute drive away) in an air-conditioned bus are included.
Particularly for cruise travelers, a day pass to the Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park is an excellent pick. Under a 10-minute drive from the cruise terminal, the park is packed with family-friendly activities such as zip-lining, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, and kayaking (some for an extra fee). Included in this affordable ticket is access to the beach with loungers, umbrellas, and hammocks, as well as shower facilities, free Wi-Fi for social media, and life vests. Ample food and drink opportunities are available, as is a spa.
Travelers who are not scuba-certified can book an underwater tour in a mini-submarine. No prior diving experience is needed, and after safety instructions, visitors go on a 60-minute tour through beautiful fish and sea life. Each person has their own mini-SUB, which allows you to breathe normally without the use of a mask or tube. Some previous tourists have spotted stingrays, pufferfish, and starfish. CDs with still shots from the excursion are also available for purchase. The tour ends at a beach where guests can hang out and purchase lunch or beverages.
If your ideal Cozumel getaway involves lounging on the beach while being served all-you-can drink cocktails, get an all-inclusive day pass to Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club. Located a 14-minute drive from the cruise ship terminal, Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club is a lovely spot along a stretch of soft white sand. It has outdoor pools with swim-up bars, beachfront hammocks, and lockers to keep valuables safe. The all-inclusive pass means guests can have as many mojitos and sodas from the bar as they wish, as well as feast on the all-day menu and buffet spread. A kayak to take on the ocean is also included.
One of the best (and certainly tastiest) ways to experience a culture is through food. While you may think you know what Mexican food tastes like, every region has their own specialties and styles. Cozumel has a blend of Mexican, Caribbean, and Cuban influences, and a three-hour Yucatecan food tour allows travelers to try a little bit of everything. The tour covers tastings at five locations, plus alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Expect delicacies such as meat-filled empanadas, seafood tacos, ceviche, pastries, and agua fresca. Travelers will also visit an open-air market in downtown Cozumel.
Travelers not afraid to get a bit dirty may like the ATV Ride to the Jade Cavern. The under-four-hour tour can be squeezed into a day trip, and there are multiple departures each day. The tour includes off-roading in an ATV through the Cozumel jungle and a coral cave, as well as a swim in a cenote (a natural sinkhole filled with water). Just beware that the road can be bumpy. A guide, transportation from a meeting point, and bottled water are included, as is gear.
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