Cozumel, Mexico is one of the most traveled destinations in the Caribbean and it’s easy to see why. This Western Caribbean cruise port is Mexico’s largest island. It is strategically located off the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula and neighbors the beautiful Playa Del Carmen on the mainland.
Between the reef system and the Mayan archeological sites in this port, you have enough reasons to have a blast in Cozumel. So, it’s only natural to be pleasantly overwhelmed when you learn that there is much more to see and do in Cozumel other than diving and exploring Mayan ruins.
Cozumel Shore Excursions
That’s why a trip to this island requires planning and repeat visits to enjoy all the wonders that Cozumel has to offer. If you didn’t know, here are 20 ways you can enjoy Cozumel on your next cruise vacation:
1. Cozumel Island Tour
Always start with a city tour. It’s usually very enjoyable, easy, free and convenient. Besides, how would you get the bearings of a place if you don’t figure out what is where? There are many ways to take a city tour in Cozumel. You can do a walking, bicycle, jeep or taxi tour. All these transport vessels are readily available at the cruise terminal for rent.
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The city tour will take you to all of Cozumel’s landmarks and fascinating places. Points of interest include the Island Museum found downtown San Miguel. The museum showcases the traditions and cultures of Cozumel including its Mayan heritage. Other points of interest include the central plaza, a beautiful and lively town square. This is where most of the shopping stalls and the best eating places are found. It’s also where most of the local celebrations are held.
Other points of interest include ancient buildings and churches such as Iglesia De San Miguel, which bare the beauty and rich history of the town in their practices.
2. Cozumel Food Tour
One of the most exciting parts of a cruise vacation is discovering new delicacies from the places you visit. Well, Cozumel does not disappoint on this end. Skip the usual touristy hotels and spend a few hours of your port day sampling the authentic Yucatan cuisine. This is simply done on a food tour which is a widely offered excursion by both cruise lines and local tour operators.
This tour takes you to five local restaurants to sample the real local cuisine. Enjoy tasty empanadas, shrimp and fruity Mexican drinks in every new place you visit. Since this excursion mostly lasts for 3 hours, you are guaranteed to still have enough time to do something else on the island. It’s also another way to do the city tour.
3. Private Jeep Excursions
Cozumel has the popular west coast where your ship docks. Then it also has the less traveled eastern side which is a remote tropical paradise with virgin beaches and lush forests. One of the best ways to see the whole of Cozumel is on a Jeep tour. Escape from the tourist trap on the western side of the island and visit some of the remote attractions on the East side. These attractions include expansive remote stretches of beaches and lush jungle areas.
Take a guided jeep tour of the jungle. You will learn the history of the place together with the fascinating tropical flora and fauna. The tour won’t end there, most of these jeep excursions, combine a snorkeling or a beach bumming session with the trip. Some of these tours will have you visiting authentic Mayan villages for a real Mayan lunch and a tequila tasting afterward.
4. Snorkel Tour
You cannot say you have been to Cozumel if you haven’t snorkeled there. Other than diving, snorkeling in Cozumel is one of the most popular things to do. The snorkeling in Cozumel is one of the best in the world. You can snorkel right from the shore or take boat charters to other snorkeling sites. Cozumel is blessed with two reef systems that form part of the largest reef system in the world. The hydrological conditions of the water make it a conducive environment for a host of marine life.
Find travel snorkel gear for your adventure right here.
Book a snorkeling excursion and enjoy exploring the different variety of sea life. The snorkeling excursion will either take you to the Palancar or Columbia reef system. Enjoy snorkeling in the clear waters that have visibility of up to 200 feet in some parts. Also, experience some drift snorkeling on the west coast courtesy of the north to south current.
5. Atlantis Submarine
If you don’t plan to get wet, or just don’t know how to snorkel or dive. Then try the Atlantis submarine excursion. This is the only submarine in Mexico. The tour takes you to the impressive underwater world. Diving 100 feet deep into the waters to explore the reef, sunken ships and other hot spots for marine life.
This tour is set in a modern submarine vessel that is air-conditioned, comfortable and devoid of pressure issues. Enjoying viewing the marine life from the large windows of the vessel in the comfort of the submarine. This trip is done thrice every day and charges $105 for adults and $65 for kids.
One of the best attractions in Cozumel is the Mayan Ruins in Tulum. Take this excursion to see the only coastal Mayan ruins in the Mexican Riviera. In this excursion, you will take a ferry ride to the nearby island of Playa Del Carmen. An air-conditioned bus waiting for you on the other end will take you to Tulum.
Once there you will get to see a trade center, three castles and the large wall that served as a fortress for the Mayan town. It will take you 2 hours to explore the ruins and afterward you can enjoy the beautiful beach adjacent to the ruins. Or go and see how chocolate is made from seed to product.
Here are all your Mayan souvenirs from Amazon.
7. Visit Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza was recently named the 7th wonder of the world. Visit this wondrous Mayan ruin to learn about the history of the Mayans. Chichen Itza is the largest Mayan ruin today, visit this site to wonder at ancient civilization’s creativity. Be warned however the commute from Cozumel to Chichen Itza is quite long.
First, you will take a 45-minute ferry ride to Playa del Carmen, then you will go on another 2.5-hour bus ride to the ruins. Once there you have less than 1 hour to go through the ruins and explore the area before you start your journey back. However, it’s well worth it, as you will get to see a famous world heritage center.
8. Beach Break
Cozumel has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. This gem in the Mexican Riviera is adorned with plenty of beautiful stretches of white sandy beaches. To add to this is the crystal-clear waters on its beaches that make the beaches look postcard perfect.
You can skip beach day at other ports of call but not on Cozumel. Here is where you go to have a perfect beach day. If you are planning to beach bum all day long, then you will be in the right place. Just visit any of the numerous beaches on either the west, east or south coast of the island.
The western side has beaches which are near the cruise terminals. Visit beaches such as Mr. Sanchos, Nachi Cocom and Playa Uvas. On the Eastern side try beaches such as San Martin, El mirador, and Playa Chen Rio.
Get all your beach accessories before your cruise vacation.
9. Dolphin Encounter
An encounter with Dolphins is not an experience that many can boast of. That’s why you should book an excursion to meet the Dolphins of Cozumel. Your trip to the dolphin discovery park will take you to Chankanaab National Reef Park. A protected area for the island’s flora and fauna. Here you will get to pet, play, touch and even ride on the dolphins. These friendly mammals will kiss you, play with you and even swim with you.
10. Chankanaab National Park
Chankanaab has an array of activities. This is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Cozumel. The park is located on the west coast of the island. It has a protected marine park that has all the right nutrients in its water to boost a flourishing marine life.
Anyone in your group can enjoy this excursion. There are plenty of activities in this park including snorkeling, playing with dolphins, getting entertained by sea lions, bumming on the beach, ziplining, kayaking or exploring the botanical gardens. The gardens feature over 350 plant species.
11. Catamaran Tour
A catamaran tour is the best way to see Cozumel’s coastline. Take this tour to visit the best offshore reefs for some great snorkeling. Also, visit remote parts of the island and beautiful sandbars to relax and catch some sun. Most of the Catamaran tours offer snacks and beverage afterward. This is a good excursion for a group and is guaranteed to bring lasting memories.
12. Stingray Swim
Head on over to stingray beach for an encounter with these amazing creatures. The stingrays are gentle and love to play with you. Visit this area for an exciting family-friendly excursion. You can feed, pet and touch the silky wings of the gentle creatures. You will also get to snorkel to further interact with more stingrays and nurse sharks in the deeper areas of the park.
Go ziplining at the Extrem Adventure Zipline park. Enjoy flying over the jungle of Cozumel. The 9 lines zip line course is found at the Chankanaab eco-park. And is suspended 60 feet above the ground. Ziplining is not the only activity you can enjoy here but also tube sliding, and laser tag. This family-friendly zone full of great activities is located just 20 minutes away from the cruise ship pier.
14. Cave Tour
One excursion that you should definitely do while in Cozumel is the cave and cenote tour. You won’t soon forget this activity. The cave and cenote tour will take you on a tour of underground cenotes in caves with dramatic rock formations. The tour has guides who will explain the history and science of how the stalagmites and stalactites were formed.
Enjoy swimming in the cool clear blue waters of the cenote as you experience the highlight of a lifetime. A professional photographer will also document your time there, and avail photos to you at a cost.
Don’t forget your water shoes from Amazon when on these type of tours.
There are several cave tours but the most popular is the Rio Secreto. Be advised, however, that this activity involves a challenging hike through a rather rugged jungle terrain that involves some climbing and passing through narrow paths. It’s best suited for a person in good shape and with zero mobility issues.
Another great excursion to take part in is fishing. Cozumel is one of the best fishing ports you can visit. Blessed with two great reefs, the water has plenty of fish. The warm waters, the hydrological and current conditions of Cozumel make the waters perfect for sea life to flourish.
You can book one of the many fishing charters in Cozumel and go fishing. Apart from fishing, these boats can also take you to the best snorkeling and diving spots. Among the sea creatures that you are bound to see, include groupers, sea turtles, stingrays, dorados even barracudas.
16. Watersports, Parasailing, Kayaking
If you are an active person, then engaging in some water sports is another amazing way to enjoy your day in Cozumel. You can go kayaking, parasailing, paddle boarding, jet skiing and even parasailing. You will find these excursions on almost all the beach clubs on the west coast.
17. Scuba Diving
Cozumel is one of the top ten places to dive in the world. Almost everyone who visits this port of call comes for the diving. Most of the diving takes place on the western coast of the island. This side has a good drift system and great underwater visibility. Cozumel’s reef systems are part of the Mesoamerica reef system, the second largest reef system in the world. This gives rise to deep walls that feature fissures and caverns that are bursting with marine life.
The tours should provide scuba gear but there might be something you can take here.
Some of the best dive spots include Punta Sur, Palancar gardens, devil’s throat, the Columbia wall and Santa Rosa wall. There are also diving spots for advanced divers in the south and northeastern coast. On top of that, you can also dive in a cenote or atoll.
18. ATV Adventure/Dune Buggy
An ATV excursion takes you through Cozumel’s lush jungle to see wildlife and learn about Cozumel. Some tours will go through Mayan ruins and caves. Giving you a chance to learn some great Mayan history. While others will take you to a cave, where you can enjoy a dip in a cenote.
You’ll need bug spray when heading out in the jungle.
A dune buggy tour is also recommended, it will take you to remote parts of the island, where you will enjoy the raw beauty of an untouched Cozumel. Also, enjoy exploring the coastlines on these bikes. Depending on the tour you are on, you can even visit some of the popular beaches like Playa Uvas or Mr. Sancho’s beach club. At these clubs, you can snorkel, swim or hang out at the beach
A visit to an island such as Cozumel would not be complete without a little bit of retail therapy. Embrace shopping at this port by visiting the Central Plaza in downtown San Miguel. Common merchandise sold here include jewelry, clothes, spices, cigars, and tequila. Keep an eye out for authentic Mayan craft from local wares stands.
Many Cozumel excursions include shopping as part of their tours so we thought it would make sense to add it in as number 19.
Find all your Cozumel souvenirs by clicking here.
20. Chocolate Tasting
Learn a new skill. Visit a chocolate factory and learn how chocolate is made from seed to the final product. This is an interactive excursion and you will get to participate in the making, sampling and even buying of the chocolate.
Ever tried Mexican chocolate? Have a browse right here.
Over to You
As you have read, Cozumel is a tropical paradise full of ways to enjoy yourself. Cozumel carries all the charms of a Caribbean island and is an all under one roof affair. Plan your visit here and enjoy all this first hand.
The best time to visit the island is during its winter season which runs from December to April. Don’t forget to pack bug spray when visiting this island especially if you plan to take jungle excursions.
That’s it. Enjoy yourself when you are next in Cozumel. Happy Cruising!!