- Where is Cozumel?
Cozumel, Mexico’s largest Caribbean island is located off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula on the eastern side of Mexico, 41 miles (71 km)south of Cancun. The island is 26 miles (41 km) long from north to south and 9 miles (14 km) wide.
With a population of a little over 75,000, Cozumel now welcomes more than 2,500,000 visitors every year and is considered one of the most important tourist destinations in Mexico.
- How do I get there?
Cozumel has an international airport with many direct scheduled flights from cities in the USA, Mexico City,Cancun and Cuba. Many charter airlines also fly to Cozumel. Alternatively, it is possible to fly to Cancun airport and make the connection to Cozumel by bus and ferry. The journey takes 1.5 to 2.5hours depending on waiting times (45 min by bus to Playa del Carmen and another 45 min by ferry to Cozumel). The cheapest bus operator from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen is Riviera, tickets can be purchased in the main airport terminal and the buses are clean and efficient. There are two ferry operators but there is little difference in service or prices between the two, it’s best to simply take whichever one is leaving next. Cruise ship tourism is also big in Cozumel. Many ships stop over for a day in Cozumel on Caribbean cruises to or from Florida.
- What is there to do in Cozumel? Cozumel is perfect for simply relaxing on the beach in one of the many beach resorts on the west side of the island or the more deserted beaches on the east side (but beware of dangerous currents when swimming on the east side). The strong tourist industry means you have your choice of shops, bars and restaurants where you can find many bargains and avoid paying tax on luxury items. Water sports are very popular in Cozumel, with scuba diving on the island’s beautiful coral reefs being the most practiced. It is also possible to sports fish, sail, snorkel, surf, cycle or hike on and around the island and many other excursions in Cozumel The island is also host to a Nicklaus designed golf course. Check out other things to do here.
- Can I bring the kids?
Absolutely. Cozumel is a great holiday destination for the whole family. Most hotels offer children’s activities and the majority of restaurants and bars are happy to admit children too.
- What is the history of Cozumel?
The first Mayans settled in Cozumel from 300 AD and the name Cozumel comes from the Mayan cuzamil which means land of the swallows. The Mayans believe Cozumel to be home of Ixchel, the goddess of fertility and the moon. For this reason many Mayans sailed to Cozumel on pilgrimages.
In the 16th century the Spanish to Cozumel but by the end of th ecentury the island’s population dwindled to only a few hundred due to fighting and diseases brought by the Spanish.
The island remained mostly deserted until the 17th. Century when it became a popular base for pirates, including the famous Henry Morgan.
In the late 19th century the island became settled again and grew into an important hub for distributing chicle (natural chewing gum) from the mainland. With road transportation improving this business slowed in the first half of the 20th century and tourism became to develop later,mainly driven by an increased awareness of beauty of the island and its reefs which was caused by a Jacques Cousteau television documentary in the 1960s. Since then tourism has grown and grown and is now the prevalent industry on Cozumel.
- Where can I stay?
Cozumel has many hundreds of hotels, ranging from luxurious all-inclusive beach resorts to rustic hotels, rental homes of all types and even B & B’s.
- How can I get around?
Public transport on Cozumel is almost non-existent, so you will need to hire a moped – or perhaps safer, a car – to get around the island.Alternatively you can rent taxis or cycle. There are many vehicle rental agencies on the island including some big international names,if you shop around you can get a good deal.
- Do I need a visa?
Not usually. Most North Americans and Europeans can enter Mexico with a tourist card – valid for up to 6 months – which you get by simply filling out a form on the airplane or at the arrival airport. However,rules can change, so check with your local Mexican embassy or consulate if you are not sure or if you are visiting for more than six months or for a purpose other than vacation.
- What currency is used?
Mexican pesos and US dollars (bills, not usually coins) are accepted in Cozumel. You may get a better deal paying in pesos since you won’t lose on the exchange rate. Major credit cards and travelers’ checks are also widely accepted and most cards will also work in Mexican ATMs. Tipping in either currency is common practice in Cozumel.
- How is the climate?
With a subtropical climate the average temperature is about 27°C -80°F, and because Cozumel is surrounded by water the climate is always humid often around 90%, but often breezy too. All year round you will be able to find sunny days with the usually warm waters. Rainfall is rare apart from during the rainy season (September- November) when showers can be frequent but not disruptive.
- What language is spoken?
Spanish is the official language of Mexico and is spoken everywhere in Cozumel. However, due to tourism English is also very widely spoken in Cozumel and non-Spanish speakers should have no problem getting by. You may also here some locals speaking Mayan, the ancient native language of the region.
- What time zone is Cozumel in?
Standard time in Cozumel is the same as Cancun: GMT minus 6 hours or minus 5 with daylight saving. This means it usually has the same time as Chicago, Dallas and Winnipeg.
- Are there any dangers?
Crime is low in Cozumel due to it being an island community dependent on tourism. As with anywhere with large groups of tourists it is always wise to k
eep money and valuables safe from pickpockets and petty thieves, but violent crime is extremely rare. Some biting insects such as mosquitoes and sand flies can be an annoyance, but do not carry diseases such as malaria. They can easily be avoided by using repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk and using air conditioning, fans or insect nets to sleep.