Renowned for its fine coral reefs and beach-scattered coastline, Cozumel is largely undeveloped in its central core where emerald jungles and swampy lagoons are home to endemic birds and butterflies. A noteworthy national park and several ecological reserves provide shelter for rare and endangered wildlife species, such as nesting marine turtles. Cozumel is also a haven for water-sports and fishing yet offers tranquillity in abundance, from stunning sunsets and moonlit walks on secluded beaches to romantic candlelight seafood dinners on the sand.
Cozumel describes itself as a ‘Mexican heart with a Caribbean soul’, and this tropical island resort, located off the Yucatan Peninsula, provides an evocative blend of Afro-Latino cultures.
Absorbing Mother Nature’s splendour is a popular Cozumel pastime, from snorkelling and diving through caves, mangroves and open seas to bird-watching endemic and migratory species. Cozumel is also home to a magnificent array of reptiles and frogs and a wide variety of jungle trails allow visitors to see these up close. Botanical gardens, untamed forests and sandy beaches all beg to be explored with the 30 miles (48 km) by 10 miles (16 km) area easily traversable in a day.
• Swim with dolphins in Chankanaab National Park.
• Hike the Botanical Garden trail through 350 different plant species.
• Spot crocodiles, iguana and giant turtles at Punta Sur Ecological Reserve.
• Discover 220 species of birds at Colombia Lagoon.
• Journey through pre-Hispanic and Colonial history at the Discover Mexico exhibit.
• Diving and snorkelling at the only inland coral reef on the planet.
• Visit the Museum of the Island of Cozumel in downtown San Miguel.
• Fun in the water at Playa Mia Grand Beach Park.
Isla Cozumel Tourist Office
Calle 2 Nte 299-B Col. Centro Cozumel, Q. Roo. 77600, México
Tel. +52 (987) 872 7585.
Website: www.islacozumel.com.mx <
Unique handmade jewellery offers plenty of one-of-a-kind silver designs in dozens of fine boutiques and stores together with souvenir quality tourist stalls – many incorporating Mexican turquoise. Textiles are good value too and run the full gamut of Mexican cultures, from huipiles (traditional Mayan dresses) and rebozos (shawls) to guayaberas (men’s embroidered cotton shirts), tightly woven Panama hats from the Yucatan peninsula and colourful hammocks. Leather goods, including shoes, boots, belts, purses and luggage, reflect Mexico’s proud handcrafted tradition. Stores in the waterfront malls stay open longer when a cruise ship is in port and accept credit cards and U.S. dollars.
An array of 100 different restaurants, cafés and food stalls offer an array of palate-pleasing delights, from authentic Mayan fare and Mexican specialities to big-name international franchises. Choose from Tex-Mex, hamburger joints, fried chicken and pizza restaurants or snap up freshly cooked tamales (filled steam-cooked corn dough) and empanadas (deep-fried meat-filled turnovers) from food vendors downtown.
When to go:
3.2km (2 miles)