If your Royal Caribbean cruise has a scheduled stop in Cozumel, Mexico, you might be wondering what there is to see and do in this popular Caribbean cruise port.
Cozumel is the fourth busiest cruise port in the world (by passengers), with many cruise lines offering stopsin this eastern Mexico destination.
Many Royal Caribbean ships call on Cozumel as part of their Western Caribbean itineraries. Most Royal Caribbean stops at Cozumel are for part of the day,and if you are trying to decide what to do in Cozumel, here is your guide.
Cozumel Overview & Strategy
Cozumel is an island off the eastern main land of Mexico. It's a large island with a main city of San Miguel.Cozumel is well known for its beaches, scuba diving and shopping.
Cozumel is located in the tropics and has an average high of85°F (29°C). Spanish is the official language, although you will find anyone working in the tourist areas to speak enough English to make communicating simple enough. Taxi drivers can sometimes struggle with English, but they know enough keywords to understand where you want to go.
If you are new to Cozumel, you will find no shortage of things to do in Cozumel. Since Cozumel is an established and old cruise port, the variety of choices over the years have swelled to offer cruise guestsa lotto consider.
When trying to figure out what to do, here are a few things to think about.
Depending on the time of year, the temperature and humidity may play a major factor into what you choose to do. Temperatures remain constant throughout the year. Daytime highs are in the 80s in every season and nighttime lows will range from the high 60s to mid-70s.With the exception of a few cold fronts in December and January, plan on a warm day in Cozumel.
The months of November through March will see the most temperate and comfortable temperatures, which means ideal conditions for doing lots of walking, touring and generally being outdoors. These are the best months for seeing Mayan ruins and walking around downtown.
The rest of the year will see higher temperatures and humidity levels, which makes them an ideal time for swimming and diving. You can still work in the ruins and other cultural experiences, but a swim break in the afternoon makes a lot of sense. April and May are warmer months, but still part of the dry season. June through October constitute hurricane season in the Caribbean, which means the wet season arrives in Cozumel. Expect sunny starts to the day, with increasing heat and humidity into the afternoon. Pop up showers and/or thunderstorms will appear and disappear quickly. Rain is short lived in the wet season in Cozumel, but can be heavy at times.
Trying a couple of things
Since there are so many things to do in Cozumel and the island is so small, consider multiple activities during your day in Cozumel.
Most Royal Caribbean stops in Cozumel are generally 8-12 hours in duration. This leaves plenty of time to do a few activities while in port.
In the warmer months of the year, you might try doing some sort of activity in the morning hours, and then head to a beach for lunch and swimming. Taxi service in Cozumel is so plentiful, that getting around is not only simple, it is also economical.
If you choose to go to the mainland, there are beaches and shopping in Playa del Carmen in close proximity to the ferry.
Where you dock
There are two main docks in Cozumel, and Royal Caribbean ships will dock at the International Pier, which is located south of San Miguel and is about a 5 minute taxi ride away.
As you disembark your ship, you will walk through a shopping plaza that offers a variety of shops, bars and restaurants. This is an enclosed area that was created exclusively for cruise ship guests. The shops, restaurants and bars in the port area are open when ships are present in port and offer many souvenirs that can be found around the island. Your best bet is to save this area for when you return, as much of the shopping is similar to what you may find elsewhere in Cozumel, and prices tend to be higher than in San Miguel.
If you booked an excursion with Royal Caribbean, you will see a meeting area set up for tours past the dock, but before the shopping plaza. You will be escorted from this area to your shore excursions.
You can tour the port area as you see fit, or walk through it to get to the exit and gain access to other things to do in Cozumel.
Getting around Cozumel
As you exit the port area, you have a variety of options to consider for the day. A taxi stand is located at the exit of the port area, where you can take a taxi to anywhere in Cozumel.
Rates for the taxis are posted on a sign, with most rates being flat fees that depend on the destination. Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive in Cozumel. Even at the most remote areas of Cozumel, vendors are happy to summon a taxi for tourists when needed. Most often, you can simply walk to the street and find a taxi passing by eventually.
A taxi ride to downtown San Miguel will cost about $8. Once in San Miguel, it is an easy city to walk around without need of public transportation.
Popular things to do in Cozumel
Perhaps no activity is more popular in Cozumel than going to the beach. Activities such as swimming, snorkeling and especially scuba diving are very popular choices for activities in Cozumel.
There are many beaches in Cozumel to consider, with Royal Caribbean offering shore excursions to some and many more available to try on your own. If you want to swim, you want to stick to the west side of Cozumel. The eastern side of Cozumel is far too rough for swimming (and in general is quite rural and undeveloped).
A taxican take you to any beaches on the island. Here are a few of the more popular beach choices
- Paradise Beach (2021 review)
- Playa Palancar
- Playa Mia
Cozumel became a tourist destination in the 1960s when Jacques Cousteau highlighted the area as a great spot for scuba diving. Ever since then, Cozumel has been a highlight for anyone looking to dive. If you are looking for scuba diving or snorkeling, try the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park.
Cozumel is rich in history and Mayan culture. The island was once a central part of the Mayan Empire.
Mayan ruins dot the island and the mainland. Visiting these Mayan ruins is apremier shore excursion for those looking to see the history of this island.
You can visit any of the Mayan ruins by booking through Royal Caribbean or on your own via a third party. If you are looking to visit the Mayan ruins on the Mexican mainland, such asChichtzen Itza or Tulum, we recommend to book the tour with Royal Caribbean directly because of the long commute times to these sites.
Speaking of shore excursions to the mainland, a high-speed ferry transports guests from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen and it has a reputation of inducing sea sickness. Be sure to take motion sickness medicine as a precaution. We recommend Bonine as a great once-a-day choice for preventing and/or treating sea sickness.
Our recommendations for Mayan ruins include:
Cozumel also features a number of resorts that combine Mexican culture and heritage with recreation. These eco-parks are just as much about Mexico's vibrant fauna and flora as it is about enjoying some time in the ocean.
In fact, many of these shore excursions allow guests
There are lots of other things to see and do in Cozumel that can give you a glimpsebeyond tiki bars and margaritas, for a look at the real Cozumel.
A simple and robust choice is to go to downtown San Miguel to peruse the many shops in town. Shopping in downtown Cozumel offers plenty of touristy gifts, along with some authentic Mexican goods.
For about $8 per taxi, you can reach downtown San Miguel in perhaps five minutes.Once you arrive in San Miguel, there are a number of streets that intersect in a pseudo-grid layout.The main thoroughfare,Av. General Rafael E Melgar, runs along the ocean and is where a bulk of the shopping takes place.
There are many shops up and down each street, and you should explore the side streets extending away from the ocean. In general, the touristy shops tend to be closer to the ocean. As you walk into the city and away from the ocean, the shopping opportunities become more authentic and expand in variety considerably. Going three to four blocks away from the ocean is a great strategy for finding some lesser-frequented shopping choices.
Cozumel is known for jewelry, Mexican artisanal handicrafts, leather goods, and plenty of tourist souvenirs (T-shirts, towels, bags, etc). You can also find Mexican vanilla and tequila around the island. Royal Caribbean will confiscate any liquor you purchase in Cozumel, but return it to you on the last evening of the cruise.
While the Mexican Peso is the official currency of Mexico, all shop owners happily accept the U.S. Dollar.
Food and dining
There are lots of great dining choices all over Cozumel. You will find familiar restaurant chains, alongside local restaurants that serve up more authentic Mexican cuisine.
As you might imagine, Cozumel restaurants offer mostly Mexican cuisine although there is a heavy amount of Tex-Mex food that caters to the American visitor.
If you are looking for local cuisine, try some of these restaurants:
Bars and all-inclusive resorts
If you want to enjoy a few cocktails or cervezas, you will find no shortage of them in Cozumel. In fact, as soon as you leave your ship you will run into many bars.
Many of the touristy bars in Cozumel have a party atmosphere and you may hear lots of stories about some of them. Most of the bars located in close proximity to the ships cater exclusively to tourists who often are looking to consume a lot drinks.
Popular spots to get your drink on are
You will also find a variety of bars and restaurants in San Miguel. In short, you will never have to go very far to get a margarita, beer or other frozen concoction while in Cozumel. Moreover, the price of these drinks should be significantly cheaper than Royal Caribbean's onboard prices.
If you would prefer to lock in your drinking cost, there are a few all-inclusive resorts.
These resorts offer day passes, where guests can purchase passes and have access to everything the resort offers, including drinks, food and entertainment.
- Nachi Cocom(2021 review)
- Mr Sanchos
- El Cid
Swimming with Dolphins
Another very popular activity on Cozumel is swimming with Dolphins. Excursions involving dolphins is a very popular Caribbean excursion, and Cozumel offers a few different choices.
A number of businesses offer the chance to swim with dolphins in an event many consider to be a once-in-a-lifetime.
If you have been to Cozumel, share with us in the comments what you enjoyed doing there!
There aren't really public beaches located in walking distance from the cruise ship dock on Cozumel, however it's possible to pay for day access to one of the nearby beach clubs. Walk south to the Money Bar Beach Club, a lively beachside hang with a restaurant and spa, as well as paddle board and snorkel gear rentals.Can you just walk around Cozumel? ›
Getting Around Cozumel on Foot
It's fairly easy to get around historic downtown San Miguel de Cozumel on foot, as most of the hotels, businesses, shops and restaurants are on Avenida Rafael Melgar, the main street that runs north and south along the waterfront.
There are two main docks in Cozumel, and Royal Caribbean ships will dock at the International Pier, which is located south of San Miguel and is about a 5 minute taxi ride away. As you disembark your ship, you will walk through a shopping plaza that offers a variety of shops, bars and restaurants.Can you get off the cruise ship in Cozumel without a passport? ›
U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises can enter or depart the country on the cruise with proof of citizenship. However, it is possible that one or more of the destination countries on your itinerary may require a passport to enter.What is the best month to take a cruise to Cozumel? ›
The best time to visit Cozumel is from March to May. During these months, you can expect warm but not too warm temperatures and the lowest chance of rain. Daytime temperatures range from 80ºF to 85ºF, sea temperatures average 79ºF to 82ºF and the humidity is a manageable 78-80%.What should you avoid in Cozumel? ›
- Don't drink the water. ...
- Don't reach for the hot sauce. ...
- Don't be impatient. ...
- Don't forget to tip. ...
- Don't criticize Mexican food. ...
- Don't miss out on the markets. ...
- Don't flaunt your valuables. ...
- Don't overlook your walking shoes.
Cozumel is world-renowned for its scuba diving and proximity to numerous top dive sites. The Mesoamerican reef system is the second-largest reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef), and there is extensive coral and sea life with incredible visibility.Why can't you drink the water in Cozumel? ›
Is the water safe to drink? Although Cozumel's water supply is chlorinated to some extent, you should never drink the tap water. (This includes anywhere in the Yucatan, by the way–even if you are staying at a major resort with its own filtration system.)Where is the clearest water in Cozumel? ›
El Cielo, Cozumel
Without a doubt, it's the most amazing beach with clear water in Cozumel! It by far deserves the number one place regarding clear water beaches in Cozumel and certainly is in the top 3 in all of the Mexican beaches in the Caribbean Sea! So why is this amazing beach in Cozumel called El Cielo?
It will take about 15 to 20 minutes to get from the cruise port to this family-friendly beach. A taxi can take you there for around $15. Cozumel has its taxis that are regulated. The cost of rides to popular destinations, including Paradise Beach Club, are posted at the port taxi stands.
Good news if you're visiting the most beautiful island of the Mexican Caribbean. The west side of Cozumel is free of algae. The east side of Cozumel works as a natural barrier for the rest of the island and it is getting hit by the seaweed arrivals.How do I spend a day in Cozumel? ›
- Head Under the Sea For Some Scuba Diving.
- Rent a Vehicle and Explore the Island.
- Visit the Only Maya Ruins in Cozumel.
- Discover the Origin of Chocolate.
- Enjoy Some Cozumel Tours.
- Go For a Snorkel.
- Stop For a Fresh Coconut.
- Grab a Drink and Enjoy the View.
You can use your Verizon phone in Mexico as well as Canada if you are under a specific plan that's made for domestic use. Otherwise, you can opt to sign up for a TravelPass, too!What happens if you forgot your passport for a cruise? ›
What happens if you go on a cruise without a passport? The only way you'll board a ship without a passport is if your cruise does not require one. Staff at the cruise terminal will check your travel documents before they assign you a key card (or RFID bracelet) and send you up the gangway to the ship.How much cash should I bring to Cozumel? ›
How much money will you need for your trip to Cozumel? You should plan to spend around M$1,568 ($80) per day on your vacation in Cozumel, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors.What is the rainiest month in Cozumel? ›
August is the hottest month in Cozumel with an average temperature of 28°C (82°F) and the coldest is January at 24°C (75°F) with the most daily sunshine hours at 11 in May. The wettest month is September with an average of 247mm of rain.Is it always warm in Cozumel? ›
The average daily air temperature on Cozumel is 80 degrees. In July and August, the highs range from the mid 80's to the low 90's. In December and January, the daytime temperatures average in the 70's.Is the Ocean warm in Cozumel? ›
Cozumel Ocean Temperature
The water temperature in Cozumel ranges from low of 26c / 78f in the winter months (Dec, Jan, Feb), 28c / 82f in spring (Mar, Apr, May) to 30c / 86f in the late summer. Cozumel Scuba Diving is always warm.
However, Cozumel does have some beautiful sandy beaches that are great for swimming, enjoying watersports, or just taking in the scenery, as well as for snorkeling — you just have to know where to find them!. Here's the lowdown on Cozumel's best beaches so you can choose the one that's best for you.Are there jellyfish in Cozumel? ›
Jellyfish are also found in the waters around Cozumel. They can sting swimmers and snorkelers. The best way to avoid being stung by a jellyfish is to wear a wet suit. Stingrays are common in the waters around Cozumel.
Depending on Your Activities. If you're visiting churches, short shorts, short skirts, and tank tops are frowned on, but longer, Bermuda type shorts and t-shirts are generally fine. For visiting archaeological sites, comfort is key. Wear comfortable walking shoes.Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Cozumel? ›
Tap water in Cozumel is fine for washing your dishes, rinsing your dive gear, brushing your teeth, and taking a shower.Is Cozumel safer than Cancun? ›
Cozumel isn't behind in terms of safety either. It's in the same state as Cancun, so the safety advisory level for it is also the same. The island is relatively safe for tourists as long as the above-mentioned precautions are taken.Do you need bug spray in Cozumel? ›
You NEED bug spray
Like a lot of the Caribbean, mosquitos can be a problem. A large part of the island is rainforest and you're never far from water. Mosquitoes can be particularly bad after rainfall, so we highly recommend taking some insect repellent and give yourself a spray whenever you go outside.
There are lots of excellent coffee spots in Cozumel that drip with charm and friendly service. Many coffee specialists on the island source their beans from various regions within Mexico, namely Chiapas and Oaxaca.Does Cozumel have crocodiles or alligators? ›
Cozumel crocodiles. In the latest article in our series about native Cozumel wildlife, we look at crocodiles. Hidden away in the island's lagoons and mangroves are many examples of the American crocodile, or Crocodylus acutus.Can you brush your teeth with resort water in Mexico? ›
Although there will be some bacteria in the water from the tap it is fine to brush your teeth with, even if you are at a place where you can't drink the tap water.Can I brush my teeth with water in Mexico? ›
Residents in Mexico may brush their teeth with tap water, but they'll rinse and spit, careful not to swallow. As a tourist, you may be better off taking the precaution of using bottled water to brush your teeth, and do try to remember to keep your mouth shut when you shower.How do you not get sick in Cozumel? ›
- Wash Your Hands. I realize this sounds basic, but remarkably, how many people neglect it. ...
- Drink Bottled Water. ...
- Protect Yourself Against the Sun. ...
- Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites.
Can You Get Around Cozumel Without a Car? It's actually very easy to get around without a car here. Walking is ideal for short distances downtown, taxis can get where you need to go for short trips and when you're looking to explore, a private driver can help you see the sights.
Playa Palancar: One of the largest stretches of white sand on the island, this free beach in Cozumel boasts multiple beach clubs and vendors for beach equipment rentals. Playa Corona: Another free beach in Cozumel, Playa Corona is also one of the oldest beaches and a great place to snorkel.Do you have to pay to go to the beach in Cozumel? ›
Located just 5 miles from the international cruise port, Paradise Beach Cozumel is an excellent choice for families and those who love water toys. The entrance fee is as little as USD 3 or USD 18 for the “fun pass,” but you are expected to purchase at least USD 10 in food and drink per person.Can you swim with turtles in Cozumel? ›
Here, like nowhere else in Cozumel or the Riviera Maya, sea turtles congregate to feed on the lush grasses of Akumal Bay. This excursion will take you there, and let you swim alongside these fantastic and graceful creatures of the seas.What happens if you drink the water in Cozumel? ›
Tap water in Mexico is generally not drinkable for tourists, and is often a culprit in inconvenient gastro-intestinal illnesses while travelers are here on vacation. Stick with bottled water (even the locals often drink it), and try to keep your mouth closed in the shower, too.Can I spend US dollars in Cozumel? ›
The most important thing to know about money is that most tourist merchants in Cozumel accept both pesos and dollars, but will give change in pesos.How much should I tip at an all-inclusive resort in Cozumel? ›
For a one-week stay at an all-inclusive resort, a couple should budget to spend about $150 US (or the local currency equivalent) total in tips. This means that you should bring about $20 in small bills with you to spend on tips throughout the day.Do you have to pay to snorkel in Cozumel? ›
Calm and clear waters make this southern “locals” beach club a favorite for shore snorkeling. Bring your own gear or rent on-site at the restaurant. There is no entrance fee but it is recommended to spend some money at the restaurant to support the facilities.