Cozumel is one of my favorite tropical travel destinations. My family and I have been visiting the island for years and I’d consider it one of our go-to vacation spots.
If you don’t know where Cozumel is, it’s in Mexico right off the coast of Playa Del Carmen and southeast of Cancun. The island is about 250 square miles and inhabits over 100,000 people.
It's a great vacation spot because it's easy to get to, pretty affordable and tourist-friendly.
So, if you're looking for a place to spend an upcoming vacation, read on to learn more about places to stay and things to do in Cozumel, Mexico.
Places to Stay:
There is an array of all-inclusive and boutique hotels on the island of Cozumel. My advice is to look at TripAdvisor reviews to see which type of hotel is best suited for you and your travel plans.
Last time I visited the island I stayed at Iberostar Cozumel. Although Iberostar hotels are pretty affordable, I didn’t care for the beach or the hotel facilities at their Couzmel location that much. The buildings and rooms seemed outdated. While we were there, the power went out at the hotel several times – even during the middle of the night. This caused the air conditioning to be turned off and the TV would turn on and off during the middle of the night. Overall, our stay just didn't turn out like we thought it would.
Grand Park Royal:
If you love to watch the cruise ships pull in and out of port, you’d love to stay at the Grand Park Royal. The hotel is a few miles from one of the cruise ship piers, so you have a great view of the docks.
Grand Park Royal offers a lot of great amenities. There’s free wi-fi as well as 24-hour room service, in-room minibars and coffee makers. The resort is all-inclusive, so breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks are all included. The hotel has a main buffet-style restaurant and two others that serve Italian and Mexican food. There’s also a snack bar located near the beach.
I will say that the beach is quite small and surrounded by rocks. It’s basically a small cove. However, the snorkeling at this hotel is great. If you don’t want to bring your own snorkel gear, the hotel has plenty of masks and snorkels available. When we stayed at this hotel, we went diving for conch shells and found tons of them. Plus, the variety of fish is incredible. You’ll see every color imaginable. We saw lots of different species and even puffer fish and stingrays.
I’m the type of person that doesn’t like having sand from the beach on my feet/toes when I’m trying to suntan. The nice thing about Grand Park Royal is that you can grab a lounge chair on the beach, or you can walk up a small set of stairs and lay out at one of the infinity pools. There are showers right on the stairs so you can quickly wash off the sand from your feet before you take a dip in the pool. There are two pools on both sides of the beach area. Both pools have swim up bars, so drinks are always readily available.
El Cozumeleno Beach Resort:
El Cozumeleno Beach Resort is a smaller hotel compared to Grand Park Royal, but it is just as great! The hotel has a nice white sand beach and a pier that you can walk along. The snorkeling at this hotel is great, but if you don’t want to spend too much time in salt water, you can relax in one of the five swimming pools on the property.
El Cozumeleno offers an on-site putt-putt course which is fun. There are a few dining options including a main buffet-style restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and a more gourmet-style restaurant that switches out its menu each night.
The nice thing about El Cozumeleno is that each room has an ocean view. If your room is on a high floor, you can often see cruise ships sailing into port each morning. While staying at this hotel, you can enjoy free wi-fi, discounted golf course access and room service.
Things to Do:
Since Cozumel is the most popular Caribbean cruise port, the downtown area (San Miguel) is always lively. There are several stores and boutiques. You can find anything from authentic Mexican tequila (with the worm in the bottle), beautiful painted pottery, handmade hammocks and clothing and just general souvenirs like t-shirts and magnets.
Rent a Jeep or Moped
If you’ve never been to Cozumel, I would suggest renting a Jeep and driving around the island. It’s a great way to see it from coast to coast. There are a few beach bars that you can stop at along the way to grab a bite to eat or a drink. Last time I was in Cozumel with my parents, we pulled our Jeep over and stopped at a beach on the eastern coast of the island. My husband (he was my boyfriend at the time) and I walked down the beach and started swimming. We could have played in the waves all day. The ocean floor was all sand it we had so much fun just splashing around.
If you want to go parasailing, there are plenty of opportunities to do so in Cozumel. You can book through a tour company or ask the concierge at your hotel for recommendations on companies that offer parasailing. My sister and I went parasailing in Cozumel a few years back and it was awesome. Hovering over the turquoise water was unbelievable. It was so cool to see the blue shades from up above.
Swim with dolphins
If you want to get up close and personal with some dolphins while you’re in Cozumel, you should check out Dolphin Discovery or Dolphinaris. Both of these places offer the opportunity to swim with dolphins in a way that's just right for you. Before you buy your tickets and reserve your swim time, check out the Dolphin Discovery or Dolphinaris websites to see if there are any special promotions going on.
Go snorkeling or scuba diving
There are tons of coral reefs off the coast of Cozumel, so snorkeling or scuba diving is super popular. Chances are that if you stay at an all-inclusive resort, you’ll be able to use snorkel gear provided by the hotel. You can use this gear to snorkel right on the hotel’s beach. If you book a snorkeling tour, most times the tour company will provide gear. Either way, it’s always best to double check before you go on your trip and decide whether you want to buy/bring your own mask, snorkel and fins.
Take a ride on a glass bottom boat
If you’re not into the idea of going snorkeling or scuba diving but you still want to see the coral and fish, you could take a ride on a glass bottom boat. As you’ve probably gathered by now, these boats have clear glass bottoms and allow you to see the fish swimming below clearly without even getting wet.
Take the ferry over to Playa Del Carmen
If you’re itching to check out the mainland of Mexico, you can purchase ferry tickets and take a short ride over to Playa Del Carmen. Playa Del Carmen offers everything from shopping to restaurants. You can even book a tour to visit the attractions along the Riviera Maya. If you want to experience an ecological park, you can go to Xel-Ha or Xcaret. When visiting these parks, you can go ziplining, swim in cenotes, go snorkeling/swimming in caves and more!
So, there you have it! Those are my picks for places to stay and things to do in Cozumel! If you're visiting on a cruise, the recommendations on things to do will be the most beneficial for you. If you're planning on staying in Cozumel for an extended period of time, I definitely recommend staying at any of the two hotels listed above. You can't go wrong!
Have you ever been to Cozumel? If so, what was your favorite part about visiting? Share with me in the comment section below.