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Useful information for excursions in Cozumel
In the following paragraphs, you will find information about the cruise port, the most beautiful sights and a lot of useful information for shore excursions in Cozumel .
The most beautiful sights in Cozumel
With a length of 45 kilometres and a width of about 16 kilometres, Cozumel is Mexico’s largest island in the Caribbean Sea. It is located just 20 kilometres off the eastern coast of the Mexican Yucatán peninsula and the popular holiday resort of Playa del Carmen.
The island impresses with unspoiled nature, nature parks, beautiful beaches and an impressive underwater world. Remains of historical Mayan sites can also be found on the island as well as on the nearby mainland. Thanks to its compact size, Cozumel and its sights can be ideally explored during a cruise stay on an island tour
Most of Cozumel is uninhabited. The only city on the beautiful island is the lively island capital San Miguel. The city was only founded in the 19th century and is today home to about 100,000 inhabitants. The beautiful city centre is located directly at the sea and close to the ferry pier, so that the city is visited not only by cruise guests but also by many excursionists from the mainland
Compared to the rest of the island, San Miguel has not much to offer in terms of tourism. But a popular place to go is the main plaza Benito Juarez, that stands out due to the distinctive clock tower. It is considered as the oldest building of the island, that was built in the year 1910 to commemorate the demands for independence in the 19th century. Every one of the 800 inhabitants at that time was obliged to contribute to the construction of the building with material or work. In the dark, the historical clock tower is a special highlight, as it is illuminated in different colours. In addition, the square is lined with numerous restaurants, shops and souvenir shops, which invite you to stay and browse through the items.
If you want to stay in San Miguel itself, the local museum Museo de la Isla de Cozumel is also worth a visit. With various interesting, interactive exhibitions about the geography, the native ecosystems and the history and culture of the island, it gives its visitors an exciting insight into the island.
Punta Sur Eco Beach Park
At the southern tip of the island lies the Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, the largest nature reserve in Cozumel. A narrow, easy to drive track leads through the park, where you can make various stops. From an observation tower you can admire the surrounding lagoon landscape and you can look out for crocodiles and exotic bird species. You can also visit a small Mayan ruin and the Faro Celerain lighthouse, which after climbing 130 steps gives you another magnificent view of the surroundings. At the end of the park, a beautiful beach awaits you for swimming and snorkeling on the offshore reef. With sunshades, deck chairs and restaurants, all the comforts are provided.
Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park
On the west coast, about ten kilometres from San Miguel, is the Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park. The nature and leisure park offers a particularly exciting combination of a beach section, a sea lagoon, underwater caves and a coral reef that is ideal for snorkeling. Further entertainment is provided by a sea lion show and a dolphinarium, which makes swimming with dolphins possible
Cozumel is known for its white beaches and crystal clear waters. The beaches in the west of the island, south of San Miguel, are excellent for swimming and are well equipped with changing rooms, showers and restaurants. Various water sports can also be tried out. Most of the beach sections belong to hotels or beach clubs, so that entrance fees are charged for use.
The beaches on the more unspoilt east coast are also recommended. However, due to rocks and strong surf, these beaches are often too dangerous to swim and should be chosen carefully.
Among the most popular beach clubs on the island are Carlos’n Charlie’s Beach Club, Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club, Paradise Beach or Playa Mia Grand Beach Park, all located in the southwest of the island. In approximately 30 minutes, they are quickly and easily accessible from the island capital San Miguel.
The beautiful beaches do more than simply inviting you to swim and relax. Cozumel is especially well known for the good diving and snorkeling possibilities, because it offers a breathtaking view under water. The blue colour of the water on Cozumel is simply breathtakingly beautiful. In the western part there are beautiful coral reefs and in the east there are steep cliffs with strong currents. The richness of its coral reefs, which are part of the second largest coral reef in the world, has made the island one of the best dive sites in the world.
One of the many reefs of Cozumel is called “Paraiso”, which translates into paradise. In the reef you can admire countless fish and corals in all colours with visibility of 15 to 30 metres. Other famous reefs are Palancar Reef, Colombia Reef and El Cielo. At the latter, from a white sandbank, countless starfish can be admired in the turquoise clear water.
Mayan site San Gervasio
Until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, Cozumel was inhabited by the Mayas. The island was an important centre for the people and was considered a place of pilgrimage where the goddess Ix Chel was worshipped. San Gervasio is the most important and best preserved Mayan site on the island and consists of 20 ruins. The main building in the Ka’Na Nah complex, where there is also a cenote, is believed to be the central sanctuary of the goddess. At that time, the cave filled with fresh water was visited by many women who wanted to get pregnant, as the cenote was considered the sanctuary of the goddess of fertility Ix Chel.
Mayan sites on the Mexican mainland
Even more impressive Mayan sites can be found on the mainland of the Yucatán Peninsula. First and foremost, of course, is the ruined site of Chichen Itza, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and is one of the new seven wonders of the world. The extensive complex, which is very well developed for tourism, offers more sights than can be seen in one day, yet it is a popular attraction for day tourists. The site is in very good condition and inspires with well restored buildings and beautifully preserved reliefs. Especially impressive are the huge pyramid of Kukulcán, the ball playgrounds, the Palace of a Thousand Columns, the holy Cenote and many more.
But also the temples of Tulum are a very popular destination, which is perfect for a day trip from Cozumel. The town of Tulum and its historic fortress town are located on the Yucatán Peninsula and can be reached by ferry and then by car. Besides the remains of the site itself, the site impresses with its unique location directly above the sea. At that time it was an important center of trade for the Mayan people. Today, the site, which is enthroned above the sea, offers a fascinating view from cliffs about twelve meters high. After exploring the various buildings, a trip to Tulum can therefore be ideally combined with a subsequent visit to the beach. The small bay is lined with palm trees and offers a wonderful sandy beach.
Map of the cruise port in Cozumel
Cozumel is one of the most frequented ports in the Caribbean and even worldwide. At three different ports of the island, each with several berths, up to eight ships can dock simultaneously per day. The ships are distributed among the Punta Langosta Pier, the International Pier and Puerta Maya. In addition, more ships can be moored in the anchorages and tender on land if need be. The respective port areas have different shops as well as bars and restaurants
The Punta Langosta Pier offers space for two ships on a long pier and is located close to the city centre. After only a few hundred metres, the island capital San Miguel can be reached quickly and easily on foot. Even though there may be changes at short notice, ships of the cruise lines MSC, Norwegian Cruise Line or Disney Cruise Line mainly dock in this port.
The other two ports are located about five kilometres south of the centre of San Miguel. Especially because of the usually high temperatures it is advisable to take a taxi. Depending on the traffic situation, the centre of San Miguel can be reached in about ten minutes.
The International Pier SSA is owned by Royal Caribbean and provides space for two more ships. The third port, Puerta Maya, is located right next to the International Pier and is owned by the Carnival Cruise Line Cooperation. Here, up to four ships can dock simultaneously at two piers. These are primarily ships of the cruise lines Carnival Cruise Line, AIDA, Costa, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line.
Things to know for shore excurions on Cozumel
Cruise lines and routes
Cozumel is an integral part of cruises in the Caribbean and Central America. Costa and Holland America Line also have the Mexican island firmly in their programme for the winter season between October and April. The ships of the cruise lines Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC and Norwegian Cruise Line even regularly stop at Cozumel all year round.
Entry and Visa
You do not need a visa to enter Cozumel. However, you need a passport that is valid for at least six months after the end of your stay.
Please also note that when entering or leaving the country via the USA, the US entry regulations also apply.
To be on the safe side, we recommend that you contact your cruise line directly to find out about the valid entry regulations for your cruise.
Taxi and public transports
The centre of the island’s capital San Miguel is only a few minutes walk from the port of Punta Langosta. If instead you dock at one of the other piers or want to explore the island further, it is advisable to use a taxi or other means of transport.
If you have not booked a transfer or guided shore excursion, taxis are available at the respective port exits. There is a taxi monopoly on Cozumel with fixed fares, which are signposted at the ports. Nevertheless, we recommend to discuss the prices with the driver before you start your trip and to try to negotiate the prices a little bit lower
There is no organized public transport with buses on Cozumel. An alternative to taxis are rental cars. The traffic on Cozumel is quite clear and there is only one main road around Cozumel, so you can hardly get lost. In addition there is right-hand traffic and a German driving licence is sufficient. Nevertheless you should be careful. Online booked rental cars seem quite cheap at first, but on the spot guests are often surprised by additional costs for insurances. Stands of car rentals can also be found in the respective port areas.
To get to the mainland, the providers UltraMar, WinJet and Barcos Caribe offer ferry crossings. During the high season, ferries usually depart every hour from the central Punta Langosta pier and go to the pier in Playa del Carmen. Depending on the provider, a trip costs approximately six euros and takes approximately 45 minutes, whereby it can get a little rocky.
Also in Playa del Carmen there are taxis available for the continuation of the trip. Alternatively, the local buses, the so-called Colectivos, can be used. If you are planning a trip on your own, you should inform yourself in advance about the departure times of the ferries and buses. In any case, plan enough time for the return trip. There can easily be delays and even the ferries can sometimes deviate from their departure times. In order to enjoy the day without stress, we recommend you to choose organized shore excursions on Cozumel for excursions to the mainland.
The official currency on Cozumel is the Mexican Peso (MXN), which is divided into 100 Centavos. 1 EUR currently equals about 24 Mexican Pesos. An exchange of the currency is usually not necessary. We recommend that you take US dollars with you. In many places you can easily pay in US dollars. You can exchange these before you start your Caribbean cruise. Euro notes are also accepted in some places. If you need Mexican Pesos spontaneously, local banks and exchange offices (casas de cambio) are available. However, you should always check the exchange rate advertised
Due to the tropical climate Cozumel is a popular destination all year round. With temperatures between 26 and 32 degrees, it is warm all year round. During the rainy season from May to September, however, it can also rain. The showers, however, often last only a short time and are a pleasant cooling off. Also hurricanes cannot be excluded. The main season for cruise ships, in which German and European shipping companies also dock at the port, is in the winter months between November and the end of March. This is the dry season, so that you can avoid the hottest season and the humidity is not quite as high. You can enjoy the beaches and snorkeling possibilities to the fullest during these months.
Port operator and touristic organisation website
Video: Impressions of Cozumel
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