Cozumel Vacation Attractions and Things to Do

Cozumel vacations offer so many choices: salsa-dancing or tequila-drinking? Sunbathing or snorkeling? It can be hard to decide where to go or what to do next. This page gives a few ideas about what to see and do on your Cozumel vacation.

Chankanaab National Park is one of Cozumel's biggest attractions. The chankanaab is a natural pool surrounded on all sides by land but connected to the sea by an underground tunnel. This link to the sea means that the pool is teeming with fascinating marine life; it's almost like a giant aquarium. Snorkeling isn't allowed in the pool itself, but there is an ocean beach nearby where you can snorkel and sunbathe. You can rent snorkeling gear from a palapa (thatched hut) on the beach.

Diving is one of the biggest reasons for going on a Cozumel vacation - people come from all over the world to see the coral reefs, aquatic life and underground caves. See our page on diving for information about where to go and what safety precautions to take.

It's good to take time out from these watery activities to visit the Maya ruins at San Gervasio. These ruins are of great religious significance; the San Gervasio site was once an important ceremonial centre for the Maya. It was dedicated to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, goddess of weaving, fertility, women, the moon and medicine. She was also the goddess of pilgrims, which may be why some Maya came from the mainland to visit the site. It is believed that priests or priestesses hid behind a large ceramic statue of Ixchel and spoke in her voice to answer the questions of pilgrims. It costs around $5 to get on to the site, and you'll pay about a dollar in road tolls on the way there. It's worth taking a guided tour to help you to imagine the ruins as they were in their heyday; English-speaking guides will take groups of up to five people round the site for a fee of about $15.

The Museo de la Isla de Cozumel is also worth a visit. It's an interesting combination of natural history and social history. The lower floor is all about the island itself: its topography and origin, as well as an explanation of coral formation and an exhibit about endangered species. Head upstairs, and you'll find galleries illustrating the history of the town of Cozumel. This includes artifacts from ancient sites as well as weaponry from the colonial era. It can be found on Avenida Rafael Melgar. Admission is a few dollars.

Punta Sur Ecological Reserve is a must for nature-lovers. Remember that it's a reserve, not a tourist park, so don't expect any gift shops or children's activities, although there is a snack bar and an information centre. Boat rides to the Columbia Lagoon are informative and fun. In season (May to September) visitors to the Punta Sur reserve can observe turtle nests as part of a special program. To get there, rent a car, because there is no taxi stand there. Admission costs around $10.

If your Cozumel vacation coincides with a carnival, you will be able to enjoy a taste of South American culture. The biggest carnival is about a week before Lent, and features outlandish costumes, food stands and parades, a little like the famous Mardi Gras celebrations in Rio, but on a smaller scale.

Finally, keep an eye out for the mariachi, Mexican street musicians. They usually stroll around downtown, so you will almost certainly encounter them at some point on your Cozumel vacation. They often wear traditional Mexican clothing, including wide-brimmed hats. You might see them in restaurants too.

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