Cozumel is Mexico’s third largest island but it is in fact the largest on the Caribbean side of the country and also Mexico’s most inhabited island. So there are plenty of things to do in Cozumel from beaches to touristy attractions. With the majority of the population living in San Miguel, a vibrant touristy city, you will always be able to find things to do in the city – while on the other side of the island you will have the exciting remote and less touristy spots. It truly has the best of both worlds in that sense.
Cozumel has so much to offer and is very easily accessible from ferry or by plane. It has a ferry system that can get you from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel every hour of every day basically, and a small international airport as well. Since the whole island is dependent on tourism we’ll share with you the best things to do in Cozumel along with the best ways to get there and some local tips that can help you out during your trip and let you have the best experience possible!
How to get from Cancun to Cozumel
Assuming you didn’t fly into Cozumel you will most likely be flying into Cancun so we will share the easiest way to get from Cancun to Cozumel. The first step is to get to Playa del Carmen, and then you can go from Playa to Cozumel.
The cheapest way to get from the airport in Cancun to Playa Del Carmen is by bus. The bus stop is right outside terminal 2 and 3 and almost impossible to miss. The bus (ADO) runs frequently (every 30 minutes or so), so there shouldn’t be a long wait. It will take you directly to 5th Avenue in Playa which is the heart of the city. The bus ride itself will cost roughly $9 US or 160 Pesos and will take right around an hour to get to downtown Playa.
Once you get off the bus on 5th Avenue you can walk a few minutes to the ferry terminal where you can purchase your tickets if you haven’t already done so. We purchased our tickets with Winjet since it’s the cheaper option between the two boats. Just remember the orange one is the cheaper one. A one-way trip will cost you 160 Pesos if you buy it online at least two days in advance and 180 Pesos if you buy it from the booth at the pier.
If you end up buying it online, you have to go pick up your tickets at least 15 minutes early and get your ticket printed out at the booth since they don’t have machines that scan the ticket codes from your phone. So you need your ticket printed in order to get on the ferry. We learned that the hard way and I (Dom) literally had to run with minutes to spare all the way out through security, downstairs, out to the stand, and back up again. We only just made it on the boat. It’s safe to say I looked like a very lost tourist, haha!
From there you will take the ferry which departs almost every hour and takes about 45 minutes to get to Cozumel. Also in case you have a weak stomach like myself (Dom), getting some seasick pills might be a good idea. It’s some of the choppiest water I have ever been on and felt so sick (and we have been on the ferry from Wellington to Picton). BE PREPARED!
All in all, it will cost you about $20 US or 320 Pesos to get from Cancun to Cozumel and if you’re lucky you’ll be there in about 2.5 hours. Depending on where you’re flying from in the US or Canada, you can also look for flights directly into Cozumel!
7 fun things to do in Cozumel
#1 The best beaches in Cozumel
Cozumel is filled with beautiful beaches and if you have the chance you should either rent a car, a jeep, or a scooter or hire a tour company to take you around and explore the best beaches on the island.
Majority of the best beaches in Cozumel can be found on the east side of the island. Unfortunately, the only way to get there is by vehicle (preferably by jeep so you can enjoy the fresh air blowing in your face). You will get some of the most amazing views of the Caribbean and beaches all to yourself if you end up making your way to that side of the island.
If you’re looking for white sand beaches then head on over to San Martin’s Beach. This is our favorite beach and it is located where most tourists can’t go; on the east side. The beaches are simply nicer and way less crowded then around San Miguel. So make sure if you rent a vehicle or take a guided tour you end up at San Martin’s Beach. It’s the most beautiful beach in Cozumel (in our opinion) if you’re looking for natural beauty mixed with a taste of paradise.
#2 Chocolate Factory Tour
In the heart of San Miguel, you’ll find this tiny KaoKao Chocolate factory which makes its own delicious chocolate from scratch. You’ll be able to test out over 25 different types of chocolate and learn about the tree-to-bar process which is fascinating.
While you’re learning about how the Mayans used to do it back in the day you will get a chance to go back in time and taste the drink in the exact same style with the same tools they used to use. It’s probably going to taste a little bit sweeter than it did back in the day but nonetheless delicious.
In about 90 minutes you will experience all of this + more. It’s a great little tour of a small local chocolate factory in Cozumel for anyone with a little bit of a sweet tooth like us 😉 We even bought a few bars to bring back home!
#3 Scuba diving
If you’re looking for the best diving in Cozumel (scuba or snorkel) then Deep Blue (diving + snorkeling company) is right downtown San Miguel. They will gladly have snorkelers and scuba divers on the same boat which is super convenient. This way your family or group of friends can still go together and everyone can enjoy whichever one they prefer.
Prices are reasonable for both, starting at around $60 USD and then up from there. You can expect great visibility, an awesome variety of marine life, and some walls of coral. Cozumel has its own protected Marine Park so you’ll for sure have a great time exploring down under.
#4 Visit the “Liquor Box”
The Liquor Box aka “Open bar 25 hours”, aka “Mojito Factory”, aka “Welcome to Miami”, and aka “The Coconut Cabana”.
That’s no joke. The place has about 5 names. I’d personally just name it the best mojitos ever!! You might want to keep an eye out though because it’s easy to miss when you’re driving on the highway. So keep an eye out for the sign with all those names. It’s about a 5-10 minute south from San Martin’s beach.
To give you an idea of what to expect, picture a shack right on the coast overlooking the Caribbean with a few hammocks dangling around. No one in sight besides the few workers and their dogs you’ll be served one of the greatest mojitos of your life. It’s one of those places you stop at and remember for the rest of your life.
Enjoy the mojitos and shrimp tacos! =)
#5 Free Tequila!
Yes, you heard that correctly! Free tequila! Ok, so it’s basically a sampling of all sorts of aged and flavored tequila with a big touristy pitch at the end to buy it. But if you’re fine to listen to someone share their knowledge and history about how they make their famous family tequila, then you’re in for a treat. Because the tequila truly is delicious and you learn the difference between genuine tequila and bad but well-marketed tequila back home. They were all so smooth and the flavored ones were the best. I especially loved the coffee-flavored one.
There is absolutely no need to buy tequila, but maybe just leave the guy a little tip for his time and share the history of the tequila with you. We had no desire to buy tequila but weren’t about to pass up on some free delicious shots!
#6 Rent a Jeep
There’s no better way to get away from all the tourists in San Miguel than to get out of the city and rent a jeep. You can do all the Cozumel excursions on your own and go at your own pace. Plus there’s something fun about cruising on a nice island highway with the top off (vehicle of course) and exploring parts of the island you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
#7 Go on a guided tour of Cozumel
If you don’t want to worry about insurance, excess fees, and all that extra BS that comes from renting cars abroad then do what we did and get a guided tour of Cozumel which isn’t expensive at all.
We ended up choosing Cozumel Cruise Excursions simply because they are a family run business and have been since 1996 and that’s something we really look for when doing these sorts of trips. It’s nice to know your money is going to a local family that runs the trips and supports the local economy than some big tour companies that pay their employees poorly. On top of that, it was only $69 USD each for a full day tour including snorkeling and stops at many fun places.
It was an awesome way to enjoy the island of Cozumel and not having to worry about anything. They even had some beers and waters for us along the trip which was nice. Plus we got to see many of Cozumel’s best attractions. So, all in all, it was totally worth going on this guided tour but we know some people love to explore on their own as well so that’s why #6 was added in here! =)
If you’re thinking about it and want to see most of the things mentioned above then check out the exact tour here and have an awesome time like we did.
Other useful posts
So whether it’s Cancun, Playa, or Tulum that you’re staying in make sure to plan a trip to Cozumel even if it’s just for the day. We managed to see everything we wanted to in the day we were there so it’s more than doable. As long as you can plan it in advance or book with a tour company that will do the planning for you.
We hope you enjoy Cozumel and if there’s new activities or excursions in Cozumel that pop up please share them with us so we can share it with everyone else.