Cozumel General Information
The island of Cozumel measures 30 miles from north to south and 10 miles from east to west. It stands on top of the largest reef system of the American continent (second largest of the world, extending for 600 miles. Cozumel was formed by coralline limestone rock and has no hills or mountains. It is Mexico´s largest inhabited island and a premier dive destination from the Caribbean. The waters surrounding the island are so clear that visibility can reach 250 feet offering an underwater experience that you won´t forget.
Cozumel inhabitants preserve their rich traditions, like carnival, the religious rites of easter week and the festivals of Santa Cruz in may and San Miguel in September. All of these popular events combine prehispanic and catholic rituals with participation of locals and visitors alike. It is during these celebrations that local character and color can be more appreciated.
The average air temperature on Cozumel is 80 degrees (27ºC), with highs in July/August near 90 degrees (32ºC) and the lows in December/January in the mid 70s (24ºC). In winter the occasional cold fronts may create windy, cloudy and cooler weather. Water temperatures range from 77º to 82º (25º-28ºC) throughout the year.
Clothing is very casual and no ties are required anywhere (some restaurants suggest a medium dress code). Comfortable flat heeled walking shoes are recommended all year round. During winter months you should bring a light sweater for a windy day (if a cold front hits the island).
Cozumel derives its name from the Mayan words Cuzam (swallow) and Lumil (land of), which form the word Cuzamil and that with time changed to Cozumel. The first Maya people settled in the island 2000 years ago and believed the island to be a sacred shrine to the goddess Ix Chel, the deity of the moon, pregnancy and childbirth. On may 3rd of 1518 the Spanish explorers arrived to the west coast of the island and named it Isla de la Santa Cruz (Holy Cross Island) and proclaimed it property of the Kings of Spain. The first mass held in Mexico´s actual territory was on the same place that the islanders had their temple (near the main plaza at downtown) on may 6th of the same year of their arrival.
Later on 1527 they gave the island its Christian name of San Miguel de Cozumel. An outbreak of smallpox killed thousands and between 1519 and 1570 the population dropped from 40,000 to only 30. By 1700 it was finally uninhabited and several pirates used Cozumel as a base of operations, including the notorious Henry Morgan and Jean Lafitte. The island was not resettled until 1848 and until World War II the island was put on the maps, because the U.S. built an airport to use it as an air base to hunt enemy boats. Drawn by the island clear waters, frogmen came to train and returned home with stories of magnificent underwater places. These stories made captain Jacques Cousteau explore Cozumel in 1960 and his declarations about the richness of the coral reef surrounding the island made it a popular dive destination. By 1970, Cozumel´s population quickly increased to 10,000 and today it has more than 75,000 happy islanders.
While the Scuba diving and snorkeling are probably the most popular activities in Cozumel, they are far from being the only things to do! Get ready for a world of fun and adventure on this exciting tropical island.
Snorkel or Scuba dive
Cozumel is home to the world's second largest coral reef. The spectacular underwater world is an attraction on its own that draws visitors from around the globe.
Spend a day exploring the island and its fascinating beaches. Go from soft white sand to rugged rocky formations until you find that special spot, then relax and enjoy! Some great options include the popular beach club, Paradise Beach, the beautiful natural beach and restaurant at Playa Palancar or the amazing natural aquarium teeming with tropical fish at Chankanaab Lagoon National Park.
Book a guided tour to the Mayan archeological sites. Day trips take you to explore the Yucatan Peninsula's fascinating ancient cities of Chichen Itza, Tulum, or Coba.
Take in a round of golf at the gorgeous, world-class, Cozumel Country Club golf course.
Spend a great day or half day fishing the beautiful seas. Fishing trips usually include the captain, lunch and beverages and all the tackle you will need to land the big one. Test your strength against the legendary marlin!
From kayak excursions to romantic dinner cruises, Cozumel offers many fantastic ways to get you at sea. Popular excursions often head for remote snorkeling spots or picnicking on deserted beaches.
Swim with the Dolphins
Some of nature's friendliest and most intelligent creatures. It's the experience of a lifetime!
The island offers an abundant selection Mexican handycrafts, fine jewelry as well as local treasures from Mexico that make great souvenirs and gifts.
Adventure into Cozumel's amazing tropical jungle. There is a variety of ways to experience the mysteries of the island. From rugged mountain biking, and horseback riding to ATV tours over bumpy dirt trails, some of your best vacation moments may occur just off the beaten path.
Playa del Carmen
This quaint town with its stores, restaurants and sandy beaches is just a short 45-minute ferry ride away.
Natural Parks and Cenotes
Visit the spectacular eco-parks of Xcaret and Xel-Ha. Both offer a variety of activities as well as a glimpse at some Mother Nature's best work . Sure to please the entire family! Explore the cenotes scattered throughout the Mayan corridor, these underground caves and tunnels are the perfect setting for wondrous and extraordinary adventures.