I’ve spent a lot of time traveling and living along the Riviera Maya, and I am always confused about how Cozumel is still one of the most underrated destinations in the Mexican Caribbean.
Although I prefer to base myself out of Playa del Carmen, taking day trips to Cozumel has always been one of my favorite excursions owing to just how many fun things to do in Cozumel you can find.
From white sandy beaches to crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling, Cozumel truly is one of the best tropical paradises in Mexico.
After my latest Cozumel visit with my partner Clara, I thought I’d write up a list of the 29 best things to do in Cozumel. Having explored the island several times, I think these are the best activities you’ll find on the internet.
Oh, and stick around until the end for a lit of what NOT to do in Cozumel (there are a couple popular activities I suggest you steer away from).
Table of Contents
- 29 Best Things to Do in Cozumel
- Rent a Jeep, Scooter, or Convertible
- Playa Palancar
- Snorkel at Playa El Cielo
- Rent a Catamaran
- Zona Arqueologica San Gervasio
- Punta Chiqueros
- Go Paragliding
- San Martin Beach
- Discover Mexico Park Cozumel
- Playa Mia Grand Beach Park, Paradise Beach
- Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club
- Nachi Cocom Beach Club & Water Sport Center
- Punta Sur Eco Beach Park
- Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park (“National Marine Park”)
- Freedom in Paradise Reggae Beach Bar
- Cozumel Butterfly & Botanical Gardens
- Isla de Pasion
- Castillo Real
- Museo de Cozumel
- Coral Reefs Monument
- Stroll the Cozumel Malecon
- Monumento a la Hispanidad
- Mayan Cacao Company
- Go Souvenir Shopping in San Miguel
- Dine Out in San Miguel
- El Mirador
- Chen Rio
- Playa Punta Morena
- Mezcalito’s Last Frontier
- What Not to Do in Cozumel
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29 Best Things to Do in Cozumel
Rent a Jeep, Scooter, or Convertible
If I had one tip to give to anyone visiting Cozumel, it’s to rent your pair of wheels. Whether you opt for a Jeep, a VW buggy, or a convertible, Cozumel is made for exploring via car. The island basically consists of one big loop of well-paved road with wide lanes and minimal traffic. The road even passes along the beachfront on the Eastern side!
The island of Cozumel is far too big to navigate on foot and, while you can take taxis to some of the beach clubs mentioned below, the cost is likely to end up the same or more than a rental. If you’re worried about driving in Mexico, just know Cozumel honestly is easier to drive in than in the US!
Be aware that rentals tend to book up in advance, especially when a cruise ship is in port, so be sure to book ahead. You can use Discover Cars Mexico to find your rental – it’s basically a search engine that compares prices and reviews at many local agencies. Or you can book this unique self-drive buggy tour for a truly special experience!
📍 Address: 77687 Quintana Roo, Mexico
Beach time is obviously a must-do in Cozumel, and there are a lot of great beaches on Cozumel where you can live the island life, if only for a day. Having been to almost all of them, I think my favorite of the bunch is Playa Palancar – especially if you ignore my advice above and don’t have a car, since it’s relatively easy to find taxis to and from Playa Palancar.
It’s located far enough from San Miguel that it’s a little less crowded, but it’s still on the western side and so more protected from the currents of sargasso (seaweed) that ruins so many Mayan Riviera beach vacations.
You can enter through Playa Palancar Beach Club, which requires minimum consumption of around $10 USD (though it seems to vary by day). They offer sun loungers, table service, snorkeling, and diving gear rental, and pretty good tropical drinks from their bar.
Snorkel at Playa El Cielo
The name “El Cielo” means heaven in Spanish. And that is exactly how you’ll feel snorkeling in some of the clearest Caribbean waters that Mexico has to offer. Snorkel through shallow water while soaking in views of starfish on the white sand bottom, and tropical fish darting in and out of the coral reef.
If you’re visiting as part of a cruise ship, just be aware that all the snorkeling tours do tend to fill up fast (this is possibly the most popular thing to do in Cozumel, after all). You can pre-book this popular tour, which also takes you to the Palancar Reef and Columbia reef to snorkel as well. If you only have a short few hours in Cozumel, this is the activity to do!
Rent a Catamaran
The best part of Cozumel isn’t the beach – it’s the crystal clear Caribbean sea. And there’s no better way to experience it than by getting out on a boat. You can rent your own catamaran – complete with a captain – through the Sailo boat rental service (works kind of like Airbnb, but for boats). If you have a group and can pool your funds, it’s actually not that expensive of a thing to do.
If you really want to splash out, you can even book a private luxury catamaran.
If renting your own catamaran sounds too pricey, you can still get out on the water by joining one of the many group boat tours around Cozumel. This highly rated tour takes you to El Cielo and a beach club via catamaran.
Zona Arqueologica San Gervasio
There are a handful of small Mayan ruins on Cozumel. Zona Arqueologica San Gervasio is the easiest to visit of the bunch to visit. It’s located in the jungles of the north of the island, and easy to do as a quick stopover if you have rented your own car.
Admittedly, the Mayan ruins at Zona Arquelogica San Gervasio are pretty small. They pale in comparison to the more famous ones inland. If you’re taken a tour of Chichen Itza already, you probably won’t be too impressed. If you haven’t visited Chichen Itza, and are just in Cozumel for a quick cruise stop, then you do have the option of flying to Chichen Itza from Cozumel – it’s not cheap, but it’s a spectacularly awesome thing to do while in Cozumel.
📍 Address: 77685 Quintana Roo, Mexico
Punta Chiqueros is a small peninsula on the southern part of Cozumel. You’ll find a relaxed beachside restaurant, and visitors relaxing in the surf. It’s also a popular spot for kiteboarding.
Just around the tip of Punta Chiqueros is another beach where you can find the three abandoned buildings shown in the photo above. It’s a little eerie, but the water in front was blissfully crowd-free on our latest visit to Cozumel.
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Ok, I’ll be honest that this Cozumel activity is just a little too adventurous for me to try out. I’m scared of heights!
But paragliding is undeniably one of the top things to do in Cozumel, and the conditions here are just perfect for it. If you want to go with a reputable provider, check out this paragliding tour over at Viator.
San Martin Beach
Playa de San Martin is a really large beach on the far side of the island. It’s a little more of a “wild” beach, but if you ask me the natural ruggedness is part of the appeal.
The road runs immediately parallel to the beach, so it’s easy to park and hop down and find a stretch of sand to yourself. Plus, you can snap a photo for Instagram, like the one Clara took above, at the Cozumel sign over one of the beach entrances.
Discover Mexico Park Cozumel
📍 Address: Carr. Costera Sur Km 5.5-Sur, Zona Hotelera Nte., 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel | Phone: +52 987 857 2820 | Website
Despite being a little touristy, Discover Mexico Park is a very popular thing to do in Cozumel for families. This park features various miniature recreations of popular sites from around Mexico, like Chichen Itza, the Mayan ruins of Tulum, and the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City.
It’s just a 10 minute walk from the cruise port at San Miguel de Cozumel, so an easy thing to do if you’re bored and have some time to spend before getting back on ship.
Playa Mia Grand Beach Park, Paradise Beach
📍 Address: Carr. Costera Sur Km 15, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 987 872 9040 | Website
The kids will love bouncing around on the giant inflatables that are anchored just off the shallow waters of Playa Mia Grand Beach Park on Paradise Beach.
Oh, and Paradise Beach is gorgeous too, plus it’s relatively close to San Miguel de Cozumel. So, overall, this is an easy thing to do in Cozumel for families or with kids, especially if you’re just visiting as part of a cruise excursion.
Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club
📍 Address: Carr. Costera Sur Km. 15, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 987 120 2220 | Website
By far the most popular all-inclusive beach club in Cozumel, spending a day at Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club is a classic thing to do in Cozumel.
You’ll find hammocks, a private pool, a large beachfront with loungers bar service, inflatables for the kids to play on, plus water sports and parasailing on offer for extra fees. There is a buffet lunch that is highly rated. Plus they offer lockers and clean restrooms.
If you’re visiting with a cruise ship, it’s best to pre-book an all-inclusive day pass as Mr. Sancho’s does fill up.
Nachi Cocom Beach Club & Water Sport Center
📍 Address: Carretera a Chankanaab Km. 16.5, Carr. Costera Sur, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 987 872 1900 | Website | Hours: 8:30 am – 5 pm daily
If Mr. Sanchos is too crowded on the day you visit (can happen during cruise ship days), a good alternative Cozumel beach club to consider is Nachi Cocom. It has a water sports center, a pool with swim up bar, a restaurant, and a beach bar. Parasailing and snorkeling are also available for extra fees. If you get lucky, you just might see sea turtles.
Punta Sur Eco Beach Park
📍 Address: Autopista Km. 30 Sur Matamoros Norte-Centro-Sur, Guaycura, San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 987 872 0833 | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily
Located on the southern tip of Isla Cozumel, Punta Sur Eco Beach Park is an ecological park that also serves as the gateway to the National Marine Park. This is a great place to spot exotic birds and other wildlife. There are protected turtle nesting spots, plus lagoons that are filled with crocodiles you can see from the boardwalk.
There is also a full-service beach club, with a restaurant, bar, loungers, kayaks, snorkeling, etc. For the $16 admission price, it’s one of the more affordable things to do in Cozumel.
Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park (“National Marine Park”)
📍 Address: 5 Av. Nte. 5 A, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 664 153 2418 | 👉 Book a Scuba Diving Experience on Viator
Nicknamed the Great Mayan Reef, Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park claims to be the second-largest coral reef in the world. It’s certainly one of the most stunning, and visiting it should be on any list of things to do in Cozumel.
Located off the coast of Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, the National Marine Park is widely considered to be one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world. You’ll encounter a spectacular underwater world filled with abundant sea life like tropical fish, starfish, and sea turtles. During the winter months, from about December to March, you might even encounter giant manta rays!
🤿 New to Diving? This Cozumel diving tour for first-timers is a great way to dip your toes into the world of scuba diving and check out some of the best dive sites in Cozumel.
Freedom in Paradise Reggae Beach Bar
Right next to the entrance to Punta Sur Ecological Park you’ll find a very interesting Reggae Bar run by a group of local Rastafarians. There is free parking, wild sandy beaches, and a chilled out reggae bar with hammocks and tables overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It’s one of the more unique beach bars in Cozumel for sure.
Cozumel Butterfly & Botanical Gardens
📍 Address: Entre y, Calle 35 Sur, Calle 60 Sur &, San Miguel II, San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 987 564 0522 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm daily
The Cozumel Butterfly and Botanical Gardens is a butterfly sanctuary and nursery located just a 5-minute taxi ride from San Miguel de Cozumel.
Come to check out the 85 species of butterfly that inhabit the lush gardens. You can grab some food at their cafe if you’re hungry, or even bring your swimsuit and take a dip in the pool. It’s definitely one of the more unique things to do in Cozumel for families, kids, and nature lovers!
Isla de Pasion
Isla de Pasion is a small private island on the northern part of Cozumel. It’s known for white sandy beaches, giant iguanas, vibrant marine life, and relaxing crystal clear waters. It’s a great place to visit in Cozumel to escape the crowds.
📍 Address: 15 avenida entre Benito Juárez y, Calle 2 Nte, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 987 116 6823 | Website
Castillo Real is a small Mayan watchtower located deep in the jungle on the northern part of Isla Cozumel. I’ve yet to make it there, but it’s high on my list of things to do in Cozumel for my next trip.
Due to its remote location, Castillo Real is only really accessible via boat tour. There aren’t any tours bookable online as far as I can tell. I suggest asking around to the boat tour vendors in San Miguel de Cozumel if you’re intrigued.
Museo de Cozumel
📍 Address: Av. Rafael E. Melgar 321-Planta Alta, entre calle 4 y 6 Norte, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 987 872 0833 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 6 pm Tues, Sat, & Sun
One of the best things to do in San Miguel de Cozumel is to visit the small but fantastic Museo de Cozumel. It’s newly renovated and features 11 exhibits showcasing the history of Cozumel, its various reefs, Mayan culture, and Cozumel’s famous underwater marine life.
Plus, the high-end restaurant on top of the museum is a fantastic place to eat. The ambiance is perfect, the balcony overlooks the Malecon, and the food is delicious.
Coral Reefs Monument
📍 Address: Avenida General, Av. Rafael E. Melgar 101, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Website | Hours: 24 hours daily
Right on the Malecon, not far from the ferry pier, you’ll find a water fountain monument. It is meant to honor the dying coral reefs and features sculptures of scuba divers with water spraying up from the corals. At night it lights up in different colors.
Stroll the Cozumel Malecon
Like many beachfront towns in Mexico, San Miguel de Cozumel features a Malecon – which is basically a beachfront boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. The Malecon is fairly small, but it’s a beautiful place to walk just before sunset before catching your cruise or the ferry back to Playa del Carmen.
Monumento a la Hispanidad
The Monumento a la Hispanidad is certainly not the biggest of Cozumel’s sites, and not much in comparison to the more famous Mayan archeological attractions in the Yucatan. But the Monumento a la Hispanidad is still a landmark worth visiting while strolling San Miguel de Cozumel. You’ll find a small park sporting a replica of Mayan ruins.
Mayan Cacao Company
📍 Address: Carr. Costera Sur Km. 15.000-Sur, Zona Hotelera, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 987 120 9431 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily
If you want to learn about Mayan culture and taste some chocolate while doing it, consider stopping by the Mayan Cacao Company. Learn how the Mayans prepared cacao and buy some as souvenirs to take home with you. Located near Playa San Francisco, so the Mayan Cacao Company is a great family-friendly activity to combine with a trip to Playa Mia Grande Park.
Go Souvenir Shopping in San Miguel
Given its status as a popular port of call for cruise ships, it should come as no surprise that downtown Cozumel is filled with various local boutiques and souvenir shops selling a wide variety of souvenirs. If you need to get some shopping in, you can find all sorts of trinkets, garments, and wares.
Dine Out in San Miguel
Downtown Cozumel is home to a number of fine dining establishments and cheaper restaurants serving up delicious food of all kinds. My personal favorite is the patio at the Restaurante del Museo.
Food tours are also very popular in Cozumel. If you’d like to taste where the locals eat, check out this very highly rated Cozumel food tour that takes you to 5 local spots to eat around Cozumel.
📍 Address: Quintana Roo C-1, 77685 Q.R., Mexico | Hours: 24 hours daily
Rumored to be the point where Cortez made landing in Mexico, El Mirador is a lookout point and scenic spot on the far side of the island. Though the beaches aren’t the best on the island, it’s a good spot to watch the waves crash against the rocks. There is a small restaurant serving up ceviches and drinks, so it makes for a fun stop if you’re doing a mini Cozumel road trip.
📍 Address: 77684 Quintana Roo, Mexico
Playa Chen Rio is another one of the wild and natural beaches on the far side of Cozumel. You’ll find a white sand beach with decent swimming and tide pools among the rocks. If you have your own gear, you can even snorkel here.
👉 Are You Already Packed? If you are unsure what to bring to Mexico, check out our guide for a checklist!
Playa Punta Morena
📍 Address: Quintana Roo C-1, 77684 Q.R., Mexico
Playa Punta Morena is another great beach to check out on the far side of Cozumel. There is a small surf school, a restaurant, and ample parking.
Mezcalito’s Last Frontier
📍 Address: Carretera transversal km. 14.5 Lado este de la isla, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 987 876 0914 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 10:30 pm daily
I’ve heard great things about this Mezcalito’s Last Frontier, which is a beach bar located across the island on the far side of the island. Unfortunately, it was closing down by the time I made it on my last visit, but if you’re looking for a relaxing spot to grab a beer near the Caribbean sea without spending too much, definitely put this on your list of things to do in Cozumel!
What Not to Do in Cozumel
There are a couple popular activities in Cozumel that I personally just don’t condone, but that I think you deserve to know exist.
Obviously, you can make your own decision about what to do in Cozumel and what not to do, but here are two top things to do in Cozumel I’d suggest considering skipping:
Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park is a large theme park located within Cozumel’s National Reef Marine Park. They offer a beach club, but also a variety of activities like scuba, snuba free diving, and something called “sea treak,” which is basically where you go diving with a helmet.
I list it here because, for better or worse, the Dolphin Discovery Park in Chankanaab National Park is a top Cozumel attraction that makes every list of what to do in Cozumel.
However, I personally refuse to patronize this park – and I urge you to do the same – because of what I view as its unethical treatment of dolphins. They cage up dolphins and manatees and force them to interact with humans for shows. I don’t endorse this, but obviously, you can make your own choices about what things to do in Cozumel.
📍 Address: Zona 2, Km.1.5, Av. Rafael E. Melgar, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico | Phone: +52 998 881 3033 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily; Sunday closed
Dolphinaris Cozumel is another one of the popular amusement parks in Cozumel that uses captive dolphins to entertain visitors. It’s one of the most popular things to do in Cozumel, but think about the consequences to these beautiful creatures.
That’s it for this guide to what to do in Cozumel. I hope we help you visit Cozumel and enjoy it as much as we do.
For more tips for your trip to Mexico, be sure to read my list of things to know before going to Mexico. It’s packed with important travel tips!