For years, Cozumel was a quiet sleepy island that didn’t get many visitors until Jacques Cousteau did a documentary on it after discovering the world class scuba diving at the Palancar Reefs nearby. Mainstream tourists went to the resort intensive Cancun in the mainland instead. However, Cozumel became a regular cruise ship port of call in recent years and now it is one of the busiest with two separate terminals. I have been to Cozumel twice, the first time staying several days on a scuba diving vacation and the second time for a day via cruise ship (also scuba dived during my second visit).
As a result of the cruise boat boom, there’s been lots of retail development along the main waterfront road of Avenida Rafael Melgar from the island’s only town of San Miguel de Cozumel. There are an infinite number of jewelry and t-shirt shops most with staff standing in the entrances enticing visitors to enter their shops. Both spirits and silver can be good bargains here. There are also some nice Mexican crafts shops too. The one problem that we discovered was that after about 4 jewelry shops, they all started to look the same. It had been almost a retail store. For those who came for a wilder time, there are a few bars like Carlos’n’ Charlie. The city’s main outdoor square, Plaza del Sol, is just opposite the main ferry dock to the mainland. There are usually street vendors and artists in the Plaza as well local entertainment during some evenings. The artists do some remarkable art with spray paints and their rates are extremely reasonable. San Miguel’s main tourist area can be quite busy during the day once the cruise ship passengers are in town but because most ships depart at dinnertime, the evenings are actually quite quiet. The only tourists left at night tend to be the scuba divers staying in Cozumel. Wildlife Removal Melbourne
Most of the hotels and resorts are south of San Miguel and therefore are not within walking distance. However, there are a lot of white taxicabs that are readily available. The larger and more luxurious resorts are generally even farther south of town along the southwestern shores. This is actually not surprising since the majority of the best scuba diving sites are southwest of the island. An easy way to find the 33 mile (53 kilometers ) by 9 mile (14 km) island is by renting a scooter or a 4×4. I once rented a scooter and zigzagged along most of San Miguel’s roads to see the neighborhoods. Then I went on the main road leaving town and went south. After passing by the bigger hotels and going around the southern tip of the island, I found the beaches along the scenic shores. The shores near San Miguel across the crowded west coast are not known for beaches but the southeast area here have some really spectacular ones. Even better is that there is hardly any traffic so the beaches are pretty quiet. Sometimes people can park their scooters and revel in a beach all for themselves. There are some stops with refreshments and more souvenirs at prices even better than in San Miguel. After traveling north , there’s a road about halfway up the island which goes across and takes you back to San Miguel entering the town’s east side. My scooter tour of the island took just over 2 hours and cost $25 US for the rental. Cozumel has several ancient Mayan ruins but they’re not nearly as big or spectacular as the ones on the mainland. After viewing some photos of them in advance of my trip, I didn’t even bother to see the ruins.
Cozumel is a wonderful port of call for cruise ships since there are lots of shopping opportunities. Passengers who scuba dive or snorkel can easily book directly with the many dive shops in San Miguel without going through their cruise ships which will cost a whole lot more. For cruise ship tourists who do not intend to do any water sports and have some time after shopping, it’s highly recommended to rent a scooter or 4×4 to tour the island. This is also a wonderful way to spend the last day of a scuba dive vacation in Cozumel.