Cozumel is a small island but one of the most popular ports of call for Caribbean cruises. It’s well known for having the world’s second-largest reef system, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, right off its shores. But even if you’re not into exploring the reef, you’ll find plenty of other activities, no matter who you’re with — or even if you’re by yourself.
For Families With Teens
Play at Isla Pasion
Imagine a commercial that shows people relaxing on a quiet tropical beach with a Corona in hand; now you know what Isla Pasión looks like. This small, undeveloped island located off the bigger island of Cozumel is perfect for families with teens and has a handful of unique tours on the island. The Jungle Kayak tour has you kayaking through mangrove swamps, while the Jeep Adventure tour takes you off-roading in a Jeep (must have a valid driver’s license to drive). There’s even an option to just relax at the beach — a much quieter beach than you’ll find on Cozumel. Various excursions can be booked through the cruise lines. Lunch is included in most of the excursions.
For Families With Kids
Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park
The young members of the family will enjoy Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park. It’s located just five miles south of the cruise ship terminal, inside Cozumel’s National Marine Park, making it an easy excursion to do on your own. Chankanaab features a large playground, a protected and shallow natural beach, a children’s pool, a crocodile exhibition and even a sea lion show — all included with the entrance fee ($21 for adults, $14 for children ages 3-11). For an extra charge, teens and adults can join in on the fun with activities such as zip lining, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins.
Relax at the Nachi Cocom Beach Club
Grab a taxi at the pier, and in about 15 minutes, you’ll be at Nachi Cocom, a beach club that offers quiet, uncrowded relaxation. With a pool with a swim-up bar, a hot tub, a private beach, food and unlimited drinks, Nachi Cocum offers the perfect romantic beach day that you will remember long after your vacation is over. Activities such as parasailing, banana boat rides and snorkeling are available for an extra fee, and taxis are always waiting outside to take you back to the ship. The daily all-inclusive rate for adults is $55 if you book directly through Nachi Cocom.
Learn How to Dance Salsa and Make Salsa
Want to mix up your fun? Check out The Original Salsa and Salsa cooking and dancing tour. First, you’ll learn how to make a mean margarita and various kinds of salsa. Enjoy your creations with warm tortilla chips and quesadillas because next comes the dancing. You’ll learn how to salsa, something you can do together for years. If you drink too many margaritas and forget how to make the dishes, don’t worry; they’ll give you a recipe sheet to take home with you.
Bring a swimsuit and towel to enjoy the pool after the class and some cash for Lela the Pig, who collects money for a different charity each month. Most of the major cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises offer this shore excursion.
Go Bar Hopping
You and your friends will have a blast on the Cozumel Bar Hop, a shore excursion that takes visitors to the eastern side of the island, also known as “the wild side” due to the huge waves and strong currents. Learn a little Mayan history, try some authentic Mexican-Caribbean food, chat with locals and other tourists, and of course, sip cocktails while viewing the spectacular Caribbean Sea. Cozumel Bar Hop’s motto is, “Hop. Drink. Eat. Beach. Repeat.” Yes, please!
The tour is about four to five hours long and includes transportation, a shot at every bar you stop at and a t-shirt for $57. Some of the cruise lines offer similar bar hopping tours, but you can book this specific tour on your own.
Hop on a Catamaran
This excursion is perfect for a group because it offers a little bit of everything. Your three-hour tour will start with 40 minutes of snorkeling in waters teeming with tropical fish (snorkel equipment is included, but we always recommend bringing your own). Once the snorkeling finishes the drinks start flowing as you head to Fury’s beach club. You’ll then have 90 minutes to swim, kayak, or goof around on the inflatable slides and trampolines in the water.
Drinks are included, but there is an $11 charge for the hamburger lunch that is offered at the beach club. It’s big enough to serve two people. You’ll need to book the Fury Catamarans excursion directly through the cruise line.
For Solo Cruisers
Discover Cozumel Through Your Camera Lens
Solo travelers (and amateur photographers) can improve their photography skills while exploring Cozumel with Cozumel Photo Tour. Tati, the tour guide and owner, is a friendly local and professional photographer who has lived on Cozumel for more than 15 years. Tours focus on various themes, from classic island landscape to street photography or even plants and wildlife. You can book a private one-on-one tour or a group tour, and Tati will help you with your photography techniques as little or as much as you would like. This unique tour is not offered by the cruise lines so you’ll need to contact Cozumel Photo Tours on your own.
Dive Along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System
Cozumel has some of the most amazing wall dives in the Caribbean, not to mention the world’s second-largest reef system, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. So if you’re scuba certified, you have to go diving here. There are various tour operators to choose from, but Aquaworld has dives specifically for cruisers on tight schedules. Choose from a two-tank dive that departs at 11:30 a.m. and a one-tank dive that departs at 1:00 p.m., Monday–Saturday. The dive sites include the breathtaking Santa Rosa and San Francisco walls and the caverns; your choice really just depends on what you want to see. The Aquaworld shop is a three-minute cab ride from the pier, and reservations need to be made with the Aquaworld ahead of time.
For Older Adults
Escape the Crowds at Playa Palancar
Playa Palancar doesn’t have all the attractions and activities that beach clubs have, but that’s what makes it special and one of Cozumel’s most beautiful beaches. It’s a quiet place with turquoise-blue water, soft white sand and resident peacocks wandering around. The calm water makes it perfect for spotting fish with just a few steps into the water. Choose to snorkel, or rent a beach chair and umbrella for $10 and just enjoy the peacefulness. And you won’t have to go too far for lunch because there’s a restaurant close to the beach.
Playa Palancar is a 20-minute cab ride from the cruise piers.
Get a Private Tour of Cozumel
Get to know more of Cozumel than just the beach with a tour by Safe Tours. Book this tour on your own and choose a three- or five-hour private tour of Cozumel; you can decide where you want to stop and will get to see the pristine, “wild” eastern side of Cozumel. The tour includes brunch or lunch and requires a minimum of two people per tour. The size of the vehicle and price ($30 to $59.99 per passenger) depends on the size of the group.