One of the best things about taking a cruise is that you’ll visit not just one but multiple destinations, and there will be shopping available at all of them. The Mexican island of Cozumel, located off the coast of Playa del Carmen, has countless treasures, some with ancient roots. Cruisers can find shopping at the cruise port, but some of the most unique discoveries are farther afield.
Here are the six things to buy in Cozumel and where to find them.
Mexico is famous for silver that comes from the town of Taxco, located between Acapulco and Mexico City. You’ll know its genuine sterling silver when you spot the number 925 on it, which means it’s 92.5 percent pure silver. Sergio’s Silver from Taxco, located on Benito Juarez between Fifth and 10th avenues, is a family-owned, trustworthy shop in Cozumel. From simple rings and elaborate necklaces to money clips and earrings donned with Mexican opals, there is never a shortage of unique styles. And they can even custom make jewelry for you.
Traditional Mexican embroidered clothing has a hippy-chic look. For men, a “guayabera,” or traditional wedding shirt, looks nice with a pair of slacks or Bermuda shorts. For women, a blouse with hand-stitched flowers looks fashionable with jeans or a maxi skirt. Many modern Mexican designers are combining traditional elements with Mexico’s colorful resort-style fashion. You’ll find the traditional and the more-modern looks at Los Cinco Soles on the waterfront and around Plaza del Sol.
Cozumel is located on the second-largest reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, so coral jewelry is a popular item. However, it is important to note that black coral is endangered and may be confiscated by customs in your home country, so stick to other colors such as orange and red. To be sure you aren’t buying plastic, shop at a reputable jeweler like Black Coral Shop on Rafael E. Melgar between Fourth and Sixth streets. Tip: If you want to make sure the coral is real, put it into a glass of milk. If the milk changes color, you know it’s fake.
The Mayans called chocolate the “food of the gods,” and their predecessors, the Olmecs, were the first to consume chocolate. Authentic Mexican chocolate tends to contain less milk and more cocoa, like dark chocolate. Chocolates Kaokao, located on Calle Proyecto Street makes artisanal chocolate in the Mayan tradition with natural ingredients and no additives. When you visit, you also can go on a factory tour and try the different flavors and even make your own chocolate mix to take back home with you. Expect to see such chocolate variations as dark, coffee, cactus and chili.
Many locals forgo beds and actually sleep in hammocks, especially people from the neighboring state of Yucatan. A handcrafted hammock can be hung in your backyard or on your patio. On Fifth Avenue, one block north of the pedestrian-only plaza and across the street from Zermatt Bakery, there is a no-name store where you can purchase a handmade hammock. When you’re shopping, keep in mind that there are two sizes: single and matrimonial (more spacious than the single, but not double the single). And all hammocks should be double- or triple-woven with fine thread. Those made from nylon are generally less expensive and last longer than cotton ones.
Other items to look for include alebrijes (hand-carved and painted mythical wooden creatures), honey, Talavera pottery, vanilla extract (the only ingredients should be vanilla beans and alcohol), coffee, cloth napkins and table linens, wooden toys and homemade candy. These make for great gifts.
If you bring cash, it will be easier to bargain when possible, and you won’t have to pay a credit card fee.