Lying off the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico, Cozumel is a beautiful Caribbean island with a lot to offer guests besides its stunning beaches and amazing dive sites.
While its underwater sights are undoubtedly alluring, the island also has several nature parks worth visiting. As well as mesmerizing Mayan ruins, the lively San Miguel, and much more.
You’ll almost certainly want to spend just as much time above water as below it. Whether lounging on one of its incredible beaches, taking a fun food tour, or experiencing a Temazcal Mayan ceremony!
To help you make the most of your time on the island, here are our top 20 things for you to see and do in Cozumel.
1. Rent A Jeep and Drive Around the Island
One of the best ways to explore the fantastic sights that Cozumel offers is to rent a car and drive yourself around the island. There is no public transport at all in Cozumel. You’ll either have to walk, take a taxi, or rent a jeep in Cozumel to get around.
Having your own vehicle on hand means stopping off wherever you like. As just one road encircles the island, there is no chance of getting lost, and it doesn’t take very long to get from one place to another. Renting a car is very affordable and means you can easily head off to a beach or archaeological site whenever you feel like it.
Rental cars are super cheap, typically under $30 a day when booked online in advance. We have found the best prices on Discovercars.com, and they have free cancelations. It is possible to rent a car in person, but note that the prices will be double the online prices. Often rental cars will be sold out, especially on cruise days. Click here to check rental car prices in Cozumel.
Another big perk of having a car is you are able to visit some of the best restaurants in Cozumel and not have to be stuck with only the pier options.
*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels, check prices on Booking.com. They are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*
2. San Gervasio Mayan Ruins
A must-visit are the Mayan ruins of Cozumel named the San Gervasio Ruins. Located in the center of the island, this trip can be done with a rental car or jeep, or if you want, there are many guided tours here.
These ruins are smaller in size than some of the other Mayan Ruins in Mexico but should still be on your list of things to do in Cozumel!
- Location: See Map
- Hours: 8 am-3:45 pm Daily
3. Jade Caverns & Cenote – ATV or Jeep Required
Dive into the Mayan underworld with a trip to this cenote (limestone sinkhole) located in the jungles of Cozumel. Cenotes are natural caves filled with water and make for a fun day trip and a good place to cool off on a hot day in Cozumel.
Have ultimate freedom and save tons of money on tours with your own rental car! Don’t worry – It’s safe (we’ve rented 20+ times), the roads are good, and it’s easier than you think! We always rent from Discover Cars, it’s easy & they have the best prices.
4. Snorkeling or Diving in Cozumel
When in Cozumel, you must go snorkeling or scuba diving, as it is what the island is renowned for. The spectacular Mesoamerican Barrier Reef lies just offshore and is the second-largest coral reef in the world.
Consequently, there are lots to see below the shimmering waters of the Caribbean, with large schools of fish, sea turtles, and colorful coral reefs to be seen. Some of the most popular dive sites in Cozumel are at Devil’s Throat, Barracuda, and Maracaibo.
One of the best dive shops in Cozumel is Scuba Tony, which is highly recommended by experienced divers. Located in San Miguel, just a stone’s throw away from the seafront, they have experienced dive masters who take you out to the dive sites around the island.
Expect to pay around $80 for two dives and approximately $40 if you want to go snorkeling instead.
- Address: Carrefera Costerce sur k m Interior Marina Fonatur, Zona Hotelera Nte., 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico
Recommended Snorkel stops if you want to do a DIY Snorkel Tour
Most people do this as a tour, but with a car, you can make your own snorkel trip and stay in places as long as you want and not be stuck on a basic tour.
You can rent snorkel gear in the town near where you pick up your rental car for a few dollars per piece of equipment. Some shop owners may require an ID as a deposit for the gear.
Suggested Snorkel spots:
- Playa Chen Rio
- Money Bar Beach Club
- Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park
5. Punta Sur Ecological Park
As well as being home to one of the best beaches on the island, Punta Sur Ecological Park is a great place to head to see beautiful nature, fascinating wildlife, and interesting historical sights. As there is so much going on here, it is one of the most popular things to do in Cozumel. The park covers a vast area and lies at the southern tip of the island, around an hour’s drive from San Miguel.
While lounging on the gorgeous Punta Sur Eco Beach is delightful, it is also worth heading off to explore some of the surrounding nature. The park is home to lots of exotic birds, crocodiles, and sea turtles – among other creatures. Snorkeling the reef is very popular here, and you can also take a catamaran tour of the lagoon if you want to skip across the sparkling water with the wind in your hair!
If you visit Punta Sur during the right season, you might be lucky enough to watch sea turtles nesting along the beach and the little ones eagerly trying to make their way to the water.
Two of the main sights that people come to see are its historic lighthouses; one of them remarkably dates to the pre-Hispanic era. The other lighthouse is now home to an interesting museum that will tell you all about the history of the island. As well as that of pirates in the Caribbean and the Mayans themselves. There’s also a cool Mayan temple for you to check out if you have any energy left after seeing all the other sights in the park!
- Address: Autopista Km. 30 Sur, Matamoros Norte-Centro-Sur, Guaycura
- Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 09:00 – 16:00
- Entrance fee: Adult: $16. Child: $10
More Attractions within Punta Sur Ecological Park
6. Celarain Lighthouse
On the southeastern tip of Cozumel is a bright white lighthouse that you can climb for great views of the surrounding beaches of Cozumel.
7. El Caracol Mayan Ruins
Another small set of Mayan ruins can be found on the eastern shores of Cozumel and are part of the Punta Sur Park.
8. Visit El Mirador
The area known as El Mirador or viewpoint is located on the rocky shore of the Eastern coast of Cozumel. Probably not the tallest ‘El Mirador’ you’ll ever visit, but nice views regardless. Here you’ll have a higher viewpoint of the beaches and rocky cliffs below.
In this area, you’ll also find a small cluster of bars to hang out at and some restaurants to grab a snack while on your road trip around Cozumel.
Location: See Map
An unforgettable way to explore the underwater world lying just offshore from Cozumel is to take a ‘helmet diving tour’ with Seatrek. On a Seatrek tour in Cozumel, you descend to a depth of 20 – 25 feet with a helmet on your head connected to the surface by a tube that pumps air for breathing.
Walking along the bottom of the seafloor like this is a unique experience, and it will almost make you feel like you’re an astronaut walking on the moon!
- Address: Jeanie’s Beach Club: Ave. Rafael E. Melgar #790. Chankannab Park: Carretera Costera Sur, Km 9
- Price: $84
10. Catamaran trip around Cozumel
One of the best things to do in Cozumel is to take a catamaran trip around the island. While skipping over the turquoise waters is lovely in itself, it also helps you see the island paradise from a whole new perspective.
As you stop off at different locations on the way. The waters surrounding Cozumel are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. So you’ll undoubtedly see lots of amazing marine life and colorful coral reefs wherever you go.
The catamarans always have a fun and friendly vibe. You can lounge on the deck in the sun or grab a drink or bite to eat with your newfound friends as you travel around Cozumel. There are several Cozumel catamaran options, click here for all tours.
- Cheapest Cozumel Catamaran Tour (2-hour Sunset, snorkel, drinks & snacks included) $39 | Book Online Now
- Most popular Cozumel Catamaran Tour ( 4 hours, snorkel, drinks & snacks included) $59 | Book Online Now
11. Visit Playa Uva Sur
Lying just a 20-minute drive away from San Miguel, Playa Uva Sur is located on the west coast of the island. Playa Uva Sur looks like a dream with its swaying palm trees, dazzling white sands, and welcoming turquoise waters.
Playa Uva Sur is quite upmarket; there are lots of facilities on offer, and it is an increasingly popular beach. It’s a fantastic place to go snorkeling and kayaking, and you can check out the nearby marine park if you get tired of sunbathing on the beach.
You enter the beach through the Uvas Beach Club, and while the basic entrance fee does cost $15 per person, you certainly get a lot for it. The price includes not only a welcome drink and access to sun loungers, WiFi, umbrellas, and hammocks, but also snorkeling gear, a 30-minute guided shore snorkel tour, 30 minutes of kayaking, AND entry to the marine park!
It is a great deal and makes for the perfect day in Cozumel, and at night, the beach club gets very lively as the restaurant and bar are full of guests enjoying the ambiance.
12. Visit San Miguel
The capital and the main town on Cozumel, San Miguel, is a laidback and welcoming place to visit. Although it can get quite busy when cruise ships are in port, Cozumel ferries run from here to Playa del Carmen. Make sure to read our Cozumel ferry guide before taking the ferry. We’ll tell you everything you need to know and where to get the cheapest tickets.
Most people visiting Cozumel will, at the very least, pass through San Miguel at some point. There are some nice things to see and do in San Miguel. For instance, walking along its scenic seafront sidewalk is lovely and is particularly spectacular during sunset. You will also find lots of dive shops here if you want to arrange a scuba diving or snorkeling excursion.
One place you can’t miss in San Miguel is its lively Zocalo. Life in the town revolves around this central park, where you’ll find everyone congregating in the evenings.
13. Experience a Temazcal Mayan Ceremony
A unique thing to do in Cozumel is to take part in a Temazcal Mayan ceremony. A very spiritual experience, on your journey, you are accompanied by a Shaman who will help cleanse and purify your body and soul.
These ancient Mayan ceremonies take place in small brick huts, which are very hot and dark inside. Temazcal means ‘house of heat.’ After being blessed and purified by your Shaman in the heat and almost total darkness of the hut, you can cool off by going for a cleansing swim.
It is quite an intense experience but very interesting to take part in; as it is somewhat like a sauna, you’ll come away feeling great!
14. Mayan Cacao Company
On the eastern shores of Cozumel, you can get a taste of traditional chocolates. If you are driving yourself, it’s a great stop for an afternoon pick-me-up on your road trip in Cozumel. Inside the Mayan Cacao Company shop, you’ll find traditional chocolate treats perfect for bringing back as gifts or a snack for the road. If you have time, be sure to stay to see how the chocolate is made.
- Location: See Map
- Hours: 8 am-4 pm Monday-Saturday | Closed Sundays
15. Have a Chocolate Peanut Butter Margarita at Wet Wendy’s
Wet Wendy’s is THE place to go to in San Miguel and Cozumel if you want the best margaritas around! They have an almost endless list of them for you to choose from and are certainly generous with the amount of alcohol in them.
There is an entertaining and lively atmosphere at Wet Wendy’s. They often have live music in the evenings, while the food they serve in the restaurant is just as delicious as the margaritas.
You’ll want to try at least a couple of margaritas when you’re there. We recommend sampling the chocolate peanut butter margarita. It sounds strange, but trust us, it is really good – you won’t regret it!
Wet Wendy’s is located within walking distance of the Cozumel ferry pier. We ended up here for a drink while waiting for the last ferry back to Playa del Carmen.
- Address: 5a. Avenida Norte x Juárez y, Calle 2 Norte
- Opening hours: Every day from 10 am – 12 am
- Price: $$ – $$$
16. Eat your way around on a Cozumel Food Tour
Another lovely way to explore Cozumel is to take a food tour. As you go from place to place, you’ll get to try lots of delicious creations by some of the island’s best chefs. As the tour takes you to several small, local restaurants, you’ll get a taste of Cozumel’s cuisine.
You can tailor the trip depending on whether you prefer seafood, seasonal fare, or vegetarian. Over the course of three hours, you’ll get to try everything from quesadillas to aqua Jamaica while stopping off at local kitchens and El Mercado – a traditional Mexican market. As well as getting to sample lots of tasty treats, you’ll also learn about the history and culture of food in Cozumel as you go.
- Times: Monday – Saturday starting at 11 AM
- Length: Three hours.
- Price: $80 | Click Here to Book Online
17. Grab a rod and go Deep Sea Fishing in Cozumel
A lot of life in Cozumel revolves around the sea. If snorkeling and scuba diving aren’t for you, you may want to try deep-sea fishing!
Many companies run fishing tours. As Cozumel’s conditions are fantastic for it, many people specifically come here to go deep-sea fishing. This is because many different types of fish swim in its waters. You can catch anything from mahi-mahi and barracuda to tuna and sailfish. It’s a lot of fun to do, and the bonus is that you get to go on a lovely boat trip and see Cozumel from the sea.
18. Visit the Best Beaches in Cozumel
Cozumel is blessed when it comes to its gorgeous beaches. You could easily spend your entire holiday in Cozumel merely going from one beach to another. While the beaches along the island’s west coast are more developed and have more facilities, the east coast’s beaches are a lot wilder and untouched in comparison.
On the west coast, Chankanaab Beach and Playa Uva Sur are two of the most popular beautiful beaches in Cozumel. Although they can get a bit crowded from time to time. Playa Chen Rio, Playa Bonita, and Punta Morena are just three beautiful beaches on the east coast that you need to check out. These are very peaceful and quiet in comparison.
You can’t go wrong when it comes to Cozumel’s beaches, so try to visit as many as possible while you’re there!
19. Jeep Tour with Snorkeling
If you don’t want to rent a car in Cozumel, another great way to see as much of the island as possible is to go on a jeep tour. Jeep tours visit Cozumel’s many secluded beaches, archaeological sites, and lush jungles.
With an expert guide on hand, you’ll learn a lot about the local history and culture while visiting such places as Punta Sur Ecological Park, a tequila factory, and Mayan ruins along the way. Snorkeling is included in the tour, and the guide will take you to some of the best coral reefs and beaches on the island. Where you’ll see lots of amazing marine life and stunning scenery. It’s a fun day out, and it’s one of the best ways to see as much of Cozumel as possible in just one day.
20. Watch the sunset
No visit to Cozumel – and indeed any Caribbean island – can ever be complete without watching at least a couple of incredible sunsets! As it is lined with beautiful beaches, Cozumel has several great places for you to watch the sun go down.
Every evening, the sea is painted in glorious reds, yellows, and oranges as the sun dips into the waves. You will, however, want to be on the west side of the island to enjoy the most spectacular views. One unforgettable way to experience it is to take a sunset catamaran for only $39 and watch the waves sparkle around you as the sunsets.
Alternatively, you can head to the Turquoise Beach Bar or the Money Bar Beach Club if you want to watch the sun go down with a drink in hand and a lively atmosphere around you.
21. Responsibly Visit Chankannab Beach Adventure Park
One of the most popular places to visit among guests on the island, Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park, is located in the Marine National Park of Cozumel. There is lots of fantastic snorkeling to be had here.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef teems with life. So you’re sure to see many shoals of fish and pristine coral reefs below the waves, as well as some fantastic underwater statues. To better explore the island’s fascinating coastline, a lot of people also opt to take a kayak tour when visiting the adventure park.
Above ground, there is just as much for guests to see and do, with zip lines, an archaeological replicas path, and botanical gardens for you to enjoy. Other than that, you can relax and take in the incredible scenery or book yourself a spa date if you feel like pampering yourself. There are also a couple of great bars and restaurants on offer if you want to grab a bite to eat or drink while visiting.
Unfortunately, Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park also has some activities that involve captive animals. As we don’t agree with tourism that involves animal cruelty, please do think about what you spend your money on when visiting the park. There is a lot to see and do without going to animal shows.
- Address: Carretera Costera Sur Km. 9, Zona Hotelera Norte
- Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 08:00 – 16:00
- Price: Adult: $23. Child: $16
As you can see, Cozumel has so much going on that it is more than just a beach or diving destination. The island is a fascinating place to visit, with lots of amazing historical and archaeological sites for you to check out, in addition to its incredible nature and breathtaking scenery.
Whether it is chocolate peanut butter margaritas and delicious food tours or helmet diving and catamaran tours that you’re after, you’re certainly in for a good time! With its laidback and welcoming vibe, Cozumel is a treat to visit, and you’ll almost definitely want to return as soon as you leave.