The Island of Cozumel or Isla Cozumel as it’s known, is just 12 miles off the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen in the Caribbean Sea.
Separated from the mainland by the Cozumel Channel, it is a rather undeveloped and relaxed option, with ferries easily connecting to the mainland should the mood arise. San Miguel is the island’s largest city. Well worth exploring with its neatly laid out rows of colourful homes and stores selling popular Mexican arts and crafts like Talavera pottery, beautiful handcrafted silver jewellery and ceramics. You can also find locally-produced vanilla, and of course, tequila on sale.
It’s essential to have a burrito, or at least try a faithfully Mexican fajita and ceviche.
The Statue of General Rafael E. Melgar is located along the seafront boardwalk. Biking or walking this wide promenade will lead you along with its many cafes and pubs. There, you’ll be inspired to linger. I loved joining the locals for chats and people-watching in the Zocalo, a typically Mexican palm-fringed park in the centre of the city.
Cozumel is famed for its scuba diving, specifically in the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, and around the Mesoamerican Reef and the Museo Subacuático de Arte’s submerged sculptures. For the advanced scuba diver, Maracaibo, Devil’s Throat, Cathedral or Barracuda thrills.
Thanks to conservation efforts, marine life in the waters around Cozumel have returned to healthy numbers, after decades of overfishing. Today there is thankully a strong focus on enjoying them in their natural habitat, rather than catching them.
Captivating scenery along the unforgettable windswept shore will lead to beaches and lagoons, as well as a forested area with plenty of hiking trails. Other highlights include the old Celarain lighthouse with its adjoining nautical museum, and the Caracol Mayan temple ruins.
I was lucky to visit while cruising in the area and was left with a distinct desire to return.
Tulum, ancient land of the Mayan
The ancient ruins of Tulum at 65km from Playa Del Carmen, face the Caribbean Sea and are of the best-preserved coastal Mayan sites in Mexico. One of the only a few walled cities built by the Mayans, most of which are about 800 years old and were abandoned at the end of the 1500s. Tulum was once a major port for the inland city of Coba and into the Yucatan, mainly trading in turquoise and jade, and served as a fortress against enemies approaching by sea. El Castillo is the main pyramid at about 7m tall and was used as a lighthouse, directing ships to a safe landing on the beach. Swimming with the old ruined fortress as the backdrop is a very special experience.
Throughout the ruins wild iguanas walked, owning the ancient land.
If I destroy you, I destroy myself. If I honour you, I honour myself ― Hunbatz Men, Mayan
** This post forms part of my 100x Magical Places series which offers an introduction to my favourite destinations.
On the cruise with my friend Avril x.
** Pics sourced on Pixabay and Pexels