Ohhh Cozumel, our favourite place in all of Mexico. Located just off the coast of Playa del Carmen, Cozumel Island is the place to be for those looking for a vacation full of relaxation and adventure. This island is a whole lot of fun to explore whether you’re looking to explore the rich culture at some ancient Mayan ruins, scuba dive on the second largest barrier reef in the world, or simply sip on some margaritas while you watch an epic sunset at a beach club, you will have no problem finding fun things to do in Cozumel.
You’ll notice most of the things to do in Cozumel involve being on, or in, the water. This is not by accident. Cozumel is the place to go if your focus is spending as much time in the gorgeous Caribbean Sea as possible. You can expect pristine white sandy beaches full of vibrant marine life at this Mexican oasis.
If you’re planning a trip to Cozumel, be sure to read our complete guide to Cozumel where we dive into all your must know travel tips. Everything from how to get to Cozumel to the best places to eat, drink, and stay on the island.
For now, let’s jump into all the amazing things to do in Cozumel so we can really showcase all this beautiful island has to offer. Trust us, you’ll love it!
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Top things to do in Cozumel
As Mexico’s largest island, Cozumel has so much to see and do. Its location is pretty well perfect in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula not far from other popular tourist destinations like the bustling city of Cancun and the nearby boho town of Tulum. If you’re trying to decide what to do in Cozumel, we’ve got you covered with our top 22 activities.
1. Go snorkeling in the beautiful turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea
An epic way to spend any day on the island, Cozumel is THE PLACE to go snorkeling. Whether you’ve tried snorkeling before or not, trust us you will want to go snorkeling here! Cozumel has built a reputation worldwide of being home to some of the best snorkeling in the world. You can (and should) take a tour out to the best snorkel spots but even just snorkeling from the shore will reveal some of the best snorkeling conditions you’ll ever see.
Cozumel Island sits in the middle of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second largest coral reef. This means you can expect a thriving and colorful reef system here that is full of life. You will see more colorful tropical fish than you thought possible in these waters – an experience that will make anyone an ocean lover!
If you’re looking for free snorkeling in Cozumel, you have a few options. Our favourite is the centrally located Playa Casita. There’s an amazing oceanfront restaurant called La Monina that you can eat at and rent lockers from while you snorkel from the beach right in front of it. Another spot is Sunset Beach which is close to the ferry terminals. Playa Corona is another great spot, but you’ll want to stay close to the shore here as the currents can get a little strong.
There are also some great paid beach snorkel sites in Cozumel. Chankanaab Park is one of the most popular places in Cozumel to go snorkeling (although we DO NOT support their dolphin and manatee enclosures). Playa Palancar and Dzul Ha are other popular areas.
By far the best snorkeling you will get is on snorkel tours where they take you to the best snorkel spots on Cozumel. This half day 3 reef snorkel tour takes you to 3 of the best reefs in the island: Palancar, Columbia, and the stunning Playa el Cielo reefs.
If you’re visiting Cozumel on a cruise ship, or are otherwise short on time, this coral reef snorkel tour is a great option. The 5 star reviews speak for themselves, this 2 hour snorkel tour allows you to get the best experience the island offers.
If you want to ensure you see some amazing marine life like sea turtles and starfish, this turtle sanctuary snorkel tour is an amazing option. This half day tour takes you to 3-4 snorkel spots, one being a natural sea turtle sanctuary, and another being a starfish sanctuary. This is a great (and ethical) animal encounter tour that we can get behind!
If you’re not too keen on snorkeling but want to get an intro to the underwater world, booking a tour on an invisible boat is a great option. You will board a completely clear boat that will allow you to see all the beautiful corals, fish, and even shipwrecks below the water’s surface. At the end, you will have an opportunity for a short snorkel. This is great for young kids or elderly people who may not be physically able to snorkel in the water.
2. Explore the San Gervasio Mayan Ruins
Those looking for a good dose of Mexican culture and history will love a visit to these ancient Cozumel ruins. This is one of the lesser known Mayan ruins in Mexico and is certainly worth the visit. This is where many Mayan women flocked to in worship of the Goddess Ixchel – Goddess of fertility. (Just saying… Samara did get pregnant just 6 months after visiting so beware!)
Entrance into the San Gervasio Mayan ruins is 216MXN ($17.50 CAD/$13 USD) per person with kids under 3 being free. The ruins are fairly easy to get to located inland about 15km (9.3 miles) from San Miguel de Cozumel. The ruins are open daily between 8 am and 4 pm.
The only downfall with these ruins is that there is not a lot of information throughout explaining the significance of the different buildings. For history buffs who really want to learn about the importance of this site, booking a guided tour is a great way to get a good backstory of the ruins.
This Mayan ruins and beach private tour is a great way for your group to jump into history and learn all about the Mayan heritage. You will be guided through the ruins and learn all about the significance of the site before heading to some of the best beaches and lookout points on the island.
3. Go scuba diving in the Mesoamerican Reef
Scuba diving in Cozumel is one of the best places to go in the world. It’s famous for its chill drift drives where the current pulls you gently, colourful reefs, and abundant sea life. Cozumel sits along part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest behind the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Cozumel is a great place for any level of scuba diving. No matter if you’re interested and want to try it out, or if you’re a certified scuba diver and have been diving around the world Cozumel will impress you. Cozumel diving certification is recognized all over the world making this island the perfect place to get PADI scuba dive certified.
Cozumel’s ocean temperatures sit around 26-30℃/78-86℉, similar to their air temperatures. Being from Canada we love warm water scuba diving.
This area of the Caribbean Sea features colourful reefs, lots of sea life, and interesting diving areas. You have the chance to see three different species of sea turtles, rays, sharks (Samara’s favourite), dolphins, and whale sharks (between May and September). Cozumel dive sites include features ranging from easy drift drives, wreck drives, cave dives, and wall dives. In fact, there are more than 50 diver sites around the island.
Our favourite was a Cozumel drift dive. Starting as the most impressive wall dive we’ve ever done, we swam through a small tunnel only to come out the other side and be greeted by a large leatherback turtle. An absolutely epic experience we will never forget!
Some of the top dive sites in Cozumel include the Santa Rosa Wall, Palancar Horseshoe, Chankanaab Reef, Cantarel Wall, Columbia Reef, Punta Sur Reef, and El Cielo
Cozumel diving cost varies depending on the dive shop, the dive site, the dive package, and the equipment rental. However, on average, a two-tank dive from the boat is around $125 CAD ($90 USD). This usually includes two tanks, a marine park fee, and snacks. You may have to rent the other gears, such as BCD and regulator, which are still very affordable at around $10 to $12 each. Some dive shops also offer discounts for multiple dives or group bookings.
You can also get Cozumel scuba diving packages which range from group dives to multi day excursions.
4. Eat Mexican food
One of the tastiest things to do in Cozumel is eat all the delicious food the island has to offer. The island is full of delicious restaurants serving up everything from fresh seafood to delicious Italian. Of course, you come to Mexico to chow down on some tasty enchiladas, tacos, and burritos. You will find no shortage of options for quality Mexican restaurants on the island. Three Amigos and La Choza were our favourites.
We like taking food tours because they’re done by local guides that know all the best places to eat. The best food day tours are the ones that include many stops at a wide variety of restaurants. This way you get to know what the food is really like in that area.
This 3 hour Cozumel Food Tour takes you to 5 Cozumel restaurants. Starting at 11 am, it focuses on the Caribbean and Cuban influences on Mexican food. You’ll eat authentic dishes including empanadas and tacos and wash it down with Agua Fresca (fresh fruit juice) and beer and end with Mexican pastries.
If you want to grab some food but also want to bike the city an E-Bike City Tour though Cozumel & Taco Tasting Tour is our recommendation. Not only do you get a tour of some of the attractions in Cozumel but you also get to take some tacos and ice cream. Plus you can eat more knowing you’re getting a good workout too!
5. Get lost in a jungle 4x4 adventure
Cozumel isn’t just a great Mexican city – part of the Island is still covered in a rugged lush green jungle. We love a good adventure day and find them the perfect way to balance our lazy beach days. Luckily for us, Cozumel accommodates both our adventure travel and beach bum sides.
The best way to get around the Cozumel jungle is by ATV. You’ll get to bomb around the forest on trails until you arrive at a cenote you can swim in. This ATV and cenote tour is an awesome way to spend your day on Cozumel.
If you’re like us, combining a 4×4 adventure with splashing in the ocean makes for the perfect excursion. This ATV and claer boat ride experience is one of our top picks for fun things to do in Cozumel. This combo tour combines a fun 4×4 ATV ride through jungle trails, a clear boat tour to see some shipwrecks (costs an additional $27 CAD/$20 USD per person), and access to Playa Uvas beach club which includes lunch, soft drinks, and snorkeling to finish the day off.
6. Rent some wheels and tour the island
It’s no secret we love a good road trip! Touring around islands is particularly fun because if you get lost, you’ll almost always end up at the beach.
We love renting scooters when we travel places – it’s one of our favourite ways to see a new area. We rented scooters to tour around Cozumel and absolutely loved it. There aren’t many roads on the island so it’s almost impossible to get lost. We recommend getting out of the city and doing a lap of the island. While there are bigger waves on the East Coast which makes it not great for snorkeling it’s amazing for spending the day at a quiet beach with epic views.
When we were touring around we saw a lot of people driving in these sick looking dune buggies – but like high end dune buggies. We looked into renting a dune buggy and turns out it’s actually a really great deal! With your rental, a guide will come with you to either chauffeur you around the island or take the backseat to navigate you to all the best parts of the island.
The dune buggies will pick you up from anywhere around town, including the cruise ship terminals making for an epic excursion. The rental cost includes entrance to the Sky Reef Beach Club where you can enjoy some free drinks and food, a few different private beaches, the Punta Sur National Park entrance fee, a tequila and chocolate tasting, snorkeling, and more.
7. Relax at a beach club
One of the most famous things to do in Cozumel is lounge at a beach club (have we mentioned how much we love a lazy island life!). These are essentially restaurants or hotels that have chairs and cabanas set up on the beach. This pass gives you a place to store your belongings and hide from the sun when you want to relax. The best beach clubs also include all you can eat buffets, an open bar, pools, and activities to do during your stay.
The most famous beach club in Cozumel is Mr. Sanchos Beach Club. This all inclusive day pass includes an all you can eat buffet, an open bar (with 2 pool bars), snorkeling from the private beach, access to kayaks, and lockers. The beach umbrellas are first come, first served so we’d recommend getting there early in the day (you pay the same if you’re there for an hour or the whole day).
It’s open from 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday and 9 am to 5 pm on Sunday.
If you’re looking for another famous beach club in Cozumel this Paradise Beach all inclusive day pass is for you. You’ll be treated to all day food from their two restaurants, an open bar, lounge chairs, pools, and showers. There is the option to upgrade your beach day pass to include access to the water park, kayaks, paddleboards, snorkels, wave runners, and more.
Paradise Beach Cozumel is open Monday to Sunday 8 am to 6 pm.
8. Ride in a submarine
Where else in the world can you ride in a submarine for fun? Hands down one of the most unique things to do in Cozumel is to take a ride underwater in a submarine! It has been US Coast Guard Certified so you can rest assured that you will be completely safe. This day tour takes you below the crystal clear water of Cozumel for about 45 minutes in Chankanaab where you can take in all the beauty of the underwater world.
You’ll be safely inside the Atlantis Submarine and be taken past one of the most colourful reefs in Cozumel. This Cozumel Submarine Experience will dive to depths of 30 meters (100 feet). We were expecting it to cost more than it did at $137 CAD ($99 USD) per person! This is one of the best kid friendly things to do in Cozumel. There is a 4 year old, 3ft (91 cm) tall age and height requirement for the submarine.
9. Go shopping in San Miguel de Cozumel
Cozumel is home to some fantastic shopping. While you won’t find your typical chain stores like H&M and Zara, you will find an array of jewelry stores, souvenir shops, and specialty shops. Just across from the ferry terminal, you will find Plaza del Sol which is considered downtown, and where you will find a good array of many different types of shops and restaurants.
Continuing for many blocks along the waterfront and extending back into the streets behind, here you will find everything from impressive wood carvings to fine jewelry. You should expect an island tax here where prices are higher than in other areas on the mainland like Playa del Carmen.
10. Watch the sunset
Cozumel sure is a great place to watch the sunset. San Miguel is west facing making it a great spot to watch the sun go down. There are so many great spots to watch the sunset over the beautiful Caribbean Sea, we’d almost have an easier time telling you where to catch a bad sunset. Head to the beach, or better yet head to an oceanfront bar and pair your sunset views with an ice cold cerveza.
We stayed at a hotel with a rooftop pool and made it our nightly routine to watch the sunset every night. You’ll get a 360° view of Cozumel (and even Playa del Carmen if you’re lucky). We were incredibly lucky and almost every night was just us on the rooftop (don’t expect this on your trip to Cozumel).
11. Go on a horseback riding adventure
If you are a horse lover or are traveling with kids, taking this horseback riding tour in Cozumel is a great way to spend your time. You will enjoy a 30 minute horseback ride starting at Mr. Sanchos Beach Club. You can expect stunning views of the island as you ride through the jungle and along the stunning Caribbean waters. We’re happy to report that these horses are well cared for, and well trained, for riders of all ages.
12. Take in ocean views parasailing
Samara’s first time parasailing was in Mexico so she can attest to how amazing it is! With epic views of the stunning Caribbean Sea, you can expect your parasailing adventure to form some great core memories. If you have a GoPro, this is the time to use it!
With this parasailing tour, you will get access to the Tortugas Beach Club amenities as well as enjoy your time flying through the air. You can choose between a solo or tandem parasail.
13. Zipline through the jungle
Myles is notoriously scared of heights and has been battling this fear ever since we started traveling. It turns out that a lot of the cool things you do abroad involve heights. In an effort to not miss out, he’s been trying to challenge his fears everywhere we go. When we were in Playa del Carmen, we took a day trip to Xplor Park where we did a lot of ziplining. Shockingly Myles absolutely loved the experience and now wants to go ziplining everywhere we go!
The ziplining in Cozumel is a 6 line course with varying speeds, heights, and lengths to keep you on your toes. Tucked into the jungle, you will get stunning aerial views of the island as you ride. This is a great activity for families but keep in mind riders must be over 70 pounds.
14. Walk along the ocean floor in an underwater helmet experience
Have you always wanted to walk underwater but could never hold your breath long enough? Well, you can and in the crystal clear turquoise water of Cozumel. Samara did this on a trip to Cancun when she was 18 before she became a scuba diver and absolutely loved it. Many (many many) years later she still has fond memories of her experience putting this goofy looking helmet on and walking along the ocean floor. In fact, it was a driving force for her to want to get her scuba diving certification.
The SeaTrek Underwater Helmet experience doesn’t require any diving or swimming experience. You will start by putting your helmet on as you enter the water. You will climb down a ladder until you get onto the ocean floor. There will be ropes to hold onto as you walk along the bottom of the sea with swarms of colorful tropical fish all around you.
This experience is located in Jeanie’s Beach Club and as a bonus, you get access to the beach club including free snorkeling gear after this tour.
15. Set sail aboard a catamaran
Nothing screams island life quite like boarding a stunning sailboat and spending the day on the water. From all inclusive style party boats to private luxurious catamarans, you’ll find it all on Cozumel. If you’re trying to figure out what to do on Cozumel, chartering a yacht should be at the top of your list!
If you’re traveling with a group, booking this stunning 39 ft catamaran is an epic way to spend the day on the water. Snorkel equipment, a paddle board, and a large floating mat are all included making this excursion great for the whole family. In true Mexico fashion, these boats are all inclusive and include food and drinks in the cost.
If you’re looking for a party, this catamaran party boat is one of the best things to do in Cozumel. This afternoon excursion will have you boarding a huge 65 ft catamaran and sailing out to sea. You will be taken out to a snorkeling spot before heading to a private beach for a beach party. Food and drinks are included in the price along with water sports like kayaks and paddle boards, water floats, trampolines, and slides.
If you’d rather stay on dry land there are hammocks and cabanas ready for your leisure.
16. Ride a sea scooter
If you want to snorkel and love speed, these cool sea scooters are a lot of fun. You can sit back and relax as the scooters propel you forward allowing you to see more in less time. You will feel like a fish as you effortlessly move through the water past sunken ships and colorful fish.
We love that this sea scooter tour includes a bit of everything giving you a well rounded day in Cozumel. You will not only get to snorkel through the water but enjoy some tasty lunch and, of course, a tequila tasting. You will even learn how to make some traditional Mexican snacks so you can go home with a taste of Mexico.
17. Visit Punta Sur Ecological Park
The Punta Sur Eco Park is located in the southern part of Cozumel right beside Playa El Cielo and the Columbia Deep Reef – one of the most popular beaches and dive sites in the area. This is a 1000+ hectare state reserve with everything from birds to crocodiles to a lighthouse and even sea fan gardens throughout the reef. We strongly recommend stopping here for a few hours to explore the area.
Tickets cost $26 CAD ($19 USD) for adults, $18 CAD ($13 USD) for children 4-12 years old and free for children under 3. This includes parking, showers and dressing room, life vests, scenic tower, Celarain Lighthouse, a Catamaran boat ride, “El Tatich”, hammocks and beach chairs, a nature trail, and access to the beaches – well worth it in our eyes.
18. Ride a mini SUB
Another cool way to explore what’s under the sea, this Mini-SUB Diving Adventure is a cool way to speed through the water. After meeting at the Wyndham Cozumel Hotel & Resort, you’ll ride around in your own personal underwater submarine (it looks like a bicycle with a large see-through helmet). You’ll be able to breathe normally underwater as you would above the surface without anything in your mouth or a mask on your face.
This Cozumel excursion doesn’t require any previous diving experience.
19. Take an island tour
If you’re visiting Cozumel on a cruise ship or on a day trip, you will want to see as much of the island as you can in a short amount of time. Taking a private tour of the island is a great way to fit in as many fun things to do in Cozumel as you can into a single day excursion.
Drinks and snorkel gear are included in this private day tour allowing you to comfortably cruise around Cozumel’s top sights. We love that private tours allow you the freedom to explore the things you want and customize your day to your liking.
20. Tour the El Caracol Mayan ruins
If you’re a history buff looking to dive into the rich heritage of the Mayan people in Mexico, visiting the Zona Arqueológica El Caracol is a must! Like the San Gervasio ruins, El Caracol gives you a taste of Mayan culture with some insight into how this ancient civilization lived. Built between 1200 and 1400 AD, this impressive slice of history is worth a visit.
We love that this Mayan temple has a seaside location and backs onto the beautiful Laguna Colombia. As a bonus, you will get a cool view of the crocs that live in the area. Located on the southern tip of Cozumel, you will need to rent a scooter or another form of wheels to get here.
21. Sip a margarita
In true Mexico fashion, your trip to Cozumel is not complete until you have a margarita in hand. We loved visiting Wet Wendy’s Margarita House and trying one of their 30 flavours of margaritas. Thirsty Cougar also makes delicious margaritas and has a great location in San Miguel de Cozumel.
The Coconut Shack and Coconuts Bar & Grill are both on the east coast of Cozumel and make a mean marg with stunning ocean views.
22. Try a chocolate making workshop
If you’re looking for a great reason to eat some tasty chocolate, do it in the name of Mexican culture! You can learn all about Mayan culture on this Chocolate Workshop Cozumel tour. For an hour and a half, you’ll be walked through all the steps of how to make a delicious chocolate bar using a Mayan recipe. At the same time, you will dive into the history of the ancient Mayan culture.
In our effort to promote sustainable tourism, we do not support businesses that exploit animal welfare for tourism’s sake. We would love to promote places like Chankanaab National Park as they offer amazing snorkeling and diving as well as a relaxing beach club however we DO NOT stand behind their dolphin and manatee exploitation practices. Please do not ride captive animals. An hour of enjoyment is not worth the animal’s entire life in a small pool.
Thanks for stopping by!
Oh Cozumel, we love you! While we were initially drawn to the island for its world class snorkeling and scuba diving, we found it hard to pack everything we wanted to do into a few short days. For being a relatively small island, it packs a punch offering tons of fun things to do in Cozumel. Whether you’re visiting Cozumel on a cruise ship and looking for a day excursion, or spending a week on the island, we’ve got you covered.
Now, all that’s left to do is book your flights.
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