Cozumel, Mexico is one of the most popular Caribbean cruise ports and there can be up to 6 cruise ships in port on any given day. Virtually all cruises to the Western Caribbean stop in Cozumel, and there are a variety of things to do while in port.
If you are heading to Cozumel on a cruise and are looking for something to do while in port, here are a few options that you don’t want to overlook. Contrary to what you may hear, there are a lot of great things to do in Cozumel, Mexico.
Ruins in Tulum
Even if you have visited other Mayan ruins, the ruins in Tulum are well worth visiting. If you do plan on visiting Tulum, this is one shore excursion that you will want to book through the cruise line. Since this is an all day tour, it will usually take around 8 hours.
The reason that Cruise Fever recommends that you book through the cruise line is because you will have to take a ferry over to mainland Mexico, and then a bus to Tulum. On my last cruise to Cozumel, the ferry carrying the passengers that went to Tulum arrived a little less than 30 minutes before the cruise left port.
The Mayan ruins in Tulum are set on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, making for picturesque views. The ruins are unlike any other that you can visit in the Caribbean and something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Paradise Beach is one of the nicest beaches in Cozumel and only a 10 minute cab ride from the port. There are a variety of activities and something for everyone.
The beach is lined with palm trees and beach chairs. It is a great place to relax in the shade of the palm trees or work on your tan in the sun. The loungers do cost $3 with a $10 minimum food purchase. This also gives you access to the pool.
The pool is one of the largest swimming pools in Cozumel. It is a beautiful tropical area that has a bar, changing area, and a few shops.
On the beach, you can get a massage, rent a waverunner, and even para sail. Paradise Beach really has everything. Even though there are a ton of activities, I had no problem finding a quiet place to sit and relax.
Rent a Car
There are a number of places that rent cars and jeeps in Cozumel. I saw two car rental agencies, Alamo and Target. I rented a car from Target for $45 (plus taxes/fees/insurance) for the day. When I got home and looked at my credit card bill, it said Alamo so they are really the same company just running with two different names and storefronts.
Car rentals start at $40 for a stick shift and $45 for an automatic. The advantage of renting a car is that you can drive the loop around the island exploring the different beaches, shops and local restaurants along the way. The drive is really beautiful and there are some great spots to snorkel. One recommendation is to always rent a car/jeep from a reputable company.
Yes, the locals can be a little aggressive trying to sell you things when you walk around Cozumel. However, the port area can be a fun place to walk around and shop as you take in a little Mexican culture. I saw 3 older men dressed in traditional Mexican outfits playing guitars and singing to a young couple. It really set the mood for my day in port.
There are all of the traditional stores (Diamonds International, Cariloha etc.) that you find in most cruise ports. There are also a number of great Mexican restaurants located right on the water.
If you want to party in Cozumel, Fat Tuesdays, Margaritaville, and Senor Frogs are always lively and a good time.
Discover Mexico Park
If you want to immerse yourself in the country’s vibrant culture and traditions, Discover Mexico Park is the place to visit. The islands oldest ruins are located here.
You can often see macaws, iguanas, and turtles in the tropical gardens. There is an abundance of tropical plant life including coconuts, papayas, and bananas. Since it is not a large area, it will only take about an hour to visit the park.
Discover Mexico Park is rated the 5th (out of 89) most popular attraction in Cozumel.
Cozumel Port Map
A map of Cozumel might help you familiarize yourself with this unique island. This is the map I used when I first went to Cozumel on a cruise and I found it very helpful. The yellow line on the map is the road you can follow if you rent a scooter or car and easily explore the island and all it’s beaches along the way.
Using this map and some common sense makes it almost impossible to get lost. One of my favorite Cozumel activities is to stop at 3 or 4 of these beaches (marked by the umbrella) and spend 30 minutes or more just walking around or soaking in some sun. You can also see where the Mayan ruins are located and some other popular attractions.
You can drive the yellow marked loop in just a few hours even if you make a few stops along the way.
Other options worth considering: Mr. Sanchos, Chankanaab National Park, ATV adventure, America’s Cup, and Cozumel Cave Tour.
Don’t over look Chankanaab. It is one of our favorite places to visit on the island. There is a cost to get in but it includes a very interesting sea lion show, an alligator park, incredibly beautiful and maintained beaches, and even a little self-guided tour of some Mayan history.
Check out the video tour of Chankanaab at Cozumel in the video below. Sorry it’s a bit shaky, but it will give you a basic idea of all the things offered at this park.
If you’ve never been to Cozumel before I highly recommend checking out Chankanaab. From the cruise port just drive south and you will see the signs for it.
Any chocolate lovers out there?
Most cruisers don’t even know this one exists. I had a really fun and intuitive tour at the Kaokao Chocolate Factory on Cozumel on one occasion. You get to see how the locals make chocolate, and then you get to make it yourself and try a few samples along the way. It’s a short taxi ride to get there, but it’s something different to try.
See their official video tour here:
Learn the cruise secrets most people don't know and cruise like a boss. Check out Intelligent Cruiser here for a better cruise vacation. (Sponsored)