Yucatán Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

Cozumel’s Punta Sur

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The Faro Cerlain Eco Park is the official name of the reserve which extends across the southern point of Cozumel, but most refer to it as the Punta Sur. Here, you’ll find one of the island’s best beaches, a lighthouse offering a tremendous view over the Caribbean, and a natural mangrove lagoon in which crocodiles dwell. We visited toward the end of our week in Cozumel.

The first (and last) thing you’re going to notice about the park is the horrifically pot-holed road which leads in and out. After fifteen minutes of neck-breaking bumps, you’ll find yourself at the Cerlain Lighthouse. Be careful if you decide to climb it… or at least more careful than me. I was jogging up, trying to beat Jürgen to the top, and smashed my head against the ceiling. So despite the bright daylight, the view I enjoyed from the top was full of stars.

After shaking off my concussion, we took a quick look into the small maritime museum on the bottom floor of the lighthouse, and then embarked on a boat ride around the lagoon. Just inland from the coast, a thick mangrove forest is home to a number of interesting birds, including kingfishers and pink spoonbills. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, but I was more concerned about watching the water, because the lagoon is filled with crocodiles. Just a few minutes after our tour began, we saw one… a huge beast, moving with terrifying agility.

The best part of Punta Sur is the beach found at the very end of the park, with great snorkeling at the nearby reef. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for this, and the water was too rough for swimming anyway. But we still had a great day out. It’s not the easiest place to get to, and that potholed road is no joke, but it’s worth the effort, particularly if you have an entire day to spend there.

Location on our Map

Download Our Travel Books Here

, , , , , , , , ,
December 17, 2013 at 12:14 am Comment (1)

Cozumel’s Museo de la Isla

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

When preparing to explore Cozumel, a logical place to begin is the Museum of the Island, found near the ferry pier. I know, I know… the weather is great, the water is crystal blue, and the amount of things to do outdoors is overwhelming. Who wants to spend time in a museum? But the overview of Cozumel’s history, geography and ecology is brief and well-presented, and afterwards you can reward yourself with an excellent breakfast in the museum’s restaurant.

Cozumel Museum

The Museo de la Isla is separated into four sections, dedicated to the island, the ocean, Cozumel’s history and contemporary life. Hey, snap snap, stop staring out the window at the shimmering Caribbean Sea, I’m explaining important stuff here. About learning and history and stuff. I promise it’s worth your time.

Within minutes of stepping into the museum, your attention should be wholly absorbed by the fascinating history of Cozumel and its unique ecology. The island has never been a place of heavy settlement; when the Spanish first arrived, only a smattering of Maya farmers remained. And for most of Mexico’s history, it was almost entirely neglected. This was great from an ecological point of view as, today, Cozumel is still home a lot of endemic animal life.

In the museum, you’ll learn about pivotal moments in Cozumel’s history, see pictures from before and after the devastating 2005 Hurricane Wilma, and admire some underwater dioramas introducing the island’s unique sea life and corals. And there are usually a couple temporary exhibitions featuring local artists.

After you’ve met your culture quota for the day, head over to the restaurant on the top floor. The breakfasts here are good, as are the ocean views and the reasonable prices. Really, there’s no excuse not to check this museum out. Even if you’d rather spend your time on Cozumel in the great outdoors, you’ll have a better appreciation for the island after having learned about it.

Location on our Map

Free eBooks

Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
Cozumel Museum
, , , , , , ,
December 15, 2013 at 12:20 am Comment (1)

Eating in Cozumel, Part 1

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

During our week in Cozumel, we were invited to a number of restaurants. From chic to rustic, modern to traditional, we sampled a little of everything the island has to offer. It was an intense culinary program and there were times when, regardless of how delicious the shrimp ceviche or grilled snapper was, I almost couldn’t take another bite. Here are some of our favorite finds.

The Intercontinental
Intercontinental Cozumel

Immediately upon arriving, we drove to the island’s only five-star hotel for a taste of The Good Life. We relaxed on the beach, did a bit of snorkeling, and then sat down to a delicious meal. Turns out, The Good Life tastes a lot like fresh ceviche.

Ceviche is something I’ve always been too nervous to order. It’s marinated raw fish, so you want to be pretty sure about the quality of the place before you order. But we were at a five-star resort, so I figured, “now or never”. It was incredible. I’d say that it was my favorite new food, but quite honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel confident enough to order it again.

Kondesa

Modern food in a smart garden restaurant, it was almost a given that Kondesa would become one of Cozumel’s trendiest spots when it opened in 2011. Everything about this place is cool, from the music to the decor, and the food isn’t bad either. We sampled a few great dishes, and I’d say my favorite was the guacamole sampler: traditional, fruit and nut varieties.

Or maybe I best liked the cheese fondue. Or was it the lion fish crabcakes? I don’t know, I was in the mood to enjoy everything. It was Friday night and there was a DJ spinning music in the corner. A light rain fell, forcing everyone into the interior patio, and it was a conspicuously good-looking bunch to be crowded in with. For a casual yet classy night out, Condesa is probably Cozumel’s best bet.

Casa Denis

It took us awhile to realize that, in Mexico, torta means “sandwich”. In Spain, the same word means “cake”. So when I was told that the most famous dish at Casa Denis was Torta de Camarones, I almost got up and walked out. What kind of sick freaks…

But luckily I realized my error, and was soon devouring the most delicious shrimp sandwich I’d ever encountered. They’ve had a lot of time to perfect the art. With a history stretching back 90 years, Casa Denis is a Cozumel institution.

Palmeras

Found directly between the ocean and the main square of San Miguel, Palmeras has the most enviable location in Cozumel, so it doesn’t even need to try. Customers are going to flock here regardless. So, it was a happy surprise to discover that they do indeed try. Tourists and locals alike come for breakfast to order chilaquiles and enchiladas. Yes, you read that right: in Mexico, enchiladas are for breakfast. Chilaquiles, I don’t even want to get into.

Okay fine. Chilaquiles are basically nachos: tortilla chips covered with a rich red or green sauce, smothered in shredded chicken, cream and cheese. And served for breakfast! I’m guessing that they’re called chilaquiles because, nachos for breakfast? That would be crazy. But these are chilaquiles, so dig right in, breakfast is served.

La Cozumeleña
La Cozumeleña

A hip, downtown diner serving delicious food at unbelievable prices, dependably crowded with locals… You’d have to be miserable not to immediately love a joint like La Coumeleña. We had heard that it has the best huevos motuleños in the entire peninsula. That’s quite a claim, but after devouring my entire plate in about three minutes, I’d be happy to hand them the title.


It bears noting that we were invited to dine at all of these restaurants. We were under no obligation to write positively about them, and only chose our favorites to include in this list. Luckily, almost every place we visited was great. In fact, there were more than enough for a second full list of recommendations.

Cozumel Hotels

More Pics of the Intercontinental
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
More Pics from Kondesa
Kondesa Cozumel
More Pics from Casa Denis
Casa Denis Cozumel
More Pics from Palmeras
, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
December 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm Comments (3)

El Cedral and Cozumel’s Eastern Coast

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The eastern coast of Cozumel is completely different to the west. It has none of the calm, crystal blue water, nor anywhere near the tourism. After stopping in at Cozumel’s original town, El Cedral, we took a short drive up the coast and ended at a rollicking bar named Coconuts.

El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast

To most visitors, Cozumel feels small. Its true size is obscured by the fact that almost all the sights and services are concentrated around San Miguel. But once you take the time to venture out of the city, the island reveals itself to be surprisingly large. The vast majority is uninhabited, and much of it is protected from further development by law.

Although ocean-front San Miguel has become the island’s biggest town, it’s not the only one, nor was it the first. We drove inland to visit El Cedral, where Cozumel’s original inhabitants settled down. Save a beautiful old church and a statue of a traditional dance which somehow involves a pig’s head on a platter, there’s not much there today, but it provides a nice reminder that Cozumel isn’t all cruise ships and scuba divers.

El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast

Past El Cedral, we came to the island’s eastern edge. The waters are rougher here, with craggy rocks lining the coast, and it’s not as favorable for snorkeling or swimming. We stopped at a few of the beaches, including one packed full of families sitting around coolers. This, it seems, is where Cozumeleños come to escape the crowds.

We ended our day on the eastern coast at Coconuts. Set atop a cliff overlooking the sea, this is the kind of place where the music is loud, the customers are foreign, and the atmosphere is drunk. Or the music is foreign, the atmosphere is loud and the customers are drunk. Idont’membrph. We had a blast here. Maybe after all the sight-seeing, we were ready for some fun. Maybe it was the crocodile they keep in a cage. Maybe it was the games.

When we entered, I saw a guy trying to swing a ring dangling from a string onto a bull’s horn. “I’ve been playing this game all night,” he said. “It’s impossible.” I took the ring from him and said, “Watch, I’ll hit it on my first try”. And I actually did! (Amazing in itself, since I’m terrible at games like this.) The bartender applauded and gave me a free tequila shot, and when I turned to celebrate with my new friend… he was gone. I scoured the restaurant, but the guy had vanished without a trace.

Within five minutes of entering the bar, I’d won a game of skill, drank tequila, made a friend and just as quickly lost him; it was an accurate preview of what would evolve into very boisterous night. By the time we took our leave, I’d done a couple more shots, drank more than a handful of beers, eaten a plate of delicious tacos, and had a long conversation with a death metal singer in perfect Spanish (at least, it sounded perfect to my inebriated ears). A fun evening out on a side of the island most people don’t get to see.

Location of El Cedral | Coconuts Beach Bar

-Best Way To Get Around Cozumel: Rent a Jeep!

El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
, , , , , , , ,
December 13, 2013 at 1:19 am Comment (1)

An Underwater Paradise Off Cozumel

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

With iridescent waters and one of Earth’s best reefs just offshore, it was no coincidence that we choose to spend a week on Cozumel immediately after obtaining our scuba certifications. The Caribbean island has long been regarded as one of the world’s premiere diving destinations.

There’s an almost unlimited variety of diving possibilities at Cozumel, with spots along the reef that are suitable for any skill level. Although we had been invited to join an advanced dive, descending to 30 meters with the goal of watching a migrating group of spotted eagle rays, we decided on a much more shallow excursion. This would be our first real dive, and we wanted to take it easy. And besides, this easier dive was to a place called “Paradise Reef”. With a name like that, it’s hard to go wrong.

Stretching from the tip of the Yucatán all the way to Honduras, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the world’s second-longest reef system, behind only the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. And Cozumel is home to a great section of it, protected since 1996 as the “Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park”. The number of possible dives around the island is amazing; just take a look at Reefs of Cozumel, an excellent online resource which describes 38 of the most popular sites.

After a short boat ride, we dropped into the water and sank to the ocean floor. Jürgen and I were the only newbies among a large group of lifelong divers, and I had been worried that they’d be bored at this “beginners” section of the reef. But the minute I saw the coral formations, those fears vanished. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been there; something as beautiful as this reef simply can’t get old.

How many fish did we see? Hard to say… hundreds? Thousands? There were large, colorful fish that seemed content to float along with us, a school of snappers performing a synchronized dance, moray eels and big black groupers. And what’s that whiskered beast hiding under a rock? A splendid toadfish! Totally endemic to Cozumel, I had never even heard of it before. And there… hovering comfortably in the distance with a school of smaller fish swimming around him, a barracuda, at least a couple meters long and terrifying to behold.

We stayed down for about 45 minutes before our tanks ran low. Not bad for our first real dive, though I was shocked to learn how much air the experienced divers still had left in their tanks. We’ve still got some learning to do. But it was a memorable day out; and we didn’t have to wait long before the decision to become certified divers paid off.

Video and pictures taken with this underwater camera!

, , , , , , , , ,
December 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm Comments (2)

The Cozumel Pearl Farm

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

It was as though we’d left reality and entered an advertisement for Bacardi. A group of friends taking a leisurely boat trip across the turquoise water of the Caribbean. Anchoring and carrying a cooler full of drinks onto a private beach. Snorkeling out into the water, lounging on the sand, drinking and eating pineapple burgers. This was our excursion to the Cozumel Pearl Farm… just another day in paradise.

Cozumel Pearl Farm

The only pearl farm operating in the Caribbean is found on the little-visited northern end of Cozumel. It’s a small enterprise for now, focused on sustainable and eco-friendly growth, with an eye toward tourism. Caught between the ocean and a mangrove forest, the farm is completely inaccessible by car.

Once we had arrived and enjoyed a cold beer with a stunning Caribbean view, we visited the small museum, housed in a palapa. The pearl farm was established in 2004… unlucky, since it was just a year later that Hurricane Wilma struck. The storm devastated Cozumel and utterly destroyed the small company. The winds were powerful enough to pick up the one-ton anchors which they’d moored deep in the water and throw them back onto shore, where they still sit today.

We toured the laboratory where the pearl implantation takes place. Until now, I’d never given pearl farming much thought. I had just assumed that the process involved cracking open a bunch of oysters until you find a pearl. But there’s a lot more to it than that. At just the right moment in an oyster’s life, you have to plant a round “seed” in its membrane, in order to grow a pearl which can be harvested years later. A naturally-occurring pearl is exceedingly rare, let alone a perfectly round one. Even with the implants, only a small percentage actually succeed.

Cozumel Pearl Farm

We snorkeled out to the underwater farm, and saw the vertical cages in which the oysters are kept, protected by a life-sized underwater statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Next to her, there’s an artificial reef which after just a couple years is already home to a surprising amount of life. The brother and sister team who run the Cozumel Pearl Farm are clearly environmentally conscious; in fact, he’s an engineer by trade, and has designed a new style of anchor fitting which is far less damaging to coral than the industry standard. It’s an invention which is being deployed throughout Mexico.

This was one of the best days we’ve had in ages. The day-long tour costs $110 USD per person, which might seem expensive at first, but considering the beautiful boat rides there and back, the snorkeling, the lunch, the beer on the beach, the tour of the farm, and the chance to see an almost entirely unknown side of Cozumel, it’s a bargain. And besides, the farm itself is so small, with such incredible owners… you’ll know immediately that this is a project worth supporting.

Location our our Map
Cozumel Pearl Farm – Website

Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
Cozumel Pearl Farm
, , , , , , , ,
December 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm Comment (1)

Cozumel – Island of Swallows, Scuba and Cruise Ships

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Almost ten years ago, we took a cruise leaving from Miami. Turns out, and we might have suspected as much, Jürgen and I are not cruise-people. We found it to be a week-long exercise in boredom, and even the scheduled stops were agonizing. Pushy vendors in Jamaica, Margaritaville in the Caymans, Bingo on-deck. Luckily, there was one bright spot on the itinerary: Cozumel. We had a fantastic time during our day on the Mexican island, and vowed to return one day. A decade later, we made good on the promise.

Found just a few kilometers off Mexico’s Caribbean coast, straight across from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is home to 90,000 people. But the population swells to twice this number almost every day, thanks to the cruise ships which call into port. While arriving on the hour-long ferry from Playa, we counted six gargantuan boats lining the island’s shore.

The name “Cozumel” comes from the Mayan Kùutsmil, which means Island of Swallows. Associated with the fertility goddess Ix’Chel, the island was famous across the Maya world as a place of pilgrimage and worship. But by the time of the Spanish Conquest, the culture had already fallen into ruin and there remained but a handful of indigenous people to greet the newcomers.

Today, Cozumel has been invaded by a different kind of conquistador: pleasure-seeking cruise-shippers, tens of thousands of whom arrive every morning, then leave as the sun goes down. The crass commercialism which goes hand-in-hand with this kind of tourism dominates the ocean-side streets of San Miguel, the island’s main city, but we had very little to do with it during our week on the island. Cozumel revealed itself to be much larger and more diverse than we had reason to expect.

The island is perhaps most famous for its scuba diving. With healthy coral reefs and crystal-clear water lining its shores, the diving at Cozumel is some of the best and most accessible in the world. We would take advantage of this, and also be introduced to some of the island’s other, lesser-known sights, including lagoons, horseback riding, jungles, Maya ruins, incredible restaurants, and even a working pearl farm.

We spent seven days on Cozumel as the guests of the island’s tourism commission, who were eager to show off how rewarding an extended stay on the island can be. Cozumel gets plenty of tourists, but not many stick around for more than a day. And that’s a mistake.

Cozumel Hotels! Book Now!!

, , , , , , ,
December 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm Comments (0)
Cozumel's Punta Sur The Faro Cerlain Eco Park is the official name of the reserve which extends across the southern point of Cozumel, but most refer to it as the Punta Sur. Here, you'll find one of the island's best beaches, a lighthouse offering a tremendous view over the Caribbean, and a natural mangrove lagoon in which crocodiles dwell. We visited toward the end of our week in Cozumel.
For 91 Days